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Karelian Bear Dog

Other names: Komi Dog, Dog of Zyrians

Karelian Bear Dog

The Karelian Bear Dog is revered as a national treasure in its native Finland. Its quick reflexes and fearless nature made it a popular hunting dog. They were used to track the biggest and most fearsome land animals, including the brown bear. They’re still used by National Park gamekeepers to keep wild populations within sustainable levels. The Karelian has a bright, intelligent expression, and appears to be very approachable. However, it’s important to note that they’re naturally aggressive towards other animals and as such, should be handled with care and a lot of respect. 

Key facts about the Karelian Bear Dog

Life expectancy :





Temperament :


Size :

Origins and history

The Karelian Bear Dog was developed by the Vikings of Scandinavia. Given the warrior culture of the ancient vikings, it’s easy to see why they prized this brave, strong, and extremely confident dog. Excavations of ancient sites showed that many Karelians were buried alongside their masters. The Norse culture believed the dogs would guide their masters through the underworld until they reached Valhalla, the Viking version of heaven. As well as being highly-revered in its native Finland, the Karelian has been exported to Canada, the USA, and even Japan. They provide vital assistance to hunters and gamekeepers who are tasked with maintaining the delicate balance of local ecosystems.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types


Section 2 : Nordic Hunting Dogs

Physical characteristics of the Karelian Bear Dog

Adult size

Female : Between 19 and 22 in

Male : Between 21 and 24 in


Female : Between 37 and 44 lb

Male : Between 55 and 62 lb

Coat colour

Type of coat

Eye colour



Medium sized spitz breed. Black fur covering the back and legs. Large white blaize on the chest. Small, compact head, pricked ears. Fluffy tail that curls upward. 

Good to know

The Karelian Bear Dog is a fearless and formidable hunter.They should never be handled by inexperienced dog owners. Keeping them as just a pet is not the best idea. These dogs need to be put to work to be truly happy.


  • 66%


    These independent dogs are not very affectionate, but they definitely enjoy being around their owners.

  • 66%


    Although they’re lively and energetic, the Karelian Bear Dog is not interested in playing games. These dogs prefer to work and hunt. 

  • 66%


    Full of energy and always on the move. Constantly exploring or investigating. This dog prefers to live near wide open spaces and likes to spend most of its time outside. 

  • 66%


    A very intelligent dog with a strong and independent mind. 

  • 100%


    A formidable hunting dog. Often works independently as it tracks large game and wild bears. Used all over the world as a hunting companion. 

  • 100%

    Fearful / wary of strangers

    A fearless dog. If great big bears can’t scare these dogs, then strangers definitely won’t. 

  • 66%


    Although they often work independently, the Karelian is still very dependent on it’s master. They thrive off having a strong, but fair handler.

    Behaviour of the Karelian Bear Dog

    • 66%

      Tolerates solitude

      This powerful dog is highly prone to separation anxiety, so make sure they’re not left alone for long periods of time. 

    • 33%

      Easy to train / obedience

      This willful animal can be difficult to train. Highly intelligent dogs like the Karelian tend to get bored very quickly, especially if the training methods are dull and repetitive. 

    • 66%


      A very quiet dog, even when they’re out on the hunt. Will only bark to attract the attention of the hunting party. 

    • 100%