AKC Dog Breeds: Karelian Bear Dog

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height: 19-24 inches   Weight: 44-49 pounds  Color: Black with white markings on head, chest, neck, legs, and abdomen

The Karelian Bear Dog is a Finnish or Karelian breed of dog. Karelian Bear Dog's are capable of hunting over any terrain and in any type of weather. Although closely related to the Russian Laika breeds, the Karelian Bear is more domesticated. In its home country it is regarded as a national treasure. In Finland they are more often used for hunting moose and elk although they will hunt any kind of animal. Bear and moose tests are conducted in Finland, Sweden and Norway to determine an individual's ability as a beardog and weighs heavily in the dogs breeding potential. This dog will put a bear to flight or attack it with great pugnacity and will sacrifice its own life for its master. Its quick reflexes and fearless nature have also made it very popular for hunting other aggressive game such as the wild boar. It was the breed's ability to hunt and offer protection against a bear that earned the breed its name. The Karelian Bear Dog is a silent hunter, and only barks once the game is stopped or treed. Working with an experienced hunter, he communicates the type of animal he has located at by the sound of his bark. The first Karelian Bear Dogs were registered in the Finnish Kennel Club in 1946. Today the breed is one of the top10 most common breeds in Finland.

General Appearance
The Karelian Bear Dog breed possesses a striking appearance, is attractive, and distinctive. The Karelian Bear Dog is of medium-size, sturdy, and robustly built. They have a demeanor of dignity, bravery, and are fearless. The dog should be in excellent physical condition. Males stand 54 to 60 cm (22 to 24 inches) at the withers, while females stand significantly shorter at 49 to 55 cm (19 to 22 inches). The Karelian Bear Dog is a double coat breed. The coat is weather-resistant. The outer coat is straight, harsh in texture, and of medium length. The under coat is dense, thick, and soft. The hair is slightly longer and more profuse around the neck, on the back, and at the breeches. The ears are lined with dense fur to protect against frost bite. There should be no curl in the hair at all. The color must be black with white markings. Often the jet black hair is slightly tinted with brownish highlights on the ends giving it an iridescent quality. Preferably the color percentage is around 70% black and 30% white. The bushy tail curls in a circle over the back in a ring and has a white tip. It falls gently onto the dog's back or to one side. Purebred KBD do not have a sickle shaped tail. It must curve into a circle.

The Karelian Bear Dog has a good sense of humor. It is sensitive, independent, intelligent, skillful, tough on itself, and energetic. A robust, persistent, and powerful dog, it is willing to take on virtually any game animal. This dog is very loyal to its owner's family and makes a good household companion when it has owners who know how to display leadership and the dog is extensively trained. This is not a breed for the casual pet owner, the Karelian Bear Dog is a hunter of unyielding bravery and determination. The true outdoors enthusiast and dedicated hunter can look to this hard-working breed with delight and utter satisfaction. Owners must be capable of handling this very forceful canine. They are affectionate towards people and will announce both welcome and unwelcome visitors. Visitors the dogs knows well will get an enthusiastic welcome while strangers may be treated coldly. They will do okay with children and non-canine pets they have been raised with. The Karelian Bear Dog breed is exceedingly protective of their family, home, and territory, and have a tendency to be aggressive toward dogs and strangers. They are loyal, sensitive, intelligent, and independent. They are persistent, determined, and energetic.


The Karelian Bear Dog breed is an average shedder. Regular combing and brushing is recommended to remove loose and dead hair and minimize shedding. Bathing should only be done when absolutely necessary. It is important to routinely check the ears and paw pads for debris and maintain the nails.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
There are no known health issues associated with the Karelian Bear Dog. The Karelian Bear Dog has a life expectancy of 10-12 years.

Activity Level
Karelian Bear Dog's are not recommended for apartment living. They require an inordinate amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation. This is not a dog that can be tied to a lead outside, kept in an apartment or never worked with. They are very social, outside hunting dogs and they need plenty of space to run free and get lots of exercise. If they get bored they will dig up the yard or try to get out to go hunting. These traits tend to prevent the breed from becoming popular companion dogs. The Karelian Bear Dog is a very energetic dog. It should be exercised with a brisk walk at least an hour each day. If you can keep this dog well under control, it will enjoy exercising by running alongside a bicycle.


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