Laika dogs accompanied people in Russia for centuries and they were especially valued for their great hunting insctincts or sledding abilities. The West Siberian Laika we know today was most likely developed in from Mansijskaja Laika and Chantejskaja Laika, both very old and ancient breeds. The West Siberian Laika was officially recognized as a purebred dog after the second world war.
2) Other Laikas
In the 19th century, Russian experts find out, that there are dozens of Laika breeds, each one associated with different ethnic group and different region of Siberia. After the second world war, four Laikas were established as purebred dogs. One of them is the West Siberian Laika, others are East Siberian Laika, Russian European Laika and Karelo Finnish Laika. There are also some other, not officially recognized Laika breeds, such as Yakutian Laika, Northeastern Hauling Laika, Amur Laika, Korel Laika and many others. BTW, the word laika can be literally translated to english as „barker“
The West Siberian Laika always was and still is used for hunting and they are one of the most prevalent hunting breed in Russia. They are especially popular in West Siberia, but they can be found huntin all across the wooden areas of Russia from Karelia to Kamchatka and also in some neighboring countries such as Finland. When these dogs are hunting, they have high prey drive, well developed scent, sight and hearing, fast and endurant legs and they have great sense of orientation, so they can hunt on large distances from the hunter and they dont get lost. When they find the game, they start their loud barking to alert the hunter. This breed is a versatile hunter that can hunt all kinds of game, such as wild boar, waterflow, squirrel, badger or birds. Overall this is just amazing hunting breed.
When the West Siberian Laika is not on the hunt, they actually make good loyal companion dogs. These dogs are also known to be quite affectionate towards its owner and family. They can also live without any problems with other dogs and they are typically okay with kids in the family as well. Of course, you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised. On the other hand, West Siberian Laikas are known to be alert and suspicious towards strangers, but they should never be agressive without a reason. Just like with all dogs, the temperament is vastly influenced by early training and socialization.
The Siberia is a place with very low temperatures and the temperatures can be as low as -40 degrees Celsius. So it should not be surprising, that the West Siberian Laika has a very very dense doublecoat with even longer and stiffer hair around the head, on the neck and shoulders. This dense coat protects the dog from the extremely cold weather. You can find this breed wolf gray, pale red and white color.
The West Siberian Laika is a very strong and athletic, medium to large sized breed with average height between 20-24 inch, which is 50-61 cm and weight is typically between 40-55 pounds, which is 18-25 kg. The females are typically little bit smaller than males.
The West Siberian Laika belong to the group of northern primitive breeds, which remains the similar appearance to their main ancestor – the wolf. Typically, these dogs have very thick fur, pointed muzzle, oval eyes in dark color and triangular erect ears that are set high on the head. The tail is typically carried high curving over the back.
This is very energetic, lively and endurant dog breed that needs daily longer outdoor walks, hikes or jogs and ideally off leash runs. But because they have high prey drive, you should only let them off leash in fenced or well known areas. Without enough exercise, the Laika will most likely develop another ways how to deal with their energy, but often times, it will be things you will not like, such as excessive barking, digging or destruction. The Laika is not a dog for everyone, they definitely need an active owner.
Great fact is, that it is quite easy to groom the West Siberian Laika. Even without any grooming, they will keep the coat in good condition. As you can probably imagine, these dogs do shed quite a lot and if you want to minimize the shedding, remove the dead hair and dirt from the coat, regular, even daily brushing is recomended. You should never shave the dog, even in summer, it will not help the dog in any way. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The West Siberian Laika is normally very healthy and hardy dog breed, with average lifespan around 14 years. There are no specific health issues associated with this breed, but they can ocassionally have some health problems, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems and epilepsy, but none of those is extremely common.