Breed Group:
Working Dogs

Middle Age: 6 years

Geriatric Age: 10 years

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Samoyed Information & Background

The Samoyed breed has a long and storied history living with and working alongside their human companions. The Samoyed breed hails from northwestern Siberia, where they spent centuries guarding food sources from predatory wolves, towing boats and sleighs, and occasionally being used to hunt bears. Named after the Samoyedic people, Samoyeds, or Sammies as they are affectionately called, fulfilled a vital function that ensured the survival of their human owners for generation upon generation. The Samoyed breed’s primary function in the Siberian landscape was to protect the reindeer herds that were kept as a food source for the Samoyed people. Their playfulness and gentle temperament belies the seriousness with which they undertook this sometimes dangerous task.

The first Samoyed’s came to England in the late 1800’s, when they were presented to Queen Alexandria, who was an avid proponent of the breed. Many modern Samoyed’s can still trace their lineage back to Queen Alexandria’s dogs. In 1906 the first Samoyed’s had come to America, as a gift from Russia’s Grand Duke Nicholas. The breed quickly gained popularity as a sled dog, serving on expeditions to the Antarctic, and eventually served on the sledding teams that first reached the South Pole.

Purebred Samoyed’s are the most closely related modern dog breed related to the primitive dogs of the past. The Samoyed lineage shares no genetic markers with wolves or foxes, unlike every other modern dog breed. Sammie’s are characterized by their lustrous coat which comes in white, white and biscuit, cream, or an all biscuit color. Their coat consists of two parts; a thick wooly undercoat, and a fluffy outer coat that stands straight out. The Samoyed breed is undoubtedly a beautiful medium sized dog, with males standing from 21 – 25” tall and weighing anywhere from 45-65lbs, and females standing 19-21” tall and weighing between 35-50lbs.

Samoyed Temperament & Personality

Sammie’s are most often described by owners and trainers as a gentle breed that is very intelligent and playful. Samoyed’s are renowned as great family dogs; they work well within a family unit and have a loving and affectionate personality. Sammie’s are also regarded as generally friendly with other animals, a characteristic that makes them an excellent choice for multi-pet families.

Training a Samoyed

To get the most out of a Sammie, a thorough training regimen that is started young is recommended. In line with their history as working dogs, Samoyed’s take well to training and are regarded as quick learners that retain training well over time. Because Samoyed’s are an intelligent, keen, and independent breed, they are known to have a stubborn streak. As such, it is important to have a firm but gentle style of training. Samoyed’s are eager to please their owner, so training should overall be a pleasant experience.

Exercise Requirements for Samoyeds

Sammie’s are characteristically an energetic dog, so to avoid mischievous or destructive behavior it is recommended that they have vigorous exercise daily. Most often a long walk or jog, or an extended play session will suffice. An extended play session or longer run on the weekends will help keep your Sammie in shape, and also curtail any negative behavior that comes with boredom.

Samoyed Lifespan & Longevity

A Samoyed lifespan ranges from 10-12 years on average.

Samoyed Breed Popularity

Since the breed’s introduction into England and America, the Samoyed has continued to gain popularity over time. Their striking beauty combined with their gentle and playful personality traits have popularized this dog as a loyal and valued member of countless families. Because of this, don’t expect to find many Sammie’s in your local shelter.

Samoyed Feeding Requirements

Like many breeds, a high-quality diet is recommended to avoid health problems and allow your Sammie to reach its fullest potential. Look for a diet that contains good quality proteins in high quantities, and avoid food that has grain such as soy, wheat, and corn used as fillers because these can cause Samoyed allergies. Keep in mind when looking for food that Sammie’s existed for centuries on a protein rich diet, primarily made up of reindeer, fish, and other wild game. On average, expect to feed your Sammie about 2-2 ½ cups of dry food a day, split into two even meals. Adjust that amount according to your Samoyed’s general level of energy and activity.

How to Groom a Samoyed

Sammie’s coats, while spectacularly beautiful, require a high amount of care and grooming. Sammie’s have a thick coat, which has been known to shed throughout the year. Brushing multiple times a week is recommended, with increased grooming required when they are blowing their coat. Along with coat care, be sure to keep your Sammie’s nails trimmed.

Are Samoyeds Good with Children?

Sammie’s are a great breed for families with children. They are patient, playful, and have the energy levels to keep up with young children. Many Sammie owners regard their dogs as the best breed for children, and it is easy to see why. Samoyed’s have spent centuries living alongside humans, and it shows when they interact with children. They are also known to be friendly with children outside of their families as well, demonstrating the same loving demeanor that makes them such great family dogs.

Samoyed Health Problems

Diabetes: Diabetes in dogs is a health problem where the body either produces insufficient levels of insulin or produces insulin in too great of an amount. In either condition, the result is elevated levels of glucose, or sugar, in your dog’s bloodstream. Although dogs suffering from diabetes have increased levels of blood sugar, they can’t access that sugar the way a normal dog would. The result is often low energy levels and depression. Be aware if your dog exhibits signs of increased appetite, increased thirst, weight loss, and increased urination, as these can indicate the early stages of diabetes. Diabetes is more common in older dogs, unsprayed female dogs, as well as dogs that are overweight or obese. Genetics also plays a large role in whether your dog is at risk for developing diabetes, and it can occur in any breed, whether purebred or hybrid. Samoyed’s are known to have a higher risk of diabetes, so it is important with Sammie’s to feed them a high-quality diet, maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise and avoiding overfeeding, and to be especially mindful of the signs of early diabetes. Although diabetes is not curable, it is successfully managed in most cases through medication.

Hypothyroidism: The thyroid is a gland located in the neck of the dog that regulates their metabolic rate. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid is underactive, slowing the metabolism and causing a number of health issues. In dogs, hypothyroidism is most often caused by two underlying diseases; lymphocytic thyroiditis or idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy. Medical experts believe that lymphocytic thyroiditis is caused by an immune system response wherein the dog’s body believes that the thyroid is foreign and attempts to attack it. When a dog suffers from idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy, normal healthy tissue within the thyroid is replaced with an abundance of fatty tissue. Hypothyroidism in dogs has a number of important manifestations that are important to take note of. Weight gain, lower energy levels, and a susceptibility of cold weather are all indications of an underactive thyroid. Additionally, hypothyroidism can cause your Sammie’s coat to appear thin, cause it to grow back slowly, or not grow back at all after grooming. Hypothyroidism cannot be cured, but it can be addressed through regular medication to alleviate symptoms.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a condition where the connection between the femur and pelvic girdle develops abnormally, producing a loose connection. As these two bones rub loosely together, cartilage is lost in an uneven amount. For younger dogs, the primary indicator of hip dysplasia is a looseness in the hip assembly, which can usually only be noted upon examination by a veterinarian. In the later years of a Samoyed’s life, years of damage caused by this loose connection result in arthritis. Hip dysplasia is more common in older dogs, with some breeds being at higher risk through heredity. It is believed that environmental trauma, including jumping and rough play during a puppy’s growth period, can also increase the risk of developing this condition.

Gastric Torsion: Gastric torsion is a life-threatening condition caused by a buildup of pressure in the stomach due to excess food or gases that fail to be released or excreted. This pressure can build rapidly, placing pressure on the lungs and reducing blood flow to the surrounding tissue. In rare cases, gastric torsion leads to a condition known as volvulus, where the pressure from the stomach becomes so great it actually flips within the abdomen. Be mindful if your Samoyed displays any abnormal signs after eating, including drooling, attempting to failing to vomit, abdominal swelling, and pacing. Gastric torsion is a life-threatening condition and should be treated immediately by a medical professional.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma occurs when inadequate drainage in the eye leads to the increase of internal pressure. Samoyed’s are genetically predisposed towards developing glaucoma, so it is important to regularly check your Sammie for indications that glaucoma is developing. Signs can include your Sammie shying away when you touch one side of their face or a noticeably swelling eye. Watery discharge from the eyes can also be an indication of glaucoma. Lastly, if you notice physical swelling of the eye, be sure to consult your veterinarian immediately.

Cataracts: In healthy dogs the lenses of the eye are clear. When cataracts form, the lens of the eye becomes clouded and occluded, affecting the function of the eye. In early stages, this results in reduced vision, however as cataracts progress they can lead to full blindness. Cataracts most often appear in older dogs and are rarely seen in their younger years. The highest risk factor for cataracts is heredity as the condition is usually passed down through generations. Samoyed’s have an elevated chance of developing cataracts compared to other breeds, so it is important to regularly check your dog’s eyes for any cloudiness that may indicate this condition.

Other Resources

national breed website: Samoyed Club of America
rescues: Samoyed Rescue