The Smiley Dog

The first thing you notice about a Samoyed is its smile.

Its bright white, fluffy fur coat and distinctively curled tail are also attention getters.

The dog, nicknamed "Sammy", is very easy going and friendly, with a playful personality that charms family and strangers alike.

The Samoyed has a fascinating history and a reputation for being a family favorite.

Samoyed dog

The Samoyed dog breed was named after the nomadic Samoyedic reindeer herders in Siberia, who bred the dogs to assist with herding and pulling sleds.

DNA research has revealed that the Samoyed is one of the world's 14 oldest dog breeds. The Samoyed worked hard alongside the hunters and fishermen during the day, and slept by their sides at night to keep them warm from below-freezing Siberian temperatures.

This relationship formed a deeply seeded trust and bond that still exists between Samoyed dogs and their owners today.

In 1889, the Samoyed was introduced to England by the explorer Robert Scott. The nearly 3,000-year old dog breed's popularity then began to spread throughout the world. In 1906, fur traders brought the Samoyed to America, at which time the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Association.

In 1911, Roald Amundsen used Samoyed dogs on the first expedition to the South Pole. Etah, the expedition's lead dog, became a household name. He was one of 11 dogs out of a pack of 52 that survived the long voyage.

Today, the Samoyed is rarely used for competitive sled racing as other dogs, such as the Alaskan Husky, are bred specifically for the sport. In addition, Samoyeds are rarely used as herding dogs today; dogs such as the Border collie and Australian shepherd are now bred specifically as working farm dogs.

Samoyed dogs are known to be quite sociable, approaching family, friends and even strangers with a friendly, playful disposition, hence its "smiley dog” nickname.

As a result, while your Samoyed may not be the best choice as a guard dog, she will get along well with children and other dogs. Samoyeds are very intelligent and tend to respond well to training. Due in part to the breed's background, the Samoyed is a good team player and you might notice, from time to time, that its natural instinct comes to life when she begins herding children during playtime.

Your Samoyed can become bored if not engaged or exercised on a daily basis, and may resort to chewing or digging. To avoid destructive behavior, try not to leave your Samoyed alone for long periods of time and make a point to engage your dog in some sort of physical activity before leaving the house, whether going for a walk or playing in the backyard.

Samoyeds may also need to be separated from small, non-canine pets unless social integration has successfully been managed at your home. While they are capable of living in a bi-species home, such as one with a cat, Samoyeds should not be trusted alone with other small pets unless that trust has been carefully nurtured.

Samoyed dog

Looking at the Samoyed's thick, full coat one could guess that this dog sheds year round.

Samoyeds have a double-layered coat, which contributes to the fluffy appearance of the dog breed. While it sheds its undercoat once or twice a year in large clumps, its fine hairs shed constantly, often sticking to fabric and clothing or floating in the air.

The Samoyed's tail, which is one of the dog's most distinguishable features, usually rests on the back, curling slightly to one side. Interestingly, many Samoyed owners note that their dogs tend to sleep with their tails tucked around their noses during chillier temperatures.

The average male Samoyed weighs between 55 and 70 pounds, while female Samoyeds typically weigh in between 40 and 55 pounds.

Fun fact: Shed Samoyed fur is sometimes used as an alternative to wool in knitting, with a texture similar to angora. The fur is sometimes also used for the creation of artificial flies for fly fishing.

Samoyed dog

The medical conditions listed below are some of the more common and serious genetic disorders know to occur in the Samoyed. Your Samoyed will not necessarily be affected by any of the disorders listed.

  • Atrial septal defects: A congenital heart defect as a hole in the atrial septum develops, enabling blood flow between the left and right atria via the interatrial septum.
  • Diabetes mellitus: A metabolic disorder resulting in high levels of glucose (blood sugar) in the body due to inadequate production or use of insulin.
  • Hip dysplasia: A malformation of the hip joints that causes arthritis. The condition is especially crippling in large breeds of dogs.
  • Hemophilia: A genetically inherited bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency of certain blood clotting factors. Signs include excessive bleeding from the gums, when getting adult teeth, and areas of bleeding under the skin from minor trauma.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): This is a sex-linked genetic disorder primarily seen in male Samoyeds. A DNA test is available that will determine if your pet is at risk for developing gradual degeneration of the retina leading to blindness.
  • Pulmonic stenosis: Congenital malformation of the pulmonic valve of the pulmonary artery resulting in a heart murmur. Slight narrowing of the valve causes few problems, severe narrowing of the valve may result in right heart enlargement and congestive heart failure.
  • Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy: This genetic, renal disease typically affects male Samoyeds early on in life, while the female dogs can be carriers. The disease is caused by a defect in the glomerulus, a capillary tuft that performs the first step in filtering blood to form urine. When the structure of the glomerulus membrane begins to degenerate, plasma proteins are lost in the urine and symptoms begin to occur — lethargy and muscle weakening. Unfortunately, the typical outcome of this disease is renal failure around 15 months of age.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.