Laika (dog breed)

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East Siberian Laika 03.jpg
East Siberian Laika
Origin Russia
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)
[Laikas] driving lynx (18??), Efim A. Tikhmenev

Laika (Russian: Ла́йка, IPA: [ˈlajkə]) refers to a type of hunting dog of Northern Russia and Russian Siberia, and is a generic name for several breeds.

International terminology[edit]

Fédération Cynologique Internationale uses the word Laika in the names of three standard breeds: Russian European Laika (FCI standard No. 304), West Siberian Laika (FCI 306), and East Siberian Laika (FCI 305), which had been bred from the aboriginal dogs of northern Russia and Siberia.

The Karelo-Finnish Laika, not listed in the FCI nomenclature, is also 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.[1]

Use of the word in Russia[edit]

The Russian word laika (Russian: лайка) is a noun derived from the verb layat' (Russian: лаять, to bark), and literally means barker. As the name of a dog variety, it is used in Russian cynological literature (not only in Russian, but sometimes in English as well) to refer to all varieties of hunting dogs traditionally kept by the peoples of the northern Russia and adjacent areas. This includes not only the three or four breeds known as Laikas in English, but also other standard breeds that FCI classifies together with them as the "Nordic Hunting Dogs" (Group 5, Section 2 of the FCI classification).[2]

Thus the Norwegian Elkhound (FCI 242 and 268) is known in Russian literature as Norwegian Elk Laika (норвежская лосиная лайка), and Finnish Spitz (FCI 49) as Finnish Bird Laika (финская птичья лайка).

In Russia the word Laika is sometimes used less strictly, to refer not only to hunting dogs but also to the related sled dog breeds of the tundra belt, which FCI classifies as "Nordic Sledge Dogs". The Siberian Husky may be occasionally referred to as Yakut Laika (якутская лайка),[3] and Samoyed as Samoyed Laika (Самоедская лайка).[4]

Laika is also the given name for the mongrel who was the first dog in space.

See also[edit]

Similar breeds[edit]

As the Spitz are a very ancient dog type, many smaller types of Spitz resemble each other. Medium to small sized breeds similar in appearance from various places in the world include the Wolfsspitz (Keeshond), Großspitz, Mittelspitz, Kleinspitz, Zwergspitz (Pomeranian), Samoyed (dog), Schipperke, Norwegian Elkhound, Volpino Italiano (Italian Spitz), Laika (Russian Spitz), Finnish Spitz, Indian Spitz and Japanese Spitz.

Types of German Spitz

Related breeds

Note: The following dog breeds are very similar to each other but are not the same.


  1. ^ L. Gibet (Л. Гибет), "Karelo-Finnish Laika. The History of the Breed" (Карело-финская лайка. История породы). In "Okhota i Okhotnichye Khozjaystvo", 1993.
  2. ^ FCI - Breed nomenclature. Group 5, Spitz and Primitive types Archived 2006-10-12 at the Wayback Machine. (in English)
  3. ^ The Yakut Laika (Якутская лайка) Illustrated articles by Yakutsk husky enthusiasts. Accessed 2006-10-31. (in Russian)
  4. ^ Samoyed Laika (Самоедская лайка), a dog-breeder's site. Accessed 2006-10-31. (in Russian)