Karelian Bear Dog

Karelian Bear Dog
Photo: Patatran/Getty Images
Last Updated on February 11, 2020 by Bridget Shirvell

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 44 – 50 pounds
  • Height: 19 – 23 inches

The Look of a Karelian Bear Dog

Karelian Bear Dogs have strong, medium-sized frames covered in short, dense, straight coats that usually come in black with white markings. Their wedge-shaped heads have erect ears, small eyes and Spitz-like tails that curl over the back. Overall, Karelian Bear Dogs have an alert and sturdy look.


  • Tough
  • Protective
  • Athletic
  • Dependable
  • Playful

Ideal Human Companion

  • Outdoorsy types
  • Farmers & ranchers
  • Families with older children
  • Active singles

What They Are Like to Live With

The Karelian Bear Dog is a friendly, playful member of any household. They have a warm, outgoing personality and play very well with children. But, they do appreciate a little downtime after an active day, often withdrawing to a quiet place to rest.

Fearlessly protective and extremely alert, these dogs are superb watchdogs. They are reserved with strangers but very welcoming to family and friends. With the proper training and socialization, the Karelian Bear Dog can be an ideal household companion and a lifelong friend to everyone in the family.

Things You Should Know

Karelian Bear Dogs can live as long as 13 years with relatively few health problems. Some may develop hip dysplasia or eye problems. Grooming the Karelian Bear Dog is relatively simple. Just brush its short, dense coat occasionally, especially during shedding seasons.

These canines like wide-open spaces and a certain amount of freedom. Therefore, apartment life might not suit them very well. Karelian Bear Dogs have powerful hunting instincts, so always walk them on a leash and keep them in a well-fenced yard.

Karelian Bear Dog History

Hailing from northwestern Europe, the Karelian Bear Dog was the dog of choice for Russian and Finnish farmers, hunters and peasants. Because these people lived on wild boar, deer, elk and hare, their dogs had to be tough and resilient hunters—traits the Karelian Bear Dog had in spades. A top breed in Finland, the Karelian Bear Dog is slowly gaining popularity in the United States.

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