The Karelian Bear Dog began over 2,000 years ago as a grey, wolf-like hunting spitz called the Komi, or Zyrian Laika. Basic stock originated from the areas around Lake Ladoga, Olonets and Russian Karelia, where they were used for a variety of game hunting.

The predominant colour of the original Komi dogs were black, grey or ‘bear-brown’, with occasional white coats courtesy of the Vogul or Samoyed dogs. Though writings of ‘black Finnish spitzes’ and other documentations were observed prior to 1936, it was not until that year that truly selective breeding began. The goal was to create a sturdy, courageous, big-game dog. 

WW2 decimated the breed. Many were deliberately destroyed by owners, or released into the wild in order to escape capture as war booty by the Russians. Breeding officially began post-War with a gathering of 60 animals, from which 43 were used to establish the karjalankarhukoira of today. The first standard was ratified in 1945; the first dogs were registered the following year.

Today the breed is one of the most popular in Finland, and enjoys great admiration in other Scandinavian countries for his health, longevity and hunting prowess.

As with other native breeds, no Karelian Bear Dog may claim the title of ‘Champion’ unless it has proved its worth as a hunter, and exhibited its physical superiority in the show ring. 





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