History of the Breed

The "family tree" of dogs indicates that all descend from the wolf and the Samoyed is one of four breeds in the first generation.  If genetically Samoyeds still retain links with wolves as their direct ancestors, a vast amount of time must separate them because their character and temperament are totally changed.  Man is responsible for the changes that have taken place and this is on-going.
The Samoyed people were nomads, dependent on reindeer meat for food, the hides being used for clothing and for shelter (chooms - the "mobile homes" used by the tribe).  The reindeer fed on moss and lichen and therefore were continually on the move.  The dogs were used as herders, keeping the reindeer in groups; guards to warn of the presence of wolves and bears.  Some were used for pulling sledges but reindeer did this more efficiently.  It is from the close association with their human families that the Samoyed has gained the ability to "display affection to all mankind".

Importation of Samoyeds in limited numbers began in the early 1890's and continued for some years.  Queen Victoria's family spread across Europe and into Russia, where her daughter Alexandra married Czar Nicholas II.  Presents sent by Alex to her brother, the Prince of Wales, were sometimes dogs which he particularly liked.  Some of these were "Samoyeds" because their appearance was striking and would be noteworthy in the fast developing fancy of dog showing, in which the royal couple engaged.  Indeed the Prince served as President of the Kennel Club.  In 1888 a picture drawn for the "Pen and Pencil" to celebrate their Silver Wedding shows a Samoyed sitting at the feet of the Prince and Princess of Wales.  Paintings of Samoyeds are still in the present Queen's art collection.

In 1889 Ernest Kilburn-Scott, a timber merchant, travelled on business to northern Russia and brought back, as a present for his wife, the dog known as "Sabarka" who was brown coloured with touches of white on its chest, feet and tail.  In 1893 a crew member of a timber freighter brought a bitch from Siberia to London and sold her to Mr Kilburn-Scott who named her "Whitey Petchora".  She was subsequently mated to Sabarka and the puppies were of mixed colours, white, brown and black.  Others were imported in the 1890s.  One, an all white one from West Siberia was brought in by Captain Labourn Popham and was photographed (rather fuzzily) and the print was inscribed "Imported 1894" and "The type I Want".

During a period covering some twenty five years before the First World War various explorers attempted to reach the north and south poles.  Most expeditions used dogs to haul sledges, obtaining them wherever and however they could.  A few dogs were brought back to Norway, Britain, New Zealand and Australia from two expeditions to the Arctic led by Nansen and F G Jackson and two to the Antarctic - the Newnes-Borchgrevink and the Shackleton expeditions. Mr and Mrs Kilburn-Scott visited Sydney Zoo in the early years of the twentieth century and saw a fine Samoyed specimen exhibited between two tigers!  They eventually succeeded in buying him and brought him back to England, naming him "Antarctic Buck".

When the Kilburn-Scotts had eight strains of dogs with noticeably distinguishing features they drew up the first Breed Standard which combined all points they felt were best and then set about breeding dogs which regularly conformed to it.  This standard stated "all colours permissible; white preferred".  Comments in later years suggest that black and brown colouring disappeared quite quickly - but most owners know that dogs today carry one or two black hairs somewhere or other.

This varied mixture of dogs in Britain carried a gene bank which soon produced a reasonably unified breed.  Quite soon breeders were exporting dogs to other countries, and this has continued up until the present day.