The Karelian Bear Dog, known at the Karjalankarhukoira in the breed’s native Finland, is a strong, powerful and alert dog that hunts small to large game. Bred to be aggressive towards other animals, this pup is very successful at hunting and has high activity levels and exercise needs. But does this mean they can make a good family dog?
Despite their somewhat aggressive nature towards other animals, the Karelian Bear Dog is very loyal to their family and can make a wonderful watchdog. Of course, they need a lot of training and socialization, but with the right owner who will dedicate their time to this pup and give them lots of exercise, the Karelian can become a loving and gentle member of the house.
If you’re interested in learning more about this purebred dog breed and seeing whether they might be the right pup for you, keep reading below.
History Of The Karelian Bear Dog
The Karelian Bear Dog is a hunting dog that is still prized by big game hunters today. They are used at Yosemite and Glacier National Parks for bear control, as well as with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. However, they can also make a great companion for families when placed in the right environment.
The Karelian Bear Dog is not fully recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). However, it is included in their Foundation Stock Service which helps keep records of the breed’s lineage and allows them to compete in some competitions.
The Karelian Bear Dog is a Spitz-type breed of dog that is thought to have existed way back in the Neolithic times in northeastern Europe and Scandinavia. The people who lived in these regions relied on the Karelian to hunt their food to keep them alive and so they were continuously bred for this reason. The Karelian could hunt squirrel, hares, and other small game, but they were also capable of hunting large, aggressive animals, such as bears, lynxes, wild boars, wolves, and moose.
After World War II, the Karelian Bear Dog almost became extinct. The Karelians that are around today can be traced back to the 40 Karelians that were saved during this time. Fortunately, this breed became more popular and is now one of the most popular breeds in Finland. They are also currently bred in the United States and in countries in Europe.
Characteristics Of The Karelian Bear Dog
The Karelian Bear Dog is certainly not the pup for everyone. They are not advised for first time owners purely because of their temperament and needs that are required due to this temperament.
A Karelian Bear Dog is normally born in litter sizes of between five to eight puppies. A Karelian Bear Dog puppy can cost anywhere between $1400 and $1700, although it will depend on the breeder. You should always make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder.
The Karelian is a medium sized dog that weighs between 44 and 50 lbs and will stand between 19 and 24 inches in height. Males are usually bigger than females.
These dogs have an athletic body that is robustly built. They are usually longer than they are tall and their head is shaped like a blunt wedge. Their ears are small and cocked, pointing upwards and their tail is long and curls over their back, in a typical Spitz manner.
The Karelian Bear Dog has a double coat — the outer layer is straight and stiff and the under layer is a fine, soft, thick undercoat. There should be no curl in the fur. Their coat keeps them warm in the Scandinavian weather and protects them from the elements.
The Karelian is known to shed and will have two blowouts a year. They will need constant grooming, although we will go into more detail about that later on.
The breed standard states that the Karelian Bear Dog should be black and white. They should be primarily black with white markings, which are distinct and occur on the head, neck, chest, abdomen and legs.
That being said, ancestors of Karelian Bear Dogs had coats of wolf gray, red, or black and tan. Today, these are considered to be a fault, as are black speckles in the white sections of fur.
The Karelian Bear Dog is a confident, alert and brave breed of dog that is known for their hunting abilities of aggressive and large animals. This can make them an aggressive breed generally, which means they need an owner who is willing to spend time socializing and training them until they learn that not everything is a threat.
Once socialized into a household, the Karelian Bear Dog is very loyal to their family members and will like to spend their days with their owners. They can make excellent guard dogs and watch dogs and will bark to alert you if anything is wrong or out of place. They are very aloof with strangers and animals they don’t know, which is why, again, socialization is so important.
An active and intelligent breed, it is very important that the Karelian stays entertained and engaged. If they are bored or frustrated, they can become very destructive and will resort to chewing and scratching. This is another reason that they need a strong and consistent owner who can tell them right from wrong.
The Karelian Bear Dog has an average life expectancy of between 10 to 13 years.
Known Health Issues
The Karelain Bear Dog is a relatively healthy breed. However, like all dogs, they are prone to some health problems.
– Hip Dysplasia — this is when the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.
– Eye Problems — you should check your Karelian Bear Dog’s eyes regularly for any signs of issues or infection. You may also suspect they are suffering from eye problems if they bump into furniture. Regular vet check ups will help to diagnose any eye issues early on.
Remember — buy from a reputable breeder and the chances your dog will suffer any health conditions will be greatly reduced.
Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Karelian Bear Dog, it is time to take a look at what living with one of these dogs on a day to day basis is really like. They do have high care needs and are not the pup for first time owners. However, if you’ve got the time and patience to work with this dog, they are very loving and can be a wonderful family member. Read on below to find out more.
Food And Diet
The Karelian Bear Dog is an active breed and therefore needs a relatively large amount of food every day. However, they do often eat less than other dogs of their weight and energy level and so you should consult your vet if you are unsure.
The amount you feed your dog should change based on their age, weight and exercise level. You should also check the back of the food packet to see how much of a certain food you should be feeding your Karelian based on these things.
Because they are an active dog, it is often recommended you feed your Karelian dog food formulated for active breeds. This will ensure they are getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Take a look at a food we recommend below.
Best Dog Food For The Karelian Bear DogBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Extreme Athlete dog food from Diamond Naturals for the Karelian Bear Dog. Formulated for active dogs such as the Karelian Bear Dog, this food will ensure your pup gets all the nutrients they need. Included in the recipe is high-quality chicken that provides an excellent source of protein for strong and lean muscles.
There are also vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables and superfoods included in this formula, all of which are easily digestible. Even better, this food contains K9 Strain Probiotics which is bacteria that supports their immune systems and helps your dog maintain an active lifestyle.
The Karelian Bear Dog is an active breed with high exercise needs. They will need at least an hour long walk every day, if not more, and will benefit from lots of playtime with their family members. If they do not get enough exercise, they can become frustrated and will therefore become destructive. This can lead to unwanted behaviors such as scratching, chewing and digging inside the house.
The Karelian needs a yard to run around in, but you must make sure that it is fenced — they are wonderful escape artists! You should also never let two Karelian dogs out together as they will team up to become ultimate hunters.
An intelligent breed, the Karelian can also get bored very easily when not exercised mentally. You should give them games to play with — both dog sports and brain games — to keep them entertained.
The Karelian Bear Dog can make a wonderful family companion when introduced to the right family. Once they have been socialized properly with their owners, they make a fantastic member of the household and will become very protective of their family. This includes children, who they also make an excellent playmate for.
The Karelian is very active and therefore likes to have someone to run around and play with. However, you should always supervise your Karelian with young children, because they are very strong dogs and may end up hurting children without meaning to.
Karelian Bear Dogs can be aloof with strangers — both children and animals. They will need to be socialized from a young age to understand how to interact with them. It is often said that the Karelian will do best in a single-pet household where there is no threat from other animals around.
These dogs need a large space to run around in. However, your yard should always be fenced otherwise your Karelian may run free around the neighborhood! You should also make sure you have time to exercise this dog every day, because they certainly won’t tolerate sitting around and being lazy.
The Karelian needs to be placed in a family who is going to show them who is in charge and how to behave around people and other animals. If you don’t have time to spend training this pup, they are not the dog for you!
The Karelian Dog is intelligent, yet training can be a handful thanks to their natural instincts. You will need to be firm and consistent with these dogs, showing them you are in charge. Training is very important when raising a Karelian thanks to their naturally aggressive nature towards other animals.
Like any dogs, the Karelian Bear Dog responds best to positive reinforcement techniques and reward based training. This includes verbal praise and dog treats. You should never get angry or frustrated with your dog when training. They may not understand what is happening and this will cause them to not want to learn. You should ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior so they learn which is more desirable.
As we have mentioned above, socializing your Karelian is one of the most important things you need to do as owner of this dog. These pups can be aggressive towards other animals in particular thanks to their hunting nature, and will be very aloof with strangers. You will need to start socializing these pups from a young age, so they learn that not everything is a threat.
Introduce your Karelian Bear Dog to new sights, sounds, places, smells, people and animals in a calm and controlled way. This will allow them to meet other dogs and you will be able to gauge how they react and train them accordingly.
The Karelian Bear Dog sheds moderately all year round and have two blow-outs a year, so they are not the pup for those with allergies! They will need regular brushing, at least once a week, to loosen dead hairs and to keep their shedding under control. You will only need to bathe them very occasionally, especially when they have rolled in dirt or something smelly!
Clip your Karelian’s toenails as and when is needed. You should also brush their teeth regularly, at least a few times a week, to help prevent dental decay and disease. You can always use dental sticks if this is easier.
Karelian Bear Dog FAQ’s
How much does a Karelian Bear Dog cost?
Karelian Bear Dogs can set you back between $1400 and $1700 a puppy. They are expensive as they are still a rare breed. You should always make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder who can give you health clearances for both parent breeds.
If this is out of your price range or you would prefer to adopt, you can always check your local shelter or search online for rescue organizations.
Are Karelian Bear Dogs good with children?
Karelian Bear Dogs are very good with children that they know and children that they grow up with. Because they do have a slight aggressive nature, it will be your responsibility to socialize and train your Karelian on how to interact with children they don’t know.
When a Karelian is raised with children, they make wonderful playmates. They are also extremely protective of their family members and will do everything they can to stop any potential threats they see coming.
The Karelian Bear Dog is definitely not the pup for everyone, but, when raised in the right family, this breed is loyal, loving and playful. While they do have a naturally aggressive instinct towards other animals thanks to their hunting nature, when they are trained and socialized by their owners they can grow up to be very well-rounded dogs. Training and socializing takes time though, and you will have to be firm and consistent. You must also dedicate time to exercising the Karelian and keeping them entertained, but as long as they stay engaged and loved they can make a wonderful companion.