Karelo-Finnish Laika

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various red
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Pros Cons

  • loving and well-natured

  • frisky and smart

  • great hunter

  • very yappy

  • needs a great deal of intensive exercise

  • heavy seasonal shedder


The Karelo-Finnish Laika is a superb sporting dog with its homeland in Russia. Its systematic breeding was initiated in the 20s of the XX century but in fact this breed is much older. Apart from unsurpassable prey drive, it also has docile, staunch and stable disposition and becomes a wonderful addition to families who prefer active lifestyle.

Photo: © rus-karelka.ru


The origin of the Karelo-Finnish Laika remains a mystery since it came to existence during the era when dog breeding was carried out unsystematically. It’s estimated that the forebears of the modern breed were brought to the territory of Finland by Finno-Ugric tribes, which abandoned their settlements in the basins of Oka and Kama and headed in the north-westerly direction. Some of these people colonized Karelia, and others crossed the territory of present-day Estonia and made their homes on the Finnish lands. The dogs, which accompanied them, also separated into two distinctive lines.

Little is known about the forefathers of the Karelo-Finnish Laika, which stayed with their masters on the territory of Karelia and became the foundation stock of this handsome breed. Its first standard was drawn up in 1939 but the final variant was developed and approved by the Canine Council of Glavohota RSFSR only in 1952.

The Karelo-Finnish Laika is a very industrious working dog that is treasured by Russian hunters for its diminutive size and impeccable hunting instinct. It’s capable of working both solo and in the pack of its counterparts. The distinctive characteristic of its hunting style is that this dog keeps a distance between itself and the prey so it’s rarely injured or killed during the hunting expedition. Additionally it operates very independently and skilfully but it still executes the hunter’s in full obedience.

The Great Patriotic War in Russia led to drastic reduction of the breed’s population so it actually appeared on the brim of extinction. Luckily it was successfully restored with the involvement of Finnish Spitzs, which were imported from Finland. In the 60s of the XX century Moscow and Leningrad dog experts took interest in the development of the Karelo-Finnish Laika so its breeding continued on more professional level. Today almost half the breeds’ specimens, which live in Russia, are kept strictly as companion animals and thrive in this role.


The Karelo-Finnish Laika is a merry, vivacious and cunny dog with a very bright individuality. In contrast to other types of Laikas, it strives for human companionship and gets seriously attached to its masters. This dog adapts well to the life in an apartment and therefore makes a great choice for hunters who live in a city. It enjoys frisking with family kids and treats them very gently even while playing. Remember that it’s still a primitive breed, which positively needs appropriate obedience training and socialization.

The Karelo-Finnish Laika is very gregarious with familiar people but it’s always on alert in the presence of strangers. The dog is endowed with innate desire to defend its masters and their properties so it can be tasked with guarding duties. It’s also a very vigilant animal and will bark incessantly if it notices any suspicious activities near the house. The breed member usually becomes a first-rate watcher.

Other dogs are perceived by the Karelo-Finnish Laika either as pack members or as possible playmates. On the whole this breed is notable for minimal canine aggressiveness, although it always reacts to hostile actions with reciprocal aggression. Provided that the puppy is correctly introduced to other pets in the household it won’t bother them in maturity (but it will still remain a passionate chaser of all stray cats).

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia (CHD);
• elbow dysplasia.


The Karelo-Finnish Laika needs very standard maintenance. The owner should brush its thick coat once or twice a week in order to remove dead hair. The breed sheds twice a year and requires more thorough and frequent brushing during such periods. Bathe it only as necessary, for example, after your pet has romped in the mud.

Make sure to brush the dog’s teeth every week to avoid the development of periodontal diseases. Monthly nail trimming and regular ear cleaning are also obligatory grooming procedures, which demand the master’s attention.


The Karelo-Finnish Laika can be trained with reasonable amount of efforts. This dog is both intelligent and crafty so it usually can get away with tasks, which it doesn’t like or considers as boring. So the trainer shouldn’t expect from it an unquestionable obedience.

It’s essential to motivate the breed member with something more tangible than just gentle words. For the fastest results reward every miner success of your pet with small bits of its favourite canine treats. However verbal or physical punishments will only make the good-natured Karelo-Finnish Laika even more resistant to your training efforts.


The hunting instinct is the part of the nature of the Karelo-Finnish Laika so it’s no wonder that this dog has very large exercise requirements. Despite its attractive appearance, it will never make a good lap dog; it behaves itself equally active indoors and outdoors. The breed specimen, which can’t hunt on the regular basis, must have a daily chance to run and explore in a big yard with a high fence.

The Karelo-Finnish Laika commonly welcomes all kinds of canine games and gladly takes part in any family activities. Be aware that if your dog gets bored, it will automatically get destructive and highly vocal.