The Samoyed has a compact, muscular body. The wedge-shaped head is broad and slightly crowned. The muzzle is in proportion to the size of the dog, tapering to the nose. The stop is well defined butnot abrupt. The nose color can be black, brown or liver. The lips are black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The dark, almond-shaped eyes are deep-set, somewhat wide apart, with a slanting lower lid and dark rims. The erect, triangular ears are slightly rounded at the tips. The tail is moderately long, well-covered with hair, carried rolled on the back. The legs are solid and muscular and the feet are flat and covered with hair. The thick, double coat is profuse. The undercoat is soft, short and thick with longer hairs growing out to the outer coat. The outer coat is harsh and stands straight out, not wavy. Males’ coats are more profuse than females’. There is a ruff around the neck and shoulders, framing the head. Coat colors include pure white, biscuit, yellow and cream. Sometimes white with silver tips. Pure white is preferred in the show ring.
The Samoyed originated in Russia and takes its name from the ancient Samoyede people of Siberia, a nomadic race of hunters and fishermen who have used this dog for hundreds of years to pull sleds and herd reindeer. It was thought to be introduced in Britain in 1889 by the Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Scott, who was one of the explorers to use this dog in polar explorations.
These are some of famous Samoyeds.
- Kaifas and Suggen, the lead dogs for Fridtjof Nansen's North Pole expedition.
- Etah, the lead dog for Roald Amundsen's expedition to the South Pole, the first to reach the pole.
- Samoyeds serve as the sled dogs of Stone Fox in the book of the same name.
- Xiah Junsu, member of South Korean boy band JYJ formerly from TVXQ, owns a Samoyed named Xiahky (which translates as "Raised by Xiah").
- Mush was the name of the Samoyed dog owned by Karen Carpenter of the popular music group The Carpenters.
- Denis Leary owned a Samoyed named "Little Bastard".
- Michelle Collins, star of British television soap operas EastEnders and Coronation Street owns a Samoyed called Jingle.
- Sangchoo is the name of the Samoyed in the 2012 Korean drama To The Beautiful You.
- King, the dog that appears in South Korean boy band EXO's 19th teaser with Lay, Baekhyun and Chen, is a Samoyed.
- Skookum, a dog with a blog on the popular internet site "Tumblr."
Samoyeds can suffer from many illnesses that include:
- Diabetes mellitus similar but not identical to human Type I (insulin deficiency): The disease occurs in middle-aged Samoyeds, the mean age at diagnosis is seven years. The cause is a chronic inflammation of the pancreas and / or autoimmune destruction of beta cells ofislets of Langerhans. Moreover, in affected dogs autoantibodies were found to insulin. Currently, several genetic markers are discussed as possible causes.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) caused by a frameshift mutation in the RPRG locus of the X chromosome. The disease leads to a slowly progressive loss of vision, which eventually leads to blindness. The first symptoms appear between two and five years of age. The disease corresponds to the X-linked PRA type 3 in humans.
- Short legs in conjunction with eye abnormalities: Due to a genetic defect at the COL2A1 locus occurs on disproportionate dwarfism with short limbs in connection with cataracts, malformations of the retina and / or retinal detachment, liquefaction of the vitreous and a persistent hyaloid artery. The malformations of the retina are dominant (i.e. before coming in heterozygous dogs); the other symptoms are recessive, so they only come to expression in homozygous affected dogs. A connection with Opticin is not.
- Pulmonary stenosis occurs more frequently in Samoyeds in comparison with other breeds. The disease can cause shortness of breath, cardiac arrhythmias and tiring on motion and increases the risk of congestive heart failure.
- Hip dysplasia is also a concern for Samoyeds.
- The breed can also be affected by Sebaceous adenitis, an uncommon idiopathic autoimmune skin disease.
Life expectancy is about 12–13 years.
Samoyeds' friendly disposition makes them poor guard dogs; an aggressive Samoyed is rare. With their tendency to bark, however, they can be diligent watch dogs, barking whenever something approaches their territory. Samoyeds are excellent companions, especially for small children or even other dogs, and they remain playful into old age. When Samoyeds become bored, they may begin to dig. With their sled dog heritage, a Samoyed is not averse to pulling things, and an untrained Samoyed has no problem pulling its owner on a leash rather than walking alongside. Samoyeds were also used to herd reindeer. They will instinctively act as herd dogs, and when playing with children, especially, will often attempt to turn and move them in a different direction. The breed is characterized by an alert and happy expression which has earned the nicknames "Sammy smile" and "smiley dog."
Samoyeds can compete in dog agility trials, carting, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, mushing and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Samoyeds exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.
Samoyeds have a dense, double layer coat. The topcoat contains long, coarse, and straight guard hairs, which appear white but have a hint of silver coloring. This top layer keeps the undercoat relatively clean and free of debris. The under layer, or undercoat, consists of a dense, soft, and short fur that keeps the dog warm. The undercoat is typically shed heavily once or twice a year, and this seasonal process is sometimes referred to as "blowing coat". This does not mean the Samoyed will shed only during that time however; fine hairs (versus the dense clumps shed during seasonal shedding) will be shed all year round, and have a tendency to stick to cloth and float in the air. The standard Samoyed may come in a mixture of biscuit and white coloring, although pure white and all biscuit dogs are common. Males typically have larger ruffs than females.