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West Siberian Laika

Other names: Zapadno-Sibirskaïa Laïka

West Siberian Laika
West Siberian Laika

This sturdy Siberian hunter is as business-like as he is beautiful. A mid to large-sized dog, there is some variation in his precise qualities as different populations of the West Siberian Laika have been adopted and developed by humans at different points in history. Wolf-like in appearance, the West Siberian Laika shares an aesthetic appeal with Asian cousins such as the Japanese Kishu Ken and Korean Jindo Dog. He is energetic and can become aggressive if poorly trained; he can also be a stubborn fellow. Perhaps this is why he is considered a worker first and foremost. As for the most famous Laika dog of all, yes the first dog in space was named Laika (which means barker) but she was actually a Bitzer who just happened to have that name.

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Key facts about the West Siberian Laika

  • Life expectancy : Between 11 and 13 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Intelligent, Hunter
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Hard, Long

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types

Section

Section 2 : Nordic Hunting Dogs

Physical characteristics of the West Siberian Laika

Adult size

Female dog Between 20 and 23 in
Male dog Between 22 and 24 in

Weight

Female dog Between 44 and 66 lb
Male dog Between 44 and 66 lb

Coat colour

Grey with reddish-brown, red with reddish-brown, grey, red, fawn and reddish-brown, pure white, or white with any of the above.

Type of coat

Double: dense, harsh overcoat and soft, woolly undercoat.

Eye colour

Brown to dark brown.

Description

Clean wolfish lines and an elegant, springy sense of awesome power define the look of this handsome dog. Add a certain Siberian woolliness to the picture, and consider that he has come to resemble the squirrels to whom he so effectively gives chase, and you begin to get the idea. One could even call the West Siberian Laika a cross between a wolf and a squirrel, although probably best not to do so within range of his pronounced and perky v-shaped ears. His face is narrow and long, his tummy is tucked, and his tail swooshes and curls up behind his muscular frame. In short, a handsome hug machine.

Temperament

Affectionate

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He is very affectionate towards his family although not first and foremost a family dog.

Playful

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The West Siberian Laika is moderately to highly playful. He likes games that are both physical and mental in nature.

Calm

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He is a lively dog, always on the alert.

Intelligent

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This is one highly intelligent Siberian, which has been used as both a hunting dog and a sled dog.

Hunter

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The West Siberian Laika is a natural hunter with a particular taste for squirrels. Indeed, he may become frustrated if not given the chance to hunt.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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He is particularly stand-offish among unfamiliar faces. Proper introductions need to be made to prevent his protective instinct from being triggered.

Independent

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He is certainly an independent soul who can be difficult to manage unless you have the right experience.

Behaviour of the West Siberian Laika

Tolerates solitude

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He may be left alone if he is accustomed from an early age to the gradual absence of his masters, but he must not spend his days alone doing nothing.

Easy to train / obedience

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It can be rewarding to train this clever boy, but due to his independent streak it is a challenge that should only be approached by experienced pedagogues. 

Barking

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As his name suggests, he likes to bark.

Tendency to run away

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His strong predatory instinct pushes him to follow tracks often, especially if his environment is not secure or he hasn’t been exercised enough.

Destructive

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He can be very destructive if under-exercised and under-stimulated. 

Greedy / Gluttony

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Treats are welcome motivators.

Guard dog

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He is protective and barky, so can make a good watchdog.

First dog

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This creature is probably too much to handle for most first-timers unless they are sufficiently sporty and aware of the nature and needs of this independent dog.

Lifestyle

West Siberian Laika in a flat

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A flat will cramp this dog’s style too much for him to fully enjoy life. He needs plenty of space and nature.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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He needs a lot of exercise and appreciates the chance to hunt – if not hunting, he should be kept otherwise intellectually stimulated.

Travelling / easy to transport

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He is of average height, but his independent temperament and guarding instinct mean that he’s not a great traveller.

Compatibility

West Siberian Laika and cats

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He will hunt any cat (or other small pet) who crosses his path.

West Siberian Laika and dogs

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It is not unknown for the West Siberian Laika to be snappy with dogs on his turf or dogs of the same gender in general. But a dog with whom he is raised should do just fine.

West Siberian Laika and children

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He is usually playful and kind with children but should be well-socialized with them from puppyhood.

West Siberian Laika and the elderly

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This breed is likely too much of a handful for older people. He should not have a sedentary life.

Price

We do not have enough data to set and average price. Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £70 to £100 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.

Grooming

Regular brushing is a good idea, although oddly this dog doesn’t get ‘dog smell.’

Shedding

He sheds quite a lot during moulting season.

Nutrition of the West Siberian Laika

A traditional diet of quality meat, vegetables, and starchy foods, is preferable.

Health of the West Siberian Laika

Life expectancy

These dogs are generally considered among the healthiest in the world. Their average life expectancy is between 11 and 13 years.

Strong / robust

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This is a sturdy dog.

Withstand heat

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He can become uncomfortable in the heat, so shelter and water should be available.

Withstand cold

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Being of Siberian origin, and with that classy double-coat, this dog tolerates the cold weather very well.

Tendency to put on weight

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His sporty appearance should be maintained by good exercise.

Common illnesses

Good to know

It is quite difficult to track down a West Siberian Laika pup to raise in the UK.

Origins and history

The Laika is an ex-wolf, hence his hunting instincts. He developed over the centuries in Russia among the Hanty and Mansi cultures in the Ural Mountains and West Siberia, and was used to hunt sable among other creatures until the sable became near-extinct and the fur industry no longer demanded it. After that the West Siberian Laika struggled, and numbers dipped until the 1900s, when efforts were made to restore him and his close cousins, the Karelo-Finnish Laika, Russo-European Laika, and East Siberian Laika.

Names

Pooka, Vodka, Tanya, Zina

Find out more dog name ideas here

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