FARMINGTON -- To cool off under the Phoenix sun, Sitka, a 10-month-old Samoyed, enjoys swimming with his Labrador friends.
But for the most part, the white-haired dog, who upon full maturity could weigh 65 pounds, remains indoors where it's cool.
"(Sitka) is spoiled rotten and lives in the house," said handler Raygen Hensley.
Sitka is one of 356 dogs attending the Samoyed Dog Club of America show being held at the Legacy Events Center in Farmington.
The weeklong event, which began Sunday and concludes today, has the "dogs of Christmas" competing in weight pulls, pack hikes, agility contests and obedience demonstrations, each with its renowned "smile" on its face.
"This is the first time the show has been in Utah," said Steve Exline, grounds chairman for the dog club, which rotates the location of its annual event throughout the country.
In addition to the dogs, of which Exline owns five, an estimated 500 handlers are attending the event. People from 30 states and 12 countries, including Australia, are represented at the show.
However, because of the high cost of bringing the dogs to America, the Australian group was unable to bring their Samoyeds, said Rosslyn Rothwell, of Sydney.
"We came to look. We really have had a great time," she said, adding that she and her friends have enjoyed the scenery of the nearby Wasatch Mountains.
Samoyed dog handlers say the breed travels well because the dogs are even-tempered and happy, albeit territorial when it comes to protecting their handler.
"They're companions first, show dogs second," said Salt Lake City resident Marlene Fairchild.
Junior handler Rachel Mears, 17, of Denver, said what she loves about her 2-year-old Janie is that the dog will go running with her during the day, then snuggle with her at night.
"They will do anything to please you," said Mears, who packs her 34-pound Samoyed around in her arms as one would cradle a baby.
The national dog club paid $4,359 to Davis County to use the center grounds and banquet concessions, officials said.
The weeklong event has also resulted in about 1,000 area overnight hotel stays and an uncounted number of visits to local dining establishments, said Chris James, show superintendent for Onofrio Dog Shows.
"This is a nice economic impact for the community," James said.
Participation in the Samoyed dog show rivals the participation in the German shepherd dog show the center has held in the past, said center director Dave Hansen.