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Karelian Bear Dog

Country/Date of Origin: Finland/1600s

A spitz type dog, the Karelian Bear Dog was used by the early Finnish settlers to hunt bear, lynx and wolf. It was used in vast numbers at the turn of the twentieth century and was recognized by the Finnish Kennel Club in 1935. The striking black and white markings and light colored eyes make the dog distinctive in appearance but it has not gotten very popular outside of Scandinavia because of its fierce and quarrelsome nature. This makes a good dog to take against bears but a difficult one to live with, especially in cities and suburban areas.

FCI Group: 5 (Working)

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Bjornhund, Karjalankarhukoira

AKC Group: Miscellaneous

Breed Club:

Rescue Club:

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Body Type:

  • Spitz-like in appearance
  • Height: 18-23 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 44-50 pounds
  • The tail is high set and carried in an arch over the back. It is not altered but some are born with a bobtail
  • The ears are carried erect and are not altered
  • Eyes are light in color, usually yellow, adding a piercing stare to the already intense attention the dog gives to its surroundings


  • This is a one man dog
  • Brave, determined and fierce
  • Very self confident
  • Aggressive towards strangers
  • Quarrelsome with other dogs
  • Will attack


  • Not as profuse or long as other sled dog types but thick. Harsh in texture
  • The acceptable color is black with white markings on the muzzle, neck, chest, legs and tip of the tail
  • Moderate grooming required
  • Seasonal shedding

Health Concerns:

  • Generally robust
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Not recommended as a family pet or for the first time dog owner
  • Extremely hard to obtain outside its native country

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