Karelian Bear Dog

44-51 lbs
KBD, Karelsk Bjornhund, Karjalankarhukoira, Karelischer Barenhund

The Karelian Bear Dog is considered to be a primitive hunting dog that is fearless by nature and able to work independently. He was developed to hunt large predators such as bear and cougar. He still possesses the ability to survive in the wild without human intervention and can easily become a feral dog if not socialized properly from a young age. The Karelian Bear Dog is not overly friendly with strangers and prefers to avoid them. He is best suited for an experienced dog owner who will continue with his training and socialization. He does require a significant amount of daily exercise to keep him happy and healthy.

Date of Origin

Karelian Bear Dog Health

Average Size
Male Karelian Bear Dog size stats
Height: 21-24 inches Weight: 44-51 lbs
Female Karelian Bear Dog size stats
Height: 19-22 inches Weight: 44-51 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Cataracts
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Minor Concerns
  • Pituitary Dwarfism
Occasional Diagnoses
  • Obesity
Occasional Tests
  • OFA
  • CERF
  • Physical Examination

Karelian Bear Dog Breed History

In an area located in northern Europe, once known as Karelia, there is a large population of large, big game hunting dogs. It is claimed that dogs similar to the Karelian Bear Dog followed the first settlers to Finland thousands of years ago. To these first settlers, the dogs were an important part of their survival since they were sustained by what they could hunt. Since the Karelian Bear Dog is strong enough to tackle and kill bear, lynx and wolf, he was an asset to the settlers. He also was an excellent guardian dog for the settlers. The Karelian Bear Dog looks similar to the Russian Laika and some historians believe that they are related. The Russian Laika comes from a part of Finland that was claimed by the Soviet Union in the early 20th Century so it is possible that both breeds originated from the same dogs. He was first shown in a conformation dog show in 1936 in Helsinki and gained popularity. However, after World War II the Karelian Bear Dog almost became extinct. Because of this, all Karelian Bear Dogs born after the end of WWII can be traced back to just forty dogs that were saved after the war. His popularity has been on the rise since the 1960s. There are breeders of the Karelian Bear Dog in many European countries as well as North America. He is still one of the most popular dog breeds in Finland. In 2005, the Karelian Bear Dog was admitted into the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service program. This is the first step towards becoming fully recognized as an AKC breed. 

Karelian Bear Dog Breed Appearance

The Karelian Bear Dog is an expressive dog with small ears that point slightly outward. His ears are unique in that they are lined with a dense fur that helps keep his ears from becoming frostbitten. His short, weather resistant coat has a topcoat that is stiff and straight. His undercoat is dense and soft. He is black and white, which is not typical for northern Spitz-type dogs that normally have a copper tint to their coats. There can be black speckles in the white on his coat; however, this is not desirable. He has powerful jaws that are necessary to hold his large prey. The tail of the Karelian Bear Dog is long and curls over his back. For his moderate size, he is robust and sturdily built. He has a typical spitz look with an alert expression. He should be slightly longer in body than he is tall.

Eye Color Possibilities
brown Karelian Bear Dog eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
black Karelian Bear Dog nose
Coat Color Possibilities
black Karelian Bear Dog coat
white Karelian Bear Dog coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Karelian Bear Dog straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Karelian Bear Dog Breed Maintenance

The Karelian Bear Dog has an all-weather coat that is short but very dense. Weekly brushing will be required. He does shed seasonally and does require extra time grooming during times of shedding. Weekly grooming will make it easier to keep any loose undercoat or dead topcoat under control. Groom him with a metal comb and a natural bristle brush. Since the Karelian Bear Dog is an Arctic dog, he does not have a strong dog smell and does not drool excessively. His nails should be trimmed as necessary, usually every two to three weeks. Check his ears weekly and clean them as needed to ensure he does not get ear infections. Since the Karelian Bear Dog is prone to periodontal disease, a routine dental plan should be put in place to ensure that his teeth and gums remain healthy. Aside from brushing his teeth several times a week, professional cleaning by your veterinarian should also be scheduled regularly.

Brushes for Karelian Bear Dog
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Karelian Bear Dog requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Karelian Bear Dog Temperament

The Karelian Bear Dog is an independent thinker and very intelligent. He does have a high prey drive and is a persistent hunter. Small pets and cats are not recommended for homes that have a Karelian Bear Dog unless he is raised from puppyhood with them. He is a great companion and guard dog but is not recommended for an inexperienced dog owner or families with small children. He can be tolerant of older children who respect his space. The Karelian Bear Dog requires an owner who is a strong leader willing to continue his training throughout his life. Socialization must begin at a young age for the Karelian Bear Dog so he understands his role within the family and the expectations that his owner has placed on him. The Karelian Bear Dog can be dominating with other dogs, especially of the same gender. He is willing to fight and needs to understand that this is unacceptable behavior. He is suspicious of strangers and it takes a while before he warms up to them. 

Karelian Bear Dog Owner Experiences

9 Years
5 People
House & Yard
My Karelian Bear Dog is highly intelligent and loyal to her family. She is very cautious of strangers and protective of her family and home. She is trained in search and rescue, has an excellent sense of smell, and is well trained in verbal commands. While very loving towards friends and family, she needs to be introduced to new people by a family member in order to establish trust. Very healthy, active, and low maintenance. Loves the outdoors, hiking, snow play, and chasing after squirrels.
1 year, 1 month ago
16 Weeks
2 People
House & Yard
Just picked her up today so getting her familiar with her new home
1 year, 1 month ago
Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd