The Samoyed as a breed takes its name from the tribes who originally domesticated it. The Samoyed tribes of Siberia were natives to the land who had become experts at living off of the unproductive land of the region and contending with its harsh and unforgiving climates. The breed was named Samoyed, because in their native Slavic tongue, the word translates roughly to "living off themselves". This is a kind of tribute to the self-sufficient nature of the dog that was something which the tribe both respected and valued. As such, the Samoyed dog began to live with the tribe of the same name and to work with them at various tasks.
The Samoyed was and is a highly intelligent dog who is very well suited to working demanding jobs. In particular, they served the Samoyed tribe as herding dogs, sledding dogs, and also as faithful companions once the day's chores were completed. Samoyeds, like many working breeds, are very pack-oriented, but they seem just as willing to accept humans as members of their pack as other dogs. As such, they blended into the tribal life quite readily and proved themselves to be valuable members capable of pulling their own weight. Even in more modern times, Samoyeds have proven themselves incredibly useful on exploratory expeditions to both poles of the earth, aiding explorers with valuable and groundbreaking research.
It's interesting to note that the Samoyed we know today, unlike most breeds, has changed very little if at all since its introduction. All of the trademark qualities of the Samoyed, from its winning smile to its pristine coat, from the clear and daring cut of its eye to its powerful build, are readily apparent in photographs from the Samoyed tribe which date back as far as the 1800s.
The Samoyed dog was more or less known only to the Samoyed tribe until a Norwegian explorer by the name of Dr. Fritjov Nansen contacted a friend in Siberia who was on friendly terms with the tribe to ask about a dog that he might use on one of his expeditions. He was given a few of the animals for his personal use and couldn't recommend them highly enough as a working breed. He brought the dogs back home with him to Norway where they spread across the rest of the European continent.
Even though they've been thoroughly domesticated and acclimated to life even as household pets in the big city, there are Samoyeds even today that still live with their tribe in the Siberian tundra. They still perform the tasks they've been given for years, herding reindeer and pulling sleds, proudly living up to the heritage of their ancestors.