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Samoyed Dog Breed Information: Facts, Traits, Pictures, & More

Thinking of adopting a Samoyed, but want to make sure you know enough about the breed before you do? This fluffy dog breed can make a great canine companion for the right owner. But they aren't suited for everyone. Read on to find out what you can expect.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: June 23, 2021 | 15 min read

Samoyed Dog in the Forest

The Samoyed is the ground cloud of the canine kingdom and becoming increasingly popular as a family pet. His heavenly looks and charming personality make him a superstar in social media! But he is more than his polar bear looks!

His coat takes a fair bit of grooming (and patience!), and he needs a lot of mental and physical stimulation. If you are thinking about taking this pup on, you need to make sure that he will fit into your family.

In this comprehensive breed overview, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this white and fluffy pup. You’ll learn about his personality, as well as what kind of home he’s best suited for. You’ll also learn what you can expect about his grooming regime, exercise requirements, and how to go about finding a puppy. Let’s jump in and find out if the Samoyed is the perfect pup for your family!

Samoyed Overview
    • weight iconWeight35-65 pounds
    • height iconHeight19-24 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan12-14 years
    • color iconColorsWhite, Cream & Biscuit
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

History

Adult White Dog Outside
The breed originates in Siberia, and is built for colder climates.

The Samoyed hails from Siberia, just like other fluffy dogs like the Siberian Husky. Thousands of years ago, the Samoyedic people bred dogs to work the harsh freezing conditions of the coldest place on earth. And to keep them warm at night in the tents too.

This breed is well known to function very well in cold weather. Minus 60 degrees is common where the Sammy is from! Their initial role in the day was to pull heavily laden sleds between tribes, and they can pull up to one and a half times their own weight.

They were also very talented at hunting reindeer for food, leather, and fur. As well as protecting the tribes from predators. Gradually, the Samoyedic people realized that money could be made from reindeers, so the Sammy turned his talents to herding and protecting them too. The Sammy was a master of all trades! So impressed were the English arctic explorers that they took them back home.

In the late 18th century, Queen Alexandra fell in love with the breed and showed them off for the world to see. He made his way over to America, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) registered the first Sammy in 1906.

In 1911, the famous Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen chose several Samoyeds to join him on the first-ever successful expedition to the south pole. A more recently famous Samoyed that you might have come across on social media is Maya the Sammy. With 2.1 million followers, she is currently one of the most famous dogs in the world.

Temperament

White Dog in Field
This breed is active and excitable like their Spitz relatives.

The Sammy’s best personality trait is that he has a real love for life. He is always happy, always smiling (more on the famous Sammy smile later!), and always filling people’s day with love. After hundreds, possibly thousands, of years, huddling with his family in freezing cold tents, it’s safe to say that Samoyeds always form close bonds with their humans. His infectious love of life and people make him a top choice as a family pet.

This also means that he can be an intensely needy dog. He hates to be left alone and will constantly howl until you return. If you like needy dogs, this guy will tick all those boxes. But, if you prefer a laid-back and less dependant doggo, you should consider another dog breed altogether. He needs a family that can spend most of their time with him.

He is a very fun pooch who is always looking for a good time. He’s not one to sit and laze the day away. There is always an adventure to be had with a Samoyed about. If you and your family are looking for canine entertainment, look no further than this fluffy guy. This is why children love him (and his polar bear appearance) because they can always count on him as an eager sibling to play with.

The Samoyed is a fantastic watchdog, which stems back to his time in Siberia protecting his tribe. He will bark at everyone and everything that enters his property, so we hope you don’t mind barky dogs. This is something to think through if you live next to noise-sensitive neighbors. But his cute fluffy appearance and smiley face doesn’t scream guard dog – just a doggy doorbell.

Some Sammy dog owners were surprised to learn that they have a high prey drive. Usually, the hard way when they were least expecting to be whipped off their feet. And it’s not just reindeer that they like to chase. Anything that’s not a dog is a game to chase. This is not a pooch that we would let off-leash in a park, that’s for sure.

Size & Appearance

White Dog in Snow
The Samoyed is a medium-sized breed, bordering on large.

The Sammy is a medium to large-sized dog. He weighs between 35 and 65 pounds and measures between 19.5 and 23.5 inches from paw to shoulder. His middle-of-the-road size means that he isn’t too big for most homes, but he is robust enough to play with the big dogs if he wants to. Like all dog breeds, the males tend to be larger than their female counterparts. Sometimes, females have slightly longer backs than males do.

It’s easy to see that the Sammy is part of the Spitz canine family. His fluffy coat clearly keeps him warm, with the erect triangular fox-ears and an upwards tail that curls up his back. His breed standard describes him as having beauty, alertness, and strength. Glamorous yet capable of working hard. His eyes should be dark in color, as should his nose. If you would like to show your Sammy in the conformation ring, your pup will need to meet the breed standard.

Let’s talk about his famous Sammy smile. The corner of the Samoyed mouth upturns, so it looks like he is always smiling. This clever design also prevents the Sammy from drooling. This was important in Siberia because otherwise, his drool would turn into icicles. And although he probably won’t be living in such freezing conditions with you, it does mean that he is one of the least drooly dogs in the canine kingdom!

Coat & Colors

White Coated Puppy Outdoors
The breed is well known for its spectacular white coat.

The Samoyed’s coat is his most distinctive feature and one that most people swoon over. Their white coats make them very sought after by potential dog owners. But their coats can also be time-consuming to care for, and we’ve dedicated a whole section to his grooming. There are only four accepted Sammy colors. These are white, cream, biscuit, and a combination of white and biscuit. His hair should shimmer a silvery pearly sheen.

His jacket is thick and double-coated to keep him warm and protected against the elements. The undercoat is soft and wooly in texture. It is short and lies close to his body to insulate his body heat. The outercoat is longer, straighter, and it protects the undercoat from becoming wet. It should form a ruff around the neck, more so on males. The Sammy is a moderate shedder all year round, and he sheds heavily during the shedding seasons.

Exercise Requirements

Samoyed Dog Running on Beach
This is an extremely active breed that needs close human companionship.

The Samoyed is a very active pup, and he needs much more exercise than people think. This pup should be placed with an active family. And one who can guarantee at least one hour of intense exercise every day. He was bred to work hard, and he still retains this working energy. Unfortunately, many families take this guy on, thinking he’s just a pretty pup who likes to laze on laps. But he’s a high-energy dog up there with the Labradors and the Dobermans.

He is a curious and intelligent guy who also needs lots of mental stimulation throughout the day. You’ll want a variety of different dog toys for both interactive and solo playtime. Without adequate exercise and entertainment throughout the day, he will dig up your yard, chew everything in sight, and get up to all sorts of mischief. Why not take him somewhere where he can run off-leash? Secured doggy parks or contained fields are ideal for burning off steam.

Living Conditions

White Dog Laying in Grass
While they can live in smaller spaces, the Samoyed does best with a large fully fenced yard.

The Samoyed is a relatively adaptable pup, but there are a few things that he needs to live his best life. He could happily live in an apartment, a large home, or anywhere in between. He would like access to a private yard, but this is not necessary if his exercise needs are met. The most important thing is that his family is there to keep him company for most of the day. He much prefers colder climates too.

If you own a larger, private yard, it needs to be secure to prevent him from escaping. Don’t let his angelic looks fool you; he is a cheeky chap who will escape if he can. Running is in his blood, and so is chasing things. The neighbor’s cat, birds, and butterflies will regret the day they tried to come into his space.

Although he barks a lot, he will accept most people into his house without much hesitation. He is a friendly dog who loves to make friends. He is very fond of children and will often gravitate towards them when he has a choice of who to snuggle with on the sofa. And he’s just the right size for kids too. But to be on the safe side, always supervise dogs and kids.

The Sammy gets on well with other dogs if socialized well. Meaning he should do well in a multi-dog household. However, he has a high prey drive, so he might not do well with other animals. If he grows up as a pup, he may accept them as part of the family. But then again, he might not. So, it’s best not to count on it if you are a multi-pet household.

Training

White Dog in Training Outdoors
This breed can be sensitive, so training with a gentler approach is needed.

The Sammy is a reasonably intelligent dog breed. He’s by no means a dumb doggo! But, he can be a little bit stubborn and often too busy to listen. Which can make training him a tough job. So, he isn’t the easiest of canine choices for first-time dog owners. The trick to training stubborn dogs is to start as early as possible and make all sessions short and fun. Otherwise, he’ll get bored.

The Sammy needs a firm but gentle training regime. Positive reinforcement training is the preferred training method for this breed. Find out what motivates your Sammy and use that to your advantage. If it’s toys, invest in a few varieties to keep him interested. And if it’s treats, use them moderately. Make every experience as positive and fun and possible, and he’ll probably do it again. If you shout at him, he’ll sulk for sure.

As friendly and loving as the Sammy is, he needs to be socialized as a pup if you want him to be polite and pleasant. A high-quality breeder will start the socialization process when your dog is young, but it’ll be your job to continue the hard work. Mix him with other pups and humans if you have the ability to do so. And expose him to different environments and scenarios to increase his confidence.

As you already know, many Sammys suffer from separation anxiety. It’s important to leave them alone for short periods of time as a pup so that it becomes normal. But, it’s also recommended to crate them too because crates provide shelter and comfort that will reduce their anxiety. Don’t think of crates as a doggy prison. Crates are scientifically proven to ease anxiety. Plus, it also means he cannot get up to mischief when you do have to leave him.

Recall training is also really important for the Sammy. Although you will never train the innate high prey drive out of him, the more you practice, the more likely he will come back to you should he escape. Most Samoyed owners do not let their dogs off because there is a high chance that you’ll never see them again. He should always be wearing contact details and update microchip details regularly, just in case the worse happens.

Health

Samoyed Dog Exercising Outside
The Breed has a longer lifespan, and is generally healthy.

The Sammy breed is usually very healthy. His typical lifespan is 12 to 14 years. As mom or dad, it’s your responsibility to keep your Sammy as healthy as possible. There are several things that you need to do so that he can live the healthiest life possible. Keep up to date with vet health checks, ensure he is exercised adequately, and feed him the best diet that you can afford.

Like all purebred dog breeds, the Sammy is prone to certain health concerns more so than others. All dogs are different, and your Sammy might suffer from none, some, or all of the common Sammy health concerns. The below list is not exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start. Be sure to research them so that you can recognize the symptoms.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common health concern for medium to large-sized dog breeds. This disease occurs when their hips develop too quickly, or abnormally. This quick (or uneven) growth causes additional wear and tear, and it can lead to mobility issues and arthritis. Genetics also plays a part, so you must ensure that you buy a pup from a breeder who tests for good health scores. Symptoms such as struggling to stand or lay down, or climb the stairs are signs of hip dysplasia. As well as general exercise intolerance.

Eye Conditions

The Sammy breed is prone to several eye conditions. The most common is progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia. Both of these conditions can result in permanent vision loss. If you notice any changes to his eyes’ appearance, poor vision, light sensitivity, or excessive rubbing, arrange a visit to the vets.

Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis

This is a cardiac condition caused by a narrow connection between the aorta and the left ventricle. It can lead to fainting and, sadly, sometimes sudden death. Your vet should detect this by detecting heart murmurs, which is why it is important to undergo regular health checks.

Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy

This is a genetic kidney disease and it affects mainly male Sammys. Symptoms will appear within the first few months of life, and by the age of 15 months, complete kidney failure is common. Unfortunately, there is no test available for this but speak to your breeder, who can talk you through it.

Nutrition

White Dog Eating Food
Sammies typically eat between 2 and 3 cups of food per day as adults.

A typical adult Samoyed will consume between 2 and 3 cups of food every day. This will be entirely dependent on his age, activity levels, lifestyle, and the food brand you use. So, always read the package instructions for tailored advice. Never overfeed your Sammy. It will be difficult to notice any weight gain under that coat of his, so put him on the scales regularly to ensure that he is healthy.

Always feed your pooch a high-quality kibble. High-quality kibbles ensure that your pooch receives a well-balanced diet. And they rarely include cheap fillers or nasty preservatives that can irritate doggy digestive systems. It’s always important to feed your Sammy an age-appropriate diet, i.e., puppy food, adult food, or senior food. Look for a kibble with plenty of healthy omega-three ingredients, such as meat meals, fish, fish oils, and flaxseed. These will keep his coat looking and feeling its best.

Grooming

White Dog in Bathtub
Expect to bathe your Sammy once every eight weeks, with daily brushing during shedding season.

The Samoyed is best known for his coat, and his heavenly jacket comes with a lot of responsibility. Sounds daunting, right? Don’t worry, it’s not tricky. It’s just time-consuming. So, he needs to live with a family who has the time and patience to keep up with it.

He needs brushing every other day throughout the year and daily during shedding season. You’ll know when you need to brush him more because his coat will fall profusely. A deshedding brush is a crucial tool for the Sammy.

He’ll need bathing once every eight weeks or so, but never more than once a month. When it comes to bath time, you’ll need to rinse and soap him up properly to achieve a thorough cleanse. And you’ll also need to dry him thoroughly too. A damp coat can cause skin problems and even a buildup of mold. Many Sammy owners take him to a groomer for this process.

The Sammy needs his teeth brushed twice weekly to reduce the risk of periodontal diseases. You’ll also need to make sure that there are no twigs or leaves hidden in his coat after every walk or adventure to prevent matting. Check him over for any lumps, bumps, eye problems, or other issues that might require a visit to the vets. Thankfully, the Sammy will love all the attention if he is exposed to his grooming regime as a pup!

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Samoyed Puppies Outdoors
Expect to pay $1,000 and up for a purebred puppy.

The Sammy is a relatively rare dog breed and usually finds himself in the top 60 dog breeds. This means you’ll likely need to travel to find a reputable Samoyed breeder. A great place to start your Sammy search is with the AKC’s Samoyed breeder list. The average price of a Samoyed puppy starts from around $1,000. But you can expect to pay a lot more for a puppy from an award-winning bloodline.

Always research the breeder you select to make sure that they are reputable and responsible. Be sure to ask them questions about the parents and request the relevant health certificates. If they welcome you to meet the puppies and the mother in their home environment and are knowledgeable, it’s a good sign. Paying a little extra for a good quality breeder means you will likely get a healthier pup.

Never work with an unreputable breeder or one who is not concerned with the health of the puppies. Sadly, there are breeders out there who are more concerned with the money in your wallet rather than producing healthy pups. And they will entice you with lower puppy prices. If they seem cagey about information, or they refuse to let you meet the pups in person before full payment, walk away. It’s not worth the risk.

Initial puppy price is just one cost factor that you’ll need to consider. You also need to purchase everything that a dog needs, such as beds, crates, collars, puppy treatments, and more. Plus, don’t forget puppy-proofing your home. There are also ongoing lifetime costs too, such as insurance, food, and grooming to name just a few. Sure, he’s not as expensive as a Mastiff! But, like all dogs, the Sammy requires a family who can financially commit to his needs.

Rescues & Shelters

Rescue Dog Outdoors
While rarer, you can find purebreds at local rescues if you make contact with the right resources.

Buying a brand new canine cloud is not the only option for wannabe Sammy owners. You can also adopt one. Sadly, Samoyeds are rare in local rescue shelters. And when they do appear, they are snapped up quickly. Head out to your local rescue shelter and speak to the staff, who will be able to point you in the right Sammy direction.

Alternatively, several rescue organizations out there dedicate all of their time and efforts to rehome the Sammy breed. The Samoyed Club of America lists most of the Sammy Rescue groups across the nation. Many Sammys are waiting for their forever home, so be sure to check it out. There are also lots of other useful Sammy information and resources there too.

As Family Pets

  • The Samoyed makes a brilliant family dog for most families.
  • They crave frequent human companionship.
  • Samoyed can develop separation anxiety without close human contact.
  • He is a sledding dog who has plenty of energy.
  • These pups are active and need a minimum 60 minutes of daily exercise.
  • This means they fit best with an active family.
  • He is a playful canine who needs to be mentally stimulated throughout the day.
  • If they aren’t properly exercised, expect trouble!
  • He is affectionate and loving, and he loves to snuggle.
  • The Sammy is friendly with strangers and generally outgoing.
  • Samoyed will bark at everyone and everything that visits his property.
  • He has a very high prey drive, so he shouldn’t be let off-leash.
  • He is super fond of children and can live with any type of family.
  • They can happily live with other canines.
  • Sammies always seem to have a smile on their face.
  • They have an intense grooming schedule.
  • Many owners opt to send him to the groomers.

Final Thoughts

The Samoyed is one of the more beautiful looking dogs in the world. And it is for this reason that he is quickly gaining popularity. But as you can see from this guide, there’s more to this pup than just his good looks. He is a high-energy dog who needs a lot of exercise and stimulation to stay happy and healthy. And he can be very sensitive too and hates to be left alone.

He makes a brilliant family companion, and he is fond of children and loves other dogs. You’ll just need to be sure that you can meet all of the needs outlined above. If not, you and the Sammy might not be a perfect fit. But if you can, you and this heavenly pooch are bound to be a match made in heaven!

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