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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

One of my favorite mentor type people sent me a GREAT informational email on Samoyeds.

I know this is an all breed board, and many people seem to have interest in the northern breeds. I just wanted to share this in case anyone else was interested in getting a samoyed.

Also, I had some herding questions that my mentor answered very well, and I just wanted to share that aspect as well.

Okay, I am in the camp that believes Sammies were "primarily" herders in their native environment.

But really, even more, I am in the camp that considers they were "Jacks of all trades." The tribal peoples used them in multiple roles. These dogs had to pull their own weight (pun intended) and then some. Those that didn't cut the mustard, still fulfilled a purpose --- as clothing. (Yes, it's what you are thinking. Those folks wasted nothing.)

I do think our research has shown clearly enough that their "main" original job was herding reindeer. The Nenet/Samoyed peoples were nomadic tribes, primarily dependent on reindeer for their livelihood. They moved across the tundra with them as they grazed. The dogs helped keep them in line. The tribes shared the reindeer meat scraps with their dogs, as well as some seafood items (seal, fish, whatever) for food. In addition, those dogs got their own food on the run (small rodents, birds, whatever). They are amazingly skilled predators to this day.

Fair warning!

The dogs also did occasional duty pulling the native tribes' sleds, but the reindeer were used for that job more than the dogs. Where these dogs got their reputation as "sledge dogs" was from the Polar explorers ---- Nansen, Shackleford, etc. Those Europeans are the ones who obtained dogs from the native tribal people and used them for that. They felt dogs would be easier keepers on board ship then horses (and of course, they were right about that). Also, sadly, they knew that if they were in dire straights, they would be able to feed the weaker dogs to the surviving dogs. They could not do that with horses.

Dogs were also used by the tribal folks as hunting companions to hunt POLAR BEARS --- can you believe that???

Also, they were bed warmers. The humans would pile a dog or two on the bed with them to keep them warm during those frigid arctic nights. On a really cold night, they would pile 3 dogs on the bed, thus the term "3 dog night." (I can testify that it works quite well, by the way.)

Often we refer to Samoyed dogs as "4H dogs." That stands for herding, hauling, hunting and... um... I've never been sure of that 4th H. Maybe hearth (since they shared the chooms with their masters).

Oh, they were also babysitters for the tribal children. These dogs truly lived cheek to cheek with the people, which is why they (as a breed) are so bonded to us humans to this day. Truly, they are so intuitive --- they are often more like humans in white fuzzy suits (IMO) than like most other dogs.

We modern owners have thrust Samoyeds into even more varied roles. There are very few tasks they have not been used for, including: pack hiking, skijoring (more on that later), sledding, therapy work, scootering, service work (seeing eye, hearing ear, seizure alert, etc.), herding, lure coursing, search and rescue, carting, weight pull, etc.

There is a great shirt which is just now being reproduced that calls Samoyeds "more than just a pretty face." It has little graphic designs of Sammies doing all sorts of working activities. See the April 29 blog entry here:

Sammies aren't generally well suited to guard/Schutzhund type work. That makes me very happy, as it would be out of line with their desired temperament. They are more likely to welcome a burglar into your home and say, "Hey, how's it going? Here's the good silver. Got any roast beast?" My theory. However, Sammies have been known to protect their owners (including me) in time of need. I think they differentiate between things and people (again, my theory).

Getting back to the sledding question ---- my take on it is that Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies were more specialized in that area. Mals for heavy duty freight, Sibes for light duty (fast) transport. Sammies fall in the middle. They can go a long distance carrying moderate loads. They aren't real fast, but they will get you there. It isn't their main or only job, but they can definitely do it (with a smile!).

Oh, yes, I have been to a couple of herding tests. She had been herding all her litter mates from the time she was a tiny pup, so I figured she was the one with the most instinct for it. I was right. She passed both of her runs with flying colors. It truly amazed me how she ran around those sheepies. She had a blast with it (and was really po'd that we had to leave so I could go back to work one of those days). I never really got into the herding other than those instinct tests with her, but some in the breed do. One of my pups was quite the natural at it. He stared down a sheep when he was a puppy of about 3 or 4 months old.

Ah, the skijoring question. I almost forgot. Skijoring is where a person on skis is pulled by either a dog (or dogs) or a horse or some motorized vehicle. Sorta like waterskiing, but on snow with a different sort of "motor" in front. I'm not good on snow skis, so I'll never try it.

With my Sammies, I've dabbled in herding and agility. got a bit more into sledding. We did a LOT of pack hiking. One dog is a seizure alert dog. One dog was certified with Therapy Dogs International and did some therapy work. She was also my obedience Sammy. I really should try to get my two grrls here to be obedience Sammies...

<laughing hysterically>

Oh, the Samoyed Club of America has a Working Samoyed program. You may have noticed that on the site? Anyway, your Sammy can earn titles to put at the end of it's registered name by participating in various working venues, including most of those I mentioned above.

There are also AKC herding titles, since Sammies are now a recognized herding breed. Did you know that they were originally in the Herding Group with AKC? When the Working Group was formed, they got moved into that. Now, AKC is reorganizing the groups again. Looks like they will end up in a new "Nordic" group.

You might want to find out more about the versatility of the Sammy at the web site of the Organization for the Working Samoyed:

Have I rambled on long enough for now? She is bugging me to feed her. I have to do that as well as feed myself, so I'll sign off for now.

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