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Yakutian Laika
Other namesYakut Laika, Yakustkaya Laika, Kolyma-Indigirka Laika, Laïka de Iakoutie, Chien de Traîneau de Yakutie, Laika de Yakutia, Kolyma Husky
Height Dogs 55–59 centimetres (22–23 in)
Bitches 53–57 centimetres (21–22 in)
Coat Double coated, with a thick downy undercoat, and a longer, more coarse top coat.
Colour White and any patching as bicolour or tricolour.
Kennel club standards
FCI standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Yakutian Laika (Russian: Якутская лайка) is an ancient working dog breed that originated in the Arctic seashore of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic. In terms of functionality, Yakutian Laikas might serve as a reindeer herder's dog, hunter's dog, and a sled dog. They are registered with the Russian Kennel Club,[1] the FCI [2] and the AKC's Foundation Stock Service.[3]


Yakutian Laikas as sled dogs
Yakutian Laikas as sled dogs
Yakutian Laika,Tugrik
Yakutian Laika,Tugrik
Arcturus North Star - Champion of Russia, Eurasia, RKF, National Club Winner Yakutian Laika
Arcturus North Star - Champion of Russia, Eurasia, RKF, National Club Winner Yakutian Laika

This is a versatile dog with excellent sense of smell, hearing and vision, strong hunting drive, endurance; they are aggressive to predators and soft and gentle to humans. Unlike most laika which are strictly hunting dogs, the Yakutian Laika is multi-purpose, expected to excel as a sled dog, but also to hunt game and herd reindeer and cattle. Yakutian Laikas are tolerant regarding living conditions and easily endure the hostile climate of northern Siberia, even when left to fend for themselves. In harsh Siberian conditions they reveal their stamina; they tend to work in small groups and can work through the whole day, from dawn to sunset.[4]


Yakutian Laikas as sled dogs
Yakutian Laikas as sled dogs

Yakutian Laikas are a breed with ancient origins developed by native Yakuts for hunting mammals and birds, herding livestock and hauling game back to camp.[5] The dogs were indispensable assistants and companions. In the Sakha language, this breed is known as "Sakha yta" meaning "Yakut dog". Evidence of this breed can be found in archaeological remains dating 12,500 years ago.[6] Remnants of dog sleds and harnesses has been found with dog remains in the Sakha republic radiocarbon dated to 7800–800 years ago.[7] It is very likely that these remains were the ancestor of the Yakutian Laika

The Kungur Chronicle and the Remezov Chronicle, created at the end of the 16th century and 1703 respectively, tells about the people living along Siberian rivers, whose primary means of transport was riding on reindeer or dogs. In these documents, the rivers Olenyok, Yana, Indigirka and Kolyma were called “dog rivers”, as they were rich in fish for the dogs to eat. Rivers where there is no fish or it is not enough to feed the dogs, reindeer are used for transportation, and such rivers were called "deer rivers."

With the increased demand for white polar foxes in the 17th century, the Arctic exploration received its spike. Furs and mammoth tusks trade became local nations’ main income. Origin and subsequent formation of the breed are still not quite known, but because of the hard to access country and extreme natural conditions, Yakutian Laikas have lived as primitive aboriginal breeds; they were rarely confined and mated freely. Naturally, local type dogs could be preserved only under conditions of complete isolation from dogs of other breeds. First scientific descriptions of dogs of Yakutia were published in late 18th century, when first geographic studies of the north were conducted. Prince Shirinsky-Shikhmatov wrote in his monograph about Laikas: “Researchers of the north, of course, could not overlook northern dog; they could not disagree with hard fact that presence of this dog makes life of northern people possible.

It is even more strange that so little attention was paid to description of dogs of the north; their ancestral aboriginal type and numerous varieties remain obscure. There are as many types of Laikas as ethnic minorities of the north; varieties of Laikas differ clearly from each other, each has its own peculiarities and their division is indisputable”. This monograph was written in 1898. Russian Geographic Society gave task to Mr. Maak to investigate Vilyuisk District. “Review of Vilyuiks District of Yakutian Provionce” was published in 1877. Maak wrote: “I saw dog of very typical appearance and very common in Siberia, which was fox-like”. In 1896, V. L. Seroshevsky published a book “Yakuts”, edited by N. I. Veselovsky. Describing dogs of Yakuts, Seroshevsky divides them into two groups, 1) guarding and hunting dogs and 2) maritime sled dogs. He wrote: “even most poor Yakut having no other animals, has at least one dog”. Yokhelson (Johelson?), 1898, in his publication “Hunting Industry in Kolyma Territory of Yakutian Province” and described the Tungus Lajka used for sledding and hunting dogs.

He wrote: “There are two breeds of dogs, one is so-called Tungus Laika, a pointed-eared dog of nomadic reindeer herders and polar sled dog”. All researchers described dogs of Yakutia as one breed of “polar sled dogs”. Yokhelson wrote: “Sled dog is a burden animal not only of nomads living in not forested country, but also of settled near the river Russians and russified minorities and the dog of majority of cattle keeping Yakuts. Except southwestern part of the territory, one can find 5-6 dogs in every yurta, which are used for hauling firewood and other works needed by the household. The polar dog is not big, 50-60 cm at the shoulder… In the appearance, with his prick ears, oblique set eyes, thick coat and broad massive head, pointed muzzle, low carried tail (when the dog is tired, eats or in a bad mood), the dog is very similar to wolf. Among them, there are shaggy dogs, and somewhat blunt muzzle not different from our Spitzes … Generally, type of Kolyma sled dog is diverse and, perhaps, it is a mix between Kamchatka and Eskimo sled dogs with another imported breed.”

It stands to a reason that other dogs relocated here together with new immigrants. Both Seroshevsky and Yokhelson described the Yakutian Sled Dog similarly: “Legs relatively thick and short, chest, which is used to pull sleds, perfectly developed; neck is thick and short. Face is unusually intelligent and with melancholic or grim expression”. In principle, it remains so today and the dogs little changed with the spreading civilization in the Yakutian north.[8] [9]

From the 1940s to the 1990s, Yakutian Laika numbers were in decline. Breed population reached an all-time low of 3000 in 1998 before revival efforts took off., Reasons for their decline include

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Kolyma-Indigirka Laika. Federation Cynologique Internationale
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Pitul'ko, Vladimir V., and Aleksey K. Kasparov. “Ancient Arctic Hunters: Material Culture and Survival Strategy.” Arctic Anthropology, vol. 33, no. 1, 1996, pp. 1–36. JSTOR, Accessed 11 July 2021.
  8. ^ "Jakutischer Laika Club".
  9. ^ "Yakutian Laika Facebook Community".
  10. ^