Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
Samoyeds are a majestic-looking dog breed with a fluffy white coat which makes them look a little bit like happy polar bears. Their cuddly appearance fits with their loving personality, making them a really great dog for families and kids. However, a family should make sure they have the proper time and resources to care for a Samoyed’s high energy and grooming needs.
If you’re willing to take the time to make sure a Samoyed will be happy, then they're a wonderful choice for a loving pet. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this very lovable breed!
Also Known As...
Sammy. Marshmallow. Smiley. Bjelkier (sometimes used for the breed in Europe). "Oh no, a polar bear has gotten loose from the local zoo!" "That's not a polar bear, it's just an adorable fluffy dog!"
Samoyeds are one of the oldest dog breeds and in a DNA analysis of dogs’ genomes, it was found that they're an ancient breed. This can help us see what dogs possibly looked like in the past! They are thought to have descended from the Laika, a dog from northern Russia and Siberia that was bred by the Nenets people as a herding dog. As you may have guessed from their big, fluffy coat, they have been on Arctic and Antarctic explorations.
They were named after the Samoyedic people in Siberia, who are nomadic reindeer herders. They were originally used for hunting, herding, and hauling sleds, but today they are also a loving family pet. The AKC first recognized the Samoyed in 1906.
Samoyeds average between 21 and 23.5 inches tall for males and between 19 and 21 inches tall for females.
Samoyeds have a weight range of 45 to 65 pounds (male) and 35 to 50 pounds (female).
Though Samoyeds’ classic smile is present to prevent drooling, their smiley face is also a reflection of their happy personality. This smiley breed likes to play with their family, including spending time with kids. They are rarely reactive toward people, though they may bark a lot. As indicated by their loud bark, they have an outgoing personality and love being with people. In fact, they were bred to work alongside people, so they're loyal to their owners and very intelligent. Their intelligence and energy need a good outlet in order for them to be happy and well-behaved. One possibility is a dog sport that can give them a task to complete.
Intelligence / Trainability
Samoyed dogs are intelligent dogs, but their intelligence may make them a bit more difficult to train. They can get bored easily, so training sessions should be short and fun. Their boredom may lead to them getting into trouble, so it’s important to lay down a good foundation when training them so that they don’t have destructive behaviors.
Even with good training, your Samoyed can be mischievous if left to their own devices. They love being with their family and separation anxiety could lead to behaviors such as digging up a lawn. By keeping a Samoyed around their family members, they will be better behaved.
Best Training Techniques For Samoyeds
Because of Samoyeds’ energy and intelligence, short and engaging training sessions will help keep them focused. Don’t push Samoyeds past the limit they can stay really focused, as that may start to reverse the good behaviors learned. Instead, pay attention to how your Samoyed is acting and work with what they are able to do.
Early socialization and obedience classes can help make the process go a lot more smoothly. Furthermore, using positive reinforcement to reward good behaviors will help make your Samoyed excited about training sessions!
Samoyeds have a lot of energy and need to spend ample time outside. While outside in the yard, they may need supervision. They love to dig, so watch out for that. In addition, they may wander off if not in an enclosed space, so make sure to keep them in a fenced in area or on a leash.
Though they love outdoor time, they want to be a family member that lives inside with their people! With their fluffy coat, they can live in places with very cold temperatures, but their coat is insulating, so they can also be comfortable in warmer temperatures.
Good For Families And Kids?
Samoyeds are great family dogs and love to be companions for children. Their social personality makes them a perfect fit for a family that wants to welcome a new furry family member. They’re gentle with young kids, though sometimes their herding tendency may come out and they may try to herd the children! They are also big dogs, so they may accidentally knock over a small child without meaning to. All interactions between the dog and kids should be supervised, as is the case, of course, with all dogs and children.
They will be happy to participate in any outdoor activities with their families, including playing fetch outside or going hiking. Older kids will probably appreciate this high energy playmate!
Their average life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.
Samoyeds are generally healthy dogs, but there are some health issues for this breed that are more common than others. Some Samoyeds may develop glaucoma and other eye issues, hip dysplasia, and some cardiac problems. This breed also may develop Samoyed Hereditary Ghlomerulopathy, a genetic disease in the kidney. Because of this, Samoyeds should undergo regular eye, heart, kidney, and hip evaluations to ensure that they are healthy.
This breed has relatively high energy, so regular exercise is required. As this breed was originally bred for reindeer herding, they’re used to being outside and having a task to accomplish. To keep them happy, you should bring your Samoyed on long walks and have fun play sessions during the day.
Without the proper exercise, Samoyeds may have lots of pent-up energy that could be released by digging holes in the yard or chewing things inside the house. If these behaviors are occurring, it probably means your Samoyed needs some new ways to let out some energy. Samoyeds also have a tendency to wander away if not in an enclosed space, so make sure to keep them on a leash so they stay safe with their family!
Friendly With (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
Samoyeds are good with other dogs, especially if they were raised with them since they were young. Their love of being with their family can be extended to the other dogs in the family.
Samoyeds are less friendly with cats, because of their herding instincts. If raised together, they can get along well, but newly introduced small pets may get chased. Samoyeds are people dogs and will be happy to be around people even if they're strangers. They tend to be neither shy nor reactive.
Coat & Grooming
Samoyeds have a thick, beautiful coat that makes them look extra cuddly (and a little bit like a big marshmallow). This is because they have a double coat; the bottom layer is wooly, soft, and thick while the outer layer is longer and straight. Brushing should occur a few times a week to keep their coat looking nice. This will help remove dirt and extra hair. They are prone to mats and tangles, so a metal comb may help with those tougher spots. They shed a bit throughout the year, but shed the most during shedding seasons, which happens about twice a year.
Samoyeds seem to always be smiling, which is why they get the nickname “Smiley.” Though it may just look like they’re happy all of the time, their mouth shape helps prevent drooling. In the very low temperatures Samoyeds were bred in, drooling could turn into icicles and so this mouth shape prevents icicles from forming! Whatever the reason, their face matches their bubbly personality.
Toys Samoyeds Would Like Best
Samoyeds can get bored easily, so an ample amount of toys is necessary to keep them active. Puzzle toys can be a fun way to test their intelligence as they search for hidden food. They also enjoy playtime outside, which can include playing with Fetch Toys or with a durable Super Chewer Toy.
For a more extensive list, check out the following post: What Are The Best Puzzle Toys For Dogs Who Get Bored Easily?
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
To prevent any thyroid problems, make sure they are given a well-balanced diet. Obesity is a possibility, though not super common. Monitoring what your dog eats is a great way to make sure your Samoyed is happy and full of energy to spend time with their family.
Joint supplements can also help keep your Samoyed comfortable, so that they don’t develop joint and hip problems later on in life.
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your fluffy Samoyed with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with joint issues, pain relief, and ease aggression in dogs during stressful situations. ($17.99-22.99.)
Though Samoyeds love playing outside, they also love to spend time inside with their family. To reward a long day of play, what better way to make your dog comfortable than a plush dog bed? With possible hip problems later in life, a comfy dog bed can be a welcoming place for your Samoyed to spend quality time while in the room with their favorite people.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed is great for supporting your pup’s stout body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your favorite Samoyed. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues to Find the Samoyed of Your Dreams
- National Samoyed Rescue
- Minuteman Samoyed Rescue
- Save A Sam Samoyed Rescue
- Adoptable Samoyeds on Petfinder
Notable Instagram Samoyeds
Coconut is living her best Samoyed life in Southern California!
Maya is a Samoyed that could be mistaken for a polar bear! She has many musings and fun pictures on her page.
Melker is a Swedish Samoyed, who is lovingly referred to as “floof.” Melker has many pictures outside, in the snow and in the sun!
This Instagram features a family of four dogs, including a beautiful Samoyed! They have lots of pictures hanging out together and are a beautiful fluffy family.
***Looking for a gift to blow your Samoyed's mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <-- This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! :)
Featured image via Cuckoo_For_Coconut/Instagram