/
Karelian Bear Dog
Karelian Bear Dog

Karelian Bear Dog

If you're searching for an energetic, affectionate dog breed, look no further than the Karelian Bear Dog. These pups generally favor country life—where they can run free and get lots of exercise—over city living.

Weight

37.5–61.9 lb

Height

18.9–24 in

Lifespan

11–13 yr

Breed Group

Guard

Karelian Bear 3

Karelian Bear Dog History

The ancestry of the Karelian Bear Dog (known as the "KBD" for short) dates back to Stone Age-era Europe and Scandinavia. Developed by Russian and Finnish peasants to hunt and guard, Karelian Bear Dogs are among the world's oldest breeds.

Karelian Bear Dogs earned their current name around 1936. Hunters needed a dog to bark at large game, including moose, lynxes, wolves, and—as you might expect—bears. The Finnish Kennel Club registered the first Karelian Bear Dogs in 1946, just a year after the first breed standard for the KBD was established.

Today, the Karelian Bear Dog is one of the top 10 most common breeds in Finland.

Karelian Bear Dog Traits

General Appearance

Karelian Bear Dogs have charming eyes, typically surrounded by black coloring. Many KBDs have a white blaze and large nose, giving them an endearing appearance.

Coat and Coloring

The breed standard currently calls for black-and-white marked dogs. Karelian Bear Dogs have white coloring in a band around their necks and across the throat, chest, and paws. Combined with a striking jet-black coloring, the dog has a stunning, unforgettable look.

Distinctive Physical Traits

The Karelian Bear Dog is solidly built, with a broad, deep chest.

Karelian Bear 1
Karelian Bear 2

Karelian Bear Dog Temperament

Intelligent, alert, and powerful are fitting words to describe the Karelian Bear Dog. Devoted and loyal, their protective nature makes KBDs good guard dogs.

They are likely to be reserved with strangers and can be very territorial. But they aren't aggressive with humans.

Karelian Bear Dogs are confident, enthusiastic hunters with an excellent sense of direction. Their sense of smell is particularly sharp—perfect for hunting big game.

Karelian Bear Dog Care

Nutrition

As all dogs do, the Karelian Bear Dog needs to eat high-quality food that's appropriate for their life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior). To keep your KBD at a healthy weight, monitor food portions and cut back if they start to gain weight. And be sure to take treats into account when tracking their daily calorie intake. As a guideline, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog's calories.

Grooming

In addition to regular brushing, Karelian Bear Dogs need only occasional baths. All dogs need their nails trimmed periodically. And a regular grooming routine for a Karelian Bear Dog should also include ear checks for wax buildup or debris to prevent infections.

Dogs need dental care, too. In addition to professional dental care, establish a regular at-home dental care routine. It should include daily toothbrushing and dental chews or treats for your Karelian Bear Dog. Maintaining good dental hygiene is essential for their overall long-term health.

Exercise

Karelian Bear Dogs love exercise—whether it's play in a fenced area or leisurely walks. Other outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and retrieving balls or frisbees can provide a good outlet for any pent-up energy a Karelian Bear Dog may have. The breed also enjoys dog sports such as agility, obedience, and rally.

Training

Karelian Bear Dogs have an independent personality and can be stubborn.

These personality traits can make them difficult to train, especially if you are a novice or first-time owner. It's essential to establish firm leadership using confident and consistent but gentle methods.

Reward-based training with treats, praise, and a gentle stroke on the back after a task well done will help keep your Karelian Bear Dog enthusiastic and stimulated. Early socialization is also key to the healthy development of any dog.

Health Heart Icon

Karelian Bear Dog Genetic Health Conditions

  • Progressive Rod Cone Degeneration (prcd-PRA)

    PRCD is a particularly common form of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and is found in many breeds and mixed breed dogs. PRA is caused by the degeneration of photoreceptor cells of the retina resulting in progressive vision loss and eventual blindness.

  • Hypophosphatemia

    This early onset condition originally discovered in Karelian Bear Dogs is a metabolic bone disease that disturbs skeletal mineralization.

  • Chondrodysplasia

    Chondrodysplasia is a skeletal disorder that leads to the development of shorter than normal legs.

Knowing if your Karelian Bear Dog is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup’s lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.

Find the DNA kit that’s right for you and your pup.