The Samoyed: A Strikingly Attractive Family Pet

Developed centuries ago by the nomadic Samoyede people of Siberia, this beautiful dog was used for herding and guarding reindeer and for sled-hauling.


Developed centuries ago by the nomadic Samoyede people of Siberia, this beautiful dog was used for herding and guarding reindeer and for sled-hauling. This tough, outdoor worker was also very much a family dog, taking its place in its owner’s tent and enjoying human companionship.

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Spitz-Type Dogs.

A team of huskies pulling a sled over icy wastelands epitomizes the type of dog known as a Spitz. In fact, this group has diverse uses, including herding, hunting, and guarding; many smaller types are kept solely as pets. Descent from wolves is apparent in most Spitz dogs: the shape of the head, the typical wolf coloring, and an alert expression.

Breed History

In ancient times, the early ancestral dogs of the Samoyed breed likely moved with migrating tribes from Iran through Mongolia to the Northwestern Siberian tundra. There they helped the Samoyede people in many ways, and were welcomed as family members into their nomadic dwellings.

They were first brought to England in the late nineteenth century and were first seen in the United States around a decade later. Numerous myths and unsubstantiated stories link the Samoyeds to the polar expeditions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but it appears likely that this breed was included among sled teams taken to the Antarctic during the heyday of polar exploration.

The first dog was registered with AKC in 1906.

Physical Characteristics

Height at Withers

Female 19-21” (48-53 cm), male 21-23.5” (53-60 cm).


50-65 lb (23-29.5 kg).


The double coat is profuse, heavy and very resistant to the elements. Males have a particularly well-developed lion’s type ruff. The undercoat is soft, short and wooly while outer hairs are straight, stand out from the body and are glistening silvery-white.

Some dogs have a creamy or biscuit color.


12 years

Points of Conformation

The head is wedge-shaped, broad and the muzzle is moderate in all aspects, with some tapering. The nose is usually black (also liver and brown) and large. A well-defined stop is present, and the black rimmed lips are characteristically slightly upturned resulting in what breeders term the “Samoyed smile”.

Ears have thick leather and stand erect, and are short and triangular, though rounded at the tips. Eyes and palpebral rims are darkly pigmented. Blue eyes disqualify. Almond shaped and deep set, widely spaced, the eyes slant up laterally.

Strong in bone and musculature, the thorax is deep and ribs are well sprung. The topline is highest at withers and straight. They possess a moderate abdominal tuck up. The muscular neck is fairly short.

Limbs are moderate in length and straight boned. The feet are large (hare-foot) with arched toes and thick pads, with thick hair between the toes. Some feathering on the feet is often present.

The tail reaches the tarsus when held down, is profusely covered with hair, and when moving or alert, should be over the back and to one side.

The proper gait is a trot, not a pace, and strides are quick and agile; springiness and speed are valued.

Breed Behaviour and Traits