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Samoyed: Ancient working dog breed from Siberia

Updated on October 4, 2014

Samoyed Sledding


The Samoyed dog breed originally came from Russia, named for and developed by the Samoyed peoples of Siberia, a nomadic people who herded reindeer. Therefore one of the primary duties of these dogs was helping to herd the reindeer, also known as caribou. In addition, they pulled sleds The Samoyed dog, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) website, is an ancient working breed, very close to the primitive dog. They add: “no mixture of wolf or fox runs through the breed’s gene pool.” Other articles have noted this. These dogs are among the breeds thought to be closely related to the wolf by DNA tests. Some dogs thought to be old breeds turn out to have been mixed with other breeds and wolves to attempt to recreate older breeds.

“Over the centuries they have acquired an almost mythical reputation for their abilities and loyalty,” breeds said about this white dog which grew up with the Samoyed peoples in Siberia about 2000 years ago. These people developed the breed for herding, hunting, pulling sleds, guarding and helping keep the families warm by sleeping with them. Originally the Samoyed followed the reindeer to hunt them, but later started herding them. The dogs helped.

According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition, Samoyed can also be spelled Samoyede and can refer to “a member of any group of peoples inhabiting the far north of European Russia and parts of northwestern Siberia.” It also refers to the dog breed. According to an article by Gregory Alan Newell, these people are an Asiatic group of nomadic origins and are probably of mongoloid nomadic descent who probably began migrating in a northwest direction in the late Pleistocene when other such hunting groups were moving in various directions. Newell describes the Samoyed people as being short, with yellowish white skin, high cheek bones and straight or concave noses.


During the 19th and early 20th Century they were used to pull sleds on polar expeditions. It appears the explorers lost a lot of dogs unnecessarily because of ignorance. For lack of food they fed the weaker dogs to the others. They bobbed the dog’s tails, apparently not realizing that the dog’s tail is part of its survival equipment. The Samoyed like many arctic dogs curl up in the cold and the tail helps keep their nose warm. There were other mistakes, probably also from ignorance.

The Samoyed Dogs were used for hunting, hauling sleds and herding reindeer. Northwestern Siberia’s Samoyed people used the dogs for pack hiking, tracking, and warming owners by sleeping on top of them at night. In some cases the dogs also were used for food and clothing.

The website states that this breed is a happy dog with a distinctive “Sammy smile.” The corners of the Samoyed’s mouth are upturned. It reflects the happy good nature of this dog. They are fond of humans and it is believed that it comes from the relationship the dogs had with the Samoyed people who bred these dogsin Siberia shortly after the time of Christ. The people are now known as Nenetsky. The dogs are gregarious and they need to be around people.

“It is said that the Samoyed treated these working dogs kindly, allowing them to join in with the family activities at the end of the day,” according to website. From my reading about primitive dogs this is quite unusual as many early people thought it necessary to use harsh methods on the dogs.

Leaving Siberia

Antarctic Buck is believed to be the first Samoyed to be brought to England. Queen Alexandria became enthused with the breed. Many of today’s Samoyed dogs descended from her kennels. England’s first standard for the breed was in 1909. In 1923 the Samoyed club of America was organized. And the American breed standard was adopted.


“…these independent thinkers may just invent ways to keep themselves entertained.” So says the AKC “Meet the Breeds” website.

They are friendly to everyone. “even intruders.” Notes the breeds website. They get along with children, are highly intelligent, easy going and playful. The website further says that this dog does not seek trouble but can handle an adversary. It is not a city dog and should not be trusted with small pets.


These dogs respond better to challenges than to repetition. They get bored with repetitionn training but respond to things like agility and tracking as “thinking exercises, according to

In summation, the Samoyed dog breed comes from the Samoyed people of Siberia who primarily lived from reindeer, which we know as caribou. They first hunted and then herded the reindeer and used the dogs for both. The dogs were also used for other tasks. The dogs are of ancient origin and are believed to be a close descendent to the grey wolf.

Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund

© 2012 Don A. Hoglund


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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks colorfulone. Glad you enjoyed the article about the Samoyed.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      4 years ago from Minnesota

      I did have a Samoyed as a pet, her name was Frosty, and she was a wonderful friend to anyone and everyone. She loved people, and especially children. Yes, I would consider having a Samoyed again.

      I learned a lot from your interesting article about this dog breed.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Bobbi. Possibly we are both writing more again. I had some health problems that that interfered with my activities but am trying to get back to normal life. Thanks for commenting.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Suhail and my dog. Thanks for commenting and sharing. I will have to consider the information you stated here and do some further research.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image


      4 years ago from Florida

      Hi dahoglund,

      Such beautiful animals and I do not think I have ever seen one. Which is amazing since I am an animals lover and attend shows when I can.

      It is great to see you writing again, or it could be I am writing again. I noticed your hubs lately look so interesting and I hope I have more online time to read some more of them.

      Have a great Sunday.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Don,

      This is a great article on a smiling dog. But please do note that this dog is a creation of Dog Fancy.

      Here is a good article from someone who knows about dogs and runs a very popular blog on dogs:

      Some quotes from the article:

      "The dog we call the Samoyed is, of course, entirely a Western invention."

      "The history of the Western Samoyed breed begins with a British timber magnate named Ernest Kilburn Scott. Scott imported the first dogs from Russia and exhibiting them at dog shows, and it was he who made the decision that the breed should be white, cream-colored, or “biscuit.” It was his wife, Clara, who essentially created the breed as we know it the West."

      "The founding population of these dogs was not particularly large, and this might go a long way to explaining why this breed has several issues with autoimmune disorders and a peculiar renal disorder called Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy. "

      "Of course, in the West, most Samoyeds don’t do anything resembling what their ancestors did or what their cousins still do for the Nenets."

      "Here (we) have a dog breed that is given a name that is a racial epithet for their original breeders and that has been selectively bred out of a much more diverse landrace based upon one European couple’s ideal of (what) beauty is.

      And as if to add poetry to all this racialism, the preferred color of this dog is white."

      Don, Samoyeds were my favorite dogs when I was growing up, but thanks God, I didn't get them for I didn't want just a pet and a dog with a name that is a a racial epithet.

      I am sharing this hub despite my reservations on the breed.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Midget, although there are several northern breeds living where I live now, including wolf hybrids, I don't think I have seen any Samoyed around. It is nice to hear about your two dogs that lived so long and died peacefully. Thanks for reading and commenting. And thanks for sharing.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      I used to have two, Don, named Romeo and Juliet. LOL! They were sweet dogs, always waiting for us at the gate. Good friends for 14 years, until they passed quietly of old age. Cute as pups too! Great tempers as well. Thanks for reviewing this breed! I share.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      prasetio, I am glad you found something new in this hub. In some ways dogs bred to work at such things as pulling sleds have certain similarities, even though they come from varied places. Machines do much of tht work now. Thanks for the comment and vote.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Beautiful dogs. I had never heard about this animal before. Thanks for writing and share with us. I learn something new about animal kingdom from you. Good job, brother. Take care and voted up!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks drbj. The Samoyed dogs have not learned to read, at least not yet. I appreciate your comments about this hub on the Samoyed dog breed. and its history

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      The Samoyed are beautiful, intelligent dogs, Don, and if they could read would echo with me, that this is a fantastic summation of the breed and its history. Thank you.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      tsadjatko, thank you for the compliment and comment.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      6 years ago from now on

      In summation, EXCELLENT HUBPAGE!


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