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This dog takes its name from the nomadic indigenous people of Samoyedic, Serbia. These people are reindeer herders and move around the country using these white dogs as sled dogs and herders. Very aware of their surroundings, the Samoyed has developed a very successful range of techniques and behaviours which help control and herd reindeer as it is commanded to do.
The Samoyed dog takes its name from the Samoyed tribes of Siberia. The name translates as 'living off themselves' referring to the independent nature of both the dogs and the people. The Samoyed was a hard worker herding reindeer, pulling sleds, as a watch dog and all round companion. The breed may be best known for its work as a sled dog in both Arctic and Antarctic exploration. All the major characteristics of today's Samoyed (the erect ears, Samoyed 'smile'), can be seen in photographs taken in the 1800's exploration meaning that they have changed very little in nature and appearance since then.
Average height to withers: 20-22 inches for males and females between 18-20 inches.
Average weight: Males between 23-30kg with females less at up to 25kg.
The beautifully pure and white coat of this breed is nothing short of spectacular. On closer examination, the top coats of coarse and longer guard hairs do have a silver hue to them though. This conceals a soft and dense undercoat which is the insulating layer from which the dog is protected from the harsh elements of its naturalised environment. The male Samoyed may also exhibit a ruff of hair around its neck and shoulders.
In Siberia, some black Samoyed have also been observed.
The eyes of this breed are almost always dark or black, although lighter or blue ones do occur. This is a characteristic, called hetrochromia, is either a lack or excess of melanin and is harmless. The ears are triangular in shape and erect, occasionally being seen with 'biscuit' coloured tips.
The tail of this dog is usually curled over the back, lying over one side rather than over the back fully. The tail is heavily coated in fur, and when sleeping and cold, this breed will pull its tail over its nose to keep in warmer. When they are receiving attention and petting, the tail relaxes and will drop down, retuning to its curled status when alert again.
Samoyeds are friendly by nature to both people and other dogs. Their demand for affection from humans is negligible preferring to be with a pack, although this can mean a human family pack. Samoyeds are quite intelligent but can be stubborn and get bored easily. Their owners need to remember that they are hard working dogs by nature and need this requirement met. Ignore this at your own peril!
Their intelligence and independent nature make them a challenge to train, wanting to work with his owners rather than for them and being eager to please, like some dog breeds. When training a Samoyed, the person must be firm and express leadership. Since the dog is pack-oriented, it important to establish yourself as the head of the pack, or alpha, very early. Once you do this, the dog will respect you and training will be much easier, if not training will be hard. By nature they are friendly dogs though, and once trained can be used for a variety of tasks including, of course, mushing, sledding and they can do surprisingly well at agility. Samoyeds both talk and bark. They have quite a deep bark when they decide to use it and they also talk on occasion, using a soft 'wooing' noise.
A healthy Samoyed lives on average is between 11-15 years.
Some Samoyeds can have a condition called Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy. This is a renal condition with onset usually around the age of 3 months. It leads to gradual renal (kidney) failure and the prognosis is not good, with death usually occurring by the age of 15-20 months. There is currently no screening process to detect this disease.
Diabetes can also affect this breed more than others, for which veterinary treatment is necessary with a lifetime of taking the relevant treatment.
The coat of the Samoyed is labour intensive and requires careful grooming, especially at the time of the twice yearly shedding. In addition, the coat of these breeds should never be clipped or trimmed as this could expose the pink skin underneath, which in turn is easily sunburnt. The undercoat plays a very large part in regulating the body temperature so if it is interfered with this can cause issues. The white fur of the Samoyed reflects light and heat but in the hotter months shade and access to water is imperative.