The East Siberian Laika is one of the four hunting Laikas of Russia. The other three are the West Siberian Laika, the Russo-European Laika and the Karelo Finnish Laika. All these breeds were selectively developed for their excellent hunting prowess. Just like the other three breeds, this breed hunts small and large game. This dog is one mean hunter of squirrels, marten, and a variety of forest birds. Measuring from 22 to 26 inches at the shoulders, the East Siberian Laika is noted to be the largest among the Russian Laikas. This strong dog that is also utilized to pull sleds is well capable of hunting large game like elk, bear and wild boar. The Siberian Laika is a courageous dog that will not be intimidated by a mountain lion. The East Siberian Laika has a strong hunting instinct and a notable sense of direction. An ermine is one of the preys of this dog. The ermine is highly valued for its fur that is commonly called “white gold”. The dog has to be very fast to be able to match the rapid long leaps of this prey. But because of its good sense of direction, ESL will always be able to find its way home. The heightened senses enable the dog to detect a prey very quickly. This dog has a very remarkable ability to change the style of the barking depending on the type of game found.
The East Siberian Laika is a beautiful breed. The compact body as well as the white, grey, black, red and brown coat color enhances the wolfish appearance of the dog. This breed is actually presumed to have a close kinship to the primitive dogs. Similar to a wolf, a female East Siberian Laika comes in estrus only once a year.
This breed was primarily developed for hunters. The breed is acclaimed as one of the best hunting dogs for small and large game. This breed though is the quietest and the most well tempered dog among the four Russian Laikas. Thus the breed is kept by non-hunters being loyal companions and dependable watchdogs.
The East Siberian Laika is a large strong breed of dog that is utilized to hunt and to pull sleds. This breed is the largest among the Russian hunting Laikas. The dog has impressive looks. The head is wedge shaped and the skull broad. The muzzle’s length is equal to that of the skull. Black nose is common for this breed although some individuals have brown noses. Triangular ears are pricked. Dark colored eyes are oval shaped and slanting. The slanting eyes give the dog an Asiatic expression. White strong teeth meet in a scissor bite.
This breed is rather rangy. The neck that is of the same length as the head is muscular. This breed has a strong back and a broad slightly arched loin. Long broad croup is slightly sloping. Chest is broad and deep and the belly is lightly tucked up. The tail can be sickle or ring shaped. A sickle tail is carried either erect or curving towards the loin. A ring shaped tail is carried leaning on the croup or buttocks.
This breed has a medium length double coat. The guard hair is straight and harsh, the undercoat is thick, wooly and soft. Longer hair on the head, on the shoulder and around the neck forms an impressive ruff. Ruff is more developed in male dogs. Hair on the tail is longer but no feathering is formed. Coat color ranges from white, black, grey, brown and red. Karamis coat is the most popular. It is a black and tan coat with light patches.
The East Siberian Laika is a hunting dog and a sled puller. These dogs are accustomed to the frigid temperatures of Russia. This dog will not do well in an apartment due to the extensive exercise requirements. The dog can live in a house in the city provided it is taken on daily long walks or given the opportunity to have a free run in dog parks. The dog is a passionate hunter, one that is not intimidated by Russia’s brown bear and other ferocious large game. However, the dog possesses a calm and well balanced temperament that makes it a wonderful affectionate and loyal companion. An East Siberian Laika is good with children especially if it was raised with them.
The dog is not aggressive to humans but it makes a good watchdog as it is always alert and it has an innate distrust of strangers. Highly territorial, this breed would need obedience training and socialization to curb the tendency to be aggressive and dominant to other dogs. Smaller pets would be very tempting to this breed because of its high prey drive.
This breed is not only valued for its hunting ability. Nowadays, East Siberian Laikas are found in homes because of the dog’s well balanced temperament and impressive appearance. The dog may have a longish dense coat but it is a low maintenance breed. Grooming is as easy as running a brush through the thick hair once or twice a week. Frequent bathing is not necessary for this breed so as not to remove the natural oils that waterproof the coat. Ears and teeth though would need to be cleaned more frequently.
Lake Baikal… the Blue Eye of Siberia is noted for being the world’s largest freshwater lake. One of the four hunting dogs of Russia, the East Siberian Laika, was developed in the Lake Baikal regions. East Siberia has a vast territory with a number of aboriginal dogs. These dogs were utilized in hunting, sled pulling as well as in driving reindeer. These aboriginal dogs were also commonly seen guarding the homes of the aborigines. The East Siberian Laika was developed from the dogs that were found in the Lake Baikal region. Not much is known about the origin of the East Siberian Laika but it was speculated that the breed had descended from spitz type dogs that were brought from the west by tribes migrating to the Evinki National Territories, to the Irkitsk Province and to the Amur River Basin and Maritime Territory. The veracity of this theory was substantiated by the Neolithic fossils found in East Siberia. The various combinations of these native dogs resulted to the development of the East Siberian Laika. On the eastern part of Siberia is the east of Jenisej River that stretched to the Pacific Ocean. This is a vast tract of land as large of Europe. From this area, five main variants were developed. The Evenki Laika, Jakutia Laika, Irkutsk Laika, Amur Laika and Tofolar Laika differ in size, head proportions, ear shape, tail carriage and coat color. It was noted that the Evinki variant has made the biggest influence on the East Siberian Laika’s development. The large, strong and dry built, the shape of the head, the set on high ears as well as the white, white-grey color of the coat of an East Siberian Laika was derived from the dogs in the Evinki area. The East Siberian Laika is much bigger than the West Siberian Laika. The black or karamis coat color is noted to be an influence of the Irkutsk type. Migrations from Mongolia and China also influenced the development of this breed. Certain Japanese and Chinese traits of the East Siberian Laika like the slanting eyes were attributed to the dogs of migratory tribes from Mongolia and China.
The first breed standard was made by K. G. Abramov, a wildlife biologist in 1949. The standard though was based on the Laikas of the Amur River region. The standard remained active until the 1960s. Purebred East Siberian Laikas have started to disappear and in 1970s the government has established kennels in Irkutsk and Leningrad to undertake systematic breeding of the East Siberian Laika. In 1980, large scale breeding of the East Siberian Laika was started. The goal of the Soviet breeders is to consolidate the type and to improve the level of hunting skills of this Russian hunting breed.