Yakutian Laika: Ancient Sled Dog

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Yakutian Laikas were originally bred for hunting, herding, and pulling sleds. From there, they evolved to perfect house pets. Read on for more about this fantastic breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
20 to 23 inches
40 to 55 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Yakutian Laika was developed in ancient times for natives of Yakutia as assistants. They were initially bred for herding, pulling sleds, and hunting.

Laikas are happy being active, or even participating in agility sports, sledding, or coursing ability.

For centuries the breed was a loyal companion and working assistant of man in the conditions where it was hard to move, such as cold areas of Yakutia.

From day one, this breed was treated as a working animal, but as a family member, they are such nice companions.

They were treated so right that today Laikas are perfect domestic animals and real companions.

Quick Facts

Real name: Yakutian Laika
Other names: Yakut Laika, Yakustkaya Laika, Kolyma-Indigirka Laika, Laïka de Iakoutie, Chien de Traîneau de Yakutie, Laika de Yakutia, Kolyma Husky
Origin: Russia
Breed type: Herding Dogs
Weight: 40-55 pounds
Height: 21-23 inches
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Color: White and any patching as bicolour or tricolour
Coat: Double coated, with a thick downy undercoat, and a longer, more coarse top coat

Yakutian Laika History

Yakutian Laika is an ancient breed, developed by native Yakuts to hunt mammals and birds.

From the early days, they have proven to be worthy assistants, and in no time, they became loyal companions to the Yakuts. In the Sakha (Yakutian) language, this breed is known as “Sakha yta,” meaning “Yakut dog.”

This is a native dog breed. Some archeological discoveries confirm that local people used them for sledding and hunting as far back as 8,000 years ago. The very first references about dogs in this region date back to 1633.

Throughout history, their most important role was in transportation. In the mid-1800s, the breed was at its peak, only to start demining in the 1900s.

At that time, the need for dogs started diminishing. However, in 1998, a group of enthusiasts worked to reclaim the breed, and in 2004, the Yakutian Laika was recognized by the Russian Kynological Federation.

Since the breed was developed by people of the North East of Russia, they are known as the North-East Sled Dog as well.

Today, these dogs are still capable of performing the first work they were bred for, but they can also be wonderful family pets.

In August of 2017, the Yakutian Laika was officially accepted into the AKC Foundation Stock Service.

Yakutian Laika Phisycal Appearance

The Yakutian Laika is a well-muscled and robust dog of medium size. He is also considered to be a long-legged dog with thick skin.

The fur is well developed and usually sufficient to help Laika live and work under harsh Arctic conditions.

Males are slightly bigger than females. The head is proportional to the size of the dog, while the skull is moderately broad.

Cheek-bones are moderately defined, while the nose is large. Lips are well pigmented, while the teeth are large and white, with healthy gums if maintained right.

Eye color can be brown or blue, or they may have eyes of different colors, usually one brown and one blue. They may also have the presence of blue segments of the brown iris.

Eyelids are lean, while the ears are set high and covered with thick and short hair. When running, their ears are always laid back.

The tail is set high and is curled up. The coat is shiny, thick, and straight, of medium length.

Yakutian Laika Personality

The Yakutian Laika is described as a bold, lively, and friendly dog that is close to man. Just like other dog breeds, they enjoy pleasing their family members. Laikas are easy to train, although they can be stubborn from time to time.

This is the main reason why don’t they fit for first time dog owners. To keep Laikas engaged, training sessions should be well-planned, short, and led by experienced owners.

Just like any other breed, Laikas don’t respond well to harsh training or boring training. This is a social dog who loves spending time with humans, and they will make a perfect family pet as long as you socialize him from an early age.

This breed may exhibit aloofness around strangers but should not be aggressive unless he feels his family is being threatened.

Laikas are very protective of his family and will not hesitate to protect his home and family from any type of intruders. He will be nice toward children that he is raised with but won’t tolerate disrespectful children.

Yakutian Laika With Children and Pets

Make sure that you educate your children on how to behave around dogs.

Explain to them why they shouldn’t disturb the dog while eating, drinking water, or while being inside or near his crate, or just walking around his bowl.

They have an extremely high prey drive, so anything small moving around them should move slowly and with cautions.

If you already have small pets, watch them when Yakutian Laika is nearby. If you don’t have small pets yet, but you are thinking about it, doublethink about your decision.

This breed has a wonderful and dense coat, specially designed for harsh climates. Therefore, Laikas should never be left outside in a warm or hot climate.

If you are based in a warmer climate, air conditioning is a must, and walks should be reserved for early mornings or late nights to avoid any paws damage on the hot road.

Dogs like Laikas and Huskies thrive in cold areas, while they are prone to heatstroke in hot areas.

During the winter months, he will probably demand from you to let him spend all day outdoors.

Yakutian Laika Grooming

The Yakutian Laika will demand regular brushing and complete grooming. Just like any other dog breed, weekly brushing is mandatory to keep his coat shiny and healthy.

Make sure that you have the right grooming tools on hand to make the brushing experience easy and stress-free. Brushing is also a great way to connect with your dog.

Dogs love to be pet, so anything will benefit them tremendously when they got to be an object of affection. They do shed more in the shedding season.

Luckily, if you brush your Yakutian Laika regularly, the shedding will be under control.

When the shedding season kicks in, it’s the best solution to brush your Laika every day to keep the hair from getting into everything.

Pro tip: For brushing use a pin brush and metal comb.

Since this is a working dog, excessive trimming of his coat isn’t necessary. However, it would help if you trimmed between his foot pads to keep ice, snow, and other uncomfortable debris from accumulating and causing him irritation.

Laikas coat naturally repels dirt, and Laikas owners claim that this breed doesn’t have an odor, so bathing should be rare.

The rest is regular maintenance: trim nails regularly, check gums, clean his ears, and check eyes as a part of his grooming routine.

Yakutian Laika Training

Training the Yakutian Laika is an easy task thanks to his nature to please. This breed is known for its high intelligence and willingness to work with humans. As a result, they are great with people, and they see training sessions as playtime.

They may be independent, but this is something that an experienced dog owner can deal with. Laika won’t follow his human unless he truly trusts him.

Laikas need human leadership and guidance, but they won’t respond well to corrective training techniques. If you need help with training him, think about professional training classes.

Your Yakutian Laika will love training based on positive reinforcement and delicious treats.

Early socialization and basic training are mandatory before you let this breed walk among other dogs and people.

Yakutian Laika Health

The Yakutian Laika is overall a healthy breed. Like in humans, they may be prone to specific genetic disorders if not treated right.

If you adopt Laika, the staff will inform you about the dog’s health, so you know what to expect. If you are dealing with breeders, make sure that you deal with responsible breeders only.

Responsible breeders will inform you on the dog’s health, inform you on dog’s parents, and even let you meet the parents and show you the facilities.

Breeders will screen dogs for health concerns such as:

Recommended Health Tests

  • OFA Hip X-ray (or PennHip)
  • OFA Elbow X-ray
  • OFA Eye Exam
  • Routine Health Exam

The Bottom Line

The Yakutian Laika has a long history as a hunting dog and sled dog. Today, this breed is mostly known as a family companion.

Technically, this is an ancient breed, but many call it a re-born breed since their preservation efforts began in the 1990s.

With proper socialization and training, this breed can be a perfect home pet. Laikas are very protective of their family and home, so if possible, always include the entire family in the training process. This is a sure way to have a well-behaved and well-trained dog.

Suppose you are ready to invest enough time and energy into the training process and create a supportive and loving environment for your furry family member. In that case, the Yakutian Laika might be the breed for you.

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