Karelian Bear Dog (KBD) is an old breed that originated in the region of Karelia in northern Europe. These fearless dogs were used to hunt big game, including elk, bears, and wolves. Thousands of years ago, people and their dogs migrated from Karelia into what is now known as Finland, where the dog is still popular. Although this breed resembles the Russo-European Laika and shares a history, breed expert Gail Rasanen says that modern Karelian Bear Dogs crossed with Laikas are considered mixed breeds.
The handsome Karelian Bear Dogs stand 19 to 23 inches tall and weigh between 44 and 50 pounds. The head is wedgeshaped, with small eyes and upright ears. The body is medium-sized and sturdy. The tail curls over the back. The coat is double with a thick, soft undercoat and a stiff, short to medium-length outer coat. The dogs are black with white markings. The coat should be brushed thoroughly once a week, with the brush and comb going all the way through the undercoat. The undercoat does shed twice a year, and daily brushing is needed during the shedding seasons.
The Karelian Bear Dog is an active dog breed which needs vigorous daily exercise. He can run alongside a bicycle, go jogging, or chase a tennis ball. Without enough exercise, he can be destructive. All exercise should be on leash or within a fenced-in yard, as this is a motivated hunting dog, and if an animal is scented, he will go after it. Training the Karelian Bear Dog can be a challenge.
Training should be consistent and firm, but with love and consequence. It should be clear who the leader is. Training should begin early so that the Karelian Bear Dog puppies grow up understanding household rules. Socialization should also begin early, as these dogs are wary of strangers. The Karelian Bear Dog breed needs an experienced dog owner; it is too much for a first-time dog owner. This breed can also be dog-aggressive. When raised with children, Karelian Bear Dogs can be very devoted. They should not be trusted with smaller pets. Some eye disorders have been noted recently.