Did you know?
A Samoyed named “Etah” was the lead dog for Roald Amundsen’s famous expedition to the South Pole, the first to reach the pole.
Among God’s creatures two, the dog and the guitar, have taken all the sizes and all the shapes, in order not to be separated from the man.
– Andrés Segovia
A member of the Spitz family of dogs, and one of the oldest domesticated breeds, the Samoyed was originally bred by the Samoyede tribe of Siberia as an all-purpose dog for sledding, hunting, herding reindeer between feeding grounds, guarding, and as a companion.
The Samoyedes were nomadic people who lived north of the Arctic Circle and relied upon their dogs for their very survival. This led to a special relationship between the people and their dogs. The dogs were seen as valued members of the family not just for their versatility as working dogs but as true companions.
Historically, Samoyeds made invaluable contributions to the Arctic and Antarctic expeditions as strong and dependable sled dogs. In 1911, one named “Etah” had the distinction of being the first dog to see the South Pole as the leader of Roald Amundsen’s sled dog team.
Until the end of the 1800s, Samoyeds were never seen outside Russia, their country of origin. In Europe, they are sometimes known as the Bjelkier.
Photos displayed courtesy of Lorraine Hamel, Polarfleece, Manitoba
Samoyeds stand up to 23 1/2 inches (60 cm) tall at the shoulder. They have the features common to all Spitz dogs: prick ears, a foxy face, thick coat, and they carry their tails curled up over their backs.
The Samoyed has a straight, thick double coat that forms a ruff around the neck of the dog. It comes in white, white and biscuit, white cream, cream or all biscuit and should glisten with a silver sheen. These heavy, weather-resistant coats make Samoyeds unsuited for particularly hot climates.
These dogs require weekly brushing. They shed their undercoats heavily in thick tufts of fur twice per year. This process has been referred to as “blowing coat” which will give you an idea of how much these dogs shed! On the plus side, shed Samoyed fur can be used instead of wool for knitting, and has a texture similar to angora. Samoyed fur sweaters have been reported to handle temperatures well below freezing. Their fur is also sometimes used to make flies for fly fishing.
The “Sammie” is known for having very little doggy odor.
Be aware that Samoyeds are known for having a loud bark and being quite vocal. This can become an issue with the neighbours depending on the environment you live in. They will announce the presence of visitors and other strangers but enjoy people too much to be used for guarding purposes.
Renowned as the dog with “Christmas in his face”, the Samoyed is a beautiful animal with a grin that splits his face from ear to ear. This has earned him the nickname “the Smiling Sammie”.
He is good-natured, friendly, and especially fond of children. A gentle, loyal, and adaptable animal, he makes a wonderful family pet provided he has something to do. Like all working breeds, he will be happiest with a job. He is intelligent, alert, affectionate, and mischievous. Sammies are usually fine with other dogs and pets but do have a strong chasing and herding instinct.
Firm, consistent training and leadership should begin early. Samoyeds can become willful and intractable if bored or treated harshly. Training may require extra patience and repetition.
Known as one of the brightest and most responsive of the spitz breeds, the Samoyed is an athlete who requires a healthy amount of exercise and interaction with his people. They are full of action, eager to go and especially enjoy winter activities. They should have daily walks, free exercise in a yard, or some working activity to keep them healthy and happy.
They may be kept in a kennel environment if they have regular people contact.