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. They were developed to hunt large predators such as bear and cougar. They still possess 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. They are best suited for an experienced dog owner who will continue with the all-important training and socialization. This active pup requires a significant amount of daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

purpose Purpose
history Date of Origin
ancestry Ancestry

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 they were strong enough to tackle and kill bear, lynx, and wolf, they were an asset to the settlers. They were also 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. They were first shown in a conformation dog show in 1936 in Helsinki and gained popularity. However, after World War II this courageous and eager to work canine 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. Their popularity has been on the rise since the 1960s. There are breeders in many European countries as well as North America. They are still one of the most popular dog breeds in Finland. In 2005, they were admitted into the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service program. This is the first step towards becoming fully recognized as an American Kennel Club breed. 

Karelian Bear Dog Breed Appearance

The Karelian Bear Dog is an expressive canine with small ears that point slightly outward. Their ears are unique in that they are lined with a dense fur that helps keep the ears from becoming frostbitten. The short, weather resistant coat has a topcoat that is stiff and straight. The undercoat is dense and soft. They are black and white, which is not typical for northern Spitz-type dogs who normally have a copper tint to their coats. For conformation shows, there can be black speckles in the white on the coat; however, this is not desirable. This strong dog has powerful jaws that are necessary to hold their large prey. The tail is long and curls over the back. For their moderate size, they are robust and sturdily built. Keen and active, they have a typical spitz look with an alert expression. They should be slightly longer in body than they are 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
coat density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
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. They do shed seasonally and 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 your pup with a metal comb and a natural bristle brush. Since the Karelian Bear Dog is an Arctic dog, they do not have a strong dog smell and do not drool excessively. Their nails should be trimmed as necessary, usually every two to three weeks. Check their ears weekly and clean them as needed to ensure they do not get ear infections. Since this dog is prone to periodontal disease, a routine dental plan should be put in place to ensure that the teeth and gums remain healthy. Aside from brushing the teeth several times a week, professional cleaning by your veterinarian should also be scheduled regularly.

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

Karelian Bear Dog Temperament

The Karelian Bear Dog is an independent thinker and very intelligent. Clever and keen on exploration, they have a high prey drive and are persistent hunters. Small pets and cats are not recommended for homes that have a Karelian Bear Dog unless they are raised from puppyhood with them. They are a great companion and guard dog but are not recommended for an inexperienced dog owner or families with small children. They can be tolerant of older children who respect the dog's space. This smart pup requires an owner who is a strong leader willing to continue the required training throughout their dog's life. Socialization must begin at a young age so they understand their role within the family and the expectations that their owner has placed on them. They can be dominating with other dogs, especially of the same gender. They are willing to fight and need to understand that this is unacceptable behavior. They are suspicious of strangers and it takes a while before they warm up to them. 

Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
10 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes
activity minutes

Karelian Bear Dog Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.5 cups
cup per day cost cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$1.20 - $1.40
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00
food bag monthly cost

Karelian Bear Dog Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Karelian Bear Dog size stats at six months
Height: 18.0 inches Weight: 22.0 lbs
Female Karelian Bear Dog size stats at six months
Height: 17.0 inches Weight: 22.0 lbs
12 Months
Male Karelian Bear Dog size stats at 12 months
Height: 21.0 inches Weight: 35.0 lbs
Female Karelian Bear Dog size stats at 12 months
Height: 19.0 inches Weight: 35.0 lbs
18 Months
Male Karelian Bear Dog size stats at 18 months
Height: 22.0 inches Weight: 47.0 lbs
Female Karelian Bear Dog size stats at 18 months
Height: 21.0 inches Weight: 47.0 lbs

Karelian Bear Dog Owner Experiences

16 Weeks
2 People
House & Yard
Just picked her up today so getting her familiar with her new home
6 years, 5 months ago
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.
6 years, 4 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd