Karelian Bear Dog

Description Karelian Bear Dog

Brave, Persistent, Loyal
He loves to go hunting with his human in the forests of Scandinavia and track down moose or bears. He roams the thicket independently, constantly looking for a trail. Also known as Karjalankarhukoira or Björnhund, the Karelian Bear Dog knows what it wants. He is not a beginner dog. This active dog belongs in the hands of an experienced hunter.FCI Group: Spitz – Primitive type dogs

  • Size: medium
  • Weight: 20-23kg
  • Life expectancy: 11-13 years
  • Coat type: short hair
  • Colours: black, black and white

Character Karelian Bear Dog

The body size varies, depending on gender, between 52 cm in bitches and 57 cm in males. The Karelian Bear Dog is a typical Spitz with a robust, strong build. From the front, the head looks wedge-shaped. If you look at the head from the side, you will see that the bridge of the nose is straight and the stop is only slightly pronounced.
With its black nose, the hunting dog can sniff out and track the finest smells.

The pointed, high-set ears stand erect, ready to pick up every faint sound of game. With relatively small but expressive eyes, he looks at you attentively. You can clearly see the strong muscles on the chest, neck and shoulders. The Karelian Bear Dog carries its tail, like all Spitz, curled over its back.
You can recognize the breed by the fur markings, in addition to the body shape.

The animals are black with white markings on the neck and chest. In addition, the paws and the tip of the tail are white. A fine white blaze from the forehead to the nose and a white ring around the neck are permitted. The colors should be clearly separated from each other. Black spots in the white areas are undesirable.

Originally, the Karelian Bear Dog came in several colors. With the beginning of breeding, only black and white animals were used for reproduction.
The top coat is short, dense, rough and smooth. It is slightly longer at the neck, back and thighs. As an adaptation to the northern climate, the dogs have developed soft, dense undercoats.

Karelian Bear Dogs are strong in character and balanced. When hunting, they move silently through dense undergrowth and track down any game. The powerhouses are brave enough to take on bears and mooses. They are never aggressive towards people. The Karelian Bear Dog is always friendly and loyal, especially to “his” people.

He is suspicious of strangers.
In the Scandinavian countries there is a working test for this breed.

Diet Karelian Bear Dog

You have to feed this dog, which is constantly on the move, accordingly. He has a higher energy requirement than a normal family dog. Make sure the feed contains a lot of meat and little grain.
Now you could give your dog more normal food to meet its increased energy needs. Then he would eat more calories.

That’s right, but he’d get more of all the other ingredients too. This can quickly lead to overdoses. In addition, he would have to eat and above all digest a large amount of food. This puts unnecessary strain on the body.
It is best to feed them a special food for performance dogs.

This gives your four-legged friend the required amount of calories. All other ingredients, such as vitamins and minerals, are included as required.
Another possibility is that you add special supplementary feed to the normal feed. The medium-chain fatty acids it contains are highly digestible. In this way, your dog absorbs more energy, despite the same ration.

You should feed an adult Karelian Bear Dog once a day. He must always have fresh water available.
You can tell whether your dog is at the right weight by looking at its flank. If the rear ribs are visible, he is at his ideal weight.
Obesity harms your four-legged friend just as much as it does a person.

Tendons and joints are heavily loaded and there are significant signs of wear.


The short coat requires little maintenance. You should only brush it more often during the moult to remove the loose hair from the undercoat.
Your Karelian Bear Dog is an active, independent dog. You have a hard time convincing him to stay on your own farm. He easily jumps over a 2 meter high fence to follow an enticing scented trail.

In its homeland it can happen that the stubborn dog disappears into the forest and only reappears days later. Something like that doesn’t work in Germany, of course.
This breed was bred to independently locate game over long distances and then bark. The barking irritates the game and stays where it is. At the same time, the hunter is informed where the game is.

Expect your dog to stray far, really far, away from you on walks. This can be dangerous if he crosses streets unsupervised. You must consistently keep him on a leash.
Due to his bred barking behavior, he is a good guard. Every stranger or other animal is immediately barked loudly.

The Karelian Bear Dog is constantly active and has a high urge to move. You should definitely avoid keeping it purely as an apartment. Of course he can come into the house, but he needs a lot of space in a yard or property. To really keep him busy give him a task. It is ideal for the courageous fighter when used for hunting.

The Karelian Bear Dog is not suitable as a companion or family dog. Even life in the city does not correspond to his nature. He needs spacious terrain to exercise physically.
He is often aggressive towards other dogs and tends to fight. If you want to raise a Karelian Bear Dog, you need a lot of patience, even more experience and a strong hand.


The breed comes from Finland, more precisely from the province of Karelia. The original landscape with the harsh climate shaped the strong, stocky physique of the animals. Village dogs of this type have long lived in the Finnish-Russian border region.
They accompanied people on hunts and guarded houses and yards. The dogs courageously tracked down moose and even bears in addition to smaller animals.

They occupied the animals with their barking until the hunter came up and fired. In addition, the strong dogs were harnessed to sleds when needed or had to carry firewood.
The roots of the Karelian Bear Dog are probably on the western side of the Urals. He is descended from dogs that lived in the taiga. Centuries ago, Russian hunters brought it from there to its current range.

It is closely related to the European Laika dogs.
Finnish dog breeders only became aware of this hunting dog around 1920. The actual breeding began in 1936. In 1946 the first dog was entered in the studbook.
In 1949, the FCI recognized the Karelian Bear Dog as a breed.

He is popular and valued as a hunting dog in Scandinavia.

Karelian Bear Dog Accessories

The basic equipment includes a food bowl and a water bowl.
Your dog needs a resting place to retreat to. It doesn’t matter whether your dog lives inside or outside, the quiet zone must be equipped with a blanket or a basket. If your four-legged friend spends most of his time in the yard, he must have a place that is protected from the weather. A well-insulated cabin keeps out the heat in summer and the cold in winter.

A sturdy collar and leash are essential for walking. Get a tight leash. Please do not hang your Karelian Bear Dog on a flexible leash. Otherwise you end up dragged along as an appendage on a rushing dog.
A transport cage for your car is recommended for vet visits etc.

When it comes to toys, let your dog decide. Some prefer to run after throwing toys, others prefer toys to chew or tug on.

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