The Samoyed Standard

Characteristics

“If you are willing to give your time and love, you will receive the greatest treasure a dog lover could have –  being owned by a Sammy.”

The Samoyed is alert, expressive, intelligent, full of action, and displays affection for all mankind.  Joy is shown by the sparkle in his eyes and the mouth curving upward at the corners forming the well know “Sammy Smile”.

Physically, the Samoyed is the most efficient design of the Northern breeds.  It has a much more pronounced double layer coat than its cousins.  The coat can be the pure white, white and biscuit, cream, or all biscuit.  The long silver-white guard hair is tough and is soil and water repellent.  Snow cannot accumulate on this coat and the dog can easily shake it off.  The guard hair’s length remains constant and should stand straight out. The inner coat is woolly and during the winter is so thick, that you can’t push your finger to the flesh.  In spring, the Samoyed dog sheds so much of this warm woolly hair that the Samoyede people (and others today) spun and wove it like sheep wool.  It was then, and still is, used to make clothing.  The coat has no doggie odor.  The only scent the Samoyed has is the musk exuded between the toe pads for scent marking.  The deep brown eyes are set behind almond-shaped, black eyelids to reduce glare from the snow.  The feet are designed so the toes spread out (like a built-in snowshoe) and there is very dense, long hair between the toe pads to prevent ice from accumulating.  This hair also serves to provide traction on slippery surfaces.  The curved tail is used to cover the nose during extreme cold weather where it acts as a prefilter to warm and humidify the air that is inhaled.  The chest is a pronounced heart shape to support stronger musculature.  The skeleton is much heavier than would be expected for a dog its size to support the muscles that give it the strength to haul huge loads.  Yet it is not so massive that it’s not nimble and agile.  It has the speed to run down any large member of the deer family, including the reindeer.

Their intelligence can be a challenge to the owner.  Man in the past depended upon the Samoyed and it was the latter who made the decisions, and worked independently of man for the survival of man.  The dog was “on his own” to find the reindeer, gain their confidence, protect them from wolves, and herd them back to the human environment.  They taught their young this independence and responsibility, instilling this great instinct of reasoning so strongly that it rules the minds of our breed today.  Yet we expect this highly intelligent animal give up his heritage, his independence, and bow to our every wish or we call him stubborn, unmanageable, or stupid.

Why do some owners have so many problems with their dogs while others have perfect harmony?  The answer is in the handling; not by forceful demands, but an understanding of love and respect between them.  Don’t expect him to always think as you do. He has a mind of his own; respect it and he will comply through love and patience. He can be the easiest of all breeds to train or the hardest to control, depending on how you handle the situation.  Training must be given, and a command once given must be obeyed.  If he does not obey he must be corrected.  He will obey and keep his dignity if you have had close companionship and understanding of each other.  Severe punishment will work against the trainer.  Keep in mind your command may not be clearly understood.  Present your point as an enjoyable and intelligent command by expressing delight in sharing it, praise him highly when done, even though it may not have been just as you expected.

Being alert and full of action, the Samoyed should respond as a happy worker.  His great love of mankind is your control of his independence.  He is a jealous dog, he wants your attention, and he will please you to get it.

The home life of the past reflects character today.  He slept with his masters as part of the family.  Tie him or ignore him and you will have a problem dog to handle.  Love him, gain his respect, take him with you for rides, let him share your home and life and you will build the character his breed possesses.  Character cannot be built without close human relationship, either in kennel, or at the end of a chain, but as the center of your attention, loved, respected, and wanted.  Your reward will be respect, protection, performance, and love coupled with intelligence beyond belief.

The herding instinct is very strong, and he will take off after a rabbit despite your command to stay.  Accept him for what he is-he will need a fenced-in yard.  If you want a dog who will stay on your porch, who will not stray, this is not your breed.  If you are willing to give your time and love, you will receive the greatest treasure a dog lover could have-being owned by a Sammy.

Size

The standard states males at 21 to 23.5 in. at the shoulder; bitches 19 to 21 in.  There is no disqualification for size in this breed.  Size may vary from 17 to 25 in. though these extremes are typically sold as pets and seldom seen in the show ring.  The majority of winning Sammies today fall within the middle of their standard size, rather than at the bottom or the top.

Personality

By nature he is not a quarrelsome dog though he will stand his ground for what he feels are his rights.  As an all-purpose dog he will adapt easily to any circumstances or environment and when brought up with children, they will be his favorites as he excels as a playmate and guardian who will not desert his charges when they are in danger.  Each Sam is an individual, even from one litter.  One may be very attentive and obedient while another may be more headstrong and less demanding of affection as long as he knows the house is his castle when he wants it.

Personalities can and are changed with circumstances and environment.  The happy, outgoing puppy can end up dull, shy or aggressive through neglect or mistreatment during his first year.  Lack of harmony in the home will upset him – he cannot be happy if you are upset.

He should be taken for short drives as early as 8 to 10 weeks, meet strangers, and adjust to strange surroundings as well as other dogs when he is three months and older.  Care must be taken that he is always treated kindly.  He must not be deprived of human companionship which he needs.  Never tie him outdoors alone.  This will change his personality as he was born to be free.  A fenced-in yard is a must where he can get his exercise, feel the freedom of open area, yet be protected from outside dangers.  He will want to herd the neighbor’s cat, rabbits, squirrels or explore the area – as much as 10 miles of it if allowed.

He has a keen sense of knowing when you are happy, sad, who really loves him, just tolerates him, or dislikes him, and he will return his love accordingly.  He thrives and his personality abounds with love and companionship in being part of the family, in the car as well as at home.  There is no way of fully describing his understanding, intelligence, his value as a pet and/or show dog except to live very closely with one and experience the great treasure he becomes in your home.

He is a vocal dog and with encouragement will voice his pleasures and his dislikes.  Some enjoy jokes and ham it up when laughed at while others resent it.  He will speak with his paw or nose.  Many an owner can tell how a cup of coffee was almost bounced from their hands when they ignored his demand to be let outdoors.  That nose will also be pressed softly under your arm for attention, pressure added when the first hints for recognition are ignored.  They are naturals to shake hands as they are quick to offer a paw in friendliness, even when a small puppy.

Wool

The Samoyed has a double coat.  The undercoat is wool which when carded and spun can be woven or knit into beautiful clothing.  It is strong and warm.  The coat is odorless, the outer coat is coarse, long and the tips have a silver glint.  Both coats should stand out from the body; a dropping coat is not typical of the breed.  Most Sammies today are white though having some cream or biscuit is valuable to the breed as they often have a more stand-off coat of coarser texture and their get (offspring) have the beautiful silver tips which are lacking in some of the dogs today due to breeding away from color too long.  Unusually black pigment generally is evident in the colored dogs.

The wool is not sheared, Samoyeds shed!  At this time comb it out and save it.  Always brush your Sammy before you bathe him since if he is starting to shed he will be matted and it will be a miserable job to comb out for you and painful to him.  The bitches usually shed twice a year (after their seasons), dogs once, though they can have a slight shed midyear.  Once the Samoyed has a complete shed and the new coat starts to grow in, there is no hair problem as with shorthaired breeds.  However, when they do shed, there is a lot of hair around.  In some areas where humidity is high, there can be more shedding problems.  In summer, when the wooly undercoat is shed, the coarse outer coat acts as protection against the sun.  Puppies born in late fall often shed in winter instead of spring so there is no standard time of shedding although weather plays an important role.  Nature provides that the young be born in Spring and in their homeland they have a definite pattern.  Though odorless of doggy smell, the coat will pick up other offensive odors if allowed to contact it.  A soiled coat will have a musty odor when wet from the rain.

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