Samoyed Dog: Breed Facts and Temperament
Choosing the perfect dog to complete your family can be tricky. There are so many wonderful breeds to pick from, how do you find the right one for you? It can be tempting to go for the most adorable, the cutest, or the breed that is most popular at the moment. However, this can leave you with a match that is unsuitable for you, the dog, or both. Learning as much as you can about any breed that you are considering is the best way to choose the right dog. Here we walk you through the basics of the Samoyed dog breed. We cover its history, as well as some quick facts, including everything you need to know about its fantastic coat and its ability to shed everywhere at least twice a year.
History of the Samoyed Dog
The Samoyed dog breed is originally from Northwest Siberia, where it served as a hunter, herder, and sedge dog for the Samoyede people. The Samoyede tribes were peaceful nomads who treated their dogs as part of their family. While the dogs worked hard, they were kept indoors at night, sharing their warmth with their owners.
Samoyeds were first brought out of Siberia in the late 19th Century when they pulled sleds for crews undertaking Antarctic and Arctic expeditions. Few of the dogs taken on these expeditions ever returns, such were the hardships faced by the dogs and the human crews they supported.
The Samoyed breed was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1906 and was imported from Russian. Most modern Samoyed dogs can trace their ancestry back to dogs that were introduced to the United States after the First World War.
Quick Facts About the Samoyed Dog
- The Samoyed dog was traditionally used to herd reindeer, haul sleds, and hunt. They would also warm their owners by sleeping on top of them at night.
- Samoyed dogs are gentle, loyal, and devoted family dogs.
- Shedding should be their middle name. Samoyed’s shed twice a year profusely and require daily grooming when shedding.
- Samoyed’s formed an essential part of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s polar expedition
- Samoyeds are active dogs that do not like to sit still and prefer the company of humans to being alone.
Things You Should Know
Samoyeds are active dogs that are not well-suited to condo or apartment living. They need lots of space to run and play. Given this, a home with a securely fenced and large yard is the best environment.
If you are considering a Samoyed as a pet, you must be prepared to keep them challenged, physically, and mentally. Dog sports, agility, and ongoing training all play a role in keeping your dog entertained. Samoyeds that become bored are likely to chew your furniture, dig up your yard, or try to escape.
The Samoyed is a hunter at heart. It is advisable to keep your Samoyed on a leash when in public. Although they are great with children, they should never be left alone with small children as their size and instincts could lead to unnecessary accidents.
One question a lot of potential owners as is: Is the Samoyed dog hypoallergenic? The answer is yes. Despite its fluffy coat and tendency to shed, the Samoyed is considered hypoallergenic. This is due to the lack of dander in their coat.
Another key concern for owners is: How big do Samoyeds get? Generally, an adult Samoyed can weigh up to 60 pounds and stand at around one foot, seven inches tall when measured from the shoulder.
Due to their thick coats, care needs to be taken with Samoyeds during hot weather. Strenuous exercise should be avoided when it is extremely hot to prevent overheating. High-level exercise should be limited to the cooler early mornings and evenings.
As a large breed, Samoyeds are susceptible to injury and bone disorders, particularly during rapid growth periods. A Samoyed’s primary period of rapid growth is between four and seven months. Puppies should not jump excessively, pull heavy loads, or play and run on hard surfaces until their joints are fully formed. This is usually around the age of two. As well as being careful of the amount and type of exercise they undertake during this period, Samoyed owners should also carefully oversee their dog’s diet. A low-calorie, high-quality diet ensures that your dog does not grow too fast.
The Samoyed dog breed is generally very healthy. However, as with all dogs, much depends on the quality of the breeder and the care taken when choosing breeding pairs. There are several checks that breeders should carry out, including for von Willebrand’s, hypothyroidism, and thrombopathia. Dogs should also be checked for dysplasia in the hips and elbows. The main health issues that can occur in Samoyeds include:
- Glaucoma: There are two types of glaucoma. The primary form is hereditary; the secondary form is caused by decreased fluid in the eye as a result of other eye diseases. Symptoms of glaucoma include pain and vision loss. Treatment can consist of surgery and eye drops; however, the type of treatment and its effectiveness depend on the type of glaucoma.
- Hip Dysplasia: An inherited condition where the thighbone doesn’t fit correctly into the hip joint. This causes too much movement in the joints, resulting in pain and potentially lameness in one or both rear legs. Over time it can lead to the dog developing arthritis. However, not all dogs show any symptoms at all. The problem is best diagnosed through x-rays. If a dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, it should not be bred. This is one of the reasons why you should ask for proof of hip test scores when choosing a puppy.
- Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy: A genetic kidney disease that is more severe in males. Symptoms usually appear at around three months, and renal failure, leading to death, can occur by 15 months. In females, milder symptoms begin to occur around the same age but do not lead to renal failure. Unfortunately, there is currently no genetic screening test available for this condition.
- Hypothyroidism: A disorder of the thyroid gland that has been linked to a range of different conditions. It is considered to be a possible root cause of alopecia, epilepsy, hyperpigmentation, lethargy, obesity, and pyoderma, as well as other skin conditions. It can be treated with dietary changes and medication.
- Diabetes Mellitus: A condition where the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels. Diabetic dogs present as having healthy appetites but continue to lose weight as the food is not used efficiently. Symptoms of diabetes include increased appetite, excessive drinking, excessive urination, and unexplained weight loss. Changes to diet and where necessary, the administration of insulin can control diabetes.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: A family of eye diseases that cause the retina to deteriorate over time. In the early stages of the disease, dogs become night-blind. As the disease progresses, their ability to see during the day is also affected. Many dogs adapt well to their loss of or limited vision as long as they are in familiar environments where their surroundings are kept the same.
- Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis: A heart problem caused by a narrow connection between the aorta and the left ventricle. The condition can result in fainting and sudden death. There are tests and treatments available to deal with the condition.
Training and socialization are essential with all dogs, and Samoyed’s are no exception. Expose your dog to different sights, sounds, and smells from an early age and socialize them around people and animals as soon as it is safe to do so. All training should be positive and reward-based as these hardy dogs are also quite sensitive.
Formal training classes for Samoyed puppies help ensure that they learn appropriate canine manners from an early age. Obedience training also helps to keep their brains active and stops them from becoming bored. Once they are old enough, add agility training to their routine to help keep them physically and mentally challenged.
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Samoyed puppies should experience short bursts of activity throughout the day and should avoid long walks, particularly on hard surfaces. After their joints are fully formed at around two years old, Samoyed dogs need a minimum of two hours of exercise every day. Long walks that take in different sights, sounds, and smells are a must. Playtime is also essential to keep them interested and engaged. While time playing in a yard with toys is excellent, they need regular human interaction is you want to avoid negative behaviors such as chewing, excessive digging, and continual barking.
The right nutrition is vital if your dog is going to have a full, healthy, and active life. You must get their nutrition right from the beginning to ensure that their growth is steady. If your Samoyed grows too fast, it can lead to joint problems later in life. A high-quality food that is between 12% and 15% fat and has a protein content of around 24% is perfect for an adult Samoyed.
The amount of food that you give your dog depends on several factors, including their activity level, age, and size. For an adult, the recommended daily amount is between 1.5 and 2.5 cups of dry food a day. This should be split between two meals. If you are feeding dry dog food, then remember to ensure that your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times.
To test whether your dog is at a healthy weight, start by looking down at them. Your dog’s waist should be visible. Next, place your hands on their back with your thumbs positioned along their spine. Spread your fingers downwards. If you can feel, but not see, their ribs without pressing hard, then they are at a healthy weight. If the ribs are visible, then they are underweight. Similarly, if you need to press hard to feel them, then they are overweight.
Grooming is a time consuming and vital part of owning a Samoyed dog. Samoyeds have a thick, soft undercoat that is often referred to as wool and a straight outer coat. Samoyeds need to be brushed regularly, twice a week for most of the year and every day during shedding. Samoyeds shed once or twice a year, and they will quite literally leave their hair everywhere during this time.
Bathing is a must and should be undertaken around once every eight weeks unless your dog finds something smelly or muddy to roll in, then you will want to bath them as soon as possible. Ensure that you use a dog shampoo and that their coat is thoroughly rinsed.
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Nails should be trimmed at least once a month, more often if they are not worn down on hard surfaces. If you can hear your dog clicking their nails on the floor as they walk, then they are too long and should be trimmed. Introduce your dog to nail clippers early and make it a positive bonding activity to get the best results. Ear checking and teeth cleaning are also essential parts of your dog’s grooming routine and again should be started early to get the best results.
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Samoyed dogs are gentle, loyal, and intelligent. They love being part of a family group and prefer not to be alone. They develop strong bonds with their families and are affectionate with children and other pets. However, they do retain their hunting instincts, so care needs to be taken with small pets. Introduce them to cats at a young age and do not leave them alone with smaller pets such as rabbits. The Samoyed breed is also very alert, and their loyalty to their family group makes them a great protector and guard dog as well as a loving family pet.
While training and socialization play an essential role in developing the Samoyed personality, genetics also play a crucial role. For this reason, it is important to meet at least one of the parents before settling on a puppy. If you can meet both parents, siblings, or other relatives as well, then this is a bonus. If you find that you are not comfortable around the older dog, then a puppy from their litter may not be right for you.
The Samoyed breed has changed very little since their days with their nomadic tribes. They still enjoy an active lifestyle and are happiest when included in family activities and kept close to their loved ones. Properly socialized and trained, a Samoyed dog will be a beloved family pet and will bring years of love and fun.
- Genetic Diversity Testing for Samoyed – UC Davis Veterinary Medicine