A magnificent dog with an immaculate coat, the Samoyed is becoming increasingly popular with people around the world. Originally from Siberia, this ancient breed didn't reach the rest of the world until the end of the 19th century. Learn all about this unique dog below.
A Brief History
The Samoyed is an ancient dog breed, named for the Samoyede people who lived in Siberia and Russia. Specifically, two nomadic tribes belonging to the Samoyede people, the Nenets and the Nganasans, bred and used the Samoyed for herding and guarding reindeer as well as for hunting. It wasn't until the late 19th century, when English zoologist Ernest Kilburn-Scott visited Siberia and brought home a Samoyed puppy for his wife, that the breed began to populate other countries. Mr Kilburn-Scott initially brought back a male puppy, before buying an imported female in London to breed him with. The male Samoyed was brown, not white, so the litter was of mixed colours: white, brown, and black. Other Samoyeds soon followed to form the Samoyed breeding base in Western Europe. All-white dogs proved to be the most popular and were selected for further breeding. In this way, the colour white became the standard colour for the breed. The Samoyed was definitively recognised by the World Canine Organisation (FCI) in 1959.
The Samoyed is a medium-sized dog with a very recognisable build. There is some difference in the size of male and female Samoyeds. Dogs measure between 51 and 56cm at the withers and weigh between 20 and 30kg. Bitches measure between 46 and 51cm at the withers and weigh between 16 and 20kg.
The Kennel Club classifies the Samoyed in The Pastoral Breed Group, which consists of herding dogs that are associated with working cattle, sheep, reindeer, and other cloven footed animals.
Body: Longer than it is high, the Samoyed's body has a broad, muscular back and a powerful loin. The back is medium length and flat; the chest is deep but not too broad.
Head: The head is powerful and wedge-shaped with a broad, flat skull. The nose is usually black but brown or flesh-coloured noses are also accepted. The lips are black. The Samoyed has an expressive smile, earning it the nicknames "Sammie smile" and "smiley dog".
Ears: The ears are thick and small; triangular with a slightly rounded tip. They are set high on the head and well apart.
Eyes: The eyes are almond-shaped and medium to dark brown.
Tail: The tail is set high and carried curved over the back, or sometimes to the side.
Coat: The Samoyed's coat is long and abundant. The undercoat is short, dense, and soft.
Colour: The only colour coat accepted by the breed standard is white. The acceptable shades of white are pure white, white and biscuit, and cream. The outer coat may also be silver-tipped.
The Samoyed's temperament may not be the easiest to handle for novice owners. However, this dog breed is renowned for being friendly and affable, and also less difficult than other spitzes, like the Chow Chow. The Samoyed is relatively independent but shows affection to any and everyone, which doesn't make for a good guard dog. They do bark sometimes, however, and can be useful as watchdogs. This is a very energetic dog, who needs to run and exercise every day to feel mentally and physically balanced.
Does the Samoyed Get Along Well with Others?
The Samoyed breed gets along wonderfully with children. This dog loves kids and will happily play with them, but this should always be under the supervision of an adult. Samoyeds have long not been used to hunt, so they don't have any huge problem getting on with other pets such as cats or exotic pets, provided they have been well socialised from a young age. Aggressive Samoyeds are very rare and undesirable.
Is the Samoyed the Right Dog for Me?
The Samoyed can be a little tricky to train, which is not necessarily ideal for a first dog. Training this dog requires good knowledge of the breed as well as a solid foundation in dog training. The ideal owner for this dog breed is athletic and available, with enough time to spend with their dog and take it for regular exercise.
Samoyed Health Issues
The average life expectancy of the Samoyed is between 10 and 14 years. This is more than suitable for a dog of this size. Small and medium-sized doggies generally live longer than large or giant ones, whose life expectancy is sometimes only in the single digits. The Samoyed also enjoys rather robust health and is only affected by a handful of hereditary or genetic diseases. However, the breed is subject to hip and elbow dysplasia, a joint disease that can quickly become serious and even disabling in its advanced stages, and which often requires surgical intervention. The Samoyed is sensitive to heat, so be careful not to leave your pooch outside when the temperature rises. Make sure your Samoyed always has a source of fresh drinking water available.
Ideal Living Conditions for the Samoyed
So long as certain conditions are met, the Samoyed can adapt to life in an apartment in the city. This is an energetic dog breed that needs to exert itself fully each day to feel happy and healthy. If you live in an apartment, you will therefore need to adapt your lifestyle and take your dog out very regularly to avoid them getting bored or lonely. Provide lots of toys and puzzles to keep your pooch occupied in your absence. Also, prioritise teaching your Samoyed to be alone as a pup, to prevent them from developing separation anxiety. Of course, the Samoyed will also be happy in a house in the countryside with a big garden, but having a garden should never exempt you from taking proper care of your four-legged friend.
Due to the breed's stubborn and independent nature, training a Samoyed is renowned for being a little more difficult than with other dog breeds. These dogs like to take initiative and make decisions for themselves, which means they don't always obey commands. As such, the Samoyed requires a strong, authoritative owner, who can be firm without ever being violent. Favour reward-based positive dog training, instead of punishment. If in need, don't hesitate to call on a professional dog trainer to support you in this endeavour.
Diet: What to Feed Your Samoyed
Taking good care of your dog inevitably involves feeding them well. The choice of dog food you provide for your Samoyed has a direct impact on their health. It must therefore be chosen with care. After all, dogs are opportunistic carnivores who need animal protein to thrive, although they can eat some fruits and vegetables, too. Be sure to purchase dry or wet dog food with a high level of animal protein, around 25 to 28% is ideal. Learn to decipher the composition of dog food products by reading the labels thoroughly. Avoid supermarket products, which are often packed full of additives, preservatives, and sweeteners. Check that the crude ash content is less than 9%. You can also use dog food supplements to target specific health issues, on advice from your veterinarian.
If you'd like to feel more in control of exactly what goes into your dog's bowl, why not try preparing your dog's meals yourself? You can make homemade dog food with carefully measured amounts of cooked meat and vegetables. You also have the option of the BARF diet, which uses raw meat and eggs with some cooked vegetables. Be careful, however: some human foods are toxic for dogs! Do your research to discover what you can and can't feed your furry friend. And never change your dog's food without first seeking advice from your vet.
Samoyed Care and Maintenance
Vaccines: between £30 to £60 for the first injection series, plus annual boosters
Dog food: from around £50 per month for high-quality dog food
Monthly budget: between £80 and £100 per month
The Samoyed's gorgeous white coat requires regular maintenance; it's necessary to brush your dog's coat almost every day outside of moulting periods. During these periods of shedding in spring and autumn, the Samoyed needs brushing at least once a day to get rid of dead hair. Choose a brush suited to your furry friend's skin and hair. For the Samoyed, we recommend a carding brush or a slicker brush. Bathe your dog once or twice a year using dog-friendly shampoo. Never use human products on your pet: they are harmful to animals. In addition to the basic dog grooming tasks, like brushing and bathing, also make sure to take your pooch for regular deworming treatments, vaccination boosters, and antiparasitic treatments for ticks and fleas. Also, remember to brush your Samoyed's teeth at least once a week, inspect their ears and eyes, and trim their nails regularly.
The purchase price of a purebred Samoyed puppy is between £2000 and £3200. Prices may vary according to various factors; breeders may charge different prices depending on the nature of the animal. For example, a breeder may request a higher price for a Samoyed puppy intended for exhibition or breeding. It's also possible for prices to increase if the puppy comes from a champion line. The law of supply and demand must also be taken into account. When there are more potential adopters than puppies, breeders can afford to up their prices. Adopting a purebred puppy always requires a significant budget, but don't be tempted to buy a cheaper dog on the internet. Private individuals do not offer the same guarantee as serious breeders. Instead, visit your local animal shelters, where you may also find purebred dogs in need of a home.
The Samoyed is quite capable of sleeping outside in a kennel. However, for your dog to be comfortable, the kennel must be perfectly adapted to its size. Your furball should be able to stand comfortably in the kennel and turn around without touching the sides. Don't choose a kennel that's too big either, though. Opt for a wooden kennel, which is more expensive than plastic, but is sturdier and provides the best insulation against both the cold and the heat. Of course, your Samoyed can also sleep in the house with you if you prefer. Find a quiet corner for your dog's sleeping area, somewhere out of the way, and buy them a suitable dog bed or pillow. If your dog has destructive tendencies, choose a plastic dog bed or basket, which is much stronger and less likely to break than fabric or leather. Avoid wicker items, which pose a risk of ingestion and suffocation.
Games and Physical Activities for the Samoyed
The Samoyed is a very energetic dog. This breed needs lots of activity, such as running, to exert energy each day. Without it, your dog is likely to feel bored and frustrated and may even develop problematic behaviours. Be sure to spend sufficient time with your pooch each day, playing games and doing fun outdoor activities. Take your Smiley Sammie for a walk of at least an hour and a half each day. Also, buy lots of sturdy toys to keep your pooch occupied while you're out of the house. The Samoyed is a very intelligent dog breed, so puzzles or reward-based toys like the Kong are also ideal. At the weekend, why not take this athletic dog to participate in canine activities, like tracking, agility, canicross, or treibball. You have so many options to choose from!
Pet Insurance: Protecting Your Samoyed
In the UK, there is no legal requirement to have pet insurance for your Samoyed. However, as the dog's owner, you would be held responsible for any damage caused to a third party by an accident, be it material damage or bodily harm. The Samoyed is an energetic breed and accidents can and do happen. This is where pet insurance comes in. Most home insurance policies offer the option to include animal liability insurance. Additionally, there are four main types of pet insurance available in the UK, which cover your pet in the event of accident or illness: Accident-Only, Time-Limited, Maximum Benefit, and Lifetime insurance.
Although the Samoyed is a pretty robust dog breed in general, it is still susceptible to some diseases. Getting your dog insured from an early age guarantees them the necessary care they need at every point throughout their life. Health insurance for your Sammie dog works the same way as it does for you: you pay a monthly premium to an insurance company and, in return, they reimburse you for any veterinary expenses. Veterinary costs are not standardised in the UK, which means they can be very high and vary substantially. Consequently, sometimes the cheapest solution for a sick dog is, unfortunately, euthanasia. So don't wait for your Samoyed to get sick or old before taking out pet insurance or you may risk them not being properly taken care of; we always recommend getting your dog insured from an early age.
In any case, before deciding on a contract, take the time to shop around for quotes and assess the terms and conditions that best suit your circumstance. The average cost for pet insurance in the UK in 2020 was £436 per year or just over £36 per month. Certain criteria, such as your dog's age and breed, may cause prices to vary. Lifetime dog insurance is the most comprehensive and expensive type of cover, which you can expect to cost around £80 per month. However, this type of insurance will certainly give your much greater peace of mind.