European Laika

Resembling a Spitz, This Rare Hunting Dog Bonds Strongly with Family

Russo-European Laika dogs are an ancient breed that resemble dogs like the Finnish Spitz, the German Spitz or the Nordic Spitz as well as other dogs native to European Russia. Probably originating in the Arctic, these dogs are the offspring of one of the oldest types of dogs. With ancestors who likely mated with wolves, Russo-European dogs subsequently were the product of selective breeding resulting in the dogs of today.


This breed dates back at least 10,000 years, with dogs similar to the Russo-European Laika found in northern and central Europe, in archaeological sites. From these ancient times until around the early 20th century, these strong, medium-sized Russo-European Laikas had pricked ears and pointed muzzles, widely scattered across northeastern Europe's Taiga Forest zone. This area spans all the way from Karelia and Finland to the east and the Ural Mountains in the west. These dogs were used historically for hunting game (big and small) and as watchdogs for families and property.

Agriculture ultimately made a big impact on the Russo-European Laika's existence, since its excellent hunting skills were no longer quite as sorely needed. Deforestation led to the breed's falling out of favor, since the breed was slowly replaced with other dogs more suited to this new way of life. Now, a new group of dogs became the popular favorites, including those that could herd and guard livestock, especially sheep, like the Samoyed or the Caucasian Ovcharka, for example, as well as hunt by sight and scent perhaps like the Borzoi or the Vizsla, respectively.

The late 19th century saw even the most remote parts of the Taiga forests stripped and settled so that agriculture, not hunting, became the main food supplier. New dogs that were more suited to agricultural pursuits were needed, and unfortunately, those dogs were also interbred uncontrollably with the native Russo-European Laika dogs. This practice decimated the breed making the purebred Russo- European Laika nearly extinct. Many of today's mixed breed dogs in the region still carry Russo-European Laika traits.

By 1930, only a few purebred Russo-European Laikas remained in the most remote part of North Ural, Perm Province, Komi Republic, and the Vyatka Province. Even these stocks, however, were no longer used for hunting and simply became watchdogs that were allowed to run loose near people's houses or constrained to fenced yards behind houses.

With the breed on the brink of extinction, old hunters with sharp memories of the original Russo-European Laikas near Leningrad and Moscow decried the loss of this breed's stellar hunting qualities and began to buy up the few purebred dogs that remained. These dogs were bred with Russo-European Laika strains from different regions so that the breed could be saved along with their excellent hunting instincts. These dogs were named based upon where they were found originally, such as is true of "sub breeds" like the Zyryan Laika, the Archangelsk Laika, and the Zyryan Laika. These dogs would ultimately become foundation breeding stock for the "modern" Russo-European Laika.

The breeding program was beneficial because it brought genetic diversity and health back to the breed, with only small variations in appearance. The breed was once again greatly reduced during the Second World War, but hunters once again intervened in Leningrad by bringing new dogs in from the surrounding provinces of Arkhangelsk and Karelia, to once again be interbred with the few pure Russo-European Laikas still existing. Most new dogs were wolf-gray in color, but a new standard was set forth that favored the black and white coloration. These dogs therefore were bred for their blackand- white color and began to lose their hunting instincts and other Russo-European Laika-related physical characteristics.

Because of that, the Russo-European Laika was ultimately reestablished in 1944 by the All Union Research Institute for the Hunting Industry in the Kalinin Province. To do this, they tested each potential dog to be bred on its hunting skills using squirrels as bait before each was allowed to mate. These dogs were then also crossbred with the Russo-European Laikas that were still in existence in Moscow and Leningrad.

At this point, the breed became officially purebred, with the Russo-European Laika name adopted. By the 1960s, most Russo-European Laikas were black and white in various proportions – including all black or all white.


Intelligent and affectionate, the Russo-European Laika will bond closely with you in puppyhood. Although not trusting of strangers, and therefore reserved or aloof with those it doesn’t know well, your new puppy will love to be petted by members of its immediate family, even if it acts territorial and suspicious of strangers. Russo-European Laikas generally don't bite unless they're truly threatened. They can be anxious or excitable and can bark a great deal, especially if they think there's some sort of disturbance.

Russo-European Laikas behave well with other dogs if raised from puppyhood with these other breeds; they establish the "alpha," beta," etc. personalities among themselves. Be careful introducing adult dogs of the same sex regardless of breed. The Russo-European Laika is especially protective of its own territory which may define its perspective for life. Unfortunately, Russo-European Laikas are easily engaged in a dog fight – and are good at it. They don't generally kill dogs during fights, but do try to show other dogs their dominance.

If you want an excellent hunter, you can breed Russo-European Laika puppies to produce excellent hunters of smaller game. That said, your pet can't be kept around domestic or barnyard animals until taught to ignore such animals like sheep and cows. Russo-European Laikas can learn very well to ignore these animals – but may have a harder time doing so with smaller prey like rabbits and cats.


Compact, lean and muscular like a Spitz-type dog, it stands between 19 and 23 inches at the shoulders. Adult weight is between 45 and 55 pounds, with males heavier than females. The chest is broad, the musculature well-developed. Head and tail are both held high, with a slight slope to the body and a one-inch drop between the sacrum or tail base in females and half an inch drop for males. The coat is generally black with patches of white; other colors such as fawn, red or gray are not considered legitimate for the standard. A soft ruff of fur surrounds the head with straight, coarse hair over a thick, soft, woolly undercoat.


As one of the oldest breeds, Russo-European Laika adults and puppies are also among the healthiest. There are no serious hereditary problems known to be associated with the Russo-European Laika, although you must make sure your puppy does not have problems like monorchism (a singular testicle) or an umbilical hernia.


The Russo-European Laika puppy's double coat will be soft and thick in adulthood, with a dense undercoat and a longer top coat. Dogs begin to "blow" their fur in adulthood once or perhaps twice a year for females. In especially warm climates, shedding may happen year-round. Brush and groom regularly, especially during seasonal shedding times as applicable, to reduce the amount of loose fur on the furniture and in your surroundings.


Russo-European Laika.

Retrieved September 8, 2014.

Russo-European Laika

(Russko-Evropeïskaïa Laïka) (Russian-European Laïka).

Retrieved September 8, 2014.

Russo-European Laika.

Retrieved September 8, 2014.

Russo-European Laika.

Retrieved September 8, 2014.

The Russo-European Laika.

Retrieved September 8, 2014.

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