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Samoyeds: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Samoyed temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Samoyed dog breed

The Samoyed is gentle and dependable in heart and mind -- robust and spirited in body.

This playful dog enjoys vigorous outdoor exercise, especially in cold weather. Without such outlets for his energy, and without sufficient companionship to satisfy his sociable nature, he can be boisterous and destructive.

The Samoyed's attitude toward strangers varies from "Hi there! Come on in!" (often accompanied by enthusiastic jumping) to more conservative, yet sensible and polite. Most will bark to announce visitors, but that's the extent of their guarding inclination.

Samoyeds are usually good with other animals, but with strong chasing and herding instincts, they may take off after trespassing cats or wildlife. A securely fenced yard is a must.

One of the brightest and most sensitive of the spitz (northern or sled dog) breeds, yet still demanding and independent, Sammies need consistent leadership and early obedience training. They have a jolly "sense of humor" and often exhibit it when disobeying.

The Samoyed barks a LOT, and some individuals have high-pitched, extremely piercing voices.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is medium to large and "spitz-like": prick ears, foxy face, thick coat, and curled tail
  • Is robust and spirited and thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities, especially in cold weather
  • Is usually good-natured with everyone
  • Is one of the brightest and most responsive of the spitz breeds

A Samoyed may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Providing a goodly amount of exercise
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Destructiveness when left alone too much
  • Stubbornness (mind of his own)
  • Heavy shedding
  • Excessive barking

A Samoyed may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

  • You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Samoyeds have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
  • If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
  • Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Samoyed to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

More traits and characteristics of the Samoyed

If I was considering a Samoyed, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise. Samoyeds must have regular opportunities to vent their energy. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored, which they usually express by non-stop barking and destructive chewing.
  2. Providing enough companionship. Samoyeds are very people-oriented. If you leave them alone too much, they tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking.
  3. Chasing instincts. Some Samoyeds have strong instincts to chase (and sometimes grab!) cats and other fleeing creatures, including deer and livestock.
  4. Mind of his own. Samoyeds are very bright but they do have an independent mind of their own. Some are manipulative, willful, or dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    In other words, you must teach your Samoyed to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No." Read more about Samoyed Training.

  5. Grooming. To keep their long thick coat free of mats, Samoyeds require a good deal of brushing and combing.
  6. Heavy shedding. Samoyeds shed a LOT. You'll find hair and fur all over your clothing, upholstery, carpeting, under your furniture, on your countertops, even in your food. Make sure everyone in your family is okay with this.
  7. Barking. Samoyeds should never be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. Many Samoyeds have intense, high-pitched barks that can set your teeth on edge, and your neighbors will end up calling the cops to report the nuisance (or quietly letting your Samoyed out of his yard so he'll wander away). A sizeable number of Samoyeds end up getting surgically "de-barked" to keep their noise level manageable.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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