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A Guide to the Samoyed, a Tough but Lovable Companion
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A Guide to the Samoyed, a Tough but Lovable Companion

Ben, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Sep 18, 2020

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The Samoyed is a hardy working dog from Siberia that was bred to hunt, haul, and herd reindeer, but at the end of the day, they came home with their owners and were treated like members of the family. The result is a sweet, loving, loyal breed. Samoyeds are tough but not a particularly large dog, standing anywhere from 19 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing between 50 and 60 pounds.

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1

The Samoyed is a loyal family pet

family dog pack milanvirijevic / Getty Images

Samoyed's make wonderful family pets and love to be a part of the action. They see their human family as their pack and are affectionate with everyone, though they tend to choose one family member to dote on. Samoyeds are also alert and extremely loyal, which makes them excellent watchdogs. Early socialization is important, and Samoyeds do well taking long strolls to meet the neighbors and hanging out at busy dog parks.

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2

They love the thrill of the chase

Puppy of Samoyed dog gallops Abramova_Kseniya / Getty Images

Even though they love to be with their people, Samoyeds are hunters at heart. They should always be on a leash when outside because they are likely to chase after small animals. This also means that you have to be careful about the other pets you have in the household. Samoyeds are usually good with other dogs, but they may see a cat or other small animal as prey. Close supervision and early obedience training are necessary to prevent issues.

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3

Prepare for a lot of grooming

grooming white shed ulamonge / Getty Images

Samoyeds are gorgeous dogs, but it's easy to tell by looking at one that grooming is a lot of work. They have a soft, thick undercoat and a straight topcoat, and they also shed a lot, so expect to find white or cream-colored hairs everywhere. Grooming consists of a good brushing every few days when they're not shedding and every day when they are. They need to be bathed every eight weeks or so or whenever they get messy.

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4

This dog requires an owner with patience

Three Samoyed dogs in a field elenaleonova / Getty Images

Samoyeds are a bit of a challenge to own and are not a great choice for first-time dog owners. In addition to the daunting grooming requirements, Samoyeds have some qualities that might be difficult to work through. They are working dogs at heart, which means that they like to stay busy. If they don't get enough exercise or attention, they are likely to resort to destructive behavior and have been known to jump fences, eat shoes, dig up yards, and dump over garbage cans. Samoyeds are also very vocal and like to howl, bark, or bellow, whether they're happy or upset.

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5

Training can be challenging

training difficult smart Zoran Kompar / Getty Images

Training a Samoyed is also a challenge and can be particularly tough for someone who doesn't have a lot of experience training dogs. This is an intelligent breed, and while they learn quickly, Samoyeds do not respond to some training methods that work with other dogs. Repetition is usually a pillar of dog training, but Samoyeds figure things out quickly and get bored, so you have to be creative. The best way to train a Samoyed is with thinking exercises, like tracking and agility.

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6

Be careful in the heat

snow hot temperature Lenorlux / Getty Images

Samoyeds are a good fit for cold climates, and they love to play in the snow, but their thick coats can be a problem in the heat. They can live in a warmer climate, but they don't thrive like they do in cold weather. Keep them inside during the hottest times of day, and watch for signs that the dog is overheating. Some panting is normal, but excessive panting can be a sign of overheating. Samoyeds might pace when they're uncomfortable and will often bark at the door to come inside if they have been out in the heat for too long.

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7

Puppies require some extra care

puppy diet food elenaleonova / Getty Images

All puppies are hard work, but Samoyed puppies require a little extra care. Their joints are not fully formed until they are around two years old, so Samoyed puppies shouldn't play on hard surfaces or jump excessively, but playing on grass or carpeted floors is fine. Feed them high-quality food with 12 to 15 percent fat and 22 to 25 percent protein and measure out meals twice a day instead of letting food sit in the food bowl around the clock.

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8

Samoyeds can live a long time

health issues symptoms infinityyy / Getty Images

Samoyeds usually live between 12 and 14 years, but this breed is prone to some health conditions. Not all Samoyeds will develop these disorders, but using a reputable breeder is the best way to avoid them. Samoyed hereditary glomerulopathy is a genetic disease affecting the kidney and is more severe in males. Other conditions that affect Samoyeds are glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, and cancer.

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9

They have some recognizable characteristics

sayomed smile features Giovanny Gava / Getty Images

The most recognizable thing about the Samoyed is their white, fluffy coat, but there are other unique features about this breed, too. One of the things that stands out most about a Samoyed is its smile, a feature that matches its usually cheerful and bright demeanor and makes it appear even more friendly than it already is. Samoyeds also have a sturdy, broad build with a fluffy plumed tail that curls up and over their back and flops to one side.

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10

They make great watchdogs

watchdog safe home romaset / Getty Images

Samoyeds are friendly and aren't particularly aggressive, but they still make excellent watchdogs. While they aren't likely to attack an intruder, they are big enough to appear intimidating, loud enough to draw attention, and capable of making you feel safe in your home. Samoyeds are smart and keep a close eye on the world around them. If something out of the ordinary happens, your Samoyed will let you know.

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