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Know your Breeds: Is the Alaskan Malamute or the Samoyed for you?

Find your perfect breed match. Is the loyal Alaskan Malamute or the loving Samoyed the breed for you?

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The Alaskan Malamute
Affectionate, loyal, and playful

Hailing from the North, the Alaskan Malamute was developed to be an arctic sled dog par excellence. His heavy boned, deep-chested, 75 to 85-pound powerful frame and thick, waterproof double coat make him incredibly strong and impervious to the cold. But though bred to be a dignified working dog, the Malamute is also deeply affectionate, loyal, and playful. The Mal is devoted to his pack, though if you don’t take a leadership role, he definitely will! The well-trained Malamute is gentle and a wonderful family dog, great with kids. A word about that glorious coat though—the Malamute’s impressive double coat needs a lot of up keep. Daily brushing with a pin comb is required, and during the twice-a-year shedding, the undercoat will need to be raked. As for exercise requirements, with his working heritage, this is an energetic breed. Bred for endurance and carrying heavy loads, this athletic dog definitely needs daily exercise in the form of runs, hikes, romps, or swims, and would also enjoy agility, backpacking, and skijoring.

The Samoyed
Friendly, gentle, and versatile

This smiling sledge dog is a beauty to be sure, but don’t let that gorgeous white coat fool you—these dogs were bred for hard work in incredibly cold weather. The Samoyed’s trademark thick coat protects against brutal Siberian temperatures that frequently plummet to minus 60 degrees. Even the trademark smile, one of the breed’s most enchanting features, serves a practical purpose; the upturned corners of the mouth prevent the Samoyed from drooling, so icicles don’t form on his face.

Strong and agile, these gorgeous, 35 – 65 pound dogs were purpose built to pull sledges and guard and herd reindeer. They’re also highly social and very bonded to their people. The Samoyed is one of the oldest breeds of dogs, developed many centuries ago by the nomadic Samoyed tribes of north-central Siberia who slept huddled next to their dogs for warmth during the freezing arctic winters. This dog wants to stick close to his people.

As the AKC notes, these are “smart, social, mischievous dogs who demand love and attention. Sammies need a very firm but loving hand in training.” That said, this is not a guard dog. The Samoyed is trusting by nature, with an easygoing disposition, loyal temperament, and sense of humour. An energetic breed with a fun, exuberant personality, the Samoyed has ample energy (they’ll run for miles on end if given the chance) and a mind of his own, but is still eager to please. Like most Nordic breeds, the Samoyed is quite a talker, and brushing (and de-shedding!) are a must.

Independent-minded yet loyal to his family, the well-mannered (read: tended to and trained) Samoyed is an absolute dream.

Is the Samoyed right for you?
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