Karelian Bear Dog

Narrator: You’d be thirsty too if you’ve been doing what this rare dog is bred to do.

Dr. Alice Moon-Fanelli: The Karelian Bear dog was originally bred to hunt bear.

Narrator: Sure they’ve been domesticated, but these courageous creatures are still considered primitive dogs.

Dr. Nicholas Dadman: They’re much more like a kind of wild-type, much more sort of wolfey.

Narrator: And they look that way too.

Andrea Arden: They look sort of like a slighter boned Akita, but they only come in black and white.

Narrator: This natural-born hunter hails from a part of Finland claimed by the former Soviet Union. The breed was near extinction after World War II, but it’s a national treasure in Finland today. You just won’t see too many of them at the local dog park. In fact, there are only 300 of these dogs in the United States.

Dr. Keith Murphy: I’ve only have seen them in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington.

Narrator: But if you do see these medium-sized hardy dogs identifying them is relatively easy. Just look for a black and white double coat that’s not only striking but functional.

Andrea Arden: That dance plush coat protects them from frostbite.

Narrator: And if you spot upward pointing ears and small eyes with an intense focus you may be in the presence of a Karelian, but you wouldn’t want to be in his grip.

Jonathan David: When they lock in on one of their prey they’re not letting go until their hunter counterpart comes to free them.

Narrator: That’s because they have an extremely powerful jaw. The Karelian Bear dog can exert 230 pounds of bite pressure to hold its prey in place. Almost twice what a human can muster. As you might imagine Karelian Bear dogs are outdoor creatures that don’t like to be confined, so apartment life is out of the question. But in the health department they get high marks.

Andrea Arden: It’s a pretty sturdy dog that really harks back to its ancestors who were able to survive in pretty tough conditions.

Narrator: Occasional brushing keeps the short coats looking fine. And they don’t need as much bathing as other breeds.

Jonathan David: They don’t have to have that doggie odor that a lot of dogs have.

Narrator: If you’re going to training these independent pooches you better know what you’re doing.

Andrea Arden: The Karelian Bear dog is really only for somebody who is a very experienced trainer.

Narrator: Their bravery and aggression make them excellent hunters, but when it comes to family life they’re actually out of their element.

Dr. Nicholas Dadman: They’re not necessarily the best temperament for a dog that you want as a house pet.

Narrator: Here’s the bottom line, the Karelian Bear dog needs a lot of space, so apartment life is not an option. The good news is that they get an A-plus in the health department and have minimal grooming requirements. But you’d better have an experienced hand if you’re going to train these hunting dogs which are not recommended for families with children. Still if you need a fierce protective dog and you have the tools to train it, the Karelian Bear dog could be the ones for you.

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