Canine Breed Menu



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Breed Organization
American Karelian Bear Dog Alliance
Native Country
Other Names
Karelian Bear Dog, Karelsk Bjornhund, Karjalankarhukoira, Karelischer Barenhund
Life Expectancy
Approximately 10-12 Years
Litter Size
Average 5-8 Puppies
Breed Group
AKC - FSS/FCI - Spitz
Breed Appearance
Medium sized, robust conformation, strong, only slightly longer than the height at the withers, with dense coat and pricked ears.

Breed Description
Head: Triangular when viewed from the front. Broad skull. Slightly convex forehead. Distinct stop. Deep muzzle. Large nose. Thin, tightly closed lips.
Ears: Carried erect. Slightly rounded tips.
Eyes: Small. Brown color.
Body: Solid. Strong, arched neck. Capacious chest. Straight, supple back. Broad, slightly sloped croup.
Tail: Set high. Moderate length. Carried curled over the back.
Hair: Stiff and harsh. Longer on the neck, back, and back of the thighs. Soft, dense undercoat.
Coat: Black with dull brownish cast caused by the normally chestnut undercoat. White spots or markings on the head, neck, chest, underbelly, and legs.
Size: Dog: 57 cm (ideal) (22.4 in).Bitch: 52 cm (ideal) 20.5 in).
Weight: Approx. 25 kg (55.2 lb).

Closely related to the Laika, the Karelian Bear Dog is descended from an old Finnish breed to which Russian breeders introduced Utchak Sheepdog blood. The Karelian Bear Dog originated in Karelia, the territory extending from north of St. Petersburg to Finland. The Karelian Bear Dog was originally used to hunt elk, then later to hunt bear and large game. The breed was recognized by the FCI in 1946.

This very rustic, hardy dog is courageous and eager. Though stable, the breed is independent and a bit anti-social. He is gentle with his family, though his personality is not like that of most pets. He uses his keen sense of smell for hunting large game. The Karelian Bear Dog is a good guard dog, but is not a herder or sled dog. Given his latent aggressive nature, this dog should never be trained to attack. Firm training is a must. Very self-confident, may be aggressive towards other dogs, but never towards people. Highly developed fighting spirit.

This is a fairly healthy breed.

This dog must not be closed up indoors. He needs a lot of space and considerable exercise to burn off energy. Daily brushing is required.

Hunting Dog (large game), Guard Dog, Pet. A dog mainly for elk and bear hunting, holds the game at bay. Eager hunter; very independent, yet works cooperatively to game, marking game by barking. The senses, especially of scent, are keen, thus the breed is suitable for big game hunting. Very good sense of direction.

Horse Herd