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East Siberian Laika at a dog show in Poland

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


The Laika breeds in international terminology

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][2]

The use of the word in Russia

Karelo-Finnish Laikas sleeping in a car after hunting. (Photo: Pavel Trofimov)

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 knows 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). [3]

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". For example, Siberian Husky may be occasionally referred to as Yakut Laika (якутская лайка),[4] and Samoyed as Samoyed Laika (Самоедская лайка).[5]

Laika is also not an uncommon personal name for a Russian dog. The most famous bearer of this name was Laika, the first dog in space; she also supposedly had some Laika blood.

See also

Similar Breeds

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

These dogs are very similar to each other.




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