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Karelian Bear Dog

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Karelian Bear Dog

Form and Function

The Karelian Bear Dog is a medium-sized, sturdy and silent hunter that marks his game by barking. He’s very in tune with his senses, with an especially keen scent ability, positioning the breed as an exceptional big game hunter. Undoubtedly of the Spitz type, the Karelian Bear Dog has a triangle-shaped head, prick hears and harsh, straight, medium-length double coat with a tail that loosely curls over his back.


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Breed Traits

Energy Level

4 out of 5

Exercise Requirements

4 out of 5


4 out of 5

Affection Level

4 out of 5

Friendliness To Dogs

1 out of 5

Friendliness To Other Pets

2 out of 5

Friendliness To Strangers

2 out of 5


3 out of 5

Ease of Training

2 out of 5

Grooming Requirements

1 out of 5

Heat Sensitivity

2 out of 5


4 out of 5

Breed Attributes




44 to 49 pounds


21 ¼ to 23 ½ inches (male), 19 ¼ to 21 ¼ inches (female)


Northern (UKC), Foundation Stock Service (AKC)

Area of Origin


Date of Origin



Having originated in northwestern Europe, the Karelian Bear Dog first was used by Russian and Finnish peasants as a watch dog and for various types of game hunting. In 1936, the Karelian Bear Dog was bred and developed as a sturdy hunter of large game. Although early dogs were red, red-and-gray, or black-and-white, the latter was the preferred color for the breed’s development. The Karelian Bear Dog standard was written in 1945, and the first specimens were registered under the Finnish Kennel Club the following year. Today, the Karelian Bear Dog stands as one of the top 10 most common breeds in Finland. The United Kennel Club recognized the Karelian Bear Dog as a member of its Northern Breed Group in 1996, while the American Kennel Club continues to recognize the breed as part of its Foundation Stock Service, ultimately designated to become a member of the Working Group.


Loyal and courageous, the Karelian Bear Dog is an eager hunting dog with a high prey drive and works independently yet also cooperatively with his handler. The Karelian Bear Dog tends to territorial toward male dogs, but is friendly, albeit slightly reserved, toward people. Fearless, confident and spirited, the Karelian Bear Dog rarely backs down from a challenge.


To keep the Karelian Bear Dog in prime condition, he doesn’t require much beyond regular weekly brushing and the occasional bath, as well as regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and teeth brushing. Moderate exercise also is a must, such as free play or running in a fenced yard or taken on several walks every day, as is mental stimulation, such as indoor games of hide-and-seek, chasing balls or learning a new trick. The Karelian Bear Dog also enjoys swimming, hiking and retrieving balls or flying discs, and is readily trainable for agility, obedience and rally.


Major Concerns: N/A

Minor Concerns: N/A

Occasionally Seen: N/A

Suggested Tests: N/A

Lifespan: 11 to 13 years


Note: While the characteristics mentioned here may frequently represent this breed, dogs are individuals whose personalities and appearances will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.

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