Other namesBjelkier
Samoiedskaya Sobaka
Height Males 51–56 cm (20–22 in)
Females 46–51 cm (18–20 in)
Weight Males 20–30 kilograms (44–66 lb)
Females 16–20 kilograms (35–44 lb)
Color White
Life span 12–14 years
Kennel club standards
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Samoyed (/ˈsæməjɛd/ SAM-ə-yed or /səˈmɔɪ.ɛd/ sə-MOY-ed;[1] Russian: самое́дская соба́ка, romanizedsamoyédskaya sobáka, or самое́д, samoyéd) is a breed of medium-sized herding dogs with thick, white, double-layer coats. They are spitz-type dogs which take their name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia. Descending from the Nenets Herding Laika, they are domesticated animals that assist in herding, hunting, protection and sled-pulling.

An intact 2.5-year-old male Samoyed

Samoyed dogs are most often white, and can have a brown tint to their double-layer coat which is naturally dirt-repellent. They are known to be used in expeditions in both Arctic and Antarctic regions and have a friendly and agreeable disposition.


Samoyed, circa 1915

The progenitor of the Samoyeds was the Nenets Herding Laika, a reindeer herding spitz commonly used throughout northern Siberia, especially the Nenets people who were pejoratively referred to as Samoyeds at that time.[2][3][4] DNA evidence confirms that Samoyeds are a basal breed that predates the emergence of the modern breeds in the 19th century.[5] A genomic study of two dog specimens that are nearly 100 years old and obtained from the Nenets people on the Yamal Peninsula found that these are related to two specimens dated 2,000 years old and 850 years old, which suggests continuity of the lineage in this region. The two 100 year old dogs were closely related with the Samoyed breed, which indicates that the ancient arctic lineage lives on in the modern Samoyed dog.[6]

Nansen Johansen departing to the North Pole

During preparation for the Fram expedition to the North Pole in 1893–1896, 33 dogs were purchased from the Nenets people. While 28 of these dogs would go to the North Pole, none of them survived. The remaining dogs, including pups born during the voyage, were left aboard the ship. In April 1893 the bitch had another litter, most of them white. According to Nansen's notes "...all the dogs were strong, tough and excellent at pulling sleds; they worked very well in hunting Polar bears [as well]." These dogs would become the original Samoyeds.[3][7]

Appearance and characteristics

Samoyed puppy

The AKC Standard requires 45–65 pounds (20–29 kg) and 21–23.5 inches (53–60 cm) at the shoulder for males, and 35–50 pounds (16–23 kg) and 19–21 inches (48–53 cm) for females.[8] The UK Kennel Club Standard requires 51–56 centimetres (20–22 in) for males, and 46–51 centimetres (18–20 in) for females.

Samoyed eyes are usually black or brown and are almond in shape. Samoyeds with eyes of other colors like blue exist but are not allowed in the show ring. The Samoyed is in the "brown and black section" in its family, the Spitz family.

Samoyed ears are thick and covered with fur, triangular in shape, and erect. They are almost always white but have a light to dark brown tint (known as "biscuit") to a greater or lesser extent. The tint is usually on the ears but can be visible on the whole body.

A two year old adult female Samoyed. The breed is characterized by an alert and happy expression.

The Samoyed tail is one of the breed's distinguishing features. Like the Alaskan Malamute, the tail is carried curled over the back; however, unlike the Alaskan Malamute, the Samoyed tail is held actually touching the back. It is not usually held in a tight curl, or held flag-like; it is usually carried lying over the back and to one side. In cold weather, Samoyeds may sleep with their tails over their noses to provide additional warmth. Almost all Samoyeds will allow their tails to fall when they are relaxed and at ease, as when being stroked or while eating, but will return their tails to a curl when more alert.

Samoyeds have a dense, double layer coat. The topcoat contains long, coarse, and straight guard hairs, which appear white but have a hint of silver coloring. This top layer keeps the undercoat relatively clean and free of debris. The under layer, or undercoat, consists of a dense, soft, and short fur that keeps the dog warm. The undercoat typically sheds heavily once or twice a year, and this seasonal process is sometimes referred to as "blowing coat". This does not mean the Samoyed will shed only during that time however; fine hairs (versus the dense clumps shed during seasonal shedding) will be shed all year round, and have a tendency to stick to cloth and float in the air. The standard Samoyed may come in a mixture of biscuit and white coloring, although pure white and all biscuit dogs are common. Males typically have larger ruffs than females. While this breed is touted as "hypoallergenic", it does shed a fair amount and needs frequent grooming. While the breed may produce fewer allergens, care should be taken for severe allergies.[9]

Shed Samoyed fur is sometimes used as an alternative to wool in knitting, with a texture similar to angora. The fur is sometimes also used for the creation of artificial flies for fly fishing.

Life expectancy for the breed is about 12–13 years.[10]


A Samoyed resting with a teddy bear

Samoyeds' friendly and affable disposition makes them poor guard dogs; an aggressive Samoyed is rare. The breed is characterized by an alert and happy expression which has earned the nicknames "Sammie smile" and "smiley dog".[11] With their tendency to bark, however, they can be diligent watch dogs, barking whenever something approaches their territory. Samoyeds are excellent companions, especially for small children or even other dogs, and they remain playful into old age. According to the Samoyed Club of America, when Samoyeds become bored, they may become destructive or start to dig.[12]


An active Samoyed

Samoyeds can compete in dog agility trials, carting, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, mushing and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at non-competitive herding tests. Samoyeds exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.[13]


Samoyed hereditary glomerulopathy

Main article: Samoyed hereditary glomerulopathy

The breed can be affected by a genetic disease known as Samoyed hereditary glomerulopathy, a kidney disease. The disease is known to be caused by an X-linked recessive faulty allele and therefore the disease is more severe in male Samoyeds.[14] Also known as hereditary nephritis, it is caused by a nonsense mutation in codon 1027 of the COL4A5 gene on the X chromosome (glycine to stop codon), which is similar to Alport's syndrome in humans.

A senior female Samoyed

Carrier females do develop mild symptoms after 2–3 months of age, but mostly[15] do not go on to develop kidney failure. The disease is caused by a defect in the structure of the type-IV collagen fibrils of the glomerular basement membrane. As a consequence, the collagen fibrils of the glomerular basement membrane are unable to form cross-links, so the structural integrity is weakened and the membrane is more susceptible to "wear-and-tear" damage. As the structure of the basement membrane begins to degenerate, plasma proteins are lost in the urine and symptoms begin to appear. Affected males appear healthy for the first three months of life, but then symptoms start to appear and worsen as the disease progresses: the dog becomes lethargic and muscle wastage occurs, as a result of proteinuria. From three months of age onwards, a reduced glomerular filtration rate is detected, indicative of progressive kidney failure.

Clinically, proteinuria is found in both sexes from the age of three to four months; in dogs older than this, kidney failure in combination with more or less pronounced hearing loss occurs swiftly and death at the age of 8 to 15 months is expected. In heterozygous females, the disease develops slowly. The disease can be treated to slow down the development by use of cyclosporine A and ACE inhibitors, but not stopped.[14][16][17][18]

If a carrier female is mated with a healthy stud dog, the female offspring have a 50% chance of being carriers for the disease, and any male offspring have a 50% chance of being affected by the disease. A genetic test is available for this disease.[19]

Other health concerns

For the Samoyeds several breed-specific hereditary diseases are described in the veterinary literature:

See also


  1. ^ Student Dictionary. "Samoyed". World Central. Merriam-Webster Incorporated. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Давай-ка, ненецкая лайка!". (in Russian). 20 December 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2022.
  3. ^ a b Presberg, Carole (2014). "Herding Dogs of Asia: Russian Siberia". Retrieved 13 February 2022.
  4. ^ Anderson, David G. (2000). "Siberian Survival: The Nenets and Their Story". American Anthropologist. 102 (4): 942–943. doi:10.1525/aa.2000.102.4.942. ISSN 1548-1433.
  5. ^ Larson, G (2012). "Rethinking dog domestication by integrating genetics, archeology, and biogeography". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109 (23): 8878–83. Bibcode:2012PNAS..109.8878L. doi:10.1073/pnas.1203005109. PMC 3384140. PMID 22615366.
  6. ^ Feuerborn, Tatiana R.; Carmagnini, Alberto; Losey, Robert J.; Nomokonova, Tatiana; Askeyev, Arthur; Askeyev, Igor; Askeyev, Oleg; Antipina, Ekaterina E.; Appelt, Martin; Bachura, Olga P.; Beglane, Fiona; Bradley, Daniel G.; Daly, Kevin G.; Gopalakrishnan, Shyam; Murphy Gregersen, Kristian; Guo, Chunxue; Gusev, Andrei V.; Jones, Carleton; Kosintsev, Pavel A.; Kuzmin, Yaroslav V.; Mattiangeli, Valeria; Perri, Angela R.; Plekhanov, Andrei V.; Ramos-Madrigal, Jazmín; Schmidt, Anne Lisbeth; Shaymuratova, Dilyara; Smith, Oliver; Yavorskaya, Lilia V.; Zhang, Guojie; Willerslev, Eske; Meldgaard, Morten; Gilbert, M. Thomas P.; Larson, Greger; Dalén, Love; Hansen, Anders J.; Sinding, Mikkel-Holger S.; Frantz, Laurent (2021). "Modern Siberian dog ancestry was shaped by several thousand years of Eurasian-wide trade and human dispersal". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 118 (39): e2100338118. Bibcode:2021PNAS..11800338F. doi:10.1073/pnas.2100338118. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 8488619. PMID 34544854. S2CID 237584023.
  7. ^ "The Samoyed: Breed Origin and History".
  8. ^ "Samoyed". AKC.
  9. ^ Bakalar, Nicholas (11 July 2011). "The Myth of the Allergy-Free Dog". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Individual Breed Results for Purebred Dog Health Survey". Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  11. ^ "AKC Meet the Breeds: Samoyed". American Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  12. ^ "Bad Habits and Training".
  13. ^ Hartnagle-Taylor, Jeanne Joy; Taylor, Ty (2010). Stockdog Savvy. Alpine Publications. ISBN 978-1-57779-106-5.[page needed]
  14. ^ a b Jansen, B; Tryphonas, L; Wong, J; Thorner, P; Maxie, MG; Valli, VE; Baumal, R; Basrur, PK (1986). "Mode of inheritance of Samoyed hereditary glomerulopathy: an animal model for hereditary nephritis in humans". The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine. 107 (6): 551–5. PMID 3711721.
  15. ^ Rawdon, TG (2001). "Juvenile nephropathy in a Samoyed bitch". The Journal of Small Animal Practice. 42 (5): 235–8. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5827.2001.tb02027.x. PMID 11380016.
  16. ^ Zheng, K; Thorner, PS; Marrano, P; Baumal, R; McInnes, RR (1994). "Canine X chromosome-linked hereditary nephritis: a genetic model for human X-linked hereditary nephritis resulting from a single base mutation in the gene encoding the alpha 5 chain of collagen type IV". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 91 (9): 3989–93. Bibcode:1994PNAS...91.3989Z. doi:10.1073/pnas.91.9.3989. PMC 43708. PMID 8171024.
  17. ^ Grodecki, K; Gains, M; Baumal, R; Osmond, D; Cotter, B; Valli, V; Jacobs, R (1997). "Treatment of X-linked hereditary nephritis in samoyed dogs with angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor". Journal of Comparative Pathology. 117 (3): 209–225. doi:10.1016/S0021-9975(97)80016-3. PMID 9447482.
  18. ^ Chen, D.; Jefferson, B; Harvey, SJ; Zheng, K; Gartley, CJ; Jacobs, RM; Thorner, PS (2003). "Cyclosporine A Slows the Progressive Renal Disease of Alport Syndrome (X-Linked Hereditary Nephritis): Results from a Canine Model". Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 14 (3): 690–8. doi:10.1097/01.ASN.0000046964.15831.16. PMID 12595505.
  19. ^ "Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy". Veterinary Genetic Services. Archived from the original on 16 April 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  20. ^ Kimmel, SE; Ward, CR; Henthorn, PS; Hess, RS (2002). "Familial insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in Samoyed dogs". Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. 38 (3): 235–8. doi:10.5326/0380235. PMID 12022409.
  21. ^ Short, A. D.; Catchpole, B.; Kennedy, L. J.; Barnes, A.; Fretwell, N.; Jones, C.; Thomson, W.; Ollier, W. E.R. (2007). "Analysis of Candidate Susceptibility Genes in Canine Diabetes". Journal of Heredity. 98 (5): 518–525. doi:10.1093/jhered/esm048. PMID 17611256.
  22. ^ Dice, P. F. 2nd (1980). "Progressive retinal atrophy in the Samoyed". Modern Veterinary Practice. 61 (1): 59–60. PMID 7366567.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ Zangerl, B.; Johnson, J. L.; Acland, G. M.; Aguirre, G. D. (2007). "Independent Origin and Restricted Distribution of RPGR Deletions Causing XLPRA". Journal of Heredity. 98 (5): 526–530. doi:10.1093/jhered/esm060. PMID 17646274.
  24. ^ Meyers, VN; Jezyk, PF; Aguirre, GD; Patterson, DF (1983). "Short-limbed dwarfism and ocular defects in the Samoyed dog". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 183 (9): 975–79. PMID 12002589.
  25. ^ Acland, Gregory M. (1991). "Retinal dysplasia in the Samoyed dog is the heterozygous phenotype of the gene (drds) for short limbed dwarfism and ocular defects". Transactions of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology. 22: 44.
  26. ^ Pellegrini, B; Acland, GM; Ray, J (2002). "Cloning and characterization of opticin cDNA: evaluation as a candidate for canine oculo-skeletal dysplasia". Gene. 282 (1–2): 121–131. doi:10.1016/S0378-1119(01)00842-3. PMID 11814684.
  27. ^ McCaw, D; Aronson, E (1984). "Congenital cardiac disease in dogs". Modern Veterinary Practice. 65 (7): 509–12. PMID 6749116.
  28. ^ Martin, SW; Kirby, K; Pennock, PW (1980). "Canine hip dysplasia: breed effects". The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 21 (11): 293–6. PMC 1789813. PMID 7459792.
  29. ^ Craig, Mark (2006). "Clinical refresher: Canine sebaceous adenitis". Companion Animal. 11 (5): 62–8. doi:10.1111/j.2044-3862.2006.tb00066.x.

Further reading