The Samoyed is an ancient breed originating from Russia and much admired for its beautiful white coat, smiling face, happy disposition and general good health.
Each pedigree breed of dog has a standard that defines that breed as seen in a particular country and is used by breeders and dog show judges to access the suitability of a particular dog for breeding and wining prizes in particular becoming a breed champion. The breed standard may differ from one country to the next but in general the differences are slight. Most breed standards are managed by the controlling dog body for a particular country and based on the standard used in the country of origin for a particular breed. In New Zealand the controlling body for the Samoyed Breed Standard is NZKC.
“The Samoyed Standard”, by Sandra Stewart and Lauren V de C James, The New Zealand Samoyed Supplement, NZ Kennel Gazette – June 1993
“Judging The Samoyed”, by Betty Moody, The New Zealand Samoyed Supplement, NZ Kennel Gazette – June 1993
(PDF of Article Written by Lauren comparing standards.)
A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be mindful of features which could be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.
The New Zealand breed Standard for the Samoyed is based on the same standards used in the United Kingdom and Australia. Other countries have standards that emphasis some of the points or in the case of the American standard have a higher height for both dogs and bitches.
Characteristics: The Samoyed is intelligent, alert, full of action but above all displaying affection towards all mankind.
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. He should not be too long in back, as a weak back would make him practically useless for his legitimate work; but at the same time a cobby body, such as a Chow’s, would also place him at a great disadvantage as a draught dog. Breeders should aim for the happy medium, viz., a body not long, but muscular, allowing liberty, with a deep chest and well sprung ribs, strong neck proudly arched, straight front and exceptionally strong loins. Both dogs and bitches should give the appearance of being capable of great endurance but should be free from coarseness. A full grown dog should stand about 53.3 cm (21 in) at the shoulder. On account of the depth of chest required the legs should be moderately long, a very short legged dog is to be deprecated. Hindquarters should be particularly well developed, stifles well angulated, and any suggestion of unsound stifles or cow hocks severely penalised.
Head and Skull: Head powerful and wedge shaped with a broad, flat skull, muzzle of medium length, a tapering foreface not too sharply defined. Lips black. Hair short and smooth before the ears. Nose black for preference, but may be brown or flesh coloured. Strong jaws.
Eyes: Almond shaped, medium to dark brown in colour, set well apart with alert and intelligent expression. Eyerims should be black and unbroken.
Ears: Thick, not too long and slightly rounded at the tips, set well apart and well covered inside with hair. The ears should be fully erect in the grown dog.
Mouth: Upper teeth should just overlap the under teeth in a scissor bite.
Neck: Proudly arched. Forequarters: Legs straight and muscular with good bone.
Forequarters: Legs straight and muscular with good bone.
Body: Back medium in length, broad and very muscular. Chest broad and deep, ribs well sprung, giving plenty of heart and lung room.
Hindquarters: Very muscular, stifles well angulated; cow hocks or straight stifles very objectionable.
Feet: Long, flattish and slightly spread out. Soles well cushioned with hair.
Gait: Should move freely with a strong agile drive showing power and elegance.
Tail: Long and profuse, carried over the back when alert; sometimes dropped when at rest.
Coat: The body should be well covered with a thick, close, soft and short undercoat, with harsh hair growing through it, forming the outer coat, which should stand straight away from the body and be free from curl.
Colour: Pure white; white and biscuit; cream.
Weight and Size: Dogs: 50.8: 55.8 cm (20: 22 in) at the shoulder. Bitches: 45.7: 50.8 cm (18: 20 in) at the shoulder. Weight in proportion to size.
Faults: Big ears with little feathering. Drop ears. Narrow width between ears. Long foreface. Blue or very light eyes. A bull neck. A long body. A soft coat; a wavy coat; absence of undercoat. Slack tail carriage; should be carried well over the back, though it may drop when the dog is at rest. Absence of feathering. Round, cat:like feet. Black or black spots. Severe unprovoked aggressiveness. Any sign of unsound movement.
Note: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
NZKC No 680
FCI No 212
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Type What Does This Mean To The Samoyed Today ?
Type is still a heavily-debated topic in the Samoyed world as I assume it is in any breed, Kursharn Sarnoyeds' Julie Wells, supplement co-ordinator, says.
"I breed to the correct type;' is a statement claimed by many breeders. But what is the correct type? Are we all breeding with blinkers on, thinking our dogs are the correct type?
I have asked several breeder-judges from around the world to explain what they understand by "type."
I would have to say the best quote I came across, from an unbiased judge, was "you Sammie people can't make up your minds what the breed is supposed to look like. So how do you expect me to know how to judge it?"
So what is the true Samoyed type? If you look at the New Zealand Kennel club standard, which of course we are all meant to do, then, all Samoyeds should be:
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. He should not be too long in back, as a weak back would make him practically useless for his legitimate work; but at the same time a cabby body, such as a Chow's, would also place him at a great disadvantage as a draught dog. Breeders should aim for the happy medium, viz., a body not long, but muscular, allowing liberty, with a deep chest and well sprung ribs, strong neck proudly arched, straight front and exceptionally strong loins. Both dogs and bitches should give the appearance of being capable of great endurance but should be free from coarseness. A full grown dog should stand about 53.3 cm (21 in) at the shoulder. On account of the depth of chest required the legs should be moderately long, a very short-legged dog is to be deprecated. Hindquarters should be particularly well developed, stifles well angulated, and any suggestion of unsound stifles or cow hocks severely penalised.
So there it is, in a nut shell, "the medium," Julie Wells says. But are we breeding to the medium? Whose medium? It should be so simple, so why do we have different types? 'Why do we even try and describe what the different types are? Are we trying to justify our own dogs? Why they do not fit the standard? But if the standard says the medium, again what is the medium? Here is where I have asked for opinions of others.
USA's John Donner, Snr from Donnereign Samoyed Kennels says: A few words about breed type. Type is universal and every breed has it. But what is Samoyed type? What should the word convey? In my opinion, type is a combination of appearance and soundness; both physical and mental and ability to do the work for which he was designed.
The original western fanciers working with the breed as it was taken out of the Siberian Arctic dealt with three, possibly four, types. Most records indicate that three terms were settled upon. Namely "wolf, bear and fox". In my opinion, this is too simplistic. The fox style was eliminated. I am sure because of the lack of substance and slightness of build. I cannot envisage a fox herding a giant-sized reindeer or pulling a sled. The wolf and bear terms were continued, unfortunately, longer than they should have been. Both were considered to be at opposite ends of the type spectrum. It is clearly stated that the ideal type is to be "moderate". Today, more than a century later, I am still asked to describe these types, especially by people new to the breed. Unfortunately I see not enough effort on the part of our breeders to coalesce the type in the first place.
Are we to offer a show Samoyed that looks different from a working Samoyed? Or are we really at a juncture of making a decision between a white Chow style and a white Wolf style? Are we perhaps heading toward a bench type" or "field type" as seen in the sporting group? I hope NOT. The word standard just might also mean to standardise, not diversify, and though diversity is often praised, is it the main reason we often speak of and use the term inconsistent in reference to breeding programmes, families of dogs or JUDGING? The comment "you sammy people can't make up your minds what the breed is supposed to look like, so how do you expect me to know how to iudge it" ... unnamed judge but often spoken. In my opinion, Samoyed type needs to be agreed upon universally. A correct American Samoyed should not conjure up a different mind picture from, let us say, an English Samoyed or Japanese Samoyed. We need to be on the same page of the same standard. Of course, this is just IN MY OPINION.
Stephen Gabb of Sever Samoyed in New South Wales says: Type is the overall characteristics of the breed, according to the standard. The general outline of what a typical Samoyed should be.
Our standard is somewhat looser than are many other breed standards - no doubt because it is virtually the original English standard, which was based on, and modeled from eight separate strains of the breed in the early 20th century. Therefore, there always has been, to some degree, slight variations in style acceptable within the Samoyed standard.
A judge's interpretation should always follow the standard - the chief words for me being "happy medium."
The Samoyed is a natural dog with no exaggerations - a dog of medium size and medium length, a dog well boned - that is, with ample, but not massive bone, a dog not too long or too short in muzzle, not too broad in skull. Personal interpretation can give some variation but the typical Samoyed must be that closest to the standard.
In my 40 years of owning, breeding and later judging Samoyeds, I believe that, in my early days with the breed, we used to see both in New Zealand and here, in Australia, two very distinct styled Samoyeds. The "bear" and "wolf" style. Currently we see more and more the happy amalgamation of the two styles. We never did seem to have, in these years, the "fox"-styled Samoyed that was seen in the United Kingdom.
The "bear" style was a heavier, thicker-set, less agile Samoyed - the "wolf" a leaner, more agile and better-moving Samoyed. Both styles are correct in moderation. A too-thick or too-finely bodied, or too-heavy or too-finely headed styled Samoyed cannot be elegant. Elegance is essential for our breed. It is when the two styles "wolf" and "bear", are taken to extremes that type is lost - e.g. with the "bear style" heads can become far too broad, the frame far too heavy and the legs too short whilst with the "wolf" a too lean, racy, fine boned, exceptionally long legged, too tall white shepherd like style can become prominent.
We should always aim to breed, exhibit and judge for the "strong, active and graceful", "moderate" and "happy medium" styled Samoyed that is detailed within our breed standard.
England's Hazel Fitzgibbon of Smilesam Samoyeds says: There is only one type; the Samoyed type! The descriptions of "fox/wolf" type and "bear" type are descriptions of dogs, which are either snipey or heavy in the head. The Samoyed standard is based around moderation, so both of these descriptions are incorrect.
Start at the mouth. An odd place to start for expression, you may think, but that front scissor bite and the width of it is the start of the base on which everything else is set. Anything less than a good width with a strong underjaw makes the framework for the whole head too light. The flews should be quite tight. Loose flews ruin the Samoyed smile which is a hallmark of our breed. Breaks in lip-line pigment can spoil the smile, if they are noticeable.
Then, the nose. Good open nostrils, pinched nostrils are highly undesirable. A dog that works should be able to breathe with ease.
Then the foreface, and this is where opinion starts to differ. First, the length. The length should be the same from nose to stop as it is stop to occiput. But a short foreface and short back skull, although balanced in measurement, are not correct. The head does not fit the size of the dog and the 1972 standard does say 'powerful'. On occasion, I have seen what is a correctly-proportioned head, which
could have fitted on one of the smaller spitz breeds, but not a dog the size of a Samoyed. Short forefaces look 'cute' and kittenish and very appealing. But they are not correct. Likewise too much padding on the foreface and short muzzle make a Chow type! The length of muzzle gives the air going into the chest time to warm up. Dogs originating from Arctic areas are going to be breathing sub zero
temperatures. Frozen air straight into the lungs would probably kill the dog.
The stop should be medium, going into a flat skull. This should be broad and strong. if it feels or appears to be fragile, this is incorrect.
Ear set and ear shape are important to overall expression. Large or thin ears are impractical for the environs of the Samoyed. Thin ears can freeze off! Hooded or foreward facing ears give an 'Akita' effect. Ears should feel thick-leathered and well covered in hair.
The eye set, where the almond eyes sit on the line from the nose to the outside base of the ear, is important to get what was called 'the Mongolian slant: Forward facing eyes give a very bad expression and round or 'poached egg' eyes are very detrimental to expression. Any lack of pigment around or in is also incorrect. Breaks in the eye rim mar the beauty of the face. Light eyes give a 'foreign' expression.
The most distinguishing feature of the Samoyed, and the thing that distinguishes it from other breeds at a distance, is the coat; colour and texture are key to this. Heavily-shaded dogs are not common nowadays in the UK and general perception is that the breed is white. Wrong! Go through many of these white coats properly and you will find light brown shading, which we call 'biscuit'. Now, this can range from a rich tea or a ginger nut. All shades in between are acceptable.
The quantity of coat has increased in recent years. There is no doubt that huge coats look glamorous and the show ring is a beauty contest. Ask anyone who actually works Samoyeds in harness and they will tell you how much these coats 'ice up' on the trail. My interpretation is that the coat should be more than found in the other Spitz breeds. It should be functional, with enough undercoat to hold up the top coat. The top coat should not be long, flowing or curled.
OK, I was asked to write about type and ended up writing about the head and coat. Why?
The Samoyed has the same number of bones as any other breed. Basic structure is more or less the same as other pastoral breeds; differences in feet and pastern are explained clearly in the standard. An unsound dog is an unsound dog in any breed. The standard has always called for an agile, sound dog. Agile would suggest dogs with reach and drive that can perform a tight turn. But any working dog needs to conserve energy; exaggeration of gait is not economical and is a waste of energy. This is all part of the Samoyed.
But what quickly distinguishes the Samoyed from the other Spitz breeds is the head and the coat. That beautiful smiling happy face, with the character of the breed shining through and the silver-tipped gleaming coat.
This is the most beautiful of any breeds. If the dog in front of you doesn't strike you as being beautiful, it isn't a Samoyed.
by Sandra Stewart,
The New Zealand Samoyed Supplement, NZ Kennel Gazette May 2006