Breed Spotlight: the Samoyed

The very existence of the Samoyede people of northwestern Siberia was based on the reindeer that they herded and the dogs that helped them with that daunting task. Their dogs had to be hardy and resilient in the extreme climate in which they lived and able to move with the reindeer as the seasons changed. Many jobs fell to these dogs, including pulling sledges (large sleds), hunting, and, most importantly, herding. 

The Samoyedes’ dogs were also their companions, and because the dogs needed to be protected from the elements, they slept inside with the family. Children were kept warm by curling up next to the thick warm fur of their dogs. For this reason, the dogs had to be friendly and good natured, and it is thought that the process of artificial selection came into play at this point, whereby the more aggressive dogs were not protected from the freezing temperatures as much as the friendlier dogs. This occurrence would have helped to instill the well-known good temperament into the breed. 

One of the most brilliant minds of North Pole explorations, Nansen Fridtjof, chose this superior Nordic breed to lead him on his treacherous journeys. The Samoyed breed proved to be an excellent choice, guiding Fridtjof further north than any other explorer had ventured.

Roald Amundsen, one of the many polar explorers who followed Nansen, was the first to successfully reach the South Pole with his team of Samoyeds in 1911. The grueling trip took 99 days to complete, but it served to put Amundsen and the Samoyed dog in the limelight. These dogs were acknowledged for having the strength, intelligence, and ability to withstand the long excursion. 

The dogs that made it back from the expeditions were taken to the homelands of the explorers, with most of them hailing from England and a few from Norway. Consequently, most of today’s Samoyeds have ancestry that can be traced back to those dogs who braved the stark climate of the arctic wasteland.

Want to know more about the Samoyed? Click here to learn about the full breed standard.

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