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Samoyed: Ancient working dog breed from Siberia
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,” Woofahs.com/dog 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 dogtime.com/dog-breeds/Samoyed 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 dogtime.com 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.
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 Woofahs.com/dog 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 dogtime.com/dogbreeds/samoyed.
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