If you would like an intelligent, active dog that is devoted to his family, then check out the West Siberian Laika temperament. If you live an active life, this breed may be just what you’re looking for.
The West Siberian Laika (called Zapadno-Sibirskaia Laika in Russian, or simply WSL in English) can be a great family dog.
However, he is not for everyone because the West Siberian Laika behaviors include some primitive traits that inexperienced owners could find difficult to manage.
The West Siberian Laika Temperament and Personatily
The West Siberian Laika is a highly intelligent breed. This makes him both easy to train but challenging at the same time. He learns quickly but likes to think for himself.
This breed needs to make decisions when hunting and out of sight of the hunter. The West Siberian Laika temperament is independent because they learn to rely on their own instincts.
The WSL is in tune with his owner. He doesn’t need a heavy hand in training. In fact, gentle training methods and positive reinforcement will get the best results.
The West Siberian Laika temperament is loyal and closely bonded with his family. If and his owner are separated, he may find it hard to bond with a new one.
The WSL is a cold-weather breed. However, he will adapt to a warm environment by growing a thinner coat.
The West Siberian Laika temperament is affectionate to everyone in his family, even the children.
The West Siberian Laika temperament is attentive. He is always alert to his surroundings. It is part of his protective instinct.
The WSL is agile and quick. In his native northern Russia, he runs over wooded terrain quickly and gracefully.
This is an active breed. He needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation.
The West Siberian Laika does best in homes with a lot of acreage. He is not an apartment or city dog.
The West Siberian Laika is always interested in his environment. He loves to explore. Again, a home with a lot of space to roam suits him best.
With his active mind, he is easily bored. He can become destructive if you don’t meet these needs.
He loves to run and play and is good with kids.
As a hunting breed, he has a lot of energy. He can run for miles when he is tracking game.
The West Siberian Laika is easy to train and will be happy to do what you ask of him.
Some call the West Siberian Laika temperament hyperactive, but mostly he is just outgoing and enthusiastic.
The West Siberian Laika is good at detecting his owner’s mood and intentions. They will often act before the owner gives a command.
Some WSLs—but not all—can be suspicious of strangers. They are fiercely protective against predators and capable of treeing a bear if necessary.
The West Siberian Laika temperament is often aggressive toward same-sex dogs. If you have two, they should be a male-female pair.
The West Siberian Laika temperament can be fiercely territorial. Their aggression toward same-sex dogs applies to the hunt as well as at home.
They often do best hunting alone rather than with another dog.
The name “Laika” means barker. He will often appear to be barking at nothing when he is alone.
The WSL’s job as a hunter is to bay. He traps or trees his prey and then barks to alert the hunter and lead him to the scene. He thinks of barking as his job, so it may be hard to control in the home or yard.
The West Siberian Laika has great endurance and can track game for miles. He is well equipped to live and work in cold climates.
Strong Prey Drive
The West Siberian Laika is a natural hunter, but he can learn not to bother farm animals.
If he lives with pets, it is possible to train him not to chase them. However, he will consider other cats or small pets fair game.
He will probably always find squirrels irresistible.
West Siberian Laika History
The West Siberian Laika is a primitive Spitz-type breed, directly descended from wolves. He is one of four different Laika breeds.
The other three are Karelo-Finnish Laika, Russo-European Laika, and East Siberian Laika. Their names come from the regions they originate from in Europe.
The West Siberian Laika is an ancient hunter that has not been overbred. He still has the natural hunting instincts of the wolf.
WSLs have always been large and small game hunters. At one time, they hunted for the fur trade, mainly for sable.
After fur traders hunted the sable to near extinction, the WSL lost popularity. Their numbers began to decline as well.
Breeders are now working to bring the West Siberian Laika back. At the same time, they are working hard to preserve West Siberian Laika traits, skills, and genetic history.
The West Siberian Laika still works as a hunting and herding dog in its native Russia.
West Siberian Laika Training
The WSL temperament is sensitive. He needs a gentle and calm hand in training with positive reinforcement methods.
Early socialization is important with this breed. If you don’t socialize them when they’re young, the West Siberian Laika temperament can become stranger suspicious and even stranger shy.
It may even prevent them from forming the strong bond with their humans that they normally would.
Because of his natural baying instinct, barking can be a problem with the West Siberian Laika. You can train them not to bark “for no reason,” but you would need to start when they are young.
If your WSL gets enough exercise and gets the attention he needs at home, barking should be less of a problem. You won’t want to leave him home alone for long periods.
You will need to keep your WSL contained or he will run away to chase prey or simply to explore.
Helpful Dog Training Resource:
For help with training your West Siberian Laika dog take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.
West Siberian Laika Appearance
The West Siberian Laika is a medium to large Spitz-type dog. He has the Spitz’s wolf-like appearance and curled tail. Some call his appearance intimidating.
He has a double coat. The topcoat is medium in length and coarse to the touch. The undercoat is dense and soft.
He has a wedge-shaped head. He has hair on his cheekbones that resembles a beard.
His ears are pricked and sit high on his head. He has dark brown or amber eyes and a brown or black nose. A scissor bite is the most common, but some have a vice bite.
West Siberian Laika Size
West Siberian Laika weight is 30-45 pounds for females, 35-50 pounds for males.
Also, West Siberian Laika height is 21-23 inches for females, 22-24 inches for males.
West Siberian Laika Colors
The West Siberian Laika’s coat can be black, gray, sable, white, pale red, or salt and pepper.
West Siberian Laika Lifespan
The WSLs life expectancy is 14-15 years.
West Siberian Laika Hunting
The WSL has an interesting hunting style. His job is to follow prey until he trees it. Then he bays while he holds the prey in the tree until his master arrives.
When he is chasing an animal on the ground, the WSL is silent. He stays silent until he either catches it or trees it. Then he will bay.
Most hunting dogs bark once they catch scent of their prey and during the chase.
While the West Siberian Laika hunts many animals, squirrels are what he does best. This seems to come naturally to him. He doesn’t need any training for it.
If you were to bring your West Siberian Laika along on a hike, he would immediately begin looking for squirrels. You will need to keep him on leash.
West Siberian Laika Health Issues
The West Siberian Laika is a healthy breed. He has not been bred as a show dog or a family pet, so his genetics are still close to those of the wolf. He has no major breed-specific issues.
However, there are few uncommon issues to watch for:
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Caring for the West Siberian Laika
West Siberian Laika Grooming
He only needs a weekly brushing for most of the year.
However, he will shed his undercoat heavily in molting season. He will then need to be brushed every day.
He only needs baths 2-3 times a year. His coat is nearly self-cleaning with a good shake because it is not oily. The WSL has no “doggy” smell.
West Siberian Laika Diet
The WSL should do well on a high-quality dry food.
If you are hunting your West Siberian Laika, you may want to consider a working-dog or high-performance food.
You will want to keep a close eye on his weight, however. If he puts on weight, you will want to put him back on a lower-calorie food to prevent obesity.
Check with your vet if you’re not sure.
West Siberian Laika Exercise
This active, energetic breed needs a lot of exercise. He gets bored and restless easily and can be destructive when he does.
Finding a West Siberian Laika
West Siberian Laika Breeders
The WSL is a rare breed in North America. If you are looking for a West Siberian Laika for sale, you will need patience.
Some organizations maintain breeder lists. A good place to start would be to check the United Kennel Club (UKC) web site for breeder lists.
Avoid Puppy Mills
You will need to be careful, though, if you look for a puppy online. Rare breeds are particularly profitable for puppy mill breeders.
Puppy mill breeders often force their dogs to live in horrendous conditions. They don’t take precautions to ensure the health of their dogs. They are unlikely to spend money on vets when needed.
And they don’t concern themselves about the genetic health of the breed. By buying a puppy mill dog, you could unknowingly spread any breed-specific health conditions.
A responsible breeder will only breed healthy dogs.
The puppies will be up to date with immunizations. They will have had health screenings.
And reputable breeders guarantee the health of their puppies. They will buy back your dog if a health issue turns up later. They will also take the dog back if you ever need to surrender it for any reason.
You will get no guarantees with a puppy mill purchase.
So how do you find a reputable breeder? The best way is by word-of-mouth recommendations.
One way is to search for online forums. You can find online groups for nearly every breed. Chat with people who already own one. You should be able to get a trustworthy recommendation.
As a bonus, you can learn from others what it’s like to live with the West Siberian Laika.
If you do decide to purchase a WSL, West Siberian Laika price appears to be from $600 to $800. The cost is reasonable because there are no “show lines” of WSLs.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize the West Siberian Laika, so you would not have to pay for a pedigree.
West Siberian Laika Adoption – Shelter or Rescue
Finding a West Siberian Laika for adoption may also be difficult. Your best bet here would be to do an online search for a West Siberian Laika rescue. The UKC may be a good source to find dogs for adoption or rescue.
You will also want to put the word out at any shelters near you that you’re looking for a West Siberian Laika. This is probably a long shot, but it’s certainly not impossible.
As breeders continue to work to increase the numbers of the West Siberian Laika, puppies should be easier to find. If you have your heart set on one, it makes sense to keep checking periodically.
Is the West Siberian Laika the Right Breed for You?
Do you feel the WSL is a good fit for your family? If your family is active and looking for a companion for outdoor adventure, he could be a great fit.
If you would also like a breed that bonds fiercely with his family and is great with kids, you don’t need to look any further.
The West Siberian Laika temperament could be perfect for a family like yours.