The Russo-European Laika (REL) or Russko-Evropeĭskaya Láĭka, as they call it in Russia, is a Spitz type hunting dog originating from taiga regions of European Russia and Finland. This dog is a descendant of the Karelian Bear Laika, which unfortunately doesn’t exist today in its purebred form. The other and more popular descendant of this ancient dog breed is, you probably guessed it, the Karelain Bear Dog. Although these two breeds have the same ancestry and are almost identical in look, there are quite noticeable differences between them, which I’ll explain down under. This Russo Karelian Laika particularly was developed through a breeding program initiated in 1944 by E. I. Shereshevsky. The program was undertaken with the help of the All-Union Research Institute for the Hunting Industry in the Kalinin (now Tver) province. The Russo-European Laika is one of three widely recognized Laika breeds, the other two being the West Siberian Laika and East Siberian Laika. All three breeds are by the FCI included in the Nordic Hunting Dogs group in the class of primitive dogs.
Russo-European Laika Temperament
The Russo-European Laika was developed primarily as a working and hunting dog. During the already mentioned breeding program, only the healthiest and strongest dogs with great hunting abilities were taken into account. So, it is not surprising that Russo-European Laikas are very powerful, hardy and fearless dogs. In fact, they are even fiercer and more formidable than the robust Karelian Bear Dog, which says a lot. Knowing this, the inevitable question is, can this dog be a good family companion? The answer is a resounding YES! The Russo Karelian Laika is highly praised as a wonderful family companion, who gets strongly attached to all family members. However, the primary master is the one who gets the undisputed devotion of this dog, which is, more or less, the usual thing for many other hunting dog breeds. The Russo-European Laika is known to be an excellent playmate for children, especially, if it is brought up with them. It is very tolerant and always eager to play, so you can rest assured your kids will have a wonderful playtime with this dog.
Main Russo-European Laika characteristics are intelligence, resourcefulness, stubbornness, independence, boldness, alertness, agility, speed, endurance, persistence, cheerfulness, and playfulness. This is a very territorial, alert and protective dog, who is often aloof and intolerant of strangers. With such qualities, it is more than evident that this is an excellent watchdog as well as an incredible guard dog. Laika will usually warn you with loud barking if it spots anything suspicious in its surroundings. Now, it had to be said this dog is prone to excessive barking. After all, the very meaning of the word Laika is “barker.” So, you will definitely have to teach your dog some manners considering this. However, this hardheaded fella won’t just bark at strangers, he will fearlessly confront everyone of them that comes at your property uninvited, ready to give its life if need be. This protective nature of a Russo-European Laika can often lead to very aggressive behavior. And although REL rarely bites, the very sight of such enraged and charging dog can often be too much for some.
You can as well expect similar behavior with unfamiliar dogs too, especially, those of the same sex. The Russo-European Laika tends to be very dominant in the company of other dogs, which can often lead to some very noisy and wild encounters. Considering how highly territorial this dog really is, be sure he will mercilessly confront and attack every other dog that comes near your property. Also, if you think to get some other dog, but you already have a grown-up REL, I would advise you to forget about this idea. There is literally no way for them to become friends. It will be an endless struggle for domination. The incredibly strong and sharp hunting attitude of this dog is the reason other pets, such as cats, rodents or birds, will not fare well with him. He will happily track, chase and attack every animal that comes at his territory. Luckily, since the Russko-Evropeĭskaya Láĭka dogs have been mainly kept on farms in Russia, they’ve developed a lovely quality to easily become fond of other dogs and pets if they are raised together.
Training And Some Other Traits
Of course, there is another way to deal with this brawler side of a Russo-European Laika – early socialization and training in obedience. So, how is this dog when it comes to training? After reading previous paragraphs, you’ve probably got the picture that a REL is extremely hard to train. Fortunately, that is not the case. This is in fact a very trainable breed that will easily learn all the commands in the hands of an experienced owner. Even the inexperienced owners, with a bit of education and luck, will be able to successfully train this dog. There are two key factors to the success of the Russo-European Laika training. The first one is that you start with socialization and training in puppyhood, when the dog is just four weeks old. The second one is that you use positive reinforcement techniques. Any harsh treatment is out of the question! Just prepare some tasty treats and be patient and focused. Yeah, in the beginning your Laika will probably be stubborn and hard to invest into training like every other primitive dog. However, once you gain its attention, it will be a pure joy for both of you.
The usual lifespan of a Russo-European Laika is around 10-12 years. This is in general a very healthy breed that is rarely susceptible to some common dog diseases. However, keep in mind that this very much depends on the amount of Laika‘s daily activity. REL is an incredibly agile, energetic and athletic dog that demands a lot of daily exercise. The regular daily walk or hike will not suffice in this case. You will have to think of something that will challenge your dog mentally and physically. Play some games with him or something similar. Just make sure to put him to work any way possible. Also, keep him off-leash as often as you can. Remember, this dog can only thrive if there is something to do. This is the reason Russko-Evropeĭskaya Láĭka is definitely not recommended for some urban environments or life indoors. If you wish to own this dog, it is definitely needed that you have a large yard with a lot of space where he can run and play freely. Of course, the most suitable place to keep this dog is some rural area close to the forest with a lot of interesting places for him to explore.
Physical Characteristics Of A Russko-Evropeĭskaya Láĭka
The Russo-European Laika is a medium-sized dog of square shape – the height at shoulders is approximately the same as the dog’s length. In comparison to the Karelian Bear Dog, REL is smaller, but more muscular and more robust dog. His body is very strong, slender and compact. Similar to all other Nordic breeds, this Laika has the medium-length double coat, which consists of soft and dense undercoat and straight and stiff topcoat. The hair is longer on the neck, withers, buttocks, rear side of the front legs, and the tail. With such elements-resistant coat, this dog can equally well endure cold and hot extremes. Normally, it is necessary that you groom your dog at least once a week, while during shedding periods (twice a year) it is recommended that you brush your dog at least once a day because of the profuse hair fall. Main Russo-European Laika colors are black, grey, salt-and-pepper, and white. The most common color patterns in this breed are the prominent black or grey or salt-and-pepper color with white markings, or prominent white color with black, grey, or salt-and-pepper markings.
The Russo-European Laika has a wolf-like, wedge-shaped head with the straight and strong muzzle that tapers towards the broad and black nose. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The oval-shaped, dark brown eyes have alert expression. The well-furred triangular ears are very mobile, erect and relatively small. You should inspect dog’s ears and eyes once a month. The very tight and strong neck is approximately the same length as the head. The chest is broad, deep and well developed. The stomach is nicely tucked up. The medium-length tail is usually held tightly curled or in the form of sickle over the dogs muscular and straight back. The front legs are straight and very firm. The slightly angled and wide positioned hind legs are very muscular, powerful and well-boned. Rear dewclaws should be removed. The feet with hard pads and strong toes are oval in shape. They are well-furred and protected from freeze. Looking at these physical characteristics of a Russo-European Laika, it is more than evident that this dog is very agile, mobile, hardy, fast, and is capable of crazy maneuvers.
Russo-European Laika Size And Weight
– Height between 20,5 and 23 inches (52-59 cm)
– Weight between 43 and 50 pounds (19,5-22,5 kg)
– Height between 19,5 and 22 inches (50-56 cm)
– Weight between 40 and 47 pounds (18-21,5 kg)
Incredible Hunting Dog
Indeed, the Russo-European Laika has proven its worth as an excellent companion and watchdog, but its main job was and still is hunting. This dog was developed and is even today refined through selective breeding for this sole purpose. And, oh boy, oh boy, does he deliver. This is probably one of the most versatile hunting dogs in the world (better than Karelian Bear Dog), doesn’t matter which type of game you wish to hunt. He is fearless, agile, fast, tireless, and persistent. On top of that, he possesses incredibly keen senses and can easily cope with the harshest of terrains. Initially, REL was primarily used in the hunt on big game, such as bears, elks, wolves, wild boars, or moose, but today he is equally well used in the hunt on small game, such as squirrels, martens, wood grouse, etc. The way REL hunts big game is that he tracks it down and keeps it at bay with annoyingly loud bark and constant movement and attacking. When it comes to small game, the Russo-European Laika is especially efficient in treeing them. In both cases, he keeps the game trapped until the hunter arrives for the kill.
Dog Of Many Qualities
The Russo-European Laika is a beautiful Spitz dog of many qualities. Apart from being a wonderful family pet, an excellent watchdog and guard dog, and an incredible hunting dog, REL is also known as an efficient vermin killer as well as a good conformation dog. Since these dogs have been mainly kept on farms in Russia, they’ve been occasionally used as livestock guardians and, to some degree, even as herders. They are sometimes used to repel bears that often come near the camps and other settlements in the wilderness. Once properly socialized and trained in obedience, these Laikas become very loyal and devoted dogs that are always eager to please. No matter what you do or where you go, REL will always be at your side, close as possible, like your little furry shadow :) Ok, this dog can occasionally show off its independence by willfully exploring surroundings or by stubbornly chasing and treeing some animals, but that is just a small thing in comparison to how much joy you will have with this beautiful dog. All in all, you will have a lot of reasons to be proud of your Russo-European Laika, that little crazy thing :)