Breed Spotlight: the Samoyed

The Samoyed is a tough but sweet breed known for its power and ability to withstand cold temperatures. Here’s what you need to know about this special dog breed.


Just one look at the Samoyed could probably tell you that they come from a cold area. If you guessed as much, you’d be right. The Samoyed comes from some of the coldest countries: Russia. Their thick coat acts as insulation against the cold Siberian temperatures.

The Samoyed gets their name from the Samoyed people who bred them for hunting, herding, and pulling sleds. They are classified as a basal breed. In this case, you can think of the word basal as meaning “base.” The Samoyed comes from a time before most modern breeds, so they’ve been around for a very long time.

The Samoyed was a breed that would have to earn their keep, and they worked with early people to make both their lives easier. These dogs would help hunt, protect, and help in transport. In turn, humans gave these dogs a home, food, and affection. The breed’s kind and gentle personality made them very amenable to living with people. These traits persist today.

Eventually, Arctic explorers from the West found these nomadic people and their dogs. When explorers brought the dogs back to England in the 18th century, they were immediately a hit. Their warm personality and unique appearance had piqued the interest of the English elite.

The first Samoyed was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1906.

Physical Traits

The normal Samoyed weighs in at just under 60 pounds and stands around 22 inches tall. They are a rather average-sized dog. But their most striking feature is their thick, white coat. They are allowed to have a bit of brown, especially near the tip of their triangular, erect ears. Their double coat is what gets the most attention though.

Like other dogs in the Spitz family, the Samoyed has a tail that usually curls up and touches their back. This is beneficial if they are actually sleeping in cold climates as their tail will cover their nose and provide a bit of extra warmth.


Going beyond their appearance, the Samoyed is prized for their loyalty. They are affectionate and friendly with their family. That includes children as well. They are great family dogs and will keep a watchful eye over all the comings and goings of the house.

They are also hunters at heart though. Their watchful eye will extend to critters in the backyard. Because of their watchful eye, make sure to always keep them on a leash when not at home as they may see anything smaller than themself as prey.

While the Samoyed is not the largest dog, you shouldn’t let your Samoyed be alone with children unsupervised. They are powerful and agile dogs that could topple an unsuspecting child. Be sure to properly socialize your dig and you shouldn’t have issues with them.


The breed is overall healthy, though there is a chance that the dog can develop a breed-specific disease called Samoyed hereditary glomerulopathy. This disease affects the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure in males. Females are not as affected and even if they are carriers, they are not likely to develop kidney failure. Because the disease is genetic, it can be tested for. Unfortunately, there is no cure.

Samoyeds are also affected by common diseases that can affect other dogs of their size and stature. These diseases include:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Glaucoma


Samoyeds may have a beautiful and thick coat, but their coat needs to be maintained too. They are known for excessively shedding, so make certain you keep up by brushing them often. At the very least, you’ll want to brush their double coat once if not twice a week.

They also go through a shedding period twice each year. Once they shed that much, you might consider brushing them once every day or two. This will keep them looking their best and your home won’t get as covered by their fur too.

Their coats are so thick that things can get lost in them as well. Dirt, mud, twigs, and other debris can easily get lost in their coats. Grooming at home can be done, but you might consider getting a Samoyed professionally groomed to ensure their coats are thoroughly cleaned.

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