Frequently Asked Questions about Samoyeds
How big do they get?
Samoyeds are classified as “medium” sized dogs. According to the (US) breed standard, females should be between 19-21″ at the shoulder. Males should be between 21-23.5″ at the shoulder. On average, an in-shape female will weigh in at 35-50 lbs while a male will be between 50-65 lbs.
How long do they live?
On average, Samoyeds live 12-15 years. Of course, there are no guarantees and no one can promise that this will be the case for all Samoyeds.
What health problems are they prone to?
Compared to some other breeds, Samoyeds are a relatively healthy breed. That being said, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t health problems in the breed. As in all medium and large breeds, hip dysplasia is a concern. The exact cause of hip dysplasia isn’t known, but genetics and obesity can both contribute to it, so keep your Samoyed at a healthy weight and be sure that any breeder you might consider is a responsible breeder and has had their dogs’ hips xrayed and evaluated prior to breeding.
Responsible breeders will also have their dogs’ eyes certified as clear from inheritable diseases such as Juvenile cataracts or Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). The prevalence of these disorders has decreased in the breed with better genetic screening.
In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the cases of hypothyroidism and diabetes in the breed. These can be easily managed with inexpensive daily medication. Again, responsible breeders will strive to eliminate any inheritable problems from their breeding programs.
Do they shed?
In a word, yes. If you are looking for a breed that doesn’t shed, then a Samoyed is not the breed for you. Their shedding, however, is different from many short haired breeds. Samoyeds are double-coated, having both a soft, down-like undercoat and a coarser outercoat. While they shed some all year round, approximately once a year (twice a year for unspayed females), Samoyeds blow their undercoat. When this happens, they drop what seems like bushels of fur — it comes out in clumps & there is lots of it!!
Are Samoyeds Hypo-Allergenic?
No. This is a widely held myth. Although Samoyeds don’t have as much dander, they are not hypo-allergenic. If you have serious allergies to dogs, find someone with a Samoyed who will let you roll around the floor with it, and be sure to bury your face in their hair. Before you apply to a rescue group for a Samoyed, ask if they will arrange a meeting for you. With double-coated dogs, it’s believed that the undercoat will cause more problems with allergies than the guard hairs (outer coat). Just because you’re OK with a Samoyed today doesn’t mean you won’t have a problem when they blow that undercoat. Keep in mind that even if Samoyeds don’t have as much dander, every time they go outdoors they will bring back every kind of pollen there is.
How active are they?
While the exact answer depends on the individual dog, the Samoyed in general is a moderate to high energy dog. While not “spring loaded” like a Jack Russell Terrier or as intense as a Border Collie, they were bred to work (herding, pulling sleds, etc.) and as a result, they do require a fair amount of exercise. A couple of long brisk walks, a few vigorous sessions of playing fetch, or a trip to the local dog park where they can spend 45 minutes – 2 hours racing and romping with the other dogs will satisfy most Samoyeds’ exercise requirements.
One word of warning, Samoyeds were bred to be with their humans. Most of them do not do well when isolated from their people. Simply shooing the dog out into a fenced back yard & expecting him to get his exercise on his own isn’t going to work. Most of them, if placed in that situation, will either simply sit by the back door, barking/howling to be let in or they will decide to get their exercise in ways you don’t want, such as “relandscaping your yard” (also known as digging) or will find/make a way out and go exploring on their own. If you can’t commit to actively meeting these needs, then a Samoyed may not be the right dog for you.
What grooming do they require?
Samoyeds do not have as much dander as most other breeds, so they do not exhibit the “doggy odor” that is prevalent in many breeds. This does not mean they are “hypoallergenic”; all dogs can cause allergic people to have a reaction. Keeping your dog clean, whatever the breed, is important.
Being double-coated, however, is both a blessing and a curse. The good side of the equation is that dirt/oil/grime, etc. never reaches the skin. If a Samoyed is wet & dirty, let him dry out & most of the mud/dirt can be brushed right out. The down side is that the double coat does require regular grooming to keep it matt-free and looking good. A thorough brushing/combing once a week is recommended. This is sufficient, except when the dog is blowing coat when daily brushing is required.
For more information on the proper way to groom your Samoyed, please visit our Grooming page.
Are they good with kids?
Every dog is an individual, so there is no one answer for that. However, in general, as a breed, Samoyeds tend to be good with children. The Samoyed is a people-centered dog and one of their original jobs was to guard the children and keep them warm at night, so they are generally good with kids. Of course, common sense must prevail and young children should always be supervised in their interactions with any dog and should not be left alone with any dog.
These are arctic dogs. Shouldn’t you keep them outside?
In a word, NO! Samoyeds were bred to be with their people and do not do well in isolation. Wherever you are, that’s where they want to be, so unless you spend all of your time outside, don’t expect your dog to!
If left outside/not allowed to be with their humans, Samoyeds are likely to get loud, destructive, or both. No one wants a dog who digs up the yard or barks a lot (especially your neighbors!). Samoyeds are also likely to become escape artists. They are intelligent dog and when left to their own devices, they can be very creative. No fence is truly escape-proof, as can be attested to by the number of Samoyeds that are picked up as strays and find themselves in shelters.
In short, leaving your dog outside is an invitation for a host of problems. Don’t do it!