The Karelian Bear Dog


The Karelian Bear Dog originated in Finland.  Archeological records indicate that these canines have existed in northeastern Europe and Scandinavia Two Karelian Bear Dogs sitting on mountainsidesince Neolithic times.  These dogs were bred to help the settlers hunt bear, wolf and lynx.  The Karelian Bear Dog was first exhibited in 1936 in Helsinki, but almost became extinct after World War II.  All modern dogs of this breed can be traced back to forty dogs found and saved after the war.  Its numbers decreased again in the 1960s, the recently its popularity has been on the rise and this breed can now be found in North America and European countries.  In its homeland of Finland, this breed functions as a protector by warding off wolf and bear.  On this hunter’s list is also buck, wild boar, hare and moose.

In Alberta Canada the Karelian Bear Dogs are used as a non-lethal management process of pushing problem bears out of human-occupied areas.  This is a non-aggressive technique that has been used there for many years.  They have been also used in other wilderness areas like the  Glacier National Park to help deter bears from entering camp grounds and picnic areas.

The Karelian Bear Dog has small ears that point forward.  They have a dense fur which helps reduce the risk of frostbite. The short haired, all weather coat consists of straight stiff hair.  The under layer is soft and dense. This canine has a distinctive black and white coat.  A copper tint is typical.  The Bear Dog should be mostly black with white markings which should be distinct and appear on the head, neck, chest, abdomen and legs.  The tail is long and curves over the back with a white tip.  The body is sturdy and the back is well developed. They can weigh between 44 and 50 pounds and stand 19 to 23 inches in height.  The Karelian Bear Dog has a lifespan of 110 to 12 years.

Ideal human companions for the Bear Dog would be outdoorsy types, farmers and ranchers, families with older children and active singles.  Because they are extremely protective and very alert, the Bear Dogs are superb watchdogs.  They can be reserved with strangers, but are welcoming to friends and family.  Apartment life is not recommended for this breed.  They need acreage or a farm so they can run.  They do not like to be confined.  They do passably in an outdoor kennel as long as they have plenty of chances to run.  The Bear Dog is a very energetic canine and need daily exercise such as running along with a bicycle.  Be careful not to let two Bear Dogs run together – they tend to like to hunt in packs.  A large fenced in space is ideal for this breed.

This is not a breed for those new to having and caring for a dog.  The Karelian Bear Dog is a extremely brave and determined.  This loyal dog is skillful, sensitive and love to explore.

Photo:  Courtesy of GlacierNPS via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

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