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East Siberian Laika

Nicole Cosgrove

June 9, 2021

The East Siberian Laika is a medium to large purebred from Russia with a life span of 10 to 15 years. It is a Spitz type of dog and is one of four Laikas. It was bred to be a hunting dog and was used to hunt all kinds of prey from the small like squirrels and sables to the large and fierce like mountain lions, bear and wild boar. Its name comes from the area of its development, eastern Siberia along the Yenisei River. It was also used as a sled dog and of the four Laikas it is the most suited to life as a companion in a family.

The East Siberian Laika at A Glance
Name East Siberian Laika
Other names Vostotchno-Sibirskaia Laika
Nicknames ESL
Origin Russia
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 40 to 60 pounds
Average height 21 to 26 inches
Life span 10 to 15 years
Coat type Double, thick, dense, coarse outer, soft under
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, white, grey, red, browns
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Very good – smart dog
Tolerance to heat Moderate – not good in anything overly warm or hot
Tolerance to cold Excellent – can handle even extreme cold
Shedding Average to heavy – seasonal blowouts happen too so expect to be dealing with plenty of dog hair in the home
Drooling Moderate – not especially prone but a little
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it is exercised
Grooming/brushing Low to average – brush once or twice a week
Barking Rare to occasional – one of the quieter Russian Laikas
Exercise needs Very active – needs active owners
Trainability It is smart and able to learn, eager to please, however it can have dominant moments
Friendliness Good to very good with socialization
Good first dog Moderate – best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Good to very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Low to moderate – socialization is essential as is supervision
Good with other pets Moderate – socialization is essential as would supervision be
Good with strangers Good with socialization – suspicious and wary
Good apartment dog Moderate – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Quite healthy but some issues include hip dysplasia, cancer, digestive issues, eye problems, ear infection and bloat
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and dog insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for license, basic training, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,000
Rescue organizations None breed specific, look to local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The East Siberian Laika’s Beginnings

The East Siberian Laika is a Spitz type dog which are thought to be the oldest types of dogs as they are the closest in relation to the wolves. It is thought that perhaps the ancestor to the Spitz mated at some point long ago with wolves and then humans entered the equation leading to various different Spitz breeds. The East Siberian Laika has a lot of the wild wolf in it, in both looks and how it behaves. It was bred to be a hunting dog that could hunt anything really, small and fast prey up to the large and fierce ones. It was also used for pulling sleds.

It is believed in its development went Japanese and Chinese breeds as well as locals. In the early 1800s though the Laika dropped in popularity as hunters began to use more specialized dogs like bird dogs, scent hounds and sight hounds. Numbers of the ESL dropped dramatically as interbreeding happened and there was no control. This led to them coming close to extinction with just a few remaining scattered in the hunting villages in the north of the country.

New Lease on Life

This led to a controlled breeding program between 1930 and 1950 to save and restore the dog. At this time 4 types of Russian Laikas were recognized the West Siberian Laika, East Siberian Laika, Russo-European Laika and the Karelo-Finnish Laika. All are similar in looks and hunting styles though each one is more specifically suited to hunting the areas it was developed in. In the 1960s and 1970s a government kennel devoted to breeding the East Siberian Laika but by 1979 only 39 purebreds were recorded. However in the seventies a breed standard was drawn up and numbers have since improved and while it is rare it is no longer in danger of extinction. As it is not common in North American it is not yet recognized by the UKC or AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The East Siberian Laika is a medium to large dog weighing 40 to 60 pounds and standing 21 to 26 inches tall. It is almost squared in shape and is very attractive with a wolf like appearance many people are drawn to. Its body is strong and powerful and its tail curls over its back. Its head shape can vary depending on where it is from, some can be wedge shaped though and some have a skull that is broad. Its ears are triangular shaped and erect, its muzzle is about the same length as its skull and usually ends in a black nose though some can have brown.

This dog has a thick double coat like all Spitz types. It is medium in length and has a thick and soft undercoat and a coarse, straight outer one. Common colors are grey, black, red, tan, browns and white. The head has shorter hair and there is a ruff around it that is more obvious in males than females. The tail hairs are longer than the rest of the coat but there is no feathering.

The Inner East Siberian Laika


The ESL was bred to hunt and when out doing that it is aggressive especially when dealing with large predators. With their people though they are calm and even tempered with the right care and socialization. The only time they might bring that ferocity into the home is if there is an intruder, it is alert and will let you know about it, and it is also protective, territorial and fearless and will act to defend its home and family. This Laika is actually the best one in terms of being a companion, it can be trained to be obedient with a strong and experienced leader.

This is an intelligent dog and it is used to being independent sometimes which can make it stubborn, hence the need for a stronger leader. It is best suited for singles, couples or families who have space, experience and understand the needs of a working and hunting dog. It is an affectionate dog and usually forms very close bonds with its family. It can be devoted to its owners and does not like to be left alone for long periods.

Living with a East Siberian Laika

What will training look like?

It is smart and able to learn and when dealt with correctly it is obedient and mostly eager to please. However it can have dominant moments where it will test you so you need to be consistent, firm, positive and patient. Make sure you set the rules and stick to them and use positive training methods rather than being physical with it or scolding it. Offer it treats, use encouragement and motivate it. Start early socialization as well as training so that it learns how to deal with other people, places, animals, situations and sounds.

How active is the East Siberian Laika?

Being a hunting and working dog the ESL needs a lot of exercise as it has high energy levels, and it will also need mental stimulation too. Give it at least 45 minutes of vigorous activity, likely it will take more than that so be prepared to have the time for it. It is not an apartment dog, it needs space and at least a yard if not something more. If it gets bored it can get destructive and hard to live with. It will happily join you for a hike, jog, camping or long walk and if you are doing it somewhere there can be dangerous predators it will try to keep you safe.

Caring for the East Siberian Laika

Grooming needs

This breed does shed regularly so expect hair around the home, and then it will shed in even heavier amounts during seasonal times leaving large amounts of hair behind it. It will need brushing a couple of times a week normally and then daily when the shedding gets heavier. Give it a bath just when it needs one avoiding doing it too often as that can damage the natural oils in its skin. For the same reason only use a proper canine shampoo anything else is too harsh. For dogs that are hunters you will also need to trim the fur that grows between its toes.

Other needs include trimming the nails when they get too long taking care not to cut into the quick of the nail where there are blood vessels and nerves which would cause pain and bleeding. The teeth should be brushed two to three times a week for good dental and gum hygeine. The ears should be checked weekly for infection signs like bad odor, redness, irritation and then given a wipe clean. Use a dog ear cleanser solution or just a damp cloth, just never insert anything down into the ears as that can hurt the dog and cause damage.

Feeding Time

The East Siberian Laika will eat something between 2¼ to 3½ cups of a good or better quality dry dog food a day, and that should be split into at least two meals. Make sure it also has access to water that is kept as fresh as possible. The amount of food varies because of changes in size, metabolism, level of activity, health and age.

How is the East Siberian Laika with children and other animals?

This dog with socialization and when raised with them is very good with children, it is affectionate, will play and will protect. It is important though that the children are taught how to play and touch appropriately and that they should never tease them by taking their belongings or food as it is possessive of these things. It would be a good idea to supervise younger children who have not learned these things yet. With other pets care should be taken, while socialization is needed it is not a guarantee that it will then be safe around other pets, it is after all a hunter. Being around other dogs is where the problems can arise. It is territorial and tends to be aggressive towards unfamiliar dogs of the same sex. It does not necessarily want to kill the other dogs but it does want to make them submit to it.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The ESL will live between 10 to 15 years and it a hardy and healthy breed in general. A few issues though can include hunting injuries, joint dysplasia, umbilical hernia, cancer, digestive problems, eye problems, ear infection and bloat.

Biting Statistics

In records of dogs attacking people and doing bodily harm in Canada and the US over the past 35 years, there is no mention of the East Siberian Laika. Being rare in this part of the world though that is not surprising. With the right owners and care the ESL should not be a problem around other people, it is fierce when hunting but is not people aggressive unless that person is threatening them or its family. Give it good socialization, training, exercise and attention and it is less likely to have an off day or get drawn into something.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The ESL puppy will cost about $1000 from a good and reputable breeder and more than that even from the top breeders. It is important to spend some time doing your homework to find someone you can trust so that you can be sure about the dog’s background. Never use someone less savory like puppy mills, pet stores or backyard breeders. Another option if the type of dog you get is not set in stone is to check out local shelters or rescues, adoption ranges between $50 to $400./p>

Initial costs will come when the dog is heading home with you. Items like a crate, carrier, leash and collar, bowls and such will cost about $240. Then when it is home you should get it to a vet as soon as possible for some tests and such. Micro chipping, blood tests, deworming, shots, physical examination, spaying or neutering will cost another $290.

Then there are ongoing costs too. Feeding the dog will cost about $270 a year for a good or better quality dry dog food and dog treats. Basic health care like shots, check ups, flea and tick prevention and pet insurance will cost another $485 a year. Then miscellaneous items, toys, license and basic training will be another $245 a year. This gives an annual starting figure of $1000.


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The East Siberian Laika is not the right dog for just anyone. It needs to hunt, it is high energy and it needs strong leadership, good training and good socialization. If that can be provided they will prove to be very loyal, devoted and affectionate dogs. They will do whatever is needed to protect you and will provide great companionship.

Featured Image Credit: Maximillian cabinet. Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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