Males are 55 to 66 centimetres (22 to 26 in), while females are on the smaller side at 51 to 60 centimetres (20 to 24 in). Black and tan, with light patches (called karamis), grizzle, patched, ticked, white, grey, black, red and brown of all shades. There are two major types, the Evenki and the Irkutsk; other less important types are the Yakutia, Amur and Tofolar. These types vary in color and physique, as the ESL is still more of a diverse conglomerate breed than the other three Russian Laika breeds. Physically the ESL is somewhat rangy, nearly square in proportion, slightly higher at the withers than at the croup, robust in bone; head shape varies with the regional varieties. Ears are erect and triangular, the tail carried in a curve over the back. The coat is a medium long double coat with straight coarse guard hair and a soft thick undercoat.
The ESL is a natural hunting dog used for a wide variety of small and large game, ranging from squirrels, marten, sable, and grouse to moose, bear, wild boar and mountain lions. They can also be used as sled dogs.
Highly aggressive towards large predators, they are calm and well-tempered with people, although they can be good watchdogs and if encouraged will be protective against human intruders. Generally they seem to be good companion dogs. they can also be trained in obedience.