Sally the Samoyed interview

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Updated on October 04, 2019

What’s better than a Samoyed? A smiling Scottish Samoyed!

Sally the Samoyed is based near Edinburgh where you can find her posing elegantly in front of the city’s different landmarks and landscapes.

The breed originally hail from the north western region of Russia but Samoyeds are commonly found around the world following a surge in popularity.

One of 14 ancient types of dogs thought to be related to wolves, Samoyeds are charming and charismatic as well as energetic and eager to please.

However, there are some myths about Samoyeds that Sally’s owner Claire helped us to debunk in our interview with the social star (@scotlandwithfluffywolf) this week.

So without further ado, let’s hear more about Sally, her life in Scotland, the personality of these wonderful dogs and what advice Claire has for potential Samoyed owners.

1) How did you first hear about Samoyeds?

A friend had two when I was a kid. I loved them at first sight: big fluffy cuddly happy dogs.

2) Why did you decide to get a Samoyed?

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

Four years ago I was finally in a position to be able to look after a dog, but none of the reputable rescues would consider me (as I was then a single person household with a full time job (never mind the fact I had a garden, came home at lunchtime, and had an extensive network of friends and neighbours willing to help). So, despite #adoptdontshop I was forced to go for a puppy. However, that meant that I could consider any dog breed. I wanted an active outdoor breed to force me to exercise, plus I wanted a large enough dog that I’d feel safe out walking alone, but I wanted a dog that wouldn’t ever be a danger to myself or others (I was looking for all bark and no bite!). The more I considered my list of requirements in a dog, the more I realised my childhood crush – Samoyeds – were the dog I was looking for.

3) What is Sally’s personality like?

FRIENDLY, HAPPY (am I allowed to say it in block capitals?). She loves everyone, dogs and humans. She likes to be in the centre of everything, and is very eager to please as long as it gets her more attention. She can be stubborn; you have to make it worth her while to do something. She’s a little nervous of sudden loud noises but other than that nothing bothers her.

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4) What challenges does owning a Samoyed bring?

The hair! It gets everywhere! I’ve blown up one vacuum cleaner already (one day it went bang and there was black smoke, the motor had burnt out).
You’ll never have any privacy – think you can have 5 minutes peace to go to the bathroom – think again!

Factor in at least an additional 15 minutes into your transit time if you have to be somewhere for a set time and are taking your dog. You will get stopped by strangers in the street who want to pat your dog.

They can be destructive if they get bored, especially when they are at the teething puppy stage. Sally ate through drywall in the kitchen; others I know of have eaten chairs, TV remote controls, and socks. Vets bills can be expensive!

They are strong and they love to pull (they were sled dogs after all). You will spend years training before they will walk beside you on a loose leash. Until then invest in a bungee lead, a waist dog walking belt and shoes with good grippy soles!

5) Are Samoyeds friendly dogs as their smiles suggest?

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

In a word: YES. As with all breeds there are some that are friendlier than others, depending on their experiences (one of Sally’s Samoyed friends is dog-on-dog aggressive when she’s on leash, she was attacked as a puppy and now she is nervous of other dogs). Intact males can be aggressive towards other intact males, particularly if there are girl dogs to fight over.

6) Do Samoyeds require a lot of exercise?

Yes, and not just physical exercise, they need mental stimulation too. So other dogs to play with, time allowed to sniff/hunt while on their walk, vary your walking routes to provide novelty. An adult Samoyed will require 1-4 hours exercise a day (if you do more one day, you can get away with less the couple of days after). But build up their stamina slowly, as a medium-large breed as puppies they should have no more than 5 minutes exercise per month of life until they are a year old (so a six month pup would be on 30 mins walking a day). Having said that most Samoyeds have an offswitch and are very good couch potatoes!

7) What stereotypes do Samoyeds have and are they representative of the breed?

Cuddly, cute, probably not very intelligent “shoobs” that lounge around for the benefit of internet memes are probably the main stereotypes.
Yes they are certainly both cuddly and cute. They are very intelligent (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) but it has to be on their terms. You have to make it worth their while to obey you.

8) If you could dispel one myth about Samoyeds, what would it be?

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

They are NOT hypoallergenic. This is a widely held belief that is not true. Firstly no animal is truly hypoallergenic. Secondly this myth came about because Samoyeds have less dander than most dogs (but a LOT more hair shedding). The main cause of rehoming are families that believe the hypoallergenic hype and get a Samoyed, only to find out the children/spouse/parent who wasn’t allergic to the puppy fur is now highly allergic to the adult dog.

9) Do you think Samoyeds are a good option for first-time dog owners?

I don’t think I’m the right person to ask as Sally is my first dog! Actually 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?

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10) What is your favourite memory/photo with Sally?

I’m going to be controversial here and say that much as I loved my puppy I like my dog a whole lot more! Puppies are cute but such hard work!
As to memories, I’m very happy that she got to meet my Grandad and that he got to meet her (he’d several times tried to arrange a puppy for me when I was growing up, but my Mum always vetoed his plans). It was lovely to see them together. I have a few photos of them that I’ll always cherish. Also the night that we got to take puppy Sally onto Scott’s Antarctic research ship RS Discovery (now in dry-dock in Dundee). I have a photo of her on the top deck where the crates used to house Scott’s sled dogs would have been.

11) What is the most common questions you get asked about your Samoyed?

OMG is it a polar bear? No – it’s a dog! How do you keep it so white? – I don’t actually; she frequently has mud up to her armpits. Samoyed hair is naturally very mud/water-repellent and once it dries it just brushes out. Do you have to brush it a lot? – Yes, a quick once over every night otherwise she ends up with tangles.

12) Are there many other Samoyeds in Scotland?

There are a fair few around. Maybe because the climate is good for fluffy arctic wolves, but there are far more huskies. I think they are becoming more popular as most of the dogs I’ve met recently are only 1-2 years old.

13) Why did you decide to start an Instagram page for Sally? How much time do you dedicate to growing the account?

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

I had virtually abandoned my personal FB but had to recover it to have somewhere to post the puppy spam photos, but I realised not everyone was into looking at puppy pics (yes I know, there are actually people who don’t appreciate cute dog photos!). One of my colleagues kept pushing me to make an IG for Sally. Eventually I caved to peer pressure! I don’t consciously do anything to grow her account. I’ll always respond to messages and comments because I think that if someone has taken the time to write to you, then they are owed a reply. I tend to save this up and then take an hour to do my answers 1-2 times a week. At the start I followed back every Samoyed that followed Sal, but I’ve become more selective now. I try to vary the hashtags I use. Some sensible, some silly, and some wildcards, and I always geotag posts, these techniques seem to help her get more noticed.

14) What advice would you give someone looking to start an Instagram account for their dogs?

Go ahead. Do it, but please use IG as a SOCIAL media. Somewhere to post photos and to journal your experiences and to reach out and meet like-minded people (and dogs). Don’t try to be a “social influencer” and have posts where everything is an #ad. My view is that if I haven’t already paid my own money for a product, or would do so in the future then I won’t promote it. Sadly not everyone thinks this way and I’m seeing people (particularly for puppy Samoyeds) make accounts with the sole intention of becoming Instafamous and getting their hands on “free stuff”.

15) What are your favourite Samoyed accounts?

Am I allowed to give my friends a plug here? There’s @biju_and_yuma_samoyeds who have twice made the journey over from the Netherlands to Scotland just to visit with Sally! Then there’s Dasher @thedashchronicles who comes up from Cambridge. In Edinburgh there’s Sally’s wanna-be toyboy @scottish_samoyed. All now good friends that I’d never have met if it weren’t for IG. In terms of photography and happy active dogs living places I’d love to visit then @icedsnowberry @birk_the_polar_samoyed @shandandherdogs @outwithmysamoyeds and @capecodsammies are all inspiring.

16) Anything else we should know about the breed?

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

Sally the Samoyed (Photo: @scotlandwithfluffywolf)

Yes. In a genetic sense they aren’t dogs at all. They are arctic wolves. Samoyeds are a very ancient breed of dog descended from one domestication event from the common ancestor of modern wolves/dogs. Depending on the research you chose to believe they have had anything from 10-25,000 years of living alongside arctic humans. During their whole history there has been virtually no back-crossing to wolves or out-crossing with other dog breeds. This means that they have very little genetic diversity left (why you HAVE to insist that your puppy’s parents have been health-screened). They have some behaviour that seems to be far more wolf than dog (the most adorable being the wolf howl). They do not like being left alone and may be very destructive if left for long periods. Also, inside the fluffy skin their physiology is that of a wolf. Similarly to an arctic wolf, they have only two copies of the gene for the starch digestion enzyme amylase (a Labrador can have over 40). This means they are very poor at digesting complex carbohydrates and do best when fed a raw diet (most grain free kibbles still contain potato, sweet-potato, and pea starch). Be prepared to have to feed your dog raw meat (luckily there are companies now who will supply you with prepared minced meals!).

Quick-fire round

Samoyed pros

Cuddly, friendly, happy, active, long-lived (12-18 years)

Samoyed cons

Hairy, high-prey drive, selective hearing, stubborn, needs to be with people.