Breed Focus-The History of the Samoyed

Samoyede Family with Samoyed in foreground

Samoyed History

Hardy, vibrant and even-tempered, the Samoyed was originally used to hunt, herd reindeer, and haul sledges for the Samoyede people they served in northwestern Siberia. The Samoyede tribesmen were peaceful nomads, who manifested extraordinary love for their beautiful dogs, treating them as members of the family. Thus their dogs developed a love and understanding of humankind and an unfailing sense of trust and loyalty which is retained in the breed to this day. They remain the delightful playmates and faithful protectors of children.

Samoyed dog sitting with mother, father and 3 child members of the Nenets tribe.
Samoyed with family members of a Samoyede(Nenets) tribe.

Samoyeds were brought out of Siberia at the end of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century to pull sledges on Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. These valiant dogs endured terrible hardships serving man in his quest for the poles. Only a few returned. Clearly, no toy or miniature version of the Samoyed breed could have performed those tasks. Only one breed is the powerful, gentle, magnificent Samoyed — a true working dog.

Possibly the most iconic feature of the Samoyed is the glorious white double coat, however biscuit and cream are also acceptable colour. Much prized by the Samoyedic people, the white coated Samoyeds were at an advantage when hunting on the icy tundra. The coat is made up of a course longer hair, outer coat, and a shorter softer woolen undercoat. Their coat naturally repels dirt therefore frequent bathing is not necessary, however regular grooming is a must. The wool or undercoat of a Samoyed is typically shed once or twice a year, known commonly as “blowing coat”. When this occurs, the wool can be easily combed out and kept for spinning or felting. An extremely warm fibre, Samoyed wool is reportedly up to 80% warmer than lambs wool and was used by the Samoyedic people to make clothes.. No other dog coat is quite like the Samoyed, and because of its low dander content, the Samoyed doesn’t have the doggy odor prevalent in most other breeds and may be less likely to cause allergies.

Roald Amundsen standing beside his sledge with 7 Samoyed dogs lying around him
Captain Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen at the South pole under the Norwegian flag. 

Samoyeds are often known to the general public for their work as sled dogs in both Arctic and Antarctic explorations. As the lead dog on Roald Amundsen’s expedition in 1911, a Samoyed is believed to be the first non-native creature to set foot (or paw) on the South Pole. Many of our dogs today are direct descendants of the dogs from Amundsen’s expedition. Unfortunately on many of these expeditions, countless dogs died due to misguided practices such as tail bobbing. The Samoyed tail in extreme conditions acts to warm and humidify air inhaled through the nose, therefore preventing pneumonia. On Captain Robert Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic, all 33 Samoyeds died of pneumonia within 3 weeks due to tail bobbing. The six members of Scott’s team hauled the remaining equipment to the South Pole, only to find Samoyed paw prints and a note from Amundsen from a month earlier. Beaten physically and emotionally Scott died on the way back.It was the Kilburn-Scotts that founded the first Samoyed Club in England 1909 and Mr Earnest Kilburn-Scott (of the Royal Zoological Society), was a big influencing factor in the breed. He had initially brought a puppy back to England as a present for his wife in 1880 after an expedition to Archangle, but later brought other dogs and puppies back from Siberia as well as dogs from the explorers. The first Samoyed was shown under it’s own classification (rather than the “foreign class”) in 1912. Originally the Samoyed was written as Samoyede, however the “e” was dropped in the UK in 1923. This lead to the beginning of the modern mispronunciation of “Sahm-oid” instead of the native pronunciation of Sahm-uh-yed.

Most of the Samoyed strains in England and the United States are descended from the veteran expedition sledge dogs. The first American Samoyed, a Russian import, was registered with the AKC in 1906, although most of the present day American Samoyeds trace their ancestry to dogs imported after the first World War.

Samoyed running toward camera with front paws off the ground
This is Hannah – one of my Samoyeds running through the backyard

. Grooming these breeds is one of the most important parts of being their owner, their coats require regular brushing and maintenance. The Neabot Pet vacuum is one of the tools in my grooming arsenal, it’s fairly quiet and does a good job of cleaning up loose hair.

 Neabot Pet Vacuum

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