WSL for our farmstead?

edited November 2014 in West Siberian Laïka
Hi there -

This breed was recommended to us elsewhere, so I wanted to get more information from the experts. We live on about 500 acres in Maine. We've got free range chickens, the occasional small livestock, etc. So what I'm looking for is an all around farm/family companion that can function as a hunter, pest control, and watchdog.

My concern is whether we hunt "enough" to keep one happy though. The season is only 3 months long here for birds (grouse and bobwhite). But you can only really hunt 2 of those if you want your dog back alive (November is deer rifle season). Hare can be hunted longer, through March, but the bag limit is 8. And that's pretty much it, unless you count mice or squirrels that get in the house, which are open season year round. ;)

Other activities are camping, hiking, boating, etc. There's also a lot of just "hangin' 'round outside" while we process firewood, garden, repair fence, etc.

Would a WSL be happy in this environment or would we be set up to fail? I'm generally pretty involved with my dogs, lots of training of tasks, long walks, trips around town, etc. But we do work full time M-F, and like I said, the actual hunting opportunity is fairly limited by law and local culture.



  • Most hunting is hindered by the seasons. You do not always have to kill animals for the dog to hunt. 500 acres is more than enough room for laika. I think you would do great with a laika. They love the company of their masters. Biggest problem with laika is lack of exercise then the other problems start. The winter will not affect the laika. Give it a shot!
  • if the dog was loose and you broke him from stock it would be fine. If you have squirrels year-round you can shoot them out when-ever. I wish you would have posted this last week I had one at the house that is a nice Laika, but not a top quality hunting dog. She would have made you a good dog. She would tree a little game for you and keep unwanted vermin away from the house.
  • How do they do with recall, and/or defining a home range? For instance, I normally let ours out in the morning to do their business, give them 10-15 minutes, then call them back in. Half the time they're waiting for me at the door already. Since our yard isn't fenced, they just know the routine and don't go wandering. Would a Laika adapt to this? We will be building a kennel run soon, so this isn't necessarily a deal breaker. But a dog with a strong sense of "home" is preferred.

    Also, how are they with strangers? I'm hoping for a dog that will bark to alert us of visitors, then be neutral. Not a fan of the way my Plott Hound gets overly excited about every passerby. He'd go home with anyone. My Chow mix is perfect - barks, then ignores once the visitor is welcomed.

    I do think a more moderate hunter would be perfect. One that's eager to hunt, but not screaming for it. We are probably 1-2 years out on acquiring the addition however. Most likely we will need a female - the Plott is not fond of other males.
  • edited November 2014
    So far, my Laika has excellent recall. A little too excellent... I can call him off game, which I do like, but don't at the same time. Except when it's time to come in, which I describe below. He's only 5.5 months old though, so that will probably change as he matures and his hunting drive grows.

    He understands very well what "home" is and won't wander too far. Before I moved to Michigan, the only time he was contained was while I was at work. He roamed around the RV when I was home and never strayed far. Granted, he was quite young, but he has stuck close even here in the neighborhood we're in now. (I don't let him roam, he's wandered off a few times when family members took him outside and didn't keep a good eye on him.) Again, this will probably change as he matures and grows more confident. My adult Shiba never ranged farther than 1/2 mile from home, unless there was something to hunt.
    I've found that when there is a fence, the dogs will go pretty far away when they get loose. Without one, they stick close. Probably has to do with no fence = constant freedom so it's nothing special, where fence = freedom is rare and awesome LET'S RUN!!!

    He doesn't like to come inside. He will throw a fit if I bring him in when he doesn't want to. He will try to get me to play with him or dodge my hand when I reach for his collar if he thinks he should spend more time outside. He is content to sit on the deck and watch whatever is going on even if it's snowing sideways. The only time he demands to come in is if it's raining. There is a mild blizzard going on right now and he's romping around in the snow as I type, the cold doesn't bother him one bit.
    I don't know how every Laika is about this, but if they are anything like Flint, getting them to come in might be a chore.

    Flint is very good with strangers, when I'm around. He likes to meet new people unless there is something suspicious about them, then he will bark and not let them touch him. But if he's alone and a stranger walks up... He won't stop barking until they leave or I come out and show him it's okay. Once he knows that somebody is not a "bad guy" he stops barking at them when they show up.

    His hunting drive is good, but not always gotta hunt something NOW!!! He's okay with lounging around outside most of the day, as long as he gets a good woods-romp in. He goes greatly enjoy hunting, and I imagine he will moreso once I've got everything settled and can get out more, but for the time being, he's not a hunting machine like some Laikas I know of.
  • How Flint is doing? Does he tree?
  • @uralman I sent you a message so the thread stays on topic :)
  • Just like all dogs recall comes with obedience training. I have some that love to be with me and come in the house that will lounge on their place mat all day. My male could care less about being in the house. He is terrible when he comes in he runs around and just wants to go back out. It depends on the dog. The dog that really loves the attachment and just dies to be with you, (JMO) seems to like being around you all the time no matter inside or out. My dogs will stay around to a certain point and I am sure would come back. I can't say because I live where there is a lot of traffic and would not take a chance of them getting hit.

    Please read Hunting Laika Breeds of Russia by Vladimir Beregovoy. He is Uralman on this site. You can have a lot of your questions answered by someone that has grown up around the breed. It would be like asking one of us Americans about hunting hounds or beagles. I hunted them all my life they are part of American Hunting Culture, because of this I have a life-long knowledge of them, just like a person from Russia has grown up with Laikas. It does not make everything a fact but seeing a wide range of a certain dog gives you tendencies of a breed not absolutes.
  • edited November 2014
    It does not make everything a fact but seeing a wide range of a certain dog gives you tendencies of a breed not absolutes.

    I kennel mine only because we live in the city. Even though i know where he roams when he escapes the yard and isn't in any great danger, it's just not a good idea to let any dog roam in the suburbs with angry drivers. But in the backcountry, he has a strong sense of home- could just be a tent, a fire-pit, a truck or whatever.

    Except his recall is on his term. Most times, it's rock-solid if there are nothing to chase. if there is, he could be gone for anywhere from a few minutes if it's a squirrel to a few hours if it's big-game. But he always came back by night-fall. The recall could be bomb-proof with electronic collar like some of the members here, but I don't for reasons irrelevant to this discussion.

    But i've known people who have troubles with their Laikas, but their method of rearing is different from mine and their other dogs have the same problem. So, I am not sure if it's the dog's personality or the person's personality. Someone who been around the breed their whole life like @uralman would know.
  • If you live on 500 acres in Maine, can I volunteer to be your dog?
  • Lol... Me too Kevin!
  • Thanks for the input everyone. Just getting back to this, been parked in a tree stand the last couple days.

    I don't need mindless obedience, but recall is extremely important. I need to be able to call my dogs off deer, moose, ATVs, coyote traps, etc. But this is also a command I spend a lot of time teaching. Everything else is flexible (sit, down, etc). And some things are non-existent (I'm terrible at teaching heel - always have been). It sounds like at least some Laika have the capacity to learn this anyway.

    Thanks for the book suggestion, I'll look into it. Would be great to have some input from Uralman too if he has time. Also, has anyone taken their Laika in a canoe or kayak? Or even a john boat?

    And if you're trainable to "sit" "stay" and "fetch" a buck, then please, come be my dog lol. This cold snap is killin me. ;)
  • Commercial trappers in Siberia do. Watch Happy People: A Year in the Taiga so see the dogs riding in boats. It's a good documentary in general, I recommend it to people I meet who show interest in Laika.
  • Ok.. best thing you can do is get this training video on proper use of electronic e-collar. It is worth the investment as well as time and trouble. I have taken my Laika in a canoe it would just take practice. If it is a canoe just crate them at first but when you start training them to do this I would do it in warm weather training. If you place mat train your dog (to sit on a mat or towel on command) you will find it much easier JMO. The Laika will do all the commands you asked about and more. If you want your dog to find a wounded deer they will do it no trouble.

    Spend the money on the e-collar and tracking system. I recommend the Garmin Astro 100 series. Yes, up front cost is there but it saves you being mad at the dog not listening or the dog getting killed.

    Best e-collar video out there is By Robin MaCfarlene Just Right
  • I'd imagine that any dog can be taught to ride in a canoe/kayak with a little practice. A friend kayaks with his huskies and this is the video he poszted of getting them acclimated to it:

    They love Kayaking and he will even use them to pull the boat to shore
  • Have you thought about an Airedale for your farm? I just read the new issue of Full Cry, and there was a very informative article covering many multiple uses for the Airedale including hunting, herding, protection etc.
    Best wishes.
  • I have thought about the Airedale some... but have had bad experiences with them in the past. A friend of the family had one that was extremely dog aggressive, extremely prey driven (would go through doors/walls to try and get the family cat), and extremely aggressive towards non-family. He wasn't exactly managed the best (they tried very hard, but were not experienced dog people), and he had been found on the street (probably for these very reasons), so who knows what his background was. Ultimately they had to put him down after he bit too many people (children and adults alike). Didn't leave a great taste in my mouth.

    The other breed we're considering is the Deutsch Drahthaar.
  • Wanted to add that I did watch Happy People again last night on Netflix. I'd seen it before but didn't make the connection that those were Laika. Whole movie put me to shame - here I am complaining about 0°F, psssh, I've got it easy!
  • Drathaar high prey drive. I would not turn against Airedales based on one dog. If I wanted just a dog to hunt a little an Airedale would be fine but if you want a hunting dog the DD is very good. They have a lot o
  • edited November 2014
    Those German hunting breeds are becoming very popular among apartment-owners in North America who still want to hunt, but don't own land. I would own one too if I lived in a city like Toronto, Vancouver or Edmonton.
  • edited November 2014
    Darren is correct, i wouldn't judge a breed on one dog. I've known both nice ones and nasty ones.

    Airedales are nice as long they come from hunting lines. Schutzhund caused a lot of the divide in the community and hunters, pet breeders and conformation breeders are all distancing themselves from the protection-sports bloodlines.

    Just do your research who bred what and you'll be fine.
  • I had a pair of Airedales in early 90th, before I could obtain the first pair of Laikas from Russia. The female (Litte) was out of big so-called Oorang type Airedales. She was a very hot hunting dog, killed armadillos and skunks and she learned how to kill a skunk while avoiding being sprayed. She barked at strangers and acted intimidating, but never bit anyone. The male was an oversized male puppy out of show Airedale strain. He was very mellow with people in general, but he was pretty aggressive to unfamiliar dogs, including little ones, which could kill, if I was not there. He also killed armadillos and skunks. None of them was treeing. When I got the first pair of Laikas, I took both Airedales in woods along with my new well treeing Laika. When the Airedales noticed that I was shooting squirrels found by my young Laika, they began treeing, too! However, they did not tree, if the Laika was not showing them an example. The male Airedale (Rudy) had another very good talent: he was flashing quails just like a good Spaniel, perfect, and he did it naturally. They both loved water and were eager to retrieve. I did not hunt ducks with them, but I am sure they would make good duck retrievers. One thing I did not like very much: their hair. They required grooming, but I solved this problem by using scissors for summer season. If left not treated, they collected ten times as many ticks as an average Laika. Their beards accumulated dirt and made water in bowls dirty, They both easily learned to leave alone goats and calves of our neighbors and did not kill our free ranging chickens. They made good farm dogs, but they never became productive treeing dogs. If you want a treeing dog, Laika is certainly a better choice.
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