Laika: Dog Breed Information

Country of origin: Russia
Shoulder height: 48 – 64 cm
Weight: 18 – 30 kg
Age: 10 – 12 years
Color: black, red, grey, white, also piebald
Use: hunting dog, guard dog, working dog

Several Nordic hunting dogs of different types are summarized under the term Laika. They are versatile hunting companions who hardly lead a fulfilled life as pure family companion dogs.

Origin and history

Several Nordic dog breeds, which were bred from Finland to eastern Siberia as hunting dogs, guard dogs, and draft dogs, are listed under the term Laika. Due to the low settlement density, it was essential for the survival of the local population to breed particularly persistent and versatile hunting dogs that could withstand the sometimes very harsh climatic conditions.

The name Laika goes back to the Russian word ” lajatj ” (“to bark”) and describes the typical hunting style of these dogs: they rummage around and follow the game silently – only when the hunter is close enough do they stop the game by barking.

A spitz-type dog with a curved tail and wolf-like appearance was reported for the first time at the dog show in Moscow in 1888. In 1980 three Laika breeds were included in the FCI standards:

  • Russian-European Laika
  • East Siberian Laika
  • West Siberian Laika


Laiki is a medium to large-sized dog: ranging from 48 cm (Russian European Laika) to 64 cm (East Siberian Laika) at the shoulder.

All Laiki have a pointed muzzle, thick stick hair, and a curved sickle or curled tail that rests on the thigh or back. The ears are erect and triangular. The color variants range from black to white (Russian-European Laika) and red to white and gray (West Siberian Laika). The East Siberian Laika can be found in all colors.

Characteristic of all Laiki is the dense coat with harsh, straight top hair and plenty of soft undercoats. The fur forms a distinct collar on the neck and shoulders, while it is of medium length on the body and short on the head and limbs.

The dense coat is easy to care for but sheds profusely.


As born hunters, all Laika types are extremely courageous, persistent, and very robust dogs. They are highly intelligent and act independently and confidently. Laika breeds tend to be very spirited and active, able to roam for hours over the most difficult terrain or in cold temperatures.

In the family, Laika is calm, gentle, and kind. They tend to be reserved, suspicious, or wary of strangers. The East Siberian Laika is the calmest and most even-tempered of the three recognized Laika breeds.

A Laika always wants to be close to her owner and her “family”. They need close family ties and consistent leadership, but not an overly heavy hand.

As avid hunters, all Laika breeds require adequate exercise and lots of meaningful outdoor pursuits – ideally, they are also used for hunting. If they are kept as pure family companion dogs, they must be offered a meaningful alternative activity (such as tracking work or agility) so that they are reasonably balanced. They are not suitable as city or apartment dogs.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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