As we just discussed on our blog, Samoyeds are friendly dogs, they get along quite well with other dogs, cats, babies, and young children. What is it that makes Samoyeds super friendly canines that are so good with people?
The temperament of most dogs comes down to their ancestry. Like wild dogs, Samoyeds worked closely with people and were watchdogs, not guard dogs. Today, they love people and watching over them but aren’t overly aggressive. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, the three words that describe a Samoyed are gentle, friendly, and adaptable.
In this article, we’ll elaborate more on exactly what makes Samoyeds such super friendly dogs. We’ll also discuss their longstanding bond with people, from their original days in Siberia to modern Sammies today.
The History of Samoyeds and People
We’ve touched on the illustrious history of the Samoyed on this blog before, but let’s go in-depth today.
The Samoyed is a close relative of the Laika, particularly the Nenets herding version of this dog. This breed had other nicknames, such as Olenegonka and the Reindeer Herding Laika. There are a few visual similarities between the Laika and the Samoyed, mostly their tall, long body and their tail.
As you probably recall, the original Samoyeds called Siberia their home. In fact, the Samoyedic people in the Siberian region gave the dog its name. The first Samoyeds appeared in the 19th century.
With their mid-sized body, thick white coat that could handle the cold, willingness to listen, and kindness towards people, the Samoyed got right to work for the Samoyede people. One such noticeable resident, Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen, went on many polar adventures with the dogs. He truly thought the breed’s keen senses could guide him to new lands.
The names of the two Samoyed dogs Nansen brought with him as he voyaged to the North Pole are Suggen and Kaifas. They were a great pick for his trip. After all, Samoyeds have an abundance of energy (some would say an overabundance), great agility, and they can handle weather that drops to the 60s. Seriously! That’s how cold it would get in Siberia at times. It doesn’t faze Sammies in the least.
During the 19th century, Samoyeds would pull sledges and sleds. They’d also herd reindeer and other similarly sized creatures. While Samoyeds had their part in hunting, their docile nature lent them much better to herding and towing tasks as well as acting as watchdogs.
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What’s the Difference Between a Watchdog and a Guard Dog?
Just now, we mentioned that Samoyeds are friendly and they are good watchdogs. What does this mean? How’s that different from a guard dog?
Watchdogs, as the name might tell you, have a hyper-vigilant nature. They go by the name alarm dog because they can first alert you to danger before you even see it coming. This dog might jump up on its back legs if it notices something risky, and they will almost certainly bark.
That’s the extent of what watchdogs do. They’ve let you know something is wrong. Now it’s up to you to do something about it, like choosing to stay and fight or get to safety. A watchdog can be a small, medium, or large breed of dog. It’s more about the canine’s temperament than their size.
Compare that to guard dogs. They have the same job as a watchdog, to a point. They too will stay alert to signs of danger. When danger does come a-knocking, a guard dog doesn’t just step back and let its people take care of it. They take action. Sometimes this means barking and chasing the threat away. However, guard dogs won’t hesitate to scratch or even bite if the need arises. While almost any dog can act as a watchdog, that’s not the case with guard dogs. You often see bigger breeds with meaner streaks on guard dog duty.
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What Makes Samoyeds So Friendly?
Their Watchdog Status
Samoyeds can herd and chase other animals, even those bigger than them, but they’re not violent about it. It’s unlikely they’d scratch or bite in these situations. It’s just not in their nature. That’s part of what makes them so friendly.
This doesn’t mean a Sammy wouldn’t defend themselves if they felt threatened or cornered. It’s just that it’s less likely to happen compared to other dog breeds.
Many people who own Samoyeds or wish they did say the dog has a smile. It’s obvious enough that some people call this breed smiley. While the truth is the dog can’t help its expression, your samoyeds always looks friendly and happy to see you.
Why do Samoyeds have this smile? It has to do with the positioning of their lips, which, at both mouth corners, curl a little. You can see this more on Samoyeds with black lips, which not all dogs in the breed have. Their muzzle and its angle also matter in making the smile more (or less) pronounced. The muzzle should get slimmer as it reaches the dog’s nose. It also shouldn’t be too long or too short.
The smile sure is cute, but why do Samoyeds do it? Is it just to make us flock to them in droves, hoping to adopt all the Sammies we can? No, not exactly. The smile also serves a purpose, as it prevents drooling. Both corners of the mouth, now turned upward, keep the Samoyed’s spittle in their mouths.
This is a necessity for the breed. You have to remember what we said before about the temperatures in Siberia. It’s not uncommon to get into the negative double digits in this part of the world. If a Samoyed drooled all over the place, that drool would quickly harden and become frozen droplets. The Sammy’s face and body would get covered in frozen bits of spit, leaving them very cold and uncomfortable! Thus, they’ve adapted with a built-in drool-proof facial feature.
There’s no need to worry about drool-stained pillows, toys, and carpeting with a Samoyed, then. They can contain their own spit.
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Their Need to Be with Their People
Samoyeds don’t just sit around passively, watching their people go about their daily lives. They want—no, need—involvement in your life. Otherwise, they can become sad and lonely. Worse yet, they can also begin destroying the house, so never leave your Sammy alone longer than you have to.
How Do Samoyeds Show Their Affection Towards Their Favorite People?
Samoyeds are friendly and love their people with all their hearts. That’s why they shadow you so much. For as long as they’ve existed, they’ve been people dogs. They will have a favorite person or two and then stick to them like glue. You’ll have your very own fuzzy shadow!
Some Sammies love cuddling and others not so much. They can act affectionate in other ways, like sitting on your feet while you chill on the couch or even by giving kisses (licks). While some people believe male Samoyeds show more affection, others claim it’s females. We say it will come down to each individual dog and their own unique personality. Of course, the more you show love to your Sammy, the more love they’ll give you in return!
Q: Are Samoyeds ever aggressive?
A: While Samoyeds aren’t aggressive by nature, that doesn’t mean they can’t show aggression, as we mentioned. You should always treat your dog with kindness and respect, because making the dog feel threatened could lead to them attempting to defend themselves.
We want to reiterate that Samoyeds will not hesitate to rip your house apart if you leave them alone for too long. This isn’t necessarily a show of aggression but rather, the product of their boredom and upset with you being away for so long.
Q: Do all Samoyeds smile?
A: For the most part, yes. Depending on the curl of their lips and the size of the muzzle, the smile may look less prominent compared to other Sammies. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your dog; far from it! If they aren’t drooling all over the place, then your Samoyed’s smile is good enough.
Q: What should you do with a Samoyed when going on an overnight trip or short vacation?
A: You’re planning on leaving the house for a long weekend. After reading this article, you know better than to leave your Samoyed by itself. What are your options so your dog doesn’t destroy your house?
You might call your vet and ask if they have a lodging program. They can care for your dog for a weekend and make sure your Samoyed gets the food, exercise, and affection it needs.
If you have a friend or family member who doesn’t mind watching your dog, that works as well. Just make sure they know what your Samoyed should eat and how often. Also, the dog needs to get out for exercise, often several times a day. Make sure they don’t skip this!
There are even pet hotels and similar lodging services that can care for your dog. No matter what you do, don’t leave them alone. Not only will they feel cooped up, but your Sammy will be sad without you, and you don’t want that.
The good-natured sweetness of a Samoyed means it’s generally safe for them to be around a baby and play together. You definitely want to supervise all interactions though and even use a doggy gate when necessary.
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Samoyeds are sweet canines that can get along well with most animals, including cats. However, it’s much better to acclimate the two animals when the dog is younger. Once your Samoyed grows to full size, you’ll have to monitor your pets so your dog doesn’t overpower your cat when playing nor chase them relentlessly.