by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 6, 2009)
The Samoyed, the most glamorous of all work dogs, with a heritage of centuries of service to and companionship with mankind, came before the English public in the very early 1900's as something different in the canine world.
In the very early days men with their herds roved the plateau of Iran and lived from the land. Property ownership did not exist; the land belonged to all in the beginning, and then later to the swift and the strong. As mankind increased and separated off into families, tribes of kinsmen with the ever increasing need of more and more grazing land for their herds. Then reindeer, drifted off, or were forced off, to farther pastures.
Through the centuries this process continued across Mongolia, then the center of the world's culture. Farther and farther north went the tiny nomadic tribe we now call the Samoyed people, until at long last they reached the farthest reaches of northern Siberia, located between the Yenisei River in Siberia, and westward to the Petchora River in Russia. Here was a haven, fortressed by Nature's own walls of ice and snow. Here the Samoyed people with their dogs and herds remained for centuries since long before the Christian era.
Here was peace and plenty. There was moss for the reindeer, fish, Arctic bear and foxes. There was walrus for the nomads. There was milk and meat and clothing from the reindeer, and natural shepherds in their natural dogs. Never were a primitive people more happily situated. Here with them their dogs shared their ice-walled "chooms," slept in their masters' bed, shared his table, feasted and starved, alternately even as he did. They joyfully joined with them in the hunt for walrus or other game. Long centuries of Arctic suns bleached the original yellow coat to purest white, and gave an icy sheen to the tips of the hair. The dogs were also provided with a second and warm under coat of purest wool to provide warmth in winter and to be shed for summer comfort. Yet it left still the glorious outer coat of hair to maintain the beauty which always has been and always will be the Samoyed's birthright. Intelligence grew with the constant companionship with man, fleetness came in herding the reindeer, gentleness came likewise in this work-a shepherd is a protector-never a killer.
Then into this primitive peace came the inroads of civilization. The world then had one field of adventure for the young Arctic and Antarctic expeditions were the rage. In 1870 stories leaked to the outer world of the peaceful Samoyed, people and of their dogs hidden, like the diamond, for so long from the world at large. More and more frequently came the visiting explorers from the outer world, thus beginning the Samoyed's introduction to the rest of the world.
Known as the dog that "carries the spirit of Christmas in its heart and face the whole year through," the Samoyed has served mankind in many ways other than as helper to the reindeer herdsman. His work as a sled dog has been outstanding. Samoyeds were used in the Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, and received the highest of praise from the explorers.
The Samoyed is a hardy dog in any climate, withstanding the coldest of weather in the winter, yet apparently being fairly comfortable in summertime. The dog has no doggy odor. In disposition he is naturally well-mannered and makes a fine companion for children. He is affectionate but never fawning, courageous but not quarrelsome.
In general appearance the Samoyed, being essentially a working dog, should be strong and active and graceful, and as his work lies in cold climates, his coat should be heavy and weather resisting. A full-grown dog should stand about twenty-one inches at shoulder. Male dogs weighing between fifty to 67 pounds while the female weighs from 36 to 55 pounds.
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