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Country of Origin: Russia, Siberia

Height: Males 20 to 23.5 inches, females 18 to 21.5 inches

Weight: 35 to 65 pounds

Coat: Double coat with short, soft, thick, close, woolly undercoat and longer, harsh, standoff, weather-resistant outercoat; neck ruff

Colors: Pure white, white and biscuit, cream, all biscuit

Registries (With Group): AKC (Working); UKC (Northern)


The Samoyed dates back to 1000 BCE, and he hasn’t changed much in appearance or temperament in all that time. The breed is named for the Samoyede people, a nomadic tribe that lived on the tundra of northern Russia and Siberia, near the Arctic Circle. The tribe used the dogs they called bjelkiers to herd reindeer, pull sledges, and occasionally hunt bears. These friendly and useful dogs were treated as members of the family, living with them in their primitive dwellings.

European polar explorers discovered these dogs in the mid-1800s. They incorporated the dogs into the expedition parties to the Arctic and Antarctic and brought some home with them, mostly to England. In 1889, British zoologist Ernest Kilburn-Scott spent several months living with the Samoyede people. He brought a male puppy home with him and then imported several more, and it was he who gave the breed its name. The Samoyed became a favorite of the British aristocracy before spreading out all over the world. The first breed standard was written in England in 1909.


The Samoyed is exceptionally friendly, easygoing, and affectionate, with a trademark “smile.” He is also gentle and trusting. He was bred to work on a team, so he is social; he thrives in a family situation and loves having children to take care of, although he may try to herd them.


Exercise: The Samoyed can live in a small house or apartment, but he is active, and adults of the breed should have a long walk, jog, or play session every day. Because of his thick coat, he is especially susceptible to heatstroke, so care should be taken when exercising him in hot and humid weather.

Grooming: The Samoyed’s abundant coat should be brushed or combed two to three times a week. He sheds dirt quite well, so bathing is seldom required. He sheds heavily once or twice a year and during these periods will need daily brushing or combing.

Life Span: The average life span of the Samoyed is 12 to 15 years.

Training: The Samoyed is intelligent and responsive, but he can also have a bit of a stubborn streak. It is best to start his training early and remain patient and consistent throughout the process.

Find a Nylabone chew, treat, or toy for your Samoyed or large dog!

Excerpted from World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition. © 2009 T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Used by Permission.

World Atlas of Dog Breeds

World Atlas of Dog Breeds Book

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