Origin and Purpose
The Karelian Bear Dog (Karjalankarhukoira) is native to Karelia in Northern Europe which was once part of Finland. The Komi dog is considered to be the origin of the breed. For centuries, the breed with its keen sense of smell has been used to hunt large game including moose, elk and bear.
The breed nearly died out in his native Finland until, in the 1930s, the Finnish Kennel Club undertook to restore the breed. The Finnish Kennel Club first registered the breed in 1946 and, today in Finland, he is one of the most highly regarded and among the top ten most common breeds. The Canadian Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1979 and the United Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1996. The breed has not yet gained American Kennel Club recognition but is accepted for recording under the AKC Foundation Stock Service Program.
The Karelian Bear Dog is a medium-sized member of the Spitz family of dogs. He is an extremely resourceful, intelligent and courageous hunter, and a true working dog that requires outdoor exercise and is happiest with a hunter or outdoorsman. The breed is primarily a hunting dog but, in his native Finland, he is also seen participating in obedience trials, search and rescue as well as sled dog competitions.
His temperament is stable but reserved and he is very devoted to his master. Karelians trail their prey silently and usually work alone as they are known to be aggressive toward other dogs, especially in their own territory. The Karelian's fearlessness and strong hunting instinct mean that he will attack a bear or other large game without hesitation.
The Karelian has a straight, stiff and thick outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat that provides insulation. He is black with distinct white markings on the head, neck, chest, abdomen and legs.