From my Dog World Blog on 9 May 2016.

Once again this weekend saw us on our usual ‘house-hunting’ expedition along the south coast of Devon. For lunch we stopped into the dog friendly Visto Lounge and ordered their Thai green curry. As the weather was unusually clement we decided to sit outside and soon a couple (accompanied by a gorgeous Samoyed) claimed the next table. Eventually our meal was brought out to us and I don’t know whether our smiling Samoyed friend was a secret connoisseur of Thai cuisine (or a budding food critic) because just as our plates were set down he decided to come over and join us. 

‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ apologised his red faced owner profusely as he tried to drag him away but we quickly told the Sammy’s owner that we didn’t mind their dog’s company in the slightest. Of course such incidents allow you to get into conversation and we all happily talked about the breed and exactly why they had chosen a Samoyed. Throughout our conversation it was incredible to witness the constant stream of people (and especially children) coming over and asking to cuddle and stroke their dog. All of them commented on, what are the breed’s distinctive hallmarks, the delightful ‘smiley’ face and of course the dazzling white coat.

My grandfather also had a much loved Samoyed (back in the 1950s) so later that evening I decided to read up on the breed from a book I had bought from a much-loved Bournemouth bookshop that was sadly closing down. It was the 1950’s Second Edition of The Samoyed published by the Samoyed Association and in it I discovered a fascinating article on the ‘Black Samoyed’.

I also own a copy of Robert Leighton’s New Book of the Dog and this article makes reference to a photograph that appears in that valuable old book. It is a photo that shows black and white splashed young Samoyeds by Peter the Great (the well known black Samoyed).

This photo sparked some debate and the article says;

In some reminiscences of the early years (Our Dogs, 1935) Mr Will Hally declares that the first Samoyed he ever saw in the show ring in the early 1890s was a black with a little white on the chest, he also remembers (not necessarily in the show ring) some blacks with here and there white splashes, and some white and blacks with more white than black about them and hazards the guess that these were never quite pure Samoyeds. Further to this, he says, that when he traced the origins of these self blacks (that is self black except the small white path on the chest) and the parti-colours he invariably found that they were of Russian origin. In any case he dismisses them out of hand particularly the black and whites which he calls ‘mongrelly’. Samoyeds from the area between the Kara and White Seas were always, declares Mr Hally, either white, cream or biscuit shaded.

A little detective work here yields an interesting result. In an article (Our Dogs, 14.12.23) Mr Kilburn Scott glances through his first kennel book and notes a puppy (by Sabarka out of Whitey Petchora) by the name of Peter the Great, born 1897 and marked down as being sold to the Hon Mrs MacLaren Morrison. In the paragraph, ‘Foreign Dog Fancies’ there is a note that MacLaren Morrison won first prizes at the Cheltenham show with her favourite black, Peter the Great, ‘who beat last year’s winner under Mr Marples, viz. Mrs Ringer’s grand white dog, Olaf Oussa’. It is fair to deduce that either the cream Whitey Petchora or the deep biscuit, Sabarka, had somewhere in their ancestry a cross with a Russian dog. As Whitey Petchora founded a family that has consistently produced champions to present times, it would seem fair to assume that Sabarka was the dog with coloured forebears.


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‘Sabarka, the original import brought to England by Mr Kilburn Scott in 1889. His colour was described as ‘deep biscuit’’


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‘Ernest Kilburn Scott and Sabarka. Photograph taken about 1893’


Mr Kilburn Scott does not comment on Peter the Great’s colour and there seems to be a certain amount of disingenuous reticence on this subject! (That mischievous recessive black gene, however can still crop up. The late Miss Thomson-Glover quoted a case in Scotland many years ago, of several black and white puppies in a litter whose owner was certain that no mis-mating had taken place. Even as recently as 1953 she records that an English bitch, mated to a noted English stud dog, produced a whole litter of black or nearly black pups which to her personal regret were all put down. But she also notes an instance where a bitch sired by a black produced puppies by Snow Cloud which were all white. Several people who had the puppies hoped that they would get blacks but perversely none appeared.)

Curiosity about black Samoyeds still persists, and as recently as 1943 a breed correspondent received a letter in which the writer describes seeing the Leighton picture mentioned earlier. The correspondent goes on to say that he saw a true black Samoyed in Portsmouth some years before and reminded us that M Le Comte de Savignac had always bred a large number of black dogs which he claimed were pure Samoyeds. Whether he was right, or Mr Hally and the Kilburn Scotts, cannot be finally decided since conclusive evidence either way is not available. Peter the Great was the Sire of the black Pedro who was bred with some of the Kilburn Scott bitches as his name appears on some of their early pedigrees.


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‘Young Samoyeds by Peter The Great ex Alaska. Bred by the Hon Mrs McLaren Morrison.’


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‘Pedro, owned by Mrs Cammack’


The original import Sabarka (1889), the fat puppy who, had he not left his homeland, might have been used to eke out the food supply, is variously described as brown, biscuit or deep biscuit. Mr Hally says, ‘I remember him as being outstanding in every Samoyed feature, his head, coat, carriage and tail were all beautiful.’

Lastly, mention might be fittingly made here of the Flop-eared Samoyed. There seems to be no doubt that this type belonged to the Yenisei River area and was a recognised variety of the breed, and had its sponsors pressed ahead with the matter it is reasonable to suppose that the two varieties would have been allowed by the Kennel Club. Mrs Grays, Landsberg Yougor of Halfway is described as ‘white with a yellow spot under the curl of the tail and has a few tiny spots of colour on his ears, black eye rims and a deep coloured nose, but not quite black. His body is perfectly proportioned, he is as agile as a cat and his carriage is perfection. He is not a heavy dog but weighs nearly 51lbs and is the right height.’

As usual, a dive back into the archives proves fascinating!


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‘Yougor of Halfway’


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