Karelian Bear Dog

Other names/Nicknames:
  • Bjornhund
  • Karjalankarhukoira
Country/Date of origin:
  • Finland
  • 1600′s
  • 18 to 23 inches
  • 44 to 50 pounds
  • This is a one-person dog.
  • Brave, determined, and fierce.
  • Very self-confident.
  • Aggressive towards strangers.
  • Quarrelsome with other dogs.  Will attack.

A Spitz-type dog, the Karelian Bear Dog was used by the early Finnish settlers to hunt bear, lynx and wolf.  It was used in vast numbers at the turn of the 20th century and was recognized by the Finnish Kennel Club in 1935.  The striking black and white markings and light colored eyes make the dog distinctive in appearance but it has not gotten very popular outside of Scandinavia because of its fierce and quarrelsome nature.  This makes a good dog to take against bears but a difficult one to live with, especially in cities and suburban areas.

Body Type:
  • Spitz-like in appearance.
  • The tail is high set and carried in an arch over the back.  It is not altered, but some are born with a bobtail.
  • The ears are carried erect and are not altered.
  • Eyes are light in color, usually yellow, adding a piercing stare to the already intense attention the dog gives to its surroundings.
  • Not as profuse or long as other sled-dog types, but thick.
  • Harsh in texture.
  • The acceptable color is black with white markings on the muzzle, neck, chest, legs, and tip of the tail.
  • Moderate grooming required.
  • Seasonal shedding.
Health and Wellness:
  • Generally robust.
What you should know:
  • Not recommended as a family pet or for the first time dog owner.
  • Extremely hard to obtain outside its native country.
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