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  • Temperament: Loyal, Independent, Courageous
  • Height: 19-23.5 inches
  • Weight: 44-49 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
  • Group: Foundation Stock Service

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

FCI Standard
Karelian Bear Dog standing in the yard.
Close-up of a Karelian Bear Dog face.
Karelian Bear Dog laying in the grass.

About the Karelian Bear Dog

The Karelian Bear Dog is a medium-sized spitz with a dense coat. Bred to hunt large, aggressive game by himself, his build reflects his duties. He is a silent hunter, and only barks once the game is stopped or treed. Working with an experienced hunter, he communicates the type of animal he has located by the sound of his bark. Though he can demonstrate self-control around people, his fighting spirit surfaces around other dogs and can be difficult to handle. His spirit easily turns into aggression, as Karelian Bear Dogs love a challenge.


Club Contact Details

Club: American Karelian Bear Dog Alliance
Name: Maureen Griffin
Phone: 860-434-9198

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Karelian Bear Dog puppy standing outdoors.

Find a Puppy: Karelian Bear Dog

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.



The Karelian Bear Dog should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.



Beyond regular weekly grooming, the occasional bath will keep your Karelian Bear Dog clean and looking his best. Grooming can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your pet. The strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting, and cracking. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Occasional Bath/Brush




Options for exercise include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, orwalks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or learning new tricks. Certain outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and retrieving balls or flying discs can provide a good outlet for expending energy. If you live in an apartment, even short walks in the hallways can give your dog some exercise, especially during inclement weather. Training for dog sports like agility, obedience, and rally can also be a great way to give your dog exercise.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity


Working with a responsible breeder, those wishing to own a Karelian Bear Dog can gain the education they need to know about specific health concerns within the breed. Good breeders utilize health screenings and genetic testing of their breeding stock to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies.

Karelian Bear Dog laying in the grass.
Karelian Bear Dog
Karelian Bear Dog
Karelian Bear Dog
Karelian Bear Dog


The Karelian Bear Dog is a Finnish breed that originated in northwestern Europe and was originally the dog of Russian and Finnish peasants, used for hunting and as a watch dog. Only the toughest survived fightings and the harsh conditions while hunting. Early dogs had red, red-gray and black and white coats. The Komi dog, also called the dog of Zyrians, is considered to be the origin of the breed, however, the basic stock dogs originated from the Lagoda’s Karelia, Olonets and Russian Karelia, where they were used for all different types of game hunting. The breeding was started in 1936 with the goal to create a sturdy dog which barks at big game. In further breeding, the progeny was selected to the Karelian Bear Dog type and only black and white dogs were preferred for breeding. It was then agreed that the name of the breed was to be the Karelian Bear Dog. The first standard was established in 1945. The first Karelian Bear Dogs were registered in the Finnish Kennel Club in 1946.

Today, the breed is one of the top 10 most common breeds in Finland. The Karelian Bear Dog is primarily a hunting breed, but can be trained for and compete in obedience trials, search and rescue trials, and sled dog trials in its native country.

Did You Know?

In Finland, its country of origin, it is spelled Carelian, with a C. In the Finnish language it is called Karjalankarhukoira.
The Karelian Bear Dog has been assigned the Working Group designation.
The first petition to add the Karelian Bear Dog to the Foundation Stock Service program was May 2005. It was approved on June 9, 2005.
The Karelian Bear Dog was approved to compete in AKC Companion Events effective July 1, 2008.

The Breed Standard

Colors & Markings


Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007


Description Standard Markings Registration Code
White Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 014