Karelian Bear Dog


Originally used as a bear hound, he is nowadays mostly used for companionship and show. The Karelian Bear Dog has become a very appreciated and widespread life companion in his country. In spite of his sometimes difficult temperament, addressing his lack of docility is possible thanks to a rigorous training, and thus making him an excellent companion that can make the entire household happy.

Height 49 to 60 cm
Weight 17 to 28 kg
Life expectancy 11 to 13 years
Home country Finland

Quick Overview of the Karelian Bear Dog


  • Balanced and kind
  • Tenacious and courageous
  • Quite reserved
  • Compatible with all


  • Strong and robust constitution
  • Slightly longer than tall silhouette
  • Bright eyes with an energetic look
  • Straight coat


  • Robust and resistant
  • Rarely ill
  • Enduring
  • No particular pathology

Temperament of the Karelian Bear Dog

Balanced, kind, tenacious, courageous and quite reserved, the Karelian Bear Dog is a good companion and is compatible with everyone, even children. He is also very patient with them.

Sociable and rarely aggressive, he needs however a good education to master his sometimes rebellious character.

Very gentle, affectionate and loyal in family, he is hardy, lively and tenacious when hunting. His sense of smell is very developed, even though it is no longer used for hunting nowadays.

Like all Nordic dogs, he is temperamental and independent, and even if he is not really aggressive, he is rather reserved with strangers and warns of the arrival of newcomers on his territory as soon as he sees them.

chien d'ours de carélie personnalité

Breed Appearance

Karelian bear dog

This medium-sized dog has a strong, robust constitution. His silhouette is a little longer than tall, and he is endowed with beautiful muscles and a thick, abundant fleece.

His lively eyes give him an energetic aura and reveal his vivacity.


Between 54 and 60 cm (21.26 to 23.62 inches) for the male
Between 49 and 55 cm (19.29 to 21.65 inches) for the female


Between 25 and 28 kg (55.12 to 61.73 pounds) for the male
Between 17 and 22 kg (37.48 to 48.50 pounds) for the female


The color of his coat is usually opaque black or slightly brownish. It is often dotted with white patches on the legs, abdomen, chest, neck and head.


His stiff, smooth coat is medium-long and has a dense, very soft undercoat.


His head is broad with a slight stop. His small oval eyes are generally brown in all possible shades.

His erect ears are medium size and set high. His nose is all black. His tail is carried curved in full arch.

According to the FCI breeds nomenclature, this breed belongs to group 5, section 2 and is #48

Karelian Bear Dog pictures

Tips About this breed

This well-balanced and patient dog with children can sometimes be totally disobedient.

He must benefit from a rigorous education and a master who is worthy of his strong and independent character.

The Karelian bear dog can easily live anywhere and adapt to all  types of owners.

However, the master must be firm and respect the sometimes primitive nature of his dog.

Since he is not afraid of cold or heat, he can live indoors as well as outdoors and will be very happy in both cases.

Also, in a garden, he makes an excellent guard dog, alerting as soon as a stranger approaches but, like any good Nordic dog, he likes to dig, so it is best to keep him away from flower beds.

Socialization needs to be instilled at a very early age even though it is usually easy.

It is mainly aimed at making him accept his fellow men with whom he sometimes has a tendency to fight, especially those of the same sex.

Health of the Karelian Bear Dog

Robust and incredibly resistant, this dog is almost never sick.

He is unaffected by any particular pathology and enjoys excellent health. His life expectancy is not among the highest, but remains within average.


His dress is easy to care for and only needs to be brushed from time to time. No other special care is necessary.

History of this breed

This ancient Finnish breed was at one time widespread in the region of the Finnish-Russian border in the provinces of Lake Ladoga and Karelen.

The Karelian Bear Dog is said to be descended from the Zyrian (Komi) dog, which is widely used for various types of hunting in Karelia. So the Komi is the ancestor of the Karelian Bear Dog.

The first goal of his creation was to obtain a robust dog that could face big game. The breed, as it is known today, was officially recognized in 1935 by the Finnish Kennel Club, receiving his first standard in 1945 and having his first specimens entered in the Book of Origins in 1946.

He was named Karelian Bear Dog for political reasons. Karelia was divided between Russia and Finland at the time, so the Finns did not want to emphasize the dog's Finnish origins.

Finland and Russia fought over the breed, but Russia later changed its mind and only recognized the native breeds, including the Karelian Finnish Laika, which looks a lot like the Karelian Bear Dog.

Used as a hunting, guard, companion and show dog, the Karelian Bear Dog is now fairly widespread in his country.

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