History of the Samoyed

Isolated in the Arctic Circle, the Samoyed bred true, without influences from other breeds

Samoyeds are very friendly dogs that need human company. These characteristics arise from their background. They belonged to small family groups of people in western Siberia who depend on reindeer for their livelihood. Typically a herd consists of 3-4000 animals for which an extensive food supply is needed. For three winter months this is reindeer moss found in forests, but protein-rich grass is also essential and for this the herds travel some 600 miles northwards to the top of the Yamal peninsular. There they fatten for three months before returning southwards. Since each journey also takes three months the annual pattern of life involves six months on the move. For this the herder families need very substantial tents and sledges to carry them, pulled by the reindeer.

The herder families have used dogs in their way of life for maybe a thousand years or more. Other breeds have their origins in Siberia, but it seems that a small number of families developed a breed of more or less white dogs. Their main function was to keep the reindeer reasonably compact on the move and to give warning barks when danger appeared, such as bears. The obvious place for the dogs to live was with their human families, so they were loved and petted as well as worked. The people were naturally patient, tough and resilient, conditioned by Siberia’s harsh climate. The dogs, therefore, were with people most of the time and developed friendly natures reflecting those of their human families. From these have come our Samoyeds. Recent photographs show there are still a few left.