Samoyed dogs look like giant, fluffy, white teddy bears. They always seem to be smiling, which has earned the breed the nickname of “smiling Sammies.”
They are pretty much the opposite of an aggressive dog breed.
However, any dog can become aggressive under certain non-advantageous circumstances. Samoyed dogs are no exception to this.
By the time you finish reading through this article, you will understand the hallmark traits of a well-bred, well-trained, and well-socialized adult Samoyed dog.
You will also understand what might cause a smiling Sammie to behave aggressively and how to fix it.
Are Samoyed Dogs Aggressive?
The Samoyed breed is not aggressive. However, in certain circumstances, a Samoyed can either be born with a more aggressive temperament, which is abnormal or can develop aggressive behaviors due to abuse or neglect.
In this article, we go into more detail about how or why an individual Samoyed dog might behave in ways that feel aggressive and what to do about it.
Learn About Samoyed Problem Behaviors From a Samoyed Dog Owner
This short, focused, owner-made YouTube video gives you a helpful big-picture perspective of the Samoyed personality.
These dogs are bright, curious, active, and easily able to find ways to entertain themselves when bored.
This means that most so-called “problem behaviors” in the Samoyed dog breed really arise from simple boredom. This also means that fixing the problem behaviors typically boils down to finding your dog something engaging to do.
What Is the Typical Samoyed Breed Personality and Temperament Like?
According to the Samoyed Dog Breed Club of America, the typical Samoyed dog personality is one of sociability, bright and active, and eager to be with their people.
Barking is normal for Sammies
Samoyed dogs are naturally “talkative” and are known to be barkers by nature.
So here, while lots of barking can be indicative of aggression for some dog breeds, a lot of vocalizing is not necessarily a sign of aggression in Sammies. It can simply be a sign that your dog needs more training to learn when it is appropriate to bark.
Sammies are active and people-centric
The Samoyed dog breed is a very active dog that loves to be with their people and usually as close to their favorite family members as possible.
They absolutely hate being left alone and this means that separation anxiety, which is not the same as aggression although it can seem similar behaviorally, is more common in this dog breed.
A Samoyed dog that is left alone for long periods of time on a regular basis is likely to develop aggressive or anxious behaviors because their personality just doesn’t tolerate alone-time well.
Sammies are herders and guarders
The Samoyed dog comes from a long lineage of working dogs that has traditionally helped with herding and guarding livestock as well as serving as a watchdog for people.
So having your Sammie following you and your family around and nipping at your heels or nudging you is not necessarily a sign of aggressive behavior.
Here, it is important to do your best to determine your dog’s motivation for behaving in certain ways before deciding you have an aggressive Sammie.
What Are the Warning Signs of Samoyed Dog Aggression?
According to the Samoyed Club of America Education and Research Foundation, there are certain traits that tend to show up when a Samoyed dog starts behaving aggressively.
These traits are identified by the following categories.
Barking, growling, whining, howling, snarling, audible teeth snapping – these are all vocal signs that a Samoyed is feeling aggressive.
Physical signs and symptoms of Samoyed aggression can include curling of the lip (a “snarl” type expression), stiff movement, ears slicked back, tail not wagging, staring, and raised hair (this one can be particularly hard to identify on the fluffy Samoyed).
Biting or mouthing, snapping or nipping, digging, jumping, constant escape attempts, territorial guarding of food or belongings (or even “their” people), and aggressive movement towards or away from someone or something are all behavioral signs of a Samoyed that is feeling aggressive.
Samoyeds Need Early and Ongoing Socialization and Training
As the Samoyed Rescue Alliance charity explains, Samoyeds will likely develop problem behaviors if these dogs don’t get the type of positive, consistent, early, and ongoing training and socialization they need to be companion canines.
Samoyeds are working dogs to their core. Everything about these dogs – including their perpetually upturned mouths that make them look like they are constantly smiling – is designed with their work in mind.
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) explains, just like their amazingly thick double layer coat is designed to protect against the cold, that smiling upturned mouth is designed to keep the drool from turning to icicles while they are out herding reindeer in sub-zero temperatures.
When you select a working dog breed to be your family pet, it is vital to understand that you are choosing an energetic dog that will drive you crazy if you don’t keep them busy all day, every day.
In particular, Samoyeds have a nearly irresistible urge to roam and run and chase. This is also part of their job description herding reindeer and other livestock over long distances. A Sammie that didn’t want to run a lot wouldn’t be a very good herding dog.
But in a domestic situation as a family pet, your Sammie will likely be unable to resist herding you, chasing the squirrels in the backyard, and trying to figure out how to escape the back yard if left outside alone.
It will be your job to socialize your Samoyed sufficiently that your dog doesn’t accidentally harm a person or another animal by trying to “herd” them or chase them.
You will also have the challenge of training your Samoyed to obey basic commands this breed may not grasp the significance of.
A working dog that has been bred through generations to run and run and run freely all day every day is not likely to have a strong genetic reference for commands like “sit” and “stay.”
This is why Samoyeds are not generally a recommended breed choice for a first-time dog owner. However, working with a professional K-9 trainer can help you if you have your heart set on a Sammie and this will be your very first pet dog.
Start by Identifying Why a Samoyed Is Aggressive
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, most dogs that become aggressive start by becoming reactive.
As Middle the Samoyed highlights, this can be a particular problem with Samoyed dogs because they have a tendency to develop a closer bond with the person who is most involved in their training and daily care.
So a Samoyed that has developed a very close bond with you may become reactive when another family pet or another person seems to want to pull you away from your dog.
Samoyeds can also become reactive towards other dogs around the time they reach sexual maturity or if they perceive the other dog is competing for the attention of “their” people.
All of this means the first step to working with a reactive or aggressive Samoyed is to identify what is causing the behavior in the first place. You need to see life from your dog’s point of view before you can take steps to dial down the aggression.
There are some other common reasons why a dog might behave in a reactive or aggressive way, and it is important to consider these as well before labeling your Sammie as “aggressive.”
Sickness or injury
For example, your Samoyed could be injured or sick.
Dogs, like other animals, will often try to hide signs of illness, injury, or weakness because their ancient survival instincts tell them this is vital.
Prior abuse or trauma
Your Samoyed might also be legitimately scared because of previous trauma, neglect, or abuse.
If your Sammie is only reactive or aggressive in certain situations or due to certain triggers, this may be why.
Legitimate guarding or protective instincts
And your Sammie might be reacting to a perceived or real threat from another animal, person, or situation.
As a guarding and protection herding dog, there are times when aggressive behavior may actually be protective behavior your dog feels is warranted.
Working With An Aggressive Samoyed Dog
Because Samoyeds are considered a challenging breed to train even when there is no reactive or aggressive behavior to deal with, the best approach here is to reach out to a K-9 training professional for help.
Samoyeds might not be large dogs, but they can still be dangerous if reactive or aggressive behaviors are left unaddressed.
The faster you address the problem behaviors, the faster your Samoyed will start adjusting well to daily life in a family and community.