The Samoyed dog breed originated in Siberia and is named after the Samoyedic people who began breeding them over 3000 years ago. Research has shown that they are among the 14 oldest dog breeds and are distantly related to wolves.
Sometimes called Bjelkier, these furry pups were first tamed to help their people herd reindeer and pull their sleds. They also protected their people and even helped keep them warm on cold Siberian nights.
Once Samoyeds were introduced to Europe and beyond, they were used as sled dogs for polar expeditions. In fact, the first expedition to ever reach the South Pole was led by a Samoyed by the name of Etah.
Another thing that made Samoyeds gain popularity is their fur. Once shed, it can be knitted. It is similar to angora fur in texture and also because it is hypoallergenic.
Samoyed fur clothing is said to have kept humans warm in below-zero temperatures.
Samoyeds are medium sized dogs with lots of soft, white, fluffy hair. Males can weigh as much as 71 pounds, but females usually only weigh between 40 - 55 pounds.
Samoyeds can stand up to two feet tall, but usually average 21 inches. Samoyed have dark, almond shaped eyes and furry, triangular ears that stand erect.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of Samoyeds is their tail, which curves over their back. It differs from the Alaskan Malamute tail because it actually touches the dog's back.
The perfect Samoyed tail curves over the back and to one side but does not form a tight curl. If a Samoyed is at ease, their tail flattens a bit. When they are being petted or are eating, their tales take on true Samoyed form.
Built for work and tough weather, Samoyeds are also incredibly friendly. Since aggressive Samoyeds are rare, they make better pets than guard dogs. Samoyeds have tendency to bark often which allows them to be good watch dogs though they won't be very good at actual defence.
Along with being friendly, Samoyeds are also playful and good with children. They make great companions for humans as well as other dogs.
In their play, these dogs will often exhibit some of the characteristics bred into them for herding. For instance, with other dogs or with small children a Samoyed might try to playfully herd their playmates.
With their background in herding and pulling sleds, Samoyeds are willing to work. They can be trained to both herd and pull sleds.
Professional Samoyeds can even compete in herding competitions along with the more typical dog show categories.
Because of their background, an untrained Samoyed will usually need to be thoroughly trained to heel and not lead.
A particularly beautiful dog, Samoyeds have a face that is often perceived as a smile.
In fact, the breed has been nicknamed the "smiley dogs" for the friendly temperament and grinning features. Their amiability, small size and beautiful coat makes them a popular pet as well as show dog.