Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Yakutian Laika: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Puppy Yakutian Laika

Height: 20-22 inches
Weight: 40-55 pounds
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Colors: White, black, brown, gray, tri-color, bi-color
Suitable for: Active families, looking for an equally energetic dog
Temperament: Loyal, intelligent, active, affectionate

You may not have heard of the Yakutian Laika, but you may soon see this dog in the American Kennel Club (AKC) show circuit. It is an ancient breed from the Republic of Sakha or Yakutia. This family-loving sled dog has a long history as a hunter and even a pulling animal. The Yakutian Laika is a striking dog with his metallic blue or dark brown eyes and dense coat.

The breed is currently a member of the Foundation Stock Service (FSS), which is the AKC’s path to the organization’s recognition program. As popular as the Yakutian Laika was in its country, it nearly became extinct as the need for its job, i.e., sledding and pulling, also ebbed. The Russian Kynological Federation recognized the breed in 2004 with the FSS following in 2017.

While its numbers are still modest, the Yakutian Laika is well on his way to capturing more hearts and fans of this hard-working and loyal dog.

Divider 1

Yakutian Laika Puppies

Yakutian laika puppies sitting on the hay
Image by: Tatiana Gasich, Shutterstock

Each breed has its personality and quirks. The Yakutian Laika thrives on attention and will not do well in homes where it is lacking. The dog is active, as you may assume, with its sledding history. That makes him an ideal companion on long walks or for a game of fetch. However, he needs more activity than running around in the yard. He does best with families willing to share time with him.

The Yakutian Laika is both intelligent and reserved. Trust is vital for the bonding experience with new owners. Socialization is also essential in his early development. He is affectionate with his family members and is an excellent watchdog. This breed does best in active homes and probably isn’t a suitable pet for sedentary individuals or seniors.

The Yakutian Laika is in the park.
Image by: volofin, Shutterstock

3 Little-Known Facts About the Yakutian Laika

1. The Yakutian Laika Is an Ancient Breed

Archaeological evidence of the breed goes back nearly 8,000 years in the Republic of Yakutia in Russian Siberia. Other findings in the area include wolf remains going back 40,000 years, making it something of a hotbed for research on prehistoric canines.

2. The Yakutian Laika Was the First Sled Dog

The Yakute people had many jobs for the Yakutian Laika, including herding reindeer and even delivering the mail. They were also the first ones to use this breed for another purpose—sledding. It’s safe to say that this breed is a jack-of-all-trades.

3. The Yakutian Laika Is One of 81 Breeds Awaiting AKC Recognition

AKC created the FSS in 1995 as a way for rare breeds like the Yakutian Laika to gain a following and develop a breed standard. The Federation Cynologique Internationale (AISBL) of Europe officially recognized the breed in 2019. It’s an important milestone for the breed to gain AKC recognition once the number of pets has increased, along with the creation of a US-based club.

Divider 3

Temperament & Intelligence of the Yakutian Laika 🧠

You’re not likely to find a more intelligent dog than the Yakutian Laika. Hundreds of years of selective breeding have removed aggressiveness from his nature, making him a loyal and affectionate pet. That makes this breed easy to train. However, like many sled dogs, they do have a willful streak. He responds best to positive reinforcement. As far as pulling goes, he’s a natural.

The Yakutian Laika wants to please but will need your guidance.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The best home for a Yakutian Laika is an active household that will give him plenty of attention. He won’t tolerate long hours alone well because of his social nature. Because of his size, it’s a smart idea to watch him with small children. While he is reserved with strangers, the Yakutian Laika is also accepting of new people when he gets to know them. Take your time and let the dog take charge of the meeting.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

As a sled dog, the Yakutian Laika is used to and enjoys the company of other canines. However, early socialization is imperative. It’s also essential to understand that his hunting background gives this dog a keen prey drive. Use caution when introducing him to a home with cats or small dogs. An animal that runs away is likely to trigger his instinct to chase it.

Divider 4

Things to Know When Owning a Yakutian Laika:

Raising a Yakutian Laika isn’t hard. He is a relatively care-free pet with few special needs other than attention. However, there are a few things you should know upfront to help you decide if it’s the right breed for you and your family.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

An active lifestyle requires adequate food to support it. We’d suggest giving your pet food formulated for large breeds like the Yakutian Laika. While he’s not as prone to weight gain as some dogs, a regular feeding schedule will ensure that he stays healthy and doesn’t become sluggish. We also recommend picking up his food bowl when he’s finished to prevent overeating.

His diet, of course, will vary with his activity level. We suggest keeping an eye on his weight and adjusting it as necessary.

Exercise 🐕

Activity is essential for a Yakutian Laika. We’d recommend at least an hour a day of playtime or walks to keep him happy and prevent boredom. That’s when he may develop bad habits like barking or digging. Remember that he is a working dog that needs a job or at least something to do to stay happy.

He is a long-legged dog that loves to run and would enjoy some quality time at the doggy park. Make sure that it’s supervised if smaller pets or children are present.

Training 🦮

The Yakutian Laika is an intelligent dog that you will find easy to train, especially once you gain his trust. These dogs often become attached to one family member but will still obey others in your home. He isn’t a sensitive breed. However, stern reprimands might unleash his stubbornness. Rewarding good behavior with treats is a more effective way to get him to mind his manners.

Grooming ✂️

The Yakutian Laika, like other dogs of its kind, has a seasonal shedding pattern. You should brush his coat frequently during these times. Otherwise, grooming is minimal. He keeps himself quite clean, even if you have a dog with white fur. We’d suggest trimming his nails and tending to his ears regularly so that he gets used to being handled in this way.

If you take him out in the snow, make sure to check his feet when play is done. Ice between his pads can cause cuts and possible infections if left untreated. Having him wear dog boots can prevent these issues.

Health Conditions ❤️

Luckily, this breed is relatively healthy, with few glaring health issues. Since it is a rare breed, many conditions that develop because of overbreeding aren’t present. Most problems are similar to what other large dogs may encounter. We recommend getting a pet with Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) prescreening for the dog’s elbows, hips, and eyes.

Minor Conditions
Serious Conditions

Divider 5

Male vs Female

The physical difference between the two sexes is quite noticeable. Males are much more powerful than females. The personalities are similar, with the female more inclined toward being stubborn. However, these are only general observations. Individual pets will likely vary in their behavior based on their upbringing.

Divider 3


The Yakutian Laika is a handsome dog that you can’t help noticing. His athletic body and penetrating gaze are sure to make an impression. Once you get to know him, you’ll find it easy to understand why this breed has so many enthusiasts. His loyalty and intelligence make him an ideal pet for an active household with plenty of love and attention to share with him.

So, is the Yakutian Laika a great match for you?

Featured Image by: Melounix, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database