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15 Dog Breeds Who Look Like Bears: Pictures, Origin & Facts

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Portait of Chow Chow dog

15 Dog Breeds Who Look Like Bears: Pictures, Origin & Facts

Just because dogs descended from wolves doesn’t mean that they can’t look like other animals. Many dog breeds have bear-like qualities that could cause them to be mistaken for certain species of bears. While these breeds may share certain physical characteristics and origins, they’re distinctly different from one another. Read on to learn about 15 of the most bear-like dog breeds, their origin, and their personalities.

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How Are Dogs That Look Like Bears Classified?

Dogs that look like bears are typically large or extra-large purebred dog breeds, though that isn’t always the case, as you’ll see with breed number three on our list below. These dogs have bear-like qualities to them beyond their size, too. They often have thick coats, rounded ears, and a long snout, though they don’t have to have all these characteristics to be classified as bearish.

The 15 Dog Breeds Who Look Like Bears

1. Chow Chow

chow chow
Image Credit: Marius-Kristensen, Pixabay
Origin: China
Height: 17–20 inches
Lifespan: 9–15 years

Chow Chows have a thick mane that gives them a sweet, cuddly, and decidedly bear-like appearance. These muscular and deep-chested dogs are dignified, aloof, and have an almost cat-like air about them. They’re an ancient breed, with artifacts dating back to 150 B.C. displaying their likeness. Though they generally only grow to be 20 inches maximum, they’re powerful and compactly built. These reliable working dogs were bred to work on farms and alongside hunters, though they got their start as companions for Chinese nobles.

2. Maremma Sheepdog

Image Credit: RossHelen, Shutterstock
Origin: Italy
Height: 24–29 inches
Lifespan: 11–13 years

The Maremma Sheepdog is a large and distinctive-looking dog breed with bear-like heads and black noses (though their noses do sometimes turn pink as they age). This Italian breed was originally bred to work as livestock guardians and is often put alongside sheep as young as 40 days old so they can form bonds with them. These friendly and well-balanced dogs make great companions, and due to their loyalty and bravery, they make excellent guard dogs, too.

3. Pomeranian

black pomeranian puppy on focus photo
Image Credit: Pearl Lynn, Unsplash
Origin: Germany
Height: 6–7 inches
Lifespan: 12–16 years

Pomeranians may not look like bears in size as a toy breed, but they certainly have a teddy-bear-ish quality to them thanks to their fluffy coat and rounded ears. These confident and curious pups were originally bred as companion dogs. They were favored by royalty, and Queen Victoria’s particularly small Pom was the reason why this breed is the size it is today. The original Pomeranian was about twice the size of the modern one we know and love.

4. Keeshond

Keeshond running in the forrest
Image Credit: Andrea Schmoell, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Height: 17–18 inches
Lifespan: 13–15 years

The Keeshond’s small, upright, rounded ears give them bear-like qualities. Like the Pomeranian, the Keeshond looks more like a teddy bear than the bears you’d find in the wild, but we still had to include them on our list. This old breed was originally used as watchdogs and family companions. Some lived on farms and barges, where they were depended upon to control vermin populations. The modern Keeshond is friendly, eager to please, and intelligent. They make fantastic agility and obedience dogs and are great with children.

5. Akita

Japanese Akita Inu dog standing in the forest
Image Credit: Botond Horvath, Shutterstock
Origin: Japan
Height: 24–28 inches
Lifespan: 10–12 years

Akitas are quiet and temperamental spitz-type dogs with subtle bear-ish qualities thanks to their thick coats and rounded ears. They were originally bred to hunt bears and act as guardians. These powerful dogs are territorial about their property, and most are reserved around strangers. They are very strong and independent. Some studies suggest that Akitas are prone to canine aggression due to certain genetic variants.

6. Newfoundland Dog

Newfoundland dog standing in the grass
Image Credit: Oleg Mirabo,, Shutterstock
Origin: Newfoundland and Labrador
Height: 26–28 inches
Lifespan: 8–10 years

The Newfoundland Dog is a large breed of working dog that not only looks like a bear but also acts like one in some capacity. These pups excel at water rescue thanks to their thick coat, webbed paws, and natural swimming abilities. Despite their large and hefty bodies, bears are also very strong swimmers. While they typically swim for survival and hunting, some species take a dip in the water casually, which may suggest they find it enjoyable. Don’t let the Newfoundland’s imposing size intimidate you, though. These big lovebugs are sweet dogs with patient dispositions.

7. Leonberger

Image Credit: Ricantimages, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Height: 25–31 inches
Lifespan: 8–9 years

The Leonberger is a gigantic, gentle, lovable, and friendly dog breed. These dogs are family dogs, first and foremost. However, as sweet and gentle as Leonbergers are, they still need proper training and socialization to grow into well-rounded adult dogs. The fantastic qualities that make this breed so loving make sense when considering that Leonbergers were bred primarily for use as companions. It’s their huge stature, thick coat, and bear-like face that earns them a spot on our list.

8. Tibetan Mastiff

Red Tibetan mastiff for a walk in the forest
Image Credit: Kat_marinina, Shutterstock
Origin: Tibet
Height: 24–26+ inches
Lifespan: 12–15 years

The Tibetan Mastiff is a beast of a dog, weighing between 140 and 200 pounds. It’s this gigantic stature, along with their head shape and long coat, that makes them resemble a bear. These large dogs were originally bred to protect Buddhist monasteries from large game like wolves, bears, and leopards. The Tibetan Mastiff is an intelligent and protective pet that enjoys guarding and spending time with their human family.

9. Eurasier

eurasier dog running outdoor
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Height: 19–24 inches
Lifespan: 12–16 years

The Eurasier is a confident and well-balanced spitz-type dog with prick ears. They have a fluffy coat and bear-like appearance, but their personality is anything but ferocious or aggressive like bears. Eurasiers are calm and even-tempered dogs that form extremely strong bonds with their family members. They are the product of cross-breeding other dogs you’ll read about today: Chow Chows, Samoyeds, and Keeshonds.

10. Samoyed

White Samoyed Dog in Snow
Image Credit: Rainer Eck, Pexels
Origin: Russia
Height: 19–23 inches
Lifespan: 12–14 years

Samoyeds are a spitz-type breed originating from the frigid region of Northern Russia. They’re a strong and intelligent breed, originally bred for sled pulling, herding, and hunting. These dogs, with their fluffy coats and triangular ears, look like polar bears, especially when they are puppies. However, Samoyeds aren’t at all like polar bears in temperament. These friendly and happy pups make awful guard dogs, though they can be diligent watchdogs, alerting their owners with barks when something approaches their territory.

11. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute dog standing in the snow
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock
Origin: Alaska
Height: 23–25 inches
Lifespan: 10–14 years

Alaskan Malamutes are a large dog breed bred for their exceptional strength and endurance. These strong dogs can pull up to 3,300 pounds of weight if trained properly. Like other Arctic breeds, these pups originally worked as sled dogs and hound dogs. While many people compare the Malamutes’ appearance to a wolf, their small, pointed ears and fluffy coats also give them a bear-like look. This breed is very friendly, but they have a strong and independent temperament that may make them dominant and manipulative at times.

12. Bouvier Des Flandres

The Bouvier des Flandres stands on the green grass
Image Credit: volofin, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Height: 24–27 inches
Lifespan: 10–12 years

The Bouvier Des Flandres may not be a household name like some of the other breeds on our list, but these wire-coated and fluffy dogs certainly earn their spot on this list. This is a herding dog breed originally used for farm work like cart pulling and cattle droving, though modern Bouvier Des Flandres now find work as police and guard dogs (and, of course, family companions). These dogs have a rugged appearance with a heavy beard and mustache that gives the impression of size and strength, like a mighty bear. However, that’s where their bear-like qualities end. These gentle, even-tempered, and loyal dogs make fantastic family pets and very useful guard dogs.

13. Caucasian Shepherd

big fluffy caucasian shepherd dog cheerfully runs to the camera
Image Credit: Tatianasoba, Shutterstock
Origin: Russia
Height: 20–30 inches
Lifespan: 10–12 years

One look at the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, and you’ll see how they made it on our list. These dogs have thick, luscious coats, which were necessary in their homeland of Russia to keep them warm in some of Earth’s coldest temperatures. Sometimes also known as the Caucasian Ovcharka, these dogs have round ears set atop their large heads and come in colors like black, brown, or tan, immediately evoking the image of a bear. These fearless dogs were bred to be herd and home guardians, and though they’re very affectionate and loving toward their family members, they maintain these loyal protector qualities today.

14. Karelian Bear Dog

Karelian bears dog Closeup
Image Credit: Tereza Vana, Shutterstock
Origin: Finland
Height: 19–23 inches
Lifespan: 11–13 years

How could we not include the Karelian Bear Dog with “bear” literally in their breed title? This confident and independent breed has bear-like facial features and can even be mistaken for their namesake at certain angles. The reason this breed has “bear” in their name isn’t actually because they look like them but because they were excellent bear hunters at one point in their history. These medium-sized spitz-type dogs were originally bred for hunting large and aggressive game like bears, moose, and wild boar alone.

15. Swedish Lapphund

Origin: Sweden
Height: 16–20 inches
Lifespan: 12–14 years

The Swedish Lapphund is a playful and obedient dog breed with a thick coat, narrow snouts, and pointy ears. They come in all sorts of bear-like colors, including black, brown, and reddish brown. This breed was originally bred for herding and guarding reindeer, but modern Swedish Lappies make fantastic family companions. They have an on/off switch that allows them to be high energy and athletic but also relaxing and chill when required. Swedish Lapphunds especially thrive in homes where they’re included in all the same activities as the rest of their human pack.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Ricantimages, Shutterstock

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