Karelian Bear Dog: Breed Information and Characteristics

Country of origin: Finland
Shoulder height: 55 – 60 cm
Weight: 17 – 28 kg
Age: 10 – 12 years
Colour: black or shaded brown with white markings
Use: hunting dog, sporting dog, companion dog

The Karelian Bear Dog comes from Finland and, as a passionate big game hunter, is very self-confident, fearless, and combative. He needs a clear hierarchy, sufficient exercise, and a lot of meaningful work, ideally as a hunting helper. He is not suitable for couch potatoes, dog beginners, or life in the city.

Origin and history

Hailing from Karelia, a Finnish-Russian border area, the Karelian Bear Dog is closely related to the European Laika breeds. In its homeland, it was mainly used for hunting well-fortified games such as bears and elks. The first breed standard was established in 1943, and in 1949 the breed was recognized by the FCI.


The Karelian Bear Dog is a hardy, medium-sized dog of the typical Nordic type. He has dense fur with rough, smooth top hair and a lot of soft undercoats. The fur is slightly longer on the neck and shoulders and forms a collar.

The ears are triangular and erect, the muzzle is pointed and the tail is carried in an arch over the back. The coat color is black or shaded brown with white markings on the head, neck, chest, belly, and legs.


Karelian Bear Dogs are very brave, persistent, and independent hunters. They were bred primarily to catch defensive large games such as moose, bears, or lynx. For this reason, they have a high level of self-confidence and a strong fighting instinct, which can also be felt towards other dogs. They are extremely territorial and defensive. A Karelian Bear Dog should therefore be socialized and used with other dogs as early as possible. Its upbringing requires a lot of patience, empathy, and consistency without being overly harsh.

Karelian Bear Dogs need close contact with their caregivers and family. However, it is important to establish a clear hierarchy with natural authority. The spirited Karelian Bear Dog needs a meaningful activity and sufficient exercise, preferably in its original form, hunting. Track work, agility or popular sports are suitable alternatives to hunting work. The sporty dog ​​is also an ideal and persistent companion on extensive ski tours or hikes. For lazy people, novice dogs, or city life, the Karelian Bear Dog is not suitable.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *