The Samoyed we know today, is another Spitz-like descendant that originated from the  'Esquimaux Dog', the oldest type of dog known in Central Europe. From observation of Esquimaux dogs' skeletons, these tough, powerfully built hard-working dogs weighed up to 80 pounds.

Although the Samoyed is a strong, active working dog that can be used to pull a sled, unlike the other breeds discussed in this section, the Samoyed was originally developed to guard and gently herd the flocks of reindeer that belonged to the nomadic Samoyede people who lived with their dogs in the eastern Siberian Arctic region of Russia.

Consequently, today's Samoyed has a uniquely friendly, gentle temperament. Its love of people, forged over centuries of living with the Northern Siberian tribe of Samoyede people, together with its expression or 'smile', has made him popular in modern society.

History of the Samoyed

Samoyede People c 1905Samoyede People c 1905

The Samoyede people after whom this breed is named, lived in tribes in the Ural Mountains which run north-south from the Arctic Ocean through Russia to northern Kazakhstan. Here the nomadic reindeer herders lived in tribes that survived by hunting small game like polar hares and Arctic fox. Sometimes the reindeer herders used a reindeer for meat, skins, milk or even riding.

In summer, the tribes of Samoyede people. together with their dogs, followed the reindeer through high-latitude land in the treeless frosty plains of the Arctic Circle. The reindeer's feet were naturally adapted to scrape up food which was a type of moss or lichen.

Samoyeds SleddingSamoyeds Sledding

In winter the nomadic hardy, good-natured Samoyede people used dried animal skins for clothing while their dogs transported their belongings from place-to place. These versatile Samoyede dogs also guarded the reindeer from wolves by keeping them in a pack or flock and rounding up the stragglers. As a result, the reindeer had no fear of the Samoyede dogs because these dogs did not herd the reindeer by biting at the reindeer's' heels in a manner typical of most herding dogs. Instead, the Samoyede dogs would treat the reindeer as their social companions, in a manner typical of Livestock Guardian Dogs[1].

The Samoyed becomes a Pure Breed

Early SamoyedEarly Samoyed

The Samoyed breed we know today evolved from a mixed lot of Arctic dogs that were discovered by early explorers around 1870. Mr Kilburn Scott purchased a plump, alert puppy as a present for his wife, and took it back to England. Named 'Sarbarka', it was shown in the 'Foreign Dog' Class in Birmingham in 1893. Great interest was shown in this puppy and it was decided to name it after the Samoyede people with whom it lived.

In 1896, the Kilburn Scotts obtained a bitch called 'Whitey Petchora' and began breeding Samoyedes. She was in the background of dogs bearing the 'famous Kobe' prefix. Consequently, the Kilburn Scotts are given the credit of establishing the breed in UK. Then they began breeding by obtaining dogs from trading ships. By this means, they were able to develop the Samoyede as a recognised breed type that was coloured white, cream or biscuit. After the breed club was formed in 1909, the Kilburn Scotts wrote the first Breed Standard.

Samoyed (England) 1915Samoyed (England) 1915

By 1914 the Samoyede as a breed was growing rapidly in popularity and before World War One in the days of families and prefixes, many champions were produced.

Despite the Kennel Club (UK) not accepting any new dog registrations, by 1919 after the War had ended, a few 'War Babies' were accepted. However, the Samoyed Association of Great Britain was then reconstituted and by the late 1920s, the awarding of Challenge Certificates resumed[2a]. In 1923, the final 'e' of Samoyede was dropped, hence the name Samoyed we know this dog today.

History of the Samoyed in Australia

Samoyed pups (females) Samoyed pups (females)

Arctic Dogs were introduced into Australia by the British Antarctic expedition to the South Pole in 1898 - 1900. Captained by Norwegian Carsten E Borchgrevink, it carried two dog handlers of Finnish Lapland descent. In 1904, when Mrs Kilburn Scott found an Arctic dog in the Sydney Zoo, it was  probably left behind by this expedition. Mrs Scott took it back to the UK and named it 'Antarctic Buck' who became an influential stud dog who descendants produced English Champions five English Champions.

Then another 'nice one' also probably from this same source was exhibited in a VP&KC Show in Melbourne in 1907. Several others followed. Although in Tyzacks Annual, Samoyeds were named as not being represented in 1911, one was listed as being imported in 1911, together with an unrelated  pair of puppies[2]. Additionally, large white 'spitz-like dogs' that looked somewhat like Samoyedes then appeared at Sydney Royal Easter Show during the 1920s.

Samoyed moving forwardSamoyed moving forward Samoyed moving awaySamoyed moving away

In the early 1900s any large white 'Pomeranian' was called a German Spitz. Some of these would appear at various Shows and exhibited as Samoyeds.  As there was no Australian Stud book at that time, the various dog registration bodies scattered around the Australian Colonies would, without proof, accept any breed name the owner chose to give it. Consequently, the 1935 the Victorian KCC Gazette stated:


"Owners of Samoyeds are again reminded that all registrations of this breed have been suspended and reinstatement depends upon the owners satisfying the KCC that their dogs trace back to imported Samoyeds. This action has been taken in an endeavor to eliminate those outsize white Pomeranians which many owners erroneously believe to be Samoyeds"

A fresh start was made in 1931 when Yukon Queen was imported and produced a couple of litters. Then Miss Linda Irving purchased 'Black Eyed Susan' and imported a dog and bitch from the Arctic Kennels in England. After that, many imports then made their way to Australia. Consequently. despite such a precarious start, in 1944, interest in breed had grown to a point where several enthusiastic breeders formed the first Samoyed Club to be affiliated with any State controlling body. Many legendary breeders then emerged and the Samoyed became a force to contend with in the Utility Group in Australia[3].

The Samoyed Today

The Samoyed is a medium sized pure white and biscuit or cream working dog which should stand 51 - 56 cms (18 - 22 ins) high. Because it was developed as a working dog bred to work in cold climates, it's striking straight coat consists of hard hair that should stand away from the body because it grows through such a thick, close, soft undercoat.


The Samoyed has a powerful wedge-shaped head with a broad, flat skull and a tapering foreface which should never be sharply pointed or snipey. Although the lips, eye-rims and nose should be black, a brown or flesh coloured nose is acceptable. The almond shaped medium to dark brown coloured eyes should be set well apart. The thick ears, which are slightly rounded at the tips should be fully erect on the mature dog. The strong jaws house a normal scissors bite.

The proudly arched neck should flow into a medium length body with a broad chest and deep and well sprung ribs which leave give plenty of room for the heart to function. The legs, which have plenty of bone, end in feet that are often called 'snow shoes' because they are long and flattish, with the soles well cushioned with hair.

Samoyed Show 1993 judged by JaneSamoyed Show 1993 judged by Jane

The hindquarters are very muscular, with the stifles well angulated. The long and profusely coated tail is usually carried over the back when the dog is alert, but may be dropped when it is at rest.  The Samoyed should move freely with a strong, agile gait that shows power and elegance.

References and Further Reading

[1] The Samoyed Published by the Samoyed Association of Great Britain Native Habitat Pages 11-22

[1a] Ibid. The Breed in England Pages 23 - 30

[2] "Tyzack's Annual" Compiled by T.W.Tyzack and C.S. Turner published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912, printed by Bellmaine Bros., Printers 66 - 70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Australia. Samoyeds Importations P. 89.

[3] Ms Lorraine Addison "The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia" published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 Page 257.