You may have not probably heard of this breed, but these dogs have a long history. Initially bred as working dogs, the Yakutian Laikas encompassed this purpose and became devoted companions of their human families that treated them as one of its close members. While they can still perform the tasks they have been entrusted originally, these dogs are now admired for their loyal, frisky, and biddable personality.
Origins of the Yakutian Laika
Its progenitors are considered ancient breeds, but the Yakutian Laika is a relatively newly-developed breed. These dogs trace their roots from Russian Siberia’s Yakutia region, where they were bred by the Yakutes and used for various tasks, such as reindeer herding and hunting. However, the most significant contribution of these dogs to its people is their significant help in transportation. Yakutian Laikas were used to pull sledges, carrying people, mail, and heavy loads.
During the mid-1800s, the Yakutian Laikas were pretty abundant, with their numbers ranging up to thousands. However, as the advancement of technology kicked in the 1900s, the need for sled dogs dwindled and so is their number, falling to only a few hundred. Fortunately, conservation efforts began in 1988 to save the breed and a few years later, these dogs also started to reach other countries. In 2004, the Yakutian Laika was recognized by the Russian Kynological Foundation.
Characteristics of the Yakutian Laika
Height: 20-23 inches
Weight: 40-55 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
The Yakutian Laika is a robust and versatile sled dog, with a muscular body and long limbs. They have an extremely dense, medium-long double coat. The top is weather-resistant and coarse, while the undercoat is downy and plush to touch. The distinct coat allowed these dogs to survive the harsh weather conditions in Siberia.
Like its Siberian Husky cousin, the Yakutian Laika has almond-shaped eyes, which can be dark blue or brown. They also have wide nostrils, a product of natural adaptation, which made it easier for them to breathe when working in tough climates.
In terms of personality, the Yakutian Laika is a generally gentle breed, given that they are treated with respect. They also enjoy being with children due to their friendly demeanor. However, such a trait isn’t an excuse not to socialize them at an early age.
As for strangers, the Yakutian Laika may be aloof or somewhat reserved towards them. They won’t be aggressive as long as they don’t see them as a threat. These dogs are very devoted and protective of their family and will guard their humans as much as possible.
Yakutian Laikas also possess a high prey drive, which can make them less agreeable to smaller pets. With that, they must be watched closely if getting bear to creatures smaller than their size to avoid any mishap.
With their working dog heritage, Yakutian Laikas flourish on exercise and training. They need more physical engagement than typical dogs but are very accepting of whatever activities laid to them, be it running or playing fetch. As dogs who always want to please their trusted masters, Yakutian Laika are also biddable and are easy to train. However, these dogs can be stubborn if disrespected. Thus, it should center on positive reinforcements, rather than harsh corrective training.
Caring for the Yakutian Laika
The Yakutian undergo seasonal shedding, making it essential to brush them regularly. Often, weekly brushing can suffice in keeping mat and tangles away. However, it would be great to brush them daily during the heavy shedding season to avoid their hair from messing your house.
Bathing is also rarely necessary as their coat repels dirt. With that, baths may only be needed twice or thrice a year. Trimming their coat is not recommended. Just make sure to cut between their footpads to avoid them from trapping any debris that may lead to irritation. Other parts of their grooming routine include weekly ear cleaning and nail trimming every couple of weeks.
Yakutian Laika will thrive on high-quality dog food. However, it is best to consult a veterinarian to make sure that the dogs’ diet is aligned with its age and needs. Obesity is a common problem with dogs, so it is best to watch their consumption. Meanwhile, treats and table scraps should be provided sparingly. While vulnerable to elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, and certain eye conditions, the Yakutian Laika is a generally healthy breed.