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The decision to add a dog or cat to your family is an exciting one. After all, owning a pet is much more than a pastime or a way to spice up your life. It’s a privilege and responsibility.
You are your pet's world, so ensuring that the conditions you bring them into are a good fit for their specific needs is the first step to being a good pet parent.
That’s why today’s Spot Pet Insurance post is another breed guide, helping get you up to speed on the most popular dog and cat breeds so you can provide the kind of life they need.
In this edition, our spotlight is on the Samoyed.
This cold weather-loving, smiley sled dog breed is one of the most popular in the world. However, they’re also among the more high-maintenance breeds, so being prepared is especially important for a Samoyed owner. We’re covering everything from the Samoyed's history to grooming needs for their thick white coat, daily exercise needs, training tips, and health issues to be aware of.
Where do Samoyeds come from?
The Samoyed’s physical and mental traits draw clear connections to where they came from.
Samoyeds, also nicknamed the “smiling Samoyed,” are a breed of medium herding dogs from the far north of Siberia near the Arctic Circle in Russia.
Brutal cold and constant snow pose insurmountable challenges to most breeds, but these dogs handle such conditions, even temperatures below -60 degrees Fahrenheit, like pros.
The breed dates back a few thousand years, but their qualities have been impressively consistent considering their age. A Samoyed you adopt today would not be all that different from one that lived with the nomadic Samoyed peoples long ago.
Known to their original people as Bjelkiers, Samoyeds were bred as working dogs and formed close bonds with their families.
They could accompany their master on long journeys, herd various animals (usually reindeer), help protect the camp, fight wolves, hunt bears, pull sledges, and tow fishing boats.
Once explorers encountered these pups, they were brought back to Europe, namely England, where they became exceptionally popular for their beauty and energy.
Average Sizes and Life Expentancy of The Breed
- Males: 21-23.5 inches
- Females: 19-21 inches
- Males: 45-65 pounds
- Females: 35-50 pounds
- 10-12 years
What are the potential health conditions for the Samoyed?
Samoyeds are generally healthy dogs overall, but there are certain health concerns to be aware of throughout your Samoyed’s lifespan.
To start, if you’re buying a Samoyed puppy from a breeder, you should ensure the puppy has all the health clearances and tests they need.
The Samoyed Club of America recommends certain health tests for the breed, including eye exams and tests for hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and congenital cardiac evaluation. Other common conditions for Samoyeds include hypothyroidism, hereditary glomerulopathy, and kidney disease.
What is it?
Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition in which the hip joint and thigh bone don’t align properly. Instead of smooth operation, the two rub together painfully. If you notice your dog is walking or running strangely, especially if they seem to have trouble with their hind legs, consider having them checked for this condition.
- Reduced physical activity
- Avoids use of hind legs
- Avoids jumping, running, or climbing
- Difficulty laying down or standing up
- Reduced coordination and range of motion
- Unusual gait, including swaying, hopping, or limping
- Reduced muscle mass in legs
- Swelling or enlarged shoulders
- Grating, clicking, or popping sounds from the hind joints
- Restrict painful exercises
- Physical therapy
- Weight loss
- Joint fluid modifiers
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Surgery: Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
- Surgery: Femoral head ostectomy (FHO)
- Surgery: Total hip replacement (THR)
- Delayed treatment risks long-term damage
- Surgery carries risks depending on your dog’s age/condition (better for younger dogs)
Average Vet Bill
90% = $2,160
80% = $1,920
70% = $1,680
What is it?
Glaucoma is an eye condition that can cause pain and vision loss to varying degrees due to increased pressure caused by fluid build-up.
Glaucoma can be one of two kinds: Primary (passed down genetically, sometimes called Hereditary) or Secondary (caused by injury or another eye disease). This disease can also be acute (rapid onset) or chronic (slower development).
- Rubbing of the affected eye(s)
- Aversion to contact around the affected eye(s)
- Fluid from the eye
- Lack of energy or appetite
- Swelling of the eyeball
- Redness or cloudiness in eyeball
- Reduced visual awareness or blindness
- Pain medications
- Fluid draining medications
- Long-term medical therapy
- Treating Glaucoma as quickly as possible is imperative
- Severe cases or delayed treatment could result in permanent blindness or the need to remove the eye surgically
- Monitor closely after treatment
Average Vet Bill
90% = $2,700
80% = $2,400
70% = $2,100
How well do Samoyeds get along with their owners?
Samoyeds form exceptionally strong bonds with their masters and immediate family.
This can be traced back to their origins. Bred and used by the Samoyedic people in Siberia, these dogs were close to their masters at all times as they were co-dependent on each other for survival. They would sleep wrapped up together for warmth.
That’s not to say you have to let your Samoyed sleep in your bed, but let it be an indicator of their affection needs. They need to be close to their family as often as possible, which means you need a lot of time to dedicate to them as an owner.
Are Samoyeds aggressive towards strangers?
Samoyeds have watchdog tendencies, which were ideal for herding and helping to protect the camp. These instincts can be set off by any stranger, ranging from a squirrel to a package delivery person.
When their watchdog instincts are triggered, Samoyeds tend to chase or bark. They aren’t aggressive, but they do love to explore, which can include chasing down a small animal or another person nearby to see what’s going on.
Despite these instincts, Samoyeds are extremely friendly once they see you accept a stranger into your home or interact in a way that deems them a non-threat. These fluffy pups warm up quickly once you lead the way.
How well will a Samoyed adapt to new situations?
Samoyeds are not the most adaptable breed. They need large, open areas and are averse to warm climates. Apartment living or urban situations will likely spell trouble for this breed.
In terms of your daily schedule, understand that this breed also needs lots of attention. Leaving your Sammy home alone for long periods is not advised, as it’s likely to lead to destructive behavior. Even letting them outside without supervision is ill-advised. Without mental stimulation, they will turn to digging, chewing, or chasing.
Do Samoyeds make good guard dogs?
Protecting camp and herding are jobs deeply instilled in this breed’s instincts, so they can make a great guard dog, but it largely depends on your individual pup.
Some Samoyeds vocalize their concern when they notice potential threats (real or imagined), but others don’t.
Will a Samoyed be a fun dog to have around?
This breed is a lot of work, but they’re an equal amount of fun for any owner up to the challenge. Samoyeds have high energy levels, intelligence, and a need for attention from their owners. This means they want to play and exercise with you!
When it’s time to relax, the Samoyed’s instincts often lead to snuggling. They aren’t quite as clingy as some “velcro” breeds, but you can expect lots of affection.
Are Samoyeds good with children?
In the same way that Samoyeds bond strongly with their masters, they do the same with children who are part of their pack.
Do Samoyeds do well with other dogs?
Most Samoyed treat dogs in their pack the same as their human family, and dogs who are strangers the same as human strangers. Expect affection and loyalty towards family and caution towards strangers (until you accept them).
Coat:Samoyeds have a double coat, which means they have an outer coat of fur (which tends to be harsher), and an undercoat (usually softer and smoother). Potential colors for this breed’s thick coat: Pure White Cream Biscuit White-Biscuit Silver Gray
Grooming:Daily brushing, occasional bath, regular nail trims
Training:Easy to train.
Life Time Care Cost:$28,620
Are Samoyeds hypoallergenic?
No, Samoyeds are not hypoallergenic.
How often do Samoyeds have to be groomed?
The Samoyed’s coat contributes the most to their high-maintenance care. Brush your Samoyed frequently and be prepared to clean hair out of your furniture constantly, especially during shedding season.
Samoyeds also do not drool, thanks to their trademark smile caused by upturned lips, which would prevent icicles around their mouths when they lived in Siberia.
What is the lifetime care cost of a Samoyed?
How to be the best pet parent for a Samoyed?
Caring for your pet is as much a privilege as it is a responsibility, so learning from guides like this is key to helping your dog thrive in its new life with you.
For more resources to aid in your pet parent journey, check out our Blogbowl.
How much does a Samoyed shepherd dog or puppy cost?
Here’s an idea of the budget you’ll need for food, supplies, licensing, grooming, training, health, and more.
Adoption fee (puppy): $1,200-3,040
Yearly care cost (first year): $5,220
Yearly care cost (early age and adulthood): $1,950
Basic training and behavior etiquette for your Samoyed
Training your Samoyed requires dedication, patience, and consistency. Here are some tips to help things go smoothly.
- Samoyeds are eager to please, but they can also be exceptionally stubborn if they aren’t trained properly from a young age.
- Establishing yourself as the alpha of the house is necessary in order to have a well-behaved Samoyed as a family dog.
- Approach training with a firm but loving hand and use rewards in moderation.
- Obedience training may help prevent destructive behaviors when a Sammy inevitably gets bored. Keep a watchful eye for digging, chewing, and escape attempts, and lay the law firmly when those instances occur.
- Interactive toys are a great way to help stimulate their mind and avoid boredom. Other activities, especially when performed with you at their side, such as sports or actual jobs, are also recommended.
What types of foods should a Samoyed never eat?
Samoyeds have sensitive stomachs compared to other dogs. If you notice signs of digestive issues in response to dog food, talking to a trusted vet is the best way to create a plan going forward.
There are some foods that you should never let your Samoyed eat, as they can pose a serious risk. You can learn more about foods to avoid giving dogs in general here.
- Ice Cream
Exercise tips to keep your Samoyed staying fit and healthy
Samoyeds have very high energy levels and need frequent exercise and socialization. They can be quite playful, but letting them entertain themselves can be risky.
Long walks and play sessions every day are a must, and you should be personally involved in this time. The Samoyed wants its family to be around as much as possible.
While some dogs are happy running around the yard by themselves, a Samoyed will likely turn to destructive behaviors or look to escape and explore.
Samoyed life stages
Puppy: 12-18 months
Adult: 1 - 9 years
Senior: 9 years - end of life
If you’re an experienced pet owner ready for the challenge of training, grooming, and caring for this fluffy friend, you’ll have an incredibly loyal, loving companion as a reward.
Careful research and thoughtful planning go a long way when adding a Samoyed to your family.