Karelian Bear Dog
Karelian Bear Dog 0
Karelian Bear Dog 1
Karelian Bear Dog 0
Karelian Bear Dog 1

Karelian Bear Dog

Last updated: Sep 07 2023

The Karelian Bear Dog is a Finnish dog breed that is considered to be a national treasure. They are constantly on the top ten most popular dog breed lists in their native country. Its original Finnish name is Karjalankarhukoira and these dogs are renowned tor their hunting or treeing different prey. These fearless dogs used to hunt and fight aggressive and dangerous games such as bear, moose, lynx, wolves, and wild boar.

The Karelian Bear Dog was carefully bred to have a decent amount of aggressiveness in them as they needed that trait to successfully hunt and catch prey. That means that you will have to be a strong, dominant, and knowledgeable owner to make the Karelian Bear Dog into a good family pet.

Karelian Bear Dog


19-24 in (48-61 cm)

Karelian Bear Dog


44-49 lb (20-22 kg)

Karelian Bear Dog



Karelian Bear Dog

Life Expectancy:

11-13 years

Dog Breed Characteristics

Energy Level
Grooming Needs
Exercise Needs
Kid Friendly
Dog Friendly
General Health

The Karelian Bear Dog has some unique features and it is undeniably a Spitz-type dog. It has wolf or fox-like features that are characteristic of primitive breeds. Their ears are small and completely covered with fur. They have a thick double coat that was used as an insulator from the extreme colds in the Scandinavian weather.

The Karelian Bear Dog is considered medium-sized and powerfully built. They have a robust composition and a well-muscled body. Typically most Spitz breeds have a tail that is curled over their backs.

karelian bear dog


Karelian Bear Dog has a straight and stiff outer coat and a soft and thick undercoat. Their coat serves as protection from various weather conditions.

These dogs shed year-round, but twice a year, they will blow their entire coat, and at that period, daily brushing is required to keep the dog looking good and to keep the amount of hair around the house under control.

Karelian Bear Dog coat colors:

  • Black

Many dogs have clearly defined markings on the head, neck, chest, belly, and legs.

The rest is basic care; trim their nails when needed (if they don't wear them down naturally), brush their teeth weekly to prevent tartar buildup and bacteria development. Regularly check their ears for any sign of redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. You can wipe their ears with a cotton ball dipped into an ear cleaner.

The key for your dog to get used to all things mentioned above is to start early with them. Make a positive experience for the dog, full of praises and rewards, and you can be sure your dog will enjoy all these things when they grow up.

Karelian Bear Dog temperament

The Karelian Bear Dogs’ temperament is praised by Finnish hunters. They say that these dogs have a natural hunting ability and are great guards and watchdogs. They are fairly intelligent and are able to make their own decisions, especially while hunting.

This breed is also very energetic and needs a lot of daily exercise and activities to remain happy, and healthy and not become destructive. They have been carefully bred through centuries to become the best possible hunters, and a direct result of that is their aggressiveness towards other animals.

This is not a breed that should be kept in households that has other pets, especially small ones like ferrets, rabbits, gerbils, or guinea pigs.

Karelian Bear Dog socialization

The Karelian Bear Dog’s socialization process is one of the most important things you will have to do if you would like to have this breed as a pet. These dogs need to be exposed to different animals, situations, and people as soon as possible so they could learn to adapt to any situation and not react in a way their natural instincts tell them to react.

The socialization of the Karelian Bear Dog puppy should begin as soon as they arrive at your home. Just make sure that you provide them with plenty of mental and physical exercise every day so they are not additionally bothered by their cooped-up energy.


Karelian Bear Dog is an excellent family dog that will get along with every family member, including children. Note that kids need to be taught how to properly play and interact with a dog so Karelian Bear Dog can enjoy their company. If they are raised together from an early age, they will be their playing parting, and they will enjoy spending time together.

Children should never be left alone with any dog, no matter what breed it might be. You should make sure that your children understand how to approach dogs of this breed and understand how to interact and play with them properly.

Other animals

Karelian Bear Dogs are not so fond of other dogs and pets. They can, in some cases, become aggressive. Right and correct socialization is essential if you want to have a well-behaved dog, and although you provide them with the correct socialization, Karelian Bear Dogs are best suited to be solo pets in the house.

Health problems

Like any other dog breed, the Karelian Bear Dog can potentially develop health problems. If you are buying a dog, make sure the breeder can provide you with the necessary health tests and guarantees. Always ask to see the results of tests from the puppy’s parents. The health problems these dogs are associated with are: 

  • Hip dysplasia - Genetic problem affecting hips resulting from an improperly formed hip joint.
  • Eye problems

The Karelian Bear Dog is generally considered a very healthy breed that can live 11-13 years.

To be sure that your dog will be healthy, always buy him from a responsible dog breeder who regularly tests their breeding dogs to secure that their puppies will be healthy as well


When getting a dog, the most important thing is to get it from a responsible and reputable Karelian Bear Dog breeder. Responsible breeders will breed dogs that don’t only look good but have great characters as well. You must find a good Karelian Bear Dog breeder that can help you learn about this breed and make an informed choice about getting a dog with these characteristics

Karelian Bear Dog is still a rare dog breed, and if you are interested in getting one of these dogs, you must be prepared that you will be put on the waiting list.

When you bring your new puppy home, start with the training and socialization immediately. By doing so, you will end up with a well-behaved dog whom you can trust. Provide him with enough daily exercise for him to be happy. If you devote your time and energy to this dog, you can be sure that you will have a companion for life.

World Dog Finder team


Updated at07.09.2023.

Breed History

The ancestors of the modern-day Karelian Bear Dog have been traced back to Neolithic times and it is believed that they have been utilized by people to help them hunt and survive. These dogs were mostly used for hunting small game like rabbits or squirrels but these dogs were more than capable of taking on much larger aggressive prey.

karelian bear dog

The modern-day Karelian Bear Dog is still used to hunt in its native country of Finland as well as across the whole of Scandinavia and northern parts of Russia. This breed came near extinction after World War II and most of the Karelian Bear Dogs today can trace their lineage back to the 40 surviving specimens in the 1940s.