Karelian Bear Dog

Type: Hunting Dog

Height: 19 - 23.5 inches.

Weight: 44 - 50 lbs.

Life Span: 10 - 12 years.

Litter Size: 5 - 9 puppies.

Country of Origin: Finland

Activity: High

Watch-dog: High. Karelian Bear Dogs are very alert.

Guard-dog: High. They are defensive of their own, and are excellent guard dogs. They will fight to the death if necessary.

Description: The Karelian Bear Dog, also known as the Karjalankarhukoira, is a sturdy and well equipped hunting dog. They are used mainly for hunting still, and are not well-known outside of their native Finland. They are fierce dogs towards their prey, virtually fearless when pursuing their prey, which can be elk, boar, or bear! Karelian Bear Dogs are tough, independent, and excellent guard dogs. They are alert and aware of their surroundings, making them excellent watchdogs as well. The Karelian Bear Dog is mostly housed outside by owners in order to acclimate them to colder temperatures. Their bodies are clothed in harsh, medium length double coat designed for winter weather. They have triangular prick ears, excellent for listening to where the prey is. They come in colors of black and white, usually with white on the underside and black and top. Karelian Bear Dogs live up to their name in their aggressiveness towards other dogs and other animals. Forming a strong bond with their owner, the Karelian Bear Dog is a one-of-a-kind breed for the hunter, not as a family pet.

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Other Names: Karjalankarhukoira, Karelischer Barenhund, Karelsk Bjornhund

Colors: Black (sometimes with a brownish cast or dull) and white. They should be about 70% black and 30% white.

Coat: Usually black on the back, tail, and face, with a blaze of white up the middle of the face, on the throat, chest, feet and tail tip. The underbelly is usually white as well.

Temperament: Karjalankarhukoiras are strong, fearless and powerful. They share a close bond with their immediate owner, but are not good family pets. They do best as hunters. They have an excellent nose and a high prey drive, making them unsuitable around smaller pets. They are dog aggressive, but do fine around children. They are even tempered with friends and family, but wary of strangers. They will guard their own to the death if needed. Karelian Bear Dogs are solitary dogs, often preferring their own company to anyone else's. For this reason, they usually hunt alone and do not get along with other dogs. They are very courageous when called to be. They are said to be quiet unless they have cornered their quarry, in which they will bark until their master comes.

With Children: Yes, mild mannered with children.

With Pets: Not good with other dogs, aggressive.

Special Skills: Hunter and guard dog.

Care and Training: Karelian Bear Dogs need a lot of firm training. They should always be leashed in public, and kept away from other dogs. They should be socialized as well, to decrease the risk of an overly aggressive or nervous dog. Bathe them as necessary, brushing their fur when needed as well. Ears should always be checked for dirt or infection. Nails should be clipped regularly. Exercise is a must with this breed, as they should be exercised for an hour daily.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience - Low. Problem Solving - High.

Special Needs: Fenced yard, firm training, leash, outdoor activities, and socialization.

Living Environment: The Karelian Bear Dog is independent, outdoorsy and sometimes acts like a wolf with other dogs. They need a fenced yard and space to work in. They are also active, and need jobs to do. The best owner for this breed would be an experienced, active owner living in a rural environment with a job for the Bear Dog to do.

Health Issues: There are no known health concerns with this breed.

History: Believed to have descended from northern European native dogs, the Karelian Bear Dog has been used throughout history and even today as a hunter of elk and deer, as well as used to keep bears away. Karelian Bear Dogs are closely related to the Russo-European Laika, also used for the same purpose. The Karelian Bear Dog's name comes from the area of Karelia, Russia, near the Finnish border, and were given the name "Bear Dog" in their homeland. The breed developed mostly in the 1930s by the people of planned breeding programs of the Finnish Kennel Club, and is thus very rare outside of their homeland. They were accepted by their country's Kennel Club in 1935, and accepted by the FCI in 1946. Karelian Bear Dogs went on the decline during the Winter War between Russian and Finland in 1939 - 1940. By the 1960s, the Bear Dog was nearly wiped out due to owners not breeding their dogs carefully, and creating disappointing puppies to hunters. The breed was losing its elk hunting charm in the poor breeding practices. But soon after, conscientious breeders took the Karelian Bear Dog and brought it back to up to par. A Finnish breeder of the Bear Dog named Erkki Tuominen said of the future of the breed, "...its future depends on how we can retain and further develop its ability as an elkdog." The first breed standard was created in 1945. Karelian Bear Dogs have not been accepted by the AKC yet but have been put on the Foundation Stock Service list, awaiting registration. Today they are among the ten most common breeds in Finland, yet rare outside of it.

First Registered by the AKC: FSS (Foundation Stock Service - not yet eligible for the AKC)

AKC Group: FSS

Class: Sporting

Registries: FCI, UKC (Northern), CKC (Working), FSS