Karelo-Finnish Laika

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The Karelo-Finnish Laika is a hunting dog breed from the Karelia area of Russia. It is sometimes referred to as a Finnish Spitz by the Finnish Kennel Club and by the Russian Kennel Federation.

Karelo-Finnish Laika
Karelo-Finnish Laika (Lambert).JPG
Karelo-Finnish Laika (Lambert)
OriginFinland & Russia
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)


During the 1930s and 1940s a government kennel near Medvezhyegorsk raised pure Spitzes. Many of these dogs were lost during World War II and there were only twenty four of these registered dogs in Petrozavodsk at one time.

The breed was revived in 1953 when Russian cynologists imported three Finnish Spitzes from Finland and bred these three dogs with some of the small red-coated Spitzes that were left in southern Karelia area and in the northern provinces of Russia.

There were also dogs in Leningrad that were very good at hunting that looked a lot like the Finnish Spitzes. These dogs became the Karelo-Finnish Laika. While being a separate breed, the Karelo-Finnish Laika is very similar to its ancestor the Finnish Spitz, which was one of the main reasons people originally registered the breeds as one. Some of the minor differences between the breeds include different variations of the red coat color, the curving of the tail and the closeness of the body guard hair. There were about two hundred of these Karelo-Finnish Laikas in Moscow by 1970. They were the smallest of the Laika family and were used for hunting in Russia.[1]

In 2006, the Finnish Kennel Club and Russian Kennel Federation decided to include the Karelo-Finnish Laika within the Finnish Spitz breed. This was due to improve the gene pools of both breeds: for example, the Finnish Spitz often suffered from epilepsy.

However, the Karelo-Finnish Laika, (even though not listed in the FCI nomenclature,) is still a separate and unique a Russian breed, with the first standard published in Leningrad in 1936. It is a close relative of Finnish Spitz, as both breeds were bred from similar native dog populations.[2]



The image to the right is actually a Finnish Spitz, not to be confused with a Karelo-Finnish Laika. The Karelo-Finnish Laika has a double coat. The first layer being a thick undercoat and the second, a straight guard of hairs on top. The color is allowed to be some variations of red, but pale red is undesirable. There can be white spots on the tip of the tail and on the chest, and a white stripe on the forehead. The white spots on the Karelo-Finnish Laika are usually larger than the spots on the Finnish Spitz. Karelo-Finnish Laikas can also have black tips on the hairs that are on their backs.[1] They should be about 38–48 centimeters (15–19 inches) tall and weigh about 11–14 kilograms (24–31 lb).[3] The males have a more square shaped physique than the females do. This breed has smaller sharp-edged ears, dark round eyes and a black nose. They have deep, flat chests and a tail that is set high.[4]


They make great, affectionate family dogs, but don't trust strangers. Many can be very protective of their owners or property, so they sometimes bark when someone is coming. Owners should have patience with these Laikas because they can hold grudges for a long time. Also, they can be aggressive towards unknown dogs that come near their home, but should be friendly with dogs they live with, or dogs away from their home. From a young age, they see small animals, such as squirrels, as potential game so they will more than likely go after them.[1]


These dogs should be trained as soon as possible, either by the owner or a trainer. The two types of training are obedience and behavioral. Training sessions that are too long will bore the Karelo-Finnish Laika. It's also best to do the training before they eat so they think of eating as a reward for their training. Before you give your dog a command, you should say their name so you have their full attention. It is also very important to be patient because training can be a very long process.[5]


The Karelo-Finnish Laika breed is extremely good at hunting small game such as squirrels and wood grouse. Due to their small size, they sometimes have trouble getting through tall grasses, swamps or snow.[1] They have a very good sense of hearing though, which helps them a lot. Laikas have even been reported to attack bears.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Vladimir Beregovoy (10 December 2012). "Hunting Laika Breeds of Russia: Karelo-Finnish Laika". Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  2. ^ L. Gibet (Л. Гибет), "Karelo-Finnish Laika. The History of the Breed" (Карело-финская лайка. История породы). In "Okhota i Okhotnichye Khozjaystvo", 1993.
  3. ^ Karelo-Finnish Laika. Continental Kennel Club, 1996. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://www.continentalkennelclub.com/ads.aspx?breednum=2125>
  4. ^ Karelo-Finnish Laika (KFL). Pykkar Nauka, n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://www.ruslaika.ru/inglish/shpits.html>.
  5. ^ PetDig. PetDig, 2010. Web. 8 Dec. 2012. <http://www.petdig.com/info/pet/karelo-finnish-laika/495/>
  6. ^ Karelo-Finnish Laika (KFL). Pykkar Nauka, n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://www.ruslaika.ru/inglish/shpits.html>.