Russian-European Laika

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black with white, white with black, solid black, solid white
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The Russian-European Laika is a working dog with a vivid, strong and stable individuality. This member of Spitz family is particularly known as «first living ambassador from Earth» since it was the first that travelled into space aboard Sputnik II on November 3, 1957. The breed can be attributed to multifunctional and it is used as a sled dog, hunting dog, guard dog, though it won’t be an ideal family companion.

The fossilized remainders of dogs that resemble the frame of the Russian-European Laika tells us about the prodigious age of the breed that can be near 10 thousands years old. Up until early XX century sturdy and hardy dogs inhabited the wide territory spreading across the Taiga Forest of north-eastern Europe and from Finland and Karelia to the Ural Peaks in the west. The dog served then as a trustworthy watchdog as well as a hunting dog for all kind of game including big and small.

Gradually the main occupation of the families in the region began to shift from hunting to raising crops and the rich forests were wiped from the face of the Earth by coming civilization. Consequently the Russian-European Laika lost its former purpose that caused its gradual decline in population and purity.

In the 30s of the XX century just several pure bred dogs existed in secluded regions of the Vyatka Province, Komi Republic, Perm Province and North Ural. And these few breed members worked as watchdogs for peasants and weren’t assigned to perform its original hunting duties. The hunters from Moscow and Leningrad, who admired this skilful and talented dog, launched a breeding program in order to re-establish the number and quality of the Russian-European Laika. At that point they managed to find a few variations of the dog including Karelian Laika, the Komi Laika, the Zyryan Laika, the Votyak Laika and the Archangelsk Laika. These types of dogs had a lot in common though they were slightly different in the length of the muzzle, size of the trunk and ears, and colour of the coat. The breeding program rendered genetic diversity and health back into the breed but it diluted its distinct appearance.

The second time when the Russian-European Laika faced the threat of extinction was after the Siege of Leningrad that started on September 8th 1941 and lasted 872 days. During this hard time many Laikas disappeared because of starvation and many of them were eaten by despaired from hunger citizens. In order to save the breed the remaining members were meticulously sought out and brought from the Karelia and Arkhangelsk provinces to be cross with few survived Laikas from the Leningrad. The favoured colours of the dog’s coat were white and black so the physical capability and hunting talent were oftentimes sacrificed for the sake of a proper colour.

The Russian-European Laika got its official name and status as being purebred in 1944 thanks to breeding program that was started by the All Union Research Institute in the Kalinin Province. The Institute made a major contribution into restoration of the Laika’s hunting faculties carefully choosing the candidates for crossing. By the 1960’s most breed members had a great variety in coloration from totally black to totally white. The dog is registered with Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and is still use for hunting.

The Russian-European Laika is a clever and loving dog that is prone to develop strong connection to its owner from the young age. It seems to be the one-person dog that will be extremely loyal to the chosen master all its life. On the whole the dog is fine with children under the condition it has been properly socialised with them. However, this breed is not so ideal for a family as it is for work.

The dog is infamous for its excessive barking habit and its anxious and excitable temperament comes out every time it perceives something alien or suspicious. It prefers to keep distance with strangers and won’t accept caress from them. The breed is very protective of its territory and will react aggressively to any intruder trying to scare him off by barking and dashing in and out. This makes it an outstanding watchdog.

The Russian-European Laika is disposed to show aggression towards other dogs when it feels them violating the boundaries of its territory. The dogs that have been raised together get along just fine, but the hierarchy in the pack should be installed from the beginning. The issue with canine aggression is particularly acute with adult dog of same sex so the leash should help in preventing canine fights.

The smaller home pets are not safe around the Laika. Despite the fact that the dogs adapts quickly and easily to such domestic stock as sheep or cow its spirit of the hunter will be definitely aroused by presence of cat or rabbit. So the breed is not recommended for co-habitation with small home pets.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

• umbilical hernia;
• monorchidism;
• epilepsy.

The Russian-European Laika is a proud owner of the coat that consists of two layers: the undercoat is dense and thick, and the topcoat is more rugged and long. In case your dog will live in the house the regular brushing will help to reduce the amount of hair it will shed. It sheds every year and for females this may occur twice a year.

The future owner should be prepared to a fair amount of dog hair all over his possessions all the year around and its quantity will peak when the dog changes its undercoat. A partial solution to this problem may be a visit to a professional groomer.

The Russian-European Laika is relatively easy trainable dog when you start this process from puppyhood. The loyal animal is eager to please and is always seeking for the master’s leadership and guidance. It’s the matter of outmost importance to use the correct training techniques with the Laika.

Praise and various treats should become the foundation of the training regimen since the negative reinforcement doesn’t work with this dog and will only spoil its character. The socialisation will make out of the Russian-European Laika a well-mannered and polite animal and it should start from the first day the dog comes to your home.

As the hard-working rural resident the Russian-European Laika is a very athletic breed that is accustomed to really strenuous physical challenges. Its owner should be ready to invest at least an hour in a daily vigorous walk.

The Russian-European Laika will also appreciate a chance to play und roam in a safely fenced territory. This breed is an appropriate choice for hunters as well as for active individuals, specifically for farmers with domains in northern areas.