Samoyeds look like a cloud of marshmallow fluff gained sentience and legs and started running around with a big smile on her face. No, really: this breed is known as the “Smiling Sami” because their facial expressions look so happy.
Samoyed fluff is really no joke, though: these dogs shed so much fur that indigenous Siberian peoples spun the excess into yarn to make warm clothes. (We can't recommend you try this at home, but we can't stop you, either. Who knows? Samoyed-yarn cardigans could be the next “it” thing in Brooklyn.)
These dogs are also distinctive because of their heritage and their voices. Samoyeds have no wolf or fox DNA in their genes; they're some of the closest cousins to the original “primitive” dog. This breed was also along on the first recorded exploratory trip to reach the South Pole.
And they're very vocal dogs. They don't just bark, they sing! That high-pitched howl could give Mariah Carey a run for her money.
Originally from what is now Russia, this medium-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 35-65 pounds and lives an average of 12-14 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Working group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Herding
Breed Group: Working
Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 67
FAMILY spitz, Northern (herding)
AREA OF ORIGIN Russia (Siberia)
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION herding reindeer, guardian, draft
TODAY'S FUNCTION sled pulling, herding trials
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 21-23.5 Weight: 45-65
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 19-21 Weight: 35-50
OTHER NAME Samoyedskaya
Energy level Medium energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly
Ease of training Easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance High tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A SAMOYED'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
These dogs often adore children, but they're pretty friendly toward just about anyone on two or four legs. Just be sure they're properly socialized and supervised. Their turned-up lips don't lie: Samoyeds are gentle, friendly, and eager.
WHAT IS SAMOYED BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This is a very active dog with energy and curiosity to burn. If you leave this dog on her own too much, or you don't find a way to channel that energy, she's likely to make her own fun. Samoyed “fun” involves howling, digging, and looking for mischief. Hint: find her something positive to do, or she'll remodel your backyard and your closet. At the very least, plan for a substantial daily walk or romp in a well-fenced area.
They might look like walking hand-warmers, but Samoyeds are not particularly snuggly. These dogs are calm housemates if they've had enough exercise, however.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A SAMOYED?
Samoyeds are smart and learn quickly, but they can be a bit stubborn and independent-minded. Be patient and consistent with this four-legged fluffball. Reward good behaviors with treats and games.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO SAMOYEDS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Samoyeds shed as much as it is possible for a dog to shed and still have fur on her body. If you bring a Samoyed home, banish black from your wardrobe or invest in a serious de-linter. (Did we mention the idea of Samoyed-lined clothing? You may not have a choice.) Their harsh outer coats stick straight out from their bodies; the undercoat is soft and thick. Brush them often to prevent mats and tangles.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO SAMOYEDS HAVE?
As a breed, Samoyeds are generally healthy. Some are prone to pudginess and diabetes, so be mindful about meals, snacks, and weight. Others can be susceptible to cardiac disease, hypothyroidism, bloat, eye ailments, and hip dysplasia.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE SAMOYEDS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Samoyeds among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies. You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large and fluffy as a Samoyed!
WHAT IS A SAMOYED'S BEST DAY?
An adult Samoyed's best day involves pulling a sled through fluffy snowbanks. Failing that, she'd love to chase you through fluffy snowbanks for as long as you can stay outside in the cold. Dress warm and consider a glow-in-the-dark collar: she'd be happy to stay out all day.
SHOULD I ADOPT A SAMOYED?
As you might expect of a dog breed to survive Siberian winters, Samoyeds do very well in cold weather but droop in the heat. Air conditioning is a must for Samoyeds in the summer. If you have the space and time to give your Samoyed the exercise and care she needs, she'll be the most loving, devoted smiling snowball you'll ever meet. Plus they're the closest you'll probably ever get to living with a polar bear — and bringing a Samoyed home is ever so much more practical than trying to live at the zoo!
Have you decided that a Samoyed is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.