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Samoyed is a breed of large herding dog that descended from the Nenets herding laika, a spitz-type dog, with a thick, white, double-layer coat. It takes its name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia. These nomadic reindeer herders bred the fluffy white dogs to help with the herding. An alternative name for the breed, especially in Europe, is Bjelkier.
The AKC Standard requires 21–23.5 inches (53–60 cm) at the shoulder for males, and 19–21 inches (48–53 cm) for females. The UK Kennel Club Standard requires 51–56 centimetres (20–22 in) for males, and 46–51 centimetres (18–20 in) for females.
Samoyed eyes are usually black or brown and are almond in shape. Blue or other color eyes can occur but are not allowed in the show ring. It is in the "brown and black section" in its family, the Spitz family.
Samoyed ears are thick and covered with fur, triangular in shape, and erect. They are almost always white but can often have a light to dark brown tint (known as "biscuit"), usually around the tips of the ears.
The Samoyed tail is one of the breed's distinguishing features. Like the Alaskan Malamute, the tail is carried curled over the back; however, unlike the Malamute, the Samoyed tail is held actually touching the back. It should not be a tight curl or held flag-like; it should be carried lying over the back and to one side. In cold weather, Samoyeds may sleep with their tails over their noses to provide additional warmth. Almost all Samoyeds will allow their tails to fall when they are relaxed and at ease, as when being stroked or while eating, but will return their tails to a curl when more alert.
NZKC Standard: Tail: Long and profuse, carried over the back when alert; sometimes dropped when at rest.
UK Kennel Club Standard : Tail : Long and profusely coated, carried over the back and to the side when alert, sometimes dropped when at rest.
Samoyeds' friendly disposition makes them poor guard dogs; an aggressive Samoyed is rare. The breed is characterized by an alert and happy expression which has earned the nicknames "Sammie smile" and "smiley dog." With their tendency to bark, however, they can be diligent watch dogs, barking whenever something approaches their territory. Samoyeds are excellent companions, especially for small children or even other dogs, and they remain playful into old age. According to the Samoyed Club of America, when Samoyeds become bored, they may begin to dig. With their sled dog heritage, a Samoyed is not averse to pulling things, and an untrained Samoyed has no problem pulling its owner on a leash rather than walking alongside. Samoyeds were also used to herd reindeer. They will instinctively act as herd dogs, and when playing with children, especially, will often attempt to turn and move them in a different direction.
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