Karelian Bear Dog Information

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(Karelsk Bjornhund) (Karjalankarhukoira)(Karelischer Barenhund) information, pictures, photos and descriptions.The Karelian is a well-built, strong‑boned, moderately sized breed, with a short-haired, all-weather, double coat. The under-layer is soft and dense, the over layer is straight and stiff. The Karelian resembles the Laika, with its distinctive black and white coat, so unlike that of most Spitz-type dogs. The head resembles a blunt wedge, with small, alert and intelligent eyes, small, prick ears which point slightly outward, and powerful jaws. The tail is long and curls over the back in the typical Spitz arch.  The dog should be black with distinct white markings on the head, neck, chest, belly and legs. White speckles in the black are considered a fault among show dogs.  The hair sometimes takes on an iridescent quality, due to the sun bleaching the tips of the hairs from black to brown.

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The Karelian shows the temperament of dogs bred to hunt game. They are forceful and independent, and if let out on their own, especially if there are two or more - will go hunting on their own. Proper training and socialization are necessities, as the Karelian will try to dominate other dogs and will fight to defend its territory. They do make good household companions if they are well-trained, and properly socialized with other household animals. They are very loyal and protective. If three or more Karelian are kept, they will establish a hierarchy, with one dominate.

Karelian Bear Dogs will instinctively attack wild animals, even a bear, without hesitation if it feels its owner is in danger.

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19-24 inches
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34-50 pounds
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General Health

The Karelian has no known chronic diseases. With good care, they can live up to 12 years.

This breed’s average life expectancy is 10-12 years.

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As the name implies, the Karelian Bear dog was, and is, bred to hunt big game. They originated in an area in northern Europe known as Karelia (in what is now Finland). The Karelian was first exhibited at a dog show in Helsinki in 1936, but by the end of World War II the breed was all but extinct. Forty dogs were found and saved after the war, and it is to these that the lineage of all modern Karelians is traced. The Karelian is now bred in North America and Europe as well, for use as hunting as well as show dogs.

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The Karelian has an all-weather coat that needs little attention. The breed is an average shedder - during shedding just use a metal comb to remove the lose hair from the undercoat.

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Ideal Environment

The Karelian is not a breed for a casual pet owner, nor for someone living in an apartment. The Karelian must have room to roam. It is a breed with great energy and should be exercised for at least an hour each day. As with most breeds, if it doesn't get enough exercise it will become destructive inside the house. Because the Karelian loves to hunt, make sure your yard is well fenced in.

The Karelian Bear Dog thrives when it has plenty of space to roam. They prefer to be on farms and enjoy open spaces. They do not like to be confined.

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Dog Training!

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