West Siberian Laika is a Russian wolf-hunting dog from a Spitz breed. Local tribes developed this dog breed over hundreds of years and used it while hunting squirrels and sables. Russians also sent these game hunters to space and used them in medical research.
Even though Laika resembles its wolf ancestors, it is kind to kids and dedicated to its family. It is still impossible to find a well-established crossbreed, but breeders give their best to get a dog with all the required positive and desired traits. Let’s closely meet this beauty.
Everything You Need To Know About The West Siberian Laika:
West Siberian Laika is the most popular and numerous in a Laika breed group that also includes East Siberian Laika, Russo-European Laika recognized by FCI, and still unrecognized Karelo-Finnish Laika.
All of them are Spitz-type hunting dogs. Even their name ‘Laika’ comes from the Russian word лаять, meaning a barking dog, barker. The Laika hunting dog name signifies their capability to continuously bark without tiring to announce they found a shot game.
Even though the first standard described Laika in 1930, there was no doubt that this aboriginal primitive hunting dog breed has existed since ancient times. In fact, it is likely that it is closely related to wolves. In the past, each Russian ethnic group had its own Laika dog type, but without a specific aesthetic purpose. It probably descends from Arctic tribe dogs living in the Ural Mountains region.
Since Khanty and Mansi’s people lived in West Siberia and the Ural, their dogs were simply classified as Khanty Laika and Mansi Laika. Keep in mind that West Siberian Laika was not the same Siberian dog used for centuries for pulling sledges. Vikings spread this breed to Scandinavia after traveling through Russia. From there, the breed spread throughout Europe.
The primary purpose of its breeding was hunting the sable used for valuable fur in the northern boreal (taiga) forest. The West Siberian Laika popularity sharply declined once the hunting of sable ceased and it nearly became extinct.
After World War II, experts started classifying different Russian Laika dog types by region into four groups you can recognize nowadays. From that period, systematic breeding and registrations began, and the breed finally took modern shape. Even today, the extensive purpose of this Siberian hunting dog is to be a hunting companion.
Even though it was exported a few times, it is still a rare breed out of Russia. The Russian immigrant Dr. Vladimir Beregovoy, Ph.D., imported the first West Siberian Laika to the US in 1992. Until 2014, only 21 West Siberian Laikas were imported to the US, and it is estimated that only 300 Siberian Laika dogs live in the US and Canada nowadays. The UKC (United Kennel Club) recognized this breed within a Northern Breed group on January 1, 1996.
Since the breed’s gene pool is pretty limited, modern Laika the dog still retains most of its traits, including behavior and appearance. It is an excellent hound, but it is often used as a sleigh dog, guard dog, and participant in sports competitions. Most westerners recognize the Laika space dog breed by the first dog in space on November 3, 1957, although the astronaut Kudravka wasn’t the purebred dog, but a stray dog from the Moscow streets.
This working Russian Siberian dog is loyal and affectionate towards people it trusts and highly protective of their property. It will warn the owner of anyone’s presence by constant barking. Be careful since this animal can become potentially aggressive towards intruders and animals if they don’t respect its warning barks. You shouldn’t include a new pet in your household except those your Laika grown up with. It is a self-confident dog with a strong personality that requires an experienced owner.
This particular Russian Laika dog breed is an even-tempered and dedicated companion that goes well with children. Unlike Eastern Siberian Laika, this dog can tolerate cats and live peacefully with other dogs when socialized and trained at an early age. The crucial thing for this independent and dominant character is to understand its place within the family. Only in such a case will it show its real value.
Never keep this hyperactive dog inside without enough exercise because it can become unruly. Left alone in the yard for hours, it will dig incessantly in an attempt to decrease frustration.
4. Size And Look
The average weight of this wolf-hunting dog breed is 30 to 50 pounds (13.5 – 22.5 kg). In most cases, it is 21 to 24 inches (53.5 – 61 cm) tall, but it can vary depending on its age, gender, and inherited traits.
|West Siberian Laika|
|Height||22 to 24 inches (56 – 61 cm)||21 to 23 inches (53.5 – 58.5 cm)|
|Weight||35 to 50 pounds (16 – 22.5 kg)||30 to 45 pounds (13.5 – 20.5 kg)|
Laika is a robust build with a double, hard, and straight outer coat harsh to the touch and soft, dense undercoat.
Typical hair colors are:
- Salt and pepper
- All shades of grey
- Pale red
- Maroon red
- Solid black
You can often spot that its coat contains mixed red and gray hairs that provide a unique variegated appearance that is an excellent camouflage in forest conditions. Some of these dogs have wolf-like coloration, but you can effortlessly recognize their curved tail covered with thick fur.
It is better to avoid dogs with apparent faults that are not by the breed standard requirements, including:
- Too long or short coat
- Annealed, brown, and blue coat color
This breed is a high shedder, and its dense double coat sheds abundantly seasonally. Since its fur is not oily, it will naturally shed off any dirt from the coat’s surface, and it will be enough to brush it with a metal comb or slicker brush regularly.
You will need to groom your pet daily during the seasonal molt, but it won’t be necessary to brush it more than once a week in other periods of the year. It also doesn’t require regular bathing in most cases. A huge advantage of West Siberian Laika compared to most modern dog breeds is that it doesn’t have a natural dog body odor even when it is wet.
Regularly go walking, hiking, and jogging with your highly active dog, especially if you don’t have a backyard. Be careful since it has strong hunting instincts and can start chasing small animals around. A large fenced yard with Laika toys will keep it happy while you are at work.
Laika puppy can be destructive when it gets bored, and you should train it on time. Since it is one of the smartest dogs worldwide, it is highly responsive to training. On the other hand, this independent dog will tend to listen to itself rather than its trainer when deciding that its way of solving a task is better. That makes this breed challenging to train and an unsuitable pet for an inexperienced owner.
8. Diet And Nutrition
When you decide to adopt highly energetic and active West Siberian Laika, you should provide an adequate diet for it. It is necessary to maintain the dog’s lean muscle mass, so you should provide your pet with a working dog formula high in proteins and fats. Be careful if your pet doesn’t have enough exercise during the day. In such a case, it can become obese, which will negatively affect its health.
9. Possible Health Problems
The strong Laika dog breed has needed to survive the harsh Russian climate. Without any known inbreeding history, it is considered one of the healthiest canines worldwide. Even in the US, where the Laika breed gene pool is limited, most hunters avoid inbreeding their dogs, which is critical to keep them genetically healthy.
In rare cases, this dog can suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia.
Only two congenital diseases are reported, and the only way to prevent them is to avoid breeding affected animals.
Cryptorchidism – It doesn’t occur too often, but some West Siberian Laika dog males can suffer from this unpleasant condition. The problem is in one or both testicles that stay in the inguinal canal or abdomen and fail to reach the scrotum.
Umbilical hernia – When this hernia is big enough, the puppy owner usually notices it by itself, while the vet should diagnose smaller ones. It will occur in the belly button area when the muscle wall ruptures and can be pea-sized or hazardously large.
Occasionally, it is necessary to do an early OFA Physical Examination to check Siberian Laika’s elbows and hips.
You can expect that your dog Laika live for approximately 12 to 14 years.
Many people enjoy the company of intelligent Western Siberian Laika. This guard dog is devoted to its family, but it is not the best choice for an inexperienced owner because it requires strict training and clear boundaries.
It is crucial for this dog to understand the hierarchy and learn who is the pack leader. If you want peace of mind, the dog can’t be a master of the house.