The Samoyed is a spitz type breed of dog that derives its name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia. These nomadic reindeer herders bred these white, fluffy dogs to aid with the herding and also to pull the sleds when moving. It is descended from the Nenets herding laika (a spitz type dog) from Siberia and is used for herding, guarding, sledding, and keeping their owners warm. Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian explorer, believed that the use of sled pulling dogs was the only good way to explore the north and used the Samoyeds on his polar expeditions. The Samoyed has been identified as a basal breed that predates the rise of the modern breeds that came about in the 19th century.

Physical Appearance

The AKC standard size of the dog is between 21-23.5 inches tall at the shoulders for males and between 19-21 inches tall for the females. The eyes of the breed are typically black or brown and are almond shaped. While blue or other color eyes can occur, they are not allowed in the show ring. His ears are thick triangular in shape, erect and covered with fur. Almost always they are white but may have a light to dark brown tint usually at the tip of the ears. The tail is one of the Samoyeds more distinguishing features. It is carried curled over the back, and is held touching the back (unlike the Alaskan Malamute). It should be carried lying over the back and to one side. During cold winter conditions, the dog may sleep with his tail over its nose to keep it warm. The Samoyed has a dense double coat. The undercoat has a soft, dense, and short fur that keeps the dog warm. The outercoat or topcoat has coarse, long, and straight guard hairs that appears white in color but has a hint of silver coloring.


With their tendency to bark the Samoyed can be a diligent watch dog. However, their friendly disposition makes them poor guard dogs, as an aggressive Samoyed is rare. They are excellent companions, especially for other dogs and even small children. This breed will remain playful into old age. When the dog becomes bored he may begin to dig, and with their sled dog background, and not being averse to pulling things, if not trained he will have no problem pulling his owner on a leash. As they also have instincts in herding, when playing with children they may attempt to turn and move them in different directions. He is characterized by a happy and alert expression, which has subsequently earned the Samoyed the nicknames “Sammie smile” and “smiley dog”.


The average life expectancy of the Samoyed is 12-13 years. Some Samoyeds are affected by these genetic disorders; Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy, and nephritis. Some other health concerns within the breed include; diabetes progressive retinal atrophy, eye abnormalities, short legs, pulmonary stenosis, hip dysplasia, and sebaceous adenitis.