Karelian Bear Dog Resource

Karelian Bear Dog

This Nordic hunting dog originated in the province of Karelia, which is divided by the Russian-Finnish border into two almost equal parts. For centuries, it has been used by local farmers to hunt squirrel, partridge, mink, duck, lynx, wild boar, moose and more, but it is this dog’s ability to hunt the brown bear that won the breed its fame and name. The Karelian Bear Dog is courageous, independent and self-sufficient, yet it forms a strong bond with its owner. In dangerous situations, experienced bear hunters claim they would prefer to have one or two of these dogs nearby rather than an armed companion. The Karelian Bear Dog is rare in this country, but it resembles a typical Nordic breed. It is usually black or black with white markings, with a short, thick coat. Males stand 22 to 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 65 pounds; females are 20 to 22 inches and weigh up to 50 pounds. This dog is made for the great outdoors and is not suitable as a house pet or city dog.

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Breed Details

Country of Origin:
Finland, Russia
Medium Dog Breed
Black, usually with sharp-edged white patches or marks on the head, neck, chest, belly, and legs. Brownish-black, matte black, and shiny black are all acceptable.

Double coat of medium length, with the hair on the neck, back and buttocks slightly longer, and the hair on the head, legs, and ears slightly shorter. The outer coat is coarse, straight, and stands somewhat away from the body. The undercoat is thick, soft, and dense.


Comb the all-weather coat regularly to reduce shedding and to remove loose hair from the undercoat.

Life Expectancy:
10 to 12 years
AKC Group:
UKC Group:
Northern Breed
22 to 24 inches for males, and 20 to 22 inches for females.
Males, up to 65 pounds; females, up to 50 pounds.
Use Today
Sled dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, hunting companion.