The History of the
The Samoyed is a breed of working dog from Siberia, with a rich and interesting history. The breed's ancestors were kept by the Nenets (formerly Samoyed(e) or Yurak) people as a sled dog and companion and as a herding dog for their reindeer. The Samoyed dog is sturdily built, with erect ears, dark almond-shaped eyes, and a characteristic “smile.”
The Samoyede people, a mongoloid, semi-nomadic tribe, living along the shores of the Arctic Ocean and into an immense stretch of tundra from the White Sea to the Yenisei River are a remnant of one of the earliest tribes of Central Asia. There is evidence that they migrated to the Arctic with their dogs early in the first millennium. They have been known to explorers for many centuries as mild, kindly people, manifesting extraordinary love for their beautiful dogs, which they treat as members of the family. Sharing their table and bed has given the Samoyed dog an unusual background of human association.
The Samoyed People’s dogs were known as Bjelkies (white dog that breeds white). These people developed a love and understanding of humankind and an unfailing sense of trust and loyalty in their dogs which remains a part of their character today. They lived by hunting and fishing. Existence depended upon their dogs who herded reindeer, fought off wolves and bear, guarded their belongings, shared their beds, and kept their children warm. The dogs were excellent fishermen and were used at times for towing boats and sledges when it was impossible to use the reindeer, generally the draught animal. Nansen (1893-4) was one of the first to use the Samoyed as a draught animal. He spent some time with the Samoyed tribe during his expedition to the North Pole.
The qualities of intelligence and endurance led to the use of Samoyed dogs for transport by most of the important European expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Nansen’s story of his Farthest North with Samoyeds on the first ship expedition is an epic of dog valor that rings through the whole history of man’s adventures at the ends of the Earth. Most of the Samoyed lines in England and the US today are related to veteran sledge dogs of these early Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.
Kilburn-Scott founded the Samoyede Club in 1909, and Samoyede became the official name of the Bjelkier outside of Siberia. Kilburn-Scott conferred with explorers of Siberia and agreed on the pronunciation and a spelling of the people who were responsible for the dog. The dog was then named for the people. The first official standard for the breed was adopted in England in 1909. Although Sams arrived in America before this date, it was not until 1906 that the first Sam was registered with the American Kennel Club and appeared at shows. Very few of our present-day Samoyeds were bred from those early AKC-registered dogs, but from dogs imported prior to and immediately following World War I from large, well established kennels in England. The original Samoyed Club of America was organized and chartered February 14, 1923 in the East. The first official American standard was adopted may 15, 1923.