Samoyed

It’s not the American Eskimo Dog you’re seeing, rather, this member of the Spitz family is the Samoyed. From the Akita to the Alaskan Malamute, meet one of the oldest living breeds on the planet.

Straight from the Siberian struggle, this old reindeer hunter and protector has become one of the more popular Spitz dogs today.

And if intelligence or sweetness isn’t enough, the breed with a perma-smile is sure to make you, well, smile.

So what makes them such a lovable pet? Will this breed fit into your home?

Here is what you need to know about the Samoyed.

History

It was long ago, in the freezing elements of Siberia, that a tribe and their dogs, the Samoyed, would first appear. Many historians believe this time period to be well over a thousands years ago. The breed gets their name from the Samoyede Tribe. This tribe bred the Samoyed at first to be reindeer hunters. Yet, in a change of events, the reindeer went from being the breed’s game to protected by the Samoyed.

In addition to hunting and protecting reindeer, the Sam could work in packs transporting goods by sled in packs. Not done adding to their resume, the breed could also work as a herding dog as well. But perhaps the most important element to this breed’s time with the Samoyede Tribe was their companionship. In fact, thanks to their thick and burly fur, the breed could offer warmth during unbearable cold. It is said, that the tribe and their dogs had such a bond it was almost like an understanding. They would accompany their people everywhere, from hunts to migrating, the Samoyed was there.

During the 19th century, explorers too found out how wonderful this breed was. Moreover, polar explorers throughout the 1800’s brought the breed back to England with them around World War 1. The breed became a hit and especially so with the Aristocrats. In turn, these Aristocrats would introduce the breed to the United States. 

Although Siberia and parts of Russia had most to do with the breed’s development — England was instrumental too. The breed would receive recognition early on from the American Kennel Club in 1906, and in 1927, the United Kennel Club did as well. In England, the approval of the breed’s first standard came in 1909..

As the world fell in love with explorers in the Arctic and curious with those in the Antarctic, the dogs that the explorers would rely on became subject of interest. By the end of 1920, the breed had their own standard and the Samoyed Club of America.

However, it is the second wave of imports from prominent kennels in England after World War 2 that made the breed we know today.

Losing their luster over time, the Samoyed can still be seen in certain regions as a working dog. However, it is their companionship that has gave them their popularity in the United States. According to the American Kennel Club, the breed is the 65th most popular breed in America.

Size

The Samoyed is a medium size breed.  The American Kennel Club states that males should stand between 21 to 23.5 inches, while females range between 19 to 21 inches.

With regards to weight, a male should be anywhere around 45 to 65 pounds and a female 35 to 40 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

Ready for a slow start? The Samoyed may mature a little later than most breeds. In fact, enthusiasts and experts say the breed may never lose their spunk. This mischievous breed just loves to be at the center of things. Yet, it is done in a loving and playful manner. As an old pack dog, this lively breed loves to stay active and will even roll around the snow during romps.

All it takes is a little bit of patience and time, this breed will certainly look to please. They are very intelligent, and enjoy working outdoors. As a pack dog, you can imagine, this breed is more than okay with other dogs. Their fun loving nature will definitely rub off on the little one’s, although they may play too rough for certain ages.

With the Samoyed, they need that close contact and special bonding. While they may be wild, they really do have tame and gentle souls with their master. Affectionate and full of love, the breed expects the same in return. 

You’ll also notice after a while that the typical Samoyed wears a permanent smile. If that’s not a sign at how happy this breed is when they are around their people, than what is?

Adaptable, responds well to training and barks when they need to. This breed is reliable and trustworthy to get the job done. They’ll also protect you from any outside threats despite their calm and sweet loving nature. Don’t worry about a shy side, this breed will make friends with just about anyone, further signaling their trustworthiness.

All in all, this fluffy and fury breed is a gentle Spitz soul. They are at their best in colder climates and certainly enjoy being active solo or in a pack. Children will love them just as dogs do. If you have the space and energy, the Samoyed has the charge you’ve been waiting for.

Health

The Samoyed is a rather healthy breed with a few kinks along the way. Most of the issues are fairly minor and the breed can live with. Other issues are more serious and will require the focus of a professional.

When you buy a Samoyed from a breeder, you should always purchase from someone with a good reputation. Always ask around and ask the tough questions. Read the reviews! In addition, the breeder should be able to provide you with the proper documents and health clearances.

You’ll also want to schedule regular visits with the veterinarian to maintain your dog’s good health. If you do that, and take preventative care of your dog, there’s no reason your Samoyed can’t live between 12 to 14 years.

Most of the issues impacting the breed appear to be of the eyes. Cataracts, which is something your dog can live with, but it is a nuisance to do so. This is the cloudiness of the crystalline lens, that can progress into complete blindness. If your dog is squinting, or has inflammation around the eye, make sure to have the Vet check it out.

Glaucoma can be found within the breed. Of course, this can lead to blindness as well as lead to optic nerve and retina damage. 

Distichiasis is the abnormal development of the eyelid, which will produce hairs within the tear ducts. Eventually, this will cause a great deal of irritation, subsequently, affecting the cornea. According to the Samoyed Club of America, Distichiasis affects 5.8% of Sams.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is another common problem for most breeds. This systematic failure of the photorod cells, which can be brought on by a number of diseases, has been seen in the Samoyed.

Issues affecting the breed’s movement like Hip Dysplasia, which is the malformation of the hip joint, is a low risk for the breed. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Sams place 105th worst on the list out of the breed’s 17,000 plus evaluations. The breed has a 11.3% rating.

The abnormal development of the elbow is Elbow Dysplasia. The breed ranks 92nd worst on the OFA’s list for Elbow Dysplasia. This can lead to other issues like lameness and pain. Out of 1757 evaluations, the breed  finishes with a 2.0 rating putting them among the Brittany and Portuguese Water Dog.

Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis is a serious problem for the breed and is commonly seen in large breed. This is a heart disorder, where abnormal tissue causes irregular blood flow due to an obstruction below the aortic valve.

Other issues that may impact the breed include; diabetes, mammary cancer, and retinal dysplasia.

Care

The Samoyed is happiest when they have a job to do or a role to fill. They shouldn’t left to their own vices and won’t do well alone for long periods of time. The breed may be a chewer and that may come from boredom. Boredom can lead to destructive results and you should correct that at the first chance you have.

That said, when the breed gets enough exercise, they thrive. The breed should have a firm yet fair owner who is consistent. This is especially true during training.

Sams want to be close with their family. They need close contact. Family events or a role within is what will make them happiest. They aren’t the best apartment dogs and do better with bigger spaces. Cold climates or mild conditions are more ideal. The Samoyed is sensitive to the heat with their longer coat. This is a curious breed with matching instincts. It may lead them to run away or stray off dangerously. Always keep an eye out, invest in a leash or build a fence.

Trim their nails monthly, bathe as you see fit, and check their ears for any bacterial buildup.

Feeding

The Samoyed will appreciate a high quality formula just as any breed would. Steer clear of preservatives, and meat should be the first ingredient. High quality calories, protein and crude fat is sufficient to a healthy diet. Lamb and rice, chicken and beef are all fine choices for their protein intake. 

How much your Samoyed will eat depends on their age, metabolism and activity rate. Most owners seems content with 1.5 cups to 2.5 cups per day. Additionally, you can break that up into two or even three smaller meals to help reduce the chances of Bloat or Gastric Torsion. Gastric Torsion or Bloat is a deadly and painful condition, in which the stomach distends due to an excess of gas with no way in leaving the body.

As always, you should provide your Samoyed with fresh drinking water.

Coat

White and fluffy, the Samoyed has a soft, short yet thick undercoat that lies close to the body. The double coat is perfect for a breed in colder climates. The outercoat is longer and more coarse.

Expect to brush this breed 2 to 3 times per week. They are seasonal shedders, which means they shed heavier at certain points in the years. Typically, it is twice they’ll shed their heaviest and typically around fall or spring.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are four acceptable coat color options; Biscuit, cream, white, white and biscuit. There are no acceptable markings for this breed.

Fun Samoyed Facts

  • According to Nationwide Pet Insurance, the Samoyed’s fur is used as an alternative to wool for knitters, with a texture resembling angora.
  • The Samoyed is the 44th most intelligent breed on Stanley Coren “The Intelligence of Dogs.” This means the breed obeys the first command 70 percent of the time.

Closing Words

If you’re a fan of the outdoors, and better yet, the winters, there may not be a better choice of a dog than the playful and mischievous Samoyed. A breed that has been part of some of the most legendary expeditions in the Antarctic and Arctic.

And as a companion, you really can’t ask for much more. Loving, affectionate, intelligent and great with kids and dogs. just keep your eye on them.