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Top 8 Karelian Bear Dog Temperament Traits (Brave, Aggressive, Territorial…)

Lazy and antisocial are two traits that you may never hear when discussing the Karelian Bear Dog temperament. These chipper dogs are incredibly active and outgoing.

The Karelian Bear Dog comes from Finland and may have existed in Europe and Scandinavia for thousands of years.

After domestication, many of the natural hunter instincts remain. The Karelian Bear Dog traits include quick reflexes, amazing hearing, and lots of energy.

You should fully understand what you have in store before adopting one of these energetic dogs.

Karelian Bear Dog Most Common Traits and Characteristics

The average Karelian bear dog temperament includes a variety of positive traits and traits that may require additional training.

Before bringing one of these dogs into your home, you should ensure that you know what you have in store.

1. Brave

Brave is the first trait that stands out when discussing the typical Karelian bear dog temperament. These dogs are relatively small. However, their ancestors hunted bear and wild boar.

Keep in mind that these dogs would not attack the animals. They corner animals with their loud barks, keeping the animals in place until the hunter arrives.

Modern Karelian bear dogs retained this characteristic. They are still brave dogs that are well suited for guard duty.

2. Energetic

Energy is another word that you can use to describe the Karelian bear dog breed. They have boundless energy, especially when they are still puppies.

In fact, many new owners become overwhelmed by the needs of this spirited animal. Owners need to spend quite a bit of time training the dog and ensuring that it receives enough exercise.

Without regular exercise, the Karelian bear dog may become aggressive, destructive, and difficult to train.

3. Aggressive

These dogs are naturally aggressive, especially toward other animals. This includes other dogs – even other Karelian bear dogs.

They are aggressive to strangers, wild animals, cats, and dogs. They may even become aggressive around children.

The reason that children are often a problem for energetic or aggressive dogs is that children often behave erratically and are equally full of energy. Instead of helping to calm the dog, the child’s behavior can exacerbate their existing negative traits.

Due to the aggressiveness of the Karelian bear dog breed, families with young children may want to choose a different breed. However, this breed rarely attacks humans.

When agitated, the dog is more likely to assume an aggressive stance and start barking loudly. Instead of attacking, they are attempting to corner their prey until their owner arrives.

4. Loyal

The Karelian bear dog breed is also loyal. If you purchase or adopt one of these dogs, you will likely have a loyal companion for many years.

Despite this loyalty, the Karelian bear dog still requires training to obey your commands. Owners need to show the dog who the leader is.

5. Territorial

Like many breeds, the Karelian bear dog is territorial. This is one of the Karelian bear dog characteristics that it retained after domestication.

As mentioned, owners used these dogs to hunt bears. However, they also used these dogs to protect their homes from bears.

When a modern Karelian bear dog sees a stranger approaching your house, he or she will likely alert you to the visitor. The loud bark is hard to ignore.

6. Independent

These dogs are also a little independent, which may also come across as stubbornness. In the past, these dogs worked on their own. They are not pack-minded dogs and prefer the company of their master instead of other dogs.

If you already have pets, the Karelian bear dog may not be the easiest addition to your family.

The best way to include a Karelian bear dog in a household with multiple pets is through early adoption. If you raise the puppy with other pets or even small children, they are less likely to be aggressive toward them as they grow up.

7. Outgoing

While Karelian bear dogs are often independent-minded, they can also be outgoing. They are always ready to please their owners and enjoy play time.

Keep in mind that these dogs are not always outgoing with strangers, including pets that they do not know. However, early socialization helps reduce aggressive behavior.

With proper training, your independent Karelian bear dog may grow to be a social dog. You just need to ensure that your dog spends more time around other dogs and people.

8. Anxious

Anxiety and stress are not unique to the Karelian bear dog. However, these dogs are more prone to separation anxiety compared to many other breeds.

The separation anxiety comes from their devotion to their owners. While these social animals do not like to spend too much time away from their human companions, training can help treat anxiety.

History of the Karelian Bear Dog

The Karelian bear dog originated in an area of Northern Europe called Karelia. This area is now part of Russia and Finland.

The ancestors of the Karelian bear dog survived in the cold landscape thousands of years ago, developing a thick coat and the instincts of a hunter.

Due to the characteristics of the Karelian bear dog temperaments, owners originally bred these dogs for hunting. Despite the name, the bear was not the primary target.

Hunters also used these dogs to hunt a variety of animals, including:

  • Wolf
  • Elk
  • Moose
  • Lynx
  • Wild boar

Besides hunting, the Karelian bear dog protected homes from bears and other predators.

The Karelian bear dog temperament makes them great guard dogs. They are attentive and territorial.

After centuries of domestication, some owners still use these dogs for their original purpose. In parts of Russia, the Karelian bear dog keeps bears away from the human population.

This breed first appeared in a dog show in 1936. After World War II, the Karelian bear dog breed almost went extinct.

Luckily, the Finish Kennel Club (FKC) helped restore the breed and promote their continued existence.

Training Your Karelian Bear Dog

These dogs are full of energy, which you need to direct to the right activities. Karelian bear dog training should start as soon as you bring your new pet into your home.

There are two separate areas of training to focus on. If you want to avoid some of the negative traits that are often associated with the Karelian bear dog temperament, you need to socialize the dog and complete obedience training.

Experienced dog owners and trainers may complete obedience training at home. However, most owners should consider enrolling in trainer-instructed obedience school.

Training is not a recommendation for this breed, it is a requirement.

Without training, some of the negative traits become more prominent.

For example, your Karelian bear dog may become more territorial, aggressive, and independent without the right guidance.

As part of your training, you should also give your dog plenty of exercises and mental stimulation. A Karelian bear dog that receives adequate exercise is often easier to train and less erratic.

Remaining calm is an essential part of Karelian bear dog training. You need to stay calm to counter the dog’s naturally energetic demeanor.

Basically, this dog breed needs direction from a calm, assertive owner. Otherwise, your dog may become temperamental and destructive.

The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan a world-class Dog Trainer from New Zealand is worth taking a look at. This online resource has hundreds of fun informative dog training videos that can help you learn the basics and more.

Caring for a Karelian Bear Dog

The average Karelian bear dog lifespan is 10 to 12 years. This is slightly shorter compared to other dogs of the same size. However, proper care helps to ensure that your pet lives a long, happy life.

The main health issues that you may need to worry about include:

These three issues are common for most dog breeds and are especially common for older dogs. While there are no preventing genetic issues, you can reduce the risk of eye and dental problems with regular visits to the vet.

Note: if you agree that your health and your dog's health should be a top priority then get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your Karelian Bear Dog friend will love you for it. This guide will help save you money, time and most of all help you keep your dog healthy.


Grooming involves frequent brushing to help remove excess hair. These dogs have thick double coats that protected their early ancestors in the cold Russian winters.

They have a soft undercoat and coarse outer coat. The Karelian bear dog typically sheds the undercoat once or twice per year.

Besides brushing, you may need to give your dog an occasional bath. However, these dogs are not prone to the typical dog odor and do not require as frequent bathing compared to other breeds.


Veterinarians often recommend vigorous exercise for this feisty breed. While exercise is a necessary part of training, it also helps curb behavioral problems.

When these dogs lack exercise, they are more likely to exhibit the negative aspects of the typical tenacious Karelian bear dog temperament.

Therefore, you should try to spend at least 30 minutes each day giving your dog vigorous exercise. This exercise may include going for a jog or playing in the backyard.

How to Find a Karelian Bear Dog

After reviewing the most common traits of the average Karelian bear dog temperament, you may decide that you still want one of these energetic dogs. You may find a Karelian bear dog for sale from a local breeder or adopt one from a local shelter.

Adopting a Karelian Bear Dog from a Shelter

If you are lucky, you may find a young Karelian bear dog puppy ready for adoption at your local humane society or animal shelter. Animal shelters often work together to distribute dogs. People also regularly bring in new dogs to the shelters.

When the shelter does not have the Karelian bear dog for adoption, you can ask to have your name put on file. However, these are not incredibly common dogs. You may need to take your search elsewhere.

Besides shelters, there are individual non-profit organizations that are committed to Karelian bear dog rescue. While these organizations may not exist in every region, a nearby organization may help put you in touch with a group that can find a Karelian bear dog.

Buying a Karelian Bear Dog from a Breeder

Another option is to buy Karelian bear dogs for sale from a breeder. However, this requires additional research.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) defines the breed standard that you should look for, which includes the colors and markings for purebred Karelian bear dogs. The standard colors are black while the standard markings are white.

You also need to review the breeder. Most Karelian bear dog breeders have websites and social media profiles. You can review their online reputation to find if any other customers have complaints against the breeder.

For those in the United States, the American Karelian Bear Dog Alliance (AKBDA) has established a code of ethics for Karelian bear dog breeders. This code of ethics recommends OFA evaluation for hip dysplasia and CERF eye exams.

The code of ethics also prohibits breeders from selling puppies to pet stores or brokers. However, you also need to perform your own evaluation when you visit the breeder.

During your visit, you should look for potential signs that the breeder is not taking proper care of the dogs. You should report breeders that keep pets in filthy, cramped conditions.

You should also avoid buying a Karelian bear dog from breeders that cannot provide the necessary medical records, including the certification of the OFA evaluation.

Why Should You Get a Karelian Bear Dog?

The Karelian Bear Dog temperament makes it a great family pet for families without other pets. These dogs are energetic and require a home that can deal with their active lifestyles.

The average Karelian bear dog size is just over 20 inches. However, these dogs have a big bark.

They are best suited for single pet households, for a couple of important reasons.

  1. These dogs are high spirited and demand a lot of attention.
  2. You may find it hard to train a Karelian bear dog while caring for other pets.

The Karelian bear dog breed is also an independent dog. While they are often outgoing around humans, they do not typically prefer the company of other pets.

If these details sound like a good fit for you, remember to explore all your options for adopting, rescuing, or buying a Karelian bear dog.

As a final recommendation, you should consider signing up for obedience training. These dogs have endless energy and training from an experienced instructor can help you deal with some of the negative personality traits.