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Springtime magic
Amazing photos of baby birds arriving to join the Bear Dogs, arranged in a slideshow set to music.

Summer safety
Backcountry health & safety tips, including information about canine rattlesnake bites.

Mission ready
California Karelians' Star is the first KBD certified as "mission ready" by CARDA.

Fact or fiction?
What we have learned about this primitive breed of dog, some of which may surprise you.


July 28, 2013

Because of our relationships with other Karelian Bear Dog breeders, we are helping Xoots find his forever home.

Xoots is a happy, two-year-old 60-pound male Karelian Bear Dog who is at the ideal age to begin training as a working dog.

Xoots is an indoor/outdoor dog, well socialized to cats and other dogs.

Serious inquiries please contact us at for more information.



The Karelian Bear Dog (or KBD) is a medium-sized dog prized and bred over time for its keen natural instincts and fearlessness. Considered a spitz-type hunting dog, Karelians possess the characteristic tail that curls over the their backs. Our males are generally 55 to 65 pounds, while the females are 40 to 50 pounds.

All modern breeds were "native" to some area, where they developed as a local variety principally through natural selection (where the fittest dogs survived to breed). appearance, the Karelian Bear Dogs exhibit traits of the native dogs of Finland, Karelia and the northeastern part of European Russia. As man began to selectively breed their dogs, selecting dogs for breeding based on certain specific appearance and beharior qualities), you had the development of a Karelian Bear dog breed standard.

Having evolved to survive in harsh terrains, today's Karelians possess high intelligence and situational awareness. Karelian Bear Dogs make excellent companions for folks who regularly enjoy outdoor recreation and wilderness adventures, including hiking, camping, and fishing.

NEW! See our backcountry health & safety tips.

Known for their athleticism and incredible courage in dealing with prey animals considerably larger than themselves, Karelian Bear Dogs are being used as large predator protection dogs, by people who live in remote areas and by law enforcement agencies to deter bears and other large predators that pose danger to humans from approaching too close.

The Karelians' ancient history

Far back in time, well before the Russian Empire and long before the introduction of show standards and registries for pedigreed dogs, dogs were not just companions. A strong bond between man and dog helped make man's survival possible. Dogs protected man from predators and robbers, guarded caravans and herds, and even participated in wars. Hunting with dogs helped men provide meat for their families, and pelts could be sold or traded to obtain other goods like guns, gun powder, lead, tobacco, tea and flour. Take a look back into the life as a primitive hunting dog.

Still a primitive dog

Centuries ago, when survival of the fittest was the rule for both man and dog, working ability and health were valued over appearance, and those dogs perceived to perform better than the rest were more likely to be rewarded. As a result, these dogs had a better chance of surviving to mate, so their genes got passed down. Over time, dog behavior was shaped.



Both the American Rare Breed Association and the Primitive Aboriginal Dogs Society (PADS) list the Karelian Bear Dog among the primitive breeds. As a primitive breed of dog, Karelian Bear Dogs are domesticated but still close in appearance, temperament, and hunting style to the aboriginal (local native) dogs of 15,000 years ago. Learn more about why, today, people value primitive dogs.


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Our web photo gallery... a guick guide to all of the slideshows throughout our site. Each of the slideshows is set to music and features a different topic, from puppies and dog training to travel adventures and K9 search and rescue.



Do Karelians need training?

Even though Karelians are highly intelligent and clearly possess the natural instincts of a keen hunting dog, their outdoor safety is still an important consideration. Depending on the lifestyle you share with your Karelian, teaching your Karelian basic obedience commands and, perhaps, more advanced foundation skills, can certainly contribute to greater enjoyment for you and outdoor safety for your Karelian.

Do Karelians make good family dogs?

As remarkable as the KBD's instincts for protecting and hunting is their capacity to make wonderful companion and family dogs.

The Karelian Bear Dog is a discerning dog, not immediately friendly with strangers. Socializing your Karelian to other people and animals can begin at an early age, and yet your Karelian will remain a protection dog that will reliably alert at a possible threat. Click here to see more candid photos of our Karelians with children.

Cats and Karelians?

You might be surprised to know that we raise our Karelian Bear Dogs with Maine Coon cats. Just as our Karelians are instinctively gentle around children, so do they innately respect our feline family members. Click here for more photos of our Maine Coons.

Our Karelians know to be gentle with baby kittens.

At California Karelians, we are demonstrating the capabilities of the Karelian Bear Dog breed in a number of different ways. Our Karelians:

Have received AKC Canine Good Citizens certification

Are being trained for K9 search and rescue

Are providing large predator protection in bear country

Are enjoying outdoor recreation and wilderness adventures, including hiking, camping, and fishing.

Our responsibilities

Here at California Karelians we are dedicated to educating people about the capabilities of Karelian Bear Dogs and preserving the Karelian Bear Dog as a unique breed.

Discerning placement of our KBDs is the cornerstone of California Karelians. It is essential for Karelians to get appropriate activity, companionship, safety and care. Our Karelians are placed with new owners whom we believe are committed to providing an appropriate lifestyle. Despite all their natural athleticism and sharp instincts, we ask our Karelians to share our lives, and we owe it to them to keep them safe. We will then be able to rely on them to keep us safe.



Answers to frequently asked questions... tips on outdoor safety, travel safety and healthcare, including what we feed our dogs, based on what has worked for us with our California Karelians

California Karelians appeared on the DISCOVERY CHANNEL... Faithful Friends, a TV series now airing, features the roles that animals play in our lives and how to care for them. California Karelians (and CaliMaine, our California Maine Coon cats) participated in the production

Are your dog handling skills up to par?... training do's and don'ts, from encouraging play drive and beginning puppy training to understanding dog psychology and using more advanced handling skills

News articles featuring California Karelians (along with other handy resources)


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San Diego, California