The smallest Laika of Russia is the Karelo-Finnish Laika. The red-coated Spitz dogs were bred to be more or less pure until 1930, although the years of World War ll saw many of these dogs lost and the breed in danger. Severe conditions, as well as starvation, meant that many dogs were in fact eaten for survival and caused the breed to be almost decimated. In Petrozavodsk, there remained only 24 registered dogs and then most were lost to rabies. In 1953 Russian cynologists imported two male dogs and one female of the Finnish Spitz from Finland and developed the breed by crossing them with the remaining red-coated Spitzes found in Southern Karelia, the Olonets Laika and the Karelian Laika. By 1970, the number of Karelo-Finnish Laika had risen to about 200 dogs in Moscow alone. Other breeders were known to have used Finnish Spitzes imported from Finland. The advantage of the Karelo-Finnish Laika is that they are smaller and therefore easier to transport on hunting trips. It also meant that the smaller dog could live in with the family and become a companion and watchdog. In recent years the Karelo-Finnish Laika has risen in popularity due to their affectionate and friendly nature. But they do need careful, patient handling as they are sensitive to the mood of their master and can become sulky and resentful if mistreated. They make excellent hunting dogs for grouses, squirrel and other small game and have the heart and willingness to try for other game, although their size limits them to what they can handle.
The male Karelo-Finnish Laika has a more boxy body shape than the female, who has a more slender appearance. Their face is almost wolf-like in looks with a very pointed muzzle, round dark eyes, and sharply pointed ears. They look alert at all times and miss nothing. Underneath their dense double coat, they have a deep flat chest, strong muscular neck and short straight legs that provide speed and their round padded paws can turn them as quick as a shot. Their tail is set and carried high, often curling over their back. With a straight back and tucked up tummy, they have the body of an athlete. While this attractive dog is the smallest of the Russian Laika's, they make up for this in sheer energy and exuberance. Their dense double coat consists of an outer coat of coarse straight hair, while the undercoat is shorter, soft and dense. Acceptable colors are red or a variation of that color with white spotting on the chest and tip of the tail as well as white strip across the forehead in some dogs.
Affectionate, friendly and loveable are words to describe the Karelo-Finnish Laika. However, they can also be sensitive to tone and resentful towards punishment, with some dogs carrying a grudge against their owners for mistreatment that damages their relationship forever. Kindness and patience should be practiced with this dog (or any dog for that matter) to get the best from them. They make great family pets, and have the energy and enthusiasm to play for hours with children. With other household dogs they are fine, although a strange dog encroaching upon their territory will bring out aggressive behavior. Away from home, they mix well with strange dogs. Because of their instinct, which is to hunt small animals, some household pets will be considered as prey so care is needed when raising rabbits, guinea pigs and other small creatures. This pup is intelligent and willing to learn but training does require patience and kindness. Expect to repeat the lessons frequently until they understand and get it. Make training fun or they will lose interest and focus. Several short fun sessions are better than one long tedious lesson. The Karelo Finnish Laika has an almost puppyish enthusiasm, even when they are mature. They have a high energy level, and will bark to let you know who has entered the property. Alert, lively and with a sense of fun in the personality, this dog is an interesting companion.