- The Samoyed is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds
- The Sammy’s lush white coat is his most outstanding physical feature
- These dogs wear a happy expression affectionately referred to as the “Sammy smile”
- If you’re thinking of adding a Samoyed to your family, be sure to check your local shelters and rescue organizations for adoptable dogs
Editor's Note: This article is a reprint. It was originally published December 24, 2015.
The Samoyed is one of the world's oldest dog breeds. His lush white coat is his most outstanding physical feature. These dogs wear a happy expression affectionately referred to as the "Sammy smile."
If you're thinking of adding a Samoyed to your family, be sure to check your local shelters and rescue organizations for adoptable dogs.
10 Fascinating Facts About Samoyeds
- The samoyed name is often mispronounced — Most people assume this handsome dog's name is pronounced Sa-MOY-ed, but the correct pronunciation is actually SAMmy-ed. The Samoyed also goes by a few other names, including some real tongue-twisters: Bjelkier, Samoiedskaya Sobaka, and Nemetskaya Laika. Nicknames for the breed include "Sammy," "Sam," and "Smiley."
- The samoyed is one of the world's oldest dog breeds — The Samoyed breed is one of 14 ancient dog breeds with genetic footprints closest to wolves. Samoyeds belong to the Spitz family of dogs, originating in Asia, and were bred by the Samoyede people of Siberia to pull sleds, herd reindeer, and hunt. It is thought that the Samoyede treated their dogs more as members of the family than possessions.
The Samoyed first appeared in England in the late 19th century, and in the U.S. in 1906. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) that same year.
- Samoyeds are stunning dogs — The Samoyed's most remarkable feature is her gorgeous, thick white coat. Her eyes are almond-shaped and usually black or brown. Her ears are as furry as the rest of her and stand erect.
Another stunning feature of the Samoyed is her tail, which curls over the back. When feeling relaxed and comfortable, the tail normally falls. Male Samoyeds stand from 21 to 24 inches tall, females 19 to 21 inches tall. The average weight for a Samoyed is 50 to 60 pounds.
- The samoyed is famous for his smile — The reason one of the Samoyed's nicknames is "Smiley" is because these dogs wear a trademark grin. The corners of their mouths turn upward, giving them a happy expression described as the "Sammy smile."
- The samoyed coat is a challenge to groom — The Samoyed coat isn't gorgeous by accident. Owners of these dogs must be very disciplined about brushing them frequently to prevent tangling and matting. Not surprisingly, Samoyeds blow a lot of hair all over the place during shedding season.
The Samoyed is double-coated. The undercoat is soft, short, and thick with longer hairs growing out to the outer coat. The outer coat is rough and stands straight out. There is a ruff around the neck and shoulders. Coat colors include pure white, biscuit, yellow, cream, and white with silver tips. Male Sammies tend to have thicker, denser coats than females.
- Samoyeds need to be full members of the family — Samoyeds are known as affectionate family dogs, though they often bond closest with one person in the household. These dogs need to be with their people, and when left alone too often or for too long, they can become lonely, depressed, and destructive.
While very friendly and smart, the Samoyed can be challenging for novice owners. He's a vocal dog, and he needs to be kept busy and active to prevent undesirable behaviors. He also has a strong hunting instinct and will give chase after small animals, including cats.
Agility and tracking are excellent activities to keep your Samoyed physically and mentally stimulated.
- Samoyeds are good with children and other dogs — A well-socialized Sammy loves kids, but it's important that interactions with small children be supervised to prevent the dog from unintentionally knocking over a little guy or girl.
Samoyeds typically have calm temperaments, so they do well around other dogs – especially if they are raised together from an early age.
- A bored, under-stimulated samoyed can be destructive — Samoyeds are known to be chewers and quite destructive if they are under-exercised and/or left alone for long periods.
- The samoyed is a generally healthy breed — Like all purebred dogs, Samoyeds are prone to certain health conditions, including glaucoma, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, diabetes, progressive retinal atrophy, subvalvular aortic stenosis, and cancer.
The breed is also predisposed to a condition called Samoyed hereditary glomerulopathy, a genetic kidney disease. The average lifespan of the Samoyed is 12 to 15 years.
- The samoyed is sensitive to heat — As you might guess from her thick, luxurious coat, the Samoyed prefers cooler temperatures. Don't allow your Sammy to overexert herself in the heat. Schedule exercise and play sessions for the cooler hours of the day, and keep her inside in air conditioning when the temperature heats up.