Samoyeds are happy-go-lucky dogs who love to spend time outdoors and with their families.

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Working
  • Height: 29–23.5 inches
  • Weight: 35–50 pounds for females; 45–65 pounds for males
  • Life Expectancy: 15 years

These happy-go-lucky dogs have a muscular body and a wedge-shaped head. The nose is black, liver or brown. The almond-shaped eyes are dark, and the erect ears are triangular in shape. The long tail is covered with fur and usually curls over the back.

The thick double coat is weather-resistant and great for cold climates. Colors include pure white, white and biscuit, cream or biscuit. The coat can also have yellow or silver tips at the hairs’ ends. For conformation purposes, pure white is desired.

2. Where They Came From

Centuries ago in Iran, tribes and herds spread out to surrounding areas. Dogs were used to protect and herd reindeer, pull sledges and provide companionship. The Samoyed people lived between the White Sea and the Yenisei River. The dogs, bearing the same name as the tribe, did not have any wolf or fox in their lineage.

Today’s samoyed dogs are nearly identical to their primitive ancestors. The temperament developed with a unique understanding of their human companions.

The dogs were hard workers in harsh climates. In later centuries, they were used in Arctic and Antarctic expeditions and most notably in a 1911 trip to the South Pole led by Roald Amundsen. This fact has been challenged, declaring that Amundsen only used Greenland dogs on his 1911 expedition and used samoyed dogs in his 1918 Maud expedition through the Northeast Passage.

Samoyeds appeared in England in the last century. Queen Alexandra was a fan and kept several of samoyeds, some of whom have living descendants from their lines alive today. The American Kennel Club recognized the samoyed breed in 1906.

Samoyeds are active, friendly dogs. By: Paul Savin (Top: Kseniya Abramova)

3. How Friendly Are They?

Happy-go-lucky describes this breed. Samoyeds make friends with everyone, even intruders. They may bark to alert that someone is approaching, but they would be more likely to befriend them than show guarding or defensive behavior. The breed does not seek out conflict but will stand firm if challenged.

Samoyeds get along with children and other dogs. They can get along with cats and other pets with socialization from a young age, although care should be exercised around small animals because of the breed’s hunting instincts. Samoyeds are loyal to their family members, are independent thinkers and adapt easily to different situations.

These intelligent dogs need consistent training that should start at an early age and never be harsh. They do like to chew and can become destructive if left alone for long periods of time.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

HIGH: Daily brisk walks are recommended for this active breed. They need a way to expel energy since they are dogs with hunting and herding instincts. The are active indoors and can do well in apartments with sufficient exercise, but a small yard would be ideal.

Because of the breed’s thick double coat, they are not recommended for hot climates.

Grooming Needs

HIGH: Samoyeds shed heavily with seasonal changes. Brushing is recommended on a daily basis, and bathing can be done as needed. During periods of heavy shedding, the grooming time required can be significant (watch the video below for an example).

The nails should be kept at a comfortable length. The ears and teeth should be cleaned often to prevent infections and periodontal issues.

Health Problems

MEDIUM: Health problems commonly seen in samoyeds include:

These dogs do have a long life expectancy, so they will be around for quite some time. Their genetic health problems are minimal, but annual vet visits should be maintained.

Here’s some insight into the life of Sam the samoyed:

5. Where to Adopt One?

Samoyeds can end up in shelters and rescues. Check those resources first, and you can also start with our adoptable dog search.

If you contact breeders, learn as much as you can about them and their practices and ensure they are not showing signs of operating a puppy mill.

Additional Resources

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