Samoyed

Breed At A Glance

Classification
Working

Personality
Devoted, friendly and playful

Life Expectancy
12-16 years

Average Height
Males 21-24 inches; Females 19-21 inches

Average Weight
Males 45-65 lbs; Females 35-50 lbs

Coat Color
Solid white (biscuit, yellow or cream are also seen)

Coat Length/Texture
Thick and harsh, with a thick, soft undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Seasonally very heavy

Also known as Samoiedskaïa Sabaka, Samoyedskaya, Nenetskaya Laika, Sami, Sammy, Smiling Sammy, Sam, Smiley

General Temperament

The Samoyed is a gentle and personable breed, and has remained a closely-guarded secret among a select group of dog lovers. They are quite friendly towards everyone, although they often tend to show extremely loyalty to one particular person. They are patient and loving companions for children and adapt well to family life. Samoyeds enjoy the company of other dogs and even cats, but does not do well with smaller or more passive animals.

Samoyeds are happy and energetic dogs, and require a reasonable amount of daily exercise to be happy and healthy. They are fairly active indoors and can do well in an apartment as long as they are given sufficient daily walks. Their thick coats make them unsuited for warmer climates.

Although the Samoyed is a highly intelligent dog, they can be willful and don’t see a need to alter their behavior to please their owners, making training an arduous process. They will eventually respond to consistent and firm training. They can also get bored easily, so it might help to change up the training techniques from time to time. Samoyeds are rarely aggressive and thus make poor guard dogs, but they will bark at anything that approaches their territory and can be great watchdogs.

Breed History

The Samoyed is named after the population of indigenous Siberian hunters and fisherman, for whom they pulled sleds for hundreds of years. The Samoyed became obsolete for these peoples after the Russian Revolution, but by this time, Arctic explorers had brought enough specimens of the dog to Europe and England to establish the breed there and in the United States. Recent DNA testing has revealed that the Samoyed is one of the oldest breeds in the world.

The Samoyed was first introduced to the United States in the early 1900’s, and the first registration to the American Kennel Club was accepted in 1906.

Body Structure and Composition

The most obvious physical characteristics of the Samoyed are it’s dense, fluffy white or cream-colored fur and it’s smiling face. The wedge-shaped head is topped by ears that remain fully erect at all times. The body is compact, powerful and muscular, and the long tail is carried in a curl over the back.

Medical Information

The most prevalent disease affecting Samoyeds is Hip Dysplasia, a condition where the head of the thigh bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the hip socket, causing lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. They can also be prone to various eye anomalies, including cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA is a disease that affects the dog around middle age, and is characterized by degeneration of cells of the retina, leading to loss of sight.

“Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy” is a renal disease specific to this breed, and is most prevalent in male Samoyeds, with females mainly being carriers (although some females may show signs without fully developing renal failure). The disease usually presents itself when the dog is approximately three months of age. The dog becomes lethargic and the muscle tissue wastes away. Death from kidney failure usually occurs by 15 months of age. Unfortunately, there is no known screening available for this disease; females that are believed to be carriers should not be bred.

Due to their thick wooly fur, Samoyeds are prone to overheating and can sometimes develop skin conditions. This breed requires extensive grooming and keep the fur from matting, as well as to remove shedding fur, which is especially severe during warmer months.

Anecdotal Information

Shed Samoyed fur is sometimes used as an alternative to knitting wool, due to it’s hypoallergenic properties.

Their fur is also used to make lures for fly fishing.

The permanent smile on the Samoyed’s face has earned them the nickname “Smiley Dog.”

The lead dogs for Fridtjof Nansen’s North Pole expedition were two Samoyeds named Kaifas and Suggen.

The lead dog for Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole, the first to reach the pole, was a Samoyed named Etah.

Samoyeds often excel in the sport of competitive weight pulling.

For Purebred Dogs

Search for DNA tests by your dog’s breed. In 3 simple steps you can find & order all of the tests available for your purebred dog.


For mixed breed dogs, you can identify the key breeds in your dog’s genetic background with a Dog DNA Breed Test. Over 220 popular breeds can be detected!

Learn more about Canine DNA Testing >