Samoyed temperament
Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)
Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Updated on June 24, 2019
Fact Checked

Samoyeds are charming, friendly and loyal dogs that are one of the breeds most closely associated with wolves.

While the Spitz breed originated in the north western region of Russia, they’re now the 59th most popular breed in the United States.

Often given the nickname Smiling Sammies, Samoyeds have a welcoming appearance that suggests a happy and fun loving canine.

Although they can be a lot of fun, they come with their own unique set of challenges.

Samoyeds are independent thinkers that have a high prey drive so they can be a flight risk when off the leash.

In this article, we’re going to delve a little deeper into the personalities of Samoyed dogs.

We’ll break the article up into the following sections to give you a clear understanding of their temperament.

• Where do Samoyeds come from?
• What do Samoyeds looks like?
• Samoyed temperament
• Are Samoyeds smart?
• Are Samoyeds friendly?
• Do Samoyeds make good family pets?
• Are Samoyeds stubborn?
• Do Samoyeds have good recall?
• Samoyed training
• Samoyed lifespan
• Samoyeds for first time owners
• Anything else to consider?
• In conclusion

Where do Samoyeds come from?

Samoyed dogs originate from north western Russia (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Samoyed dogs originate from north western Russia (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Samoyeds originated in north western region of Russia where they played a key role in the day-to-day life of the Samoyedic tribe.

These nomadic people would use Samoyeds to hunt and herd reindeer, which explains why the breed will sometimes herd small animals or small children.

Samoyeds were an integral part of the family and the Samoyedic would huddle with the dogs to retain body heat in freezing temperatures.

They were later discovered by explorers and brought back to the UK before being sent out on expeditions in Arctic and Antartica.

Smart and versatile, Samoyeds would often lead the pack given their ability to pick a safe root for the sleds during these adventures in difficult environments.

While these dogs arrived in the UK in the second half of the 19th century, the first Samoyed was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1906.

As of 2019, the AKC list these Smiling Sammies as the 59th most popular dog in the United States.

What do Samoyeds looks like?

Samoyeds are instantly recognisable for the white, fluffy coats and big disarming smiles.

According to the breed standard, Samoyeds should have thin black lips that curl up to give them this friendly appearance.

Samoyeds can grow to a height between 19 and 24 inches, while they can vary in weight.

The breed have four different colors: white, white and biscuit, biscuit and cream. They should have thick hair on their tails that loops over onto their backs.

Samoyeds have a double coat – the outer layer is long and straight to protect against harsh weather conditions, the inner layer is thick and fluffy to retain heat.

Samoyed temperament

Samoyeds are considered friendly and outgoing dogs that enjoy companionship with humans.

Seeing as they were integral members of the Samoyedic tribes, it’s little wonder that these ancient dogs have grown accustomed to be being around humans.

Are Samoyeds smart?

Samoyeds were ranked 44th in terms of IQ levels in the famous book called The Intelligence of Dogs. By the author’s definition, Samoyeds require 15-25 repetitions to learn a new command and will obey a first command 70 per cent of the time.

However, talking to Samoyed owners, it quickly becomes apparent the northern dogs are very smart. They’re usually eager to please their owners but that doesn’t mean Samoyeds are without an independent streak that is present in a lot of Spitz breeds.

Claire Roulston, owner of Sally (@scotlandwithfluffywolf), says:

“They are very intelligent but it has to be on their terms. Samoyeds, not huskies were used as the lead dogs by Amundsen on his polar expeditions, because they were better at picking safe routes through ice flows and crevasses. You have to make it worth their while to obey you.”

Are Samoyeds friendly?

Samoyeds have a reputation for being extremely friendly dogs that like to meet new people and new dogs.

They tend to be gentle and playful. In fact, these dogs crave human companionship and don’t do well if they’re left alone all day while their owner is at work.

Do Samoyeds make good family pets?

Samoyeds are often described as great family pets. Their ability to slot into the household unit shouldn’t come as a surprise given their roots with the Samoyedic tribe.

The white pooches like to be involved with family affairs, demanding attention from their pet parents.

Samoyeds have a reputation for being great with children due to their patient and playful nature. These dogs love to dish out affection and receive affection in equal measure.

You should never leave a child alone with any breed of dog.

Are Samoyeds stubborn?

If you do some research around northern breeds such as Samoyeds, you’ll almost inevitably come across the suggestion that they’re stubborn.

Like we mentioned above, these Spitz dogs do have an independent streak that can sometimes manifest itself as petulance.

Training a Samoyed from a young age with lots of socialisation will give you the best chance of having a well rounded dog.

Ultimately, they’re eager to please but consistent and persistent training is required to teach them basic obedience.

Sally (@scotlandwithfluffywolf) says:

“She can be stubborn; you have to make it worth her while to do something.”

Do Samoyeds have good recall?

Like other northern breeds such as Alaskan Klee Kai and Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds do have a prey drive. As a result, there’s a fairly good chance they can get distracted by a small animal and run off in pursuit. Although all dogs are different so some Samoyeds will be ok off leash, their prey drive means they’ll always be a potential flight risk.

Hiring an experienced dog trainer can help to improve your dog’s recall.

Samoyed training

Samoyeds are quite easy to train as they’re smart, quick learners and easy to please.

The American Kennel Club list the Samoyed as a working dog, so it’s in their DNA to learn obedience and skills.

Training from a young age will give you the best chance of teaching your dog some vital lessons.

Samoyed lifespan

Samoyeds can live between 12 and 18 years, which is quite long for a medium-sized dog. They are known to suffer from some health conditions such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), heart problems (like aortic stenosis and pulmonic stenosis), diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

Samoyeds for first time owners

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)
Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

Like a lot of northern breeds, Samoyeds may not be a good fit for a first time owner with limited experience around dogs. Like all breeds, there are pros and cons to owning a Samoyed.

Don’t trust us? Read the advice of Claire Roulston, owner of Sally (@scotlandwithfluffywolf):

I’d say no. Not unless you are prepared to change your lifestyle to make sure your dog has a good life. They don’t fit in well around your life, you have to change to accommodate their needs. Can you commit to exercising, grooming, socialisation and food they need to remain healthy?

Anything else to consider?

If you’re thinking about adopted a Samoyed, you should contact a reputable breeder to learn more about these dogs.

You should always request to see a puppy with its mother to ensure there’s no third-party breeding occurring.

In conclusion

Samoyeds are friendly, loving and sociable dogs that do well in family homes where they can build a relationship with humans.

While they do sometimes have a stubborn streak, their eagerness to please and intelligence means they’re usually reasonably easy to train.