Karelian Bear Dog

FCI standard Nº 48

Origin
Finland
Translation
Finnish Kennel Club
Group
Group 5 Spitz and primitive types
Section
Section 2 Nordic Hunting Dogs
Working
Working trial only for the nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland)
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Monday 02 August 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Monday 03 November 2014
Last update
Wednesday 27 May 2015
En français, cette race se dit
Chien d'ours de Carélie
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Karelischer Bärenhund
En español, esta raza se dice
Perro de osos de Carelia
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Karelische Berenhond
In his country of origin, his name is

Karjalankarhukoira

Usage

A dog mainly for elk and bear hunting, holds the game at bay. Eager hunter; very independent, yet works cooperatively to game, marking game by barking. The senses, especially of scent, are keen, thus the breed is suitable for big game hunting. Very good sense of direction.

Brief historical summary

The Komi dog, also called the dog of Zyrians, is considered to be the origin of the breed. However, the basic stock dogs originated from the Ladoga’s Karelia, Olonets and Russian Karelia , where they were used for all different types of game hunting. The breeding was started in 1936 with the goal to create a sturdy dog which barks at big game. The first standard was established in 1945. The first dogs were registred in 1946. Today the breed is common in Finland.

General appearance

Medium sized, robust conformation, strong, only slightly longer than the height at the withers, with dense coat and pricked ears.

Important proportions

The length of the body is only slightly longer than the height at the withers.
The depth of the body is about the half of the height at the withers.
The ratio between muzzle and skull is approximately 2 : 3.
The length of the skull is about the same as its breadth and depth.

Behaviour / temperament

Balanced, slightly reserved, courageous and persistent. Very self-confident, may be aggressive towards other dogs, but never towards people. Highly developed fighting spirit.

Head

Cranial region

Head
Viewed from the front triangular in shape.
Skull
Broad; viewed from the front and in profile slightly convex. Broadest between the ears. The frontal furrow is barely visible. The superciliary ridges are only slightly developed. 
Stop
Not very pronounced, rather long, arched gradually towards the skull.

Facial region

Nose
Large, black in colour.
Muzzle
Deep, tapering only slightly towards the nose. The nasal bridge is straight.
Lips
Rather thin and tight.
Jaws and teeth
The jaws are very strong. The teeth are well developed and symmetrical; normal dentition. Tight scissor bite.
Cheeks
The zygomatic arches are strong.
Eyes
Rathers small, slightly oval. Brown of different shades, never yellow. The expression is alert and fiery.
Ears
Erect, set rather high, medium sized with slightly rounded tips.

Neck

Muscular; of medium length, arched and covered with profuse hair. Without dewlap.

Body

Withers
Clearly defined, especially in males, less defined in bitches.
Back
Straight and muscular.
Loin
Short and muscular.
Croup
Broad, strong and slightly sloping.
Chest
Spacious, not very broad, rather long, reaching approximately to the elbows. The ribs are slightly arched; the forechest clearly visible, yet not very broad.
Underline and belly
Slightly tucked up.

Tail

High set, of medium length, curved over the back, the tip of the tail touching the body on either side or on the back. A natural bobtail is permitted.

Limbs

Forequarters

Generality
Strong with strong bone. Viewed from the front straight and parallel. The upper arm and the shoulder blade are equal in length, the forearm is slightly longer.
Shoulders
Relatively oblique, muscular.
Upper arm
Slightly oblique and strong.
Elbows
Pointing straight backwards, placed on the vertical line drawn from the highest point of the shoulder blade.
Forearm
Strong and vertical.
Pastern
Of medium length, slightly oblique.
Forefeet
Tight, well arched, roundish and pointing forward. Pads springy, the sides covered with dense hair.

Hindquarters

Generality
Strong and muscular, viewed from behind straight and parallel. The front line of the hind limb is evenly arched.
Upper thigh
Broad and long with strong muscles.
Lower thigh
Long and muscular.
Stifle
Pointing forward, medium angulation.
Metatarsus
Short, strong and vertical.
Hock
Low; angulation clearly visible.
Hind feet
Tight, slightly longer and less arched than the front feet. Pads springy, the sides covered with dense hair.

Gait and movement

Light, ground covering and effortless. Changes easily from trot to gallop, which is the most natural style of movement. The legs move parallel.

Skin

Tight overall without wrinkles.

Coat

Hair
Outer coat harsh and straight. On the neck, back and backside of the upper thighs longer than elsewhere. The undercoat is soft and dense.
Colour
Black, may be dull or shaded with brown. Most individuals have clearly defined white markings on the head, neck, chest, belly and the legs.

Size and weight

Height at withers
Ideal height for males 57 cm, ideal height for females 52 cm. With a tolerance of ± 3 cm.
Weight
Males 25 - 28 kg, bitches 17 - 20 kg.

Faults

• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

General faults

 Light in bone.
 Narrow skull.
 Strongly bulging forehead.
 Snipey muzzle.
 Yellow eyes.
 Soft or bat ears.
 Dewlap.
 Too deep or barrel shaped ribcage.
 Straight or insufficiently curved tail.
 Straight shoulders.
 Straight hocks and flat feet.
 Dewclaws on hindlegs.
 Wavy coat.
 Predominantly white colour with black markings or some so called wolf hair.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy.
 Overshot or undershot mouth.
 Wall eye.
 Ears hanging or with drooping tips.
 Other colours than allowed in the standard.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.

Bibliography

http://www.fci.be/

 

Additional information from visitors

Bred in Finnish Karelia since the early 1800's to hunt large game, including elk, wolf and bear, the original Karelian Laika was a truly magnificient dog, prized for its stamina, intelligence and temperament. The Karelian Bear Dog is directly descended from this old breed and carries a fair amount of blood of Russian and Asian ovcharkas and spitz-type breeds, inheriting much of their personality traits, such as high protection drive, confrontational attitude towards strange dogs and devotion to a single master.
It should be noted that the Karelian Bear Dog is not the same breed as its Russian cousin known as the Russo-European Laika, as well as being a very different dog from a small red-coated spitz named Karelo-Finnish Laika, which is the Russian variety of the original Finnish Spitz breed. When a number of Russian hunters wanted to distinguish their Karelian Bear Laika from the Finnish Karelian Bear Dog breed and improve its already fearless and tenacious characteristics, as well as its health and resilience, they introduced other strains of their native Laikas into its bloodline, but they didn't use the so-called "Russian Utchak Sheepdog", which is commonly listed as one of the parent breeds to the Russo-European Laika, but is most certainly a product of imagination and obvious ignorance of some western authors, when in fact it never existed.
Fanciers of the original Karelian Bear Dog continued to breed it true to type and this superb worker was standardized and made its first appearance in 1936 at a Helsinki Dog Show. Although official International recognition came in 1945, the breed has already suffered greatly during the 2nd World War and only a small number of pure examples survived. Dedicated breeders managed to revive the Karelian Bear Dog in the 1960's, reportedly using some Russo-European Laikas in the programme and this lovely Finnish breed is again popular in its homeland today, but also commonly found outside Finland, in particular the neighbouring Scandinavian countries and North America. Many fanciers believe that the modern incarnation of the breed differs greatly than its ancestors, due to it being bred for the Show rings and as a pet, losing its hunting qualities over the years, although those strains which are believed to contain blood of Russian dogs are still capable workers. Reasonably easy to train, devoted and energetic, it makes an amenable companion for experienced owners. Some specimens can be stubborn and dog-aggressive, needing early and broad socialization. Wide-chested, squarely built and very strong, this is a healthy and athletic breed. The ears are erect and the tail is curled over the back, although some working examples can have their tails docked. The medium-length coat is dense and rich, preferably black with large white markings, but other colourings can be encountered, such as uniform black, grey with white patches or white with black, brown or grey markings, but they're not as valued, since they are seen as remnants of the Russian breed's influence. Average height is around 23 inches.

Detailed history

The Karelian Bear Dog (Karelia is a border province between Russia and Finland) is also known as Finnish Karjalankarhukoara or, more simply, Karelian. It is a Nordic hunting dog, related to Laika, Spitz type hunting dog frequently used in Russia and especially in Siberia.

The Finns discovered the Karelian Bear Dog in the early 1920s when, following the October Revolution, many Russians and their favorite dogs decided to flee the Soviet regime. The success of this dog was fast. Since the dawn of time, indeed, the bear hunt is one of the most popular activities of the Finns, so, seduced by the qualities of dog common Karelian, they adopted the race and, since the thirties , undertook to raise them.

However, this ambition was thwarted by the Second World War, and at the end of the latter, there remained only fifty subjects, from which we could still gradually restart breeding. Popular in Finland especially for bear hunting, the Karelie Bear Dog has also earned a solid reputation as a hunter. Many breedings produce dogs primarily for this purpose, although some focus more on the appearance of subjects and their compliance with the standard.

Used in some Eastern countries and more particularly in Poland, it also made a notable entry into Germany; in Switzerland, on the other hand, attempts at introduction have for the most part failed. In France, the breed is still very little known, since only 23 subjects were registered in the Book of French origins in 1986.

If you plan to acquire a Karelian, you must act knowingly. Indeed, this dog should not be confused with his cousins, sled dogs: he has nothing of a nature adapted to city life, unlike for example, Lulu Pomerania, or Spitz dwarf.

The Karelie Bear Dog is primarily a hunting dog, and especially big game hunting: bear, of course, but still wild boar, deer, moose. Nothing stops him, neither the cold nor the rain. A German dog, Margaret Wunsch, surprised by the resistance and determination of this dog, asked Finns, "How do you train your dogs? They have that in their blood, the elk hunters told him. The passion of hunting is innate in them. Their attraction to momentum naturally dictates a certain behavior. As a rule, they feel up to 800 meters. Experienced dogs feel the momentum for miles and follow without error a trace of a day. They bark, mark the momentum at a standstill, quietly follow the game that is running away. The master must follow. The dog waits for it from time to time, then leaves. Only the nose gets up, takes the smell, and it goes back to the momentum. So barking is the sure sign of success.

The Karelie Bear Dog, thus asserting himself as a formidable hunter, is obviously not made to live in an apartment. To the unconscious who does not take it into account, the animal will remind him with vigor, although he is able to stay long hours in a living room very quietly, it will cause serious damage to the furniture, for example, he can not go out when he sees fit. He needs a vast garden where; in the absence of wild boar or bear; he will ruthlessly hunt rats and mice. You must also know that, like many hunting dogs, he likes to dig the earth. Without much consideration for the plantations.

The Karelian Bear Dog is sometimes said to be both an angel and a demon. One must not trust the image that one can have of him in the context of an exhibition: rolled into a ball in a cage, the ear low and the sad eye, it seems very calm. It is only appearance, and its temperament of fire will manifest itself as soon as a congener passes within his reach: he will leap on his paws, his fangs uncovered, his eye round and cruel, his muscles tense. This Nordic dog needs to dominate other dogs; it is therefore necessary to know how to impose calm on him if necessary. This confirms that the Karelian Bear Dog, an exceptional animal, requires an exceptional master.

It is indeed not easy to educate this dog of very independent temperament. "I will look twice and even three times before routing a Karelian," read in a British magazine a few years ago. "It's never a pet dog," adds Margaret Wunsch. These are the words that should discourage unsuspecting fans. The Karelian must be educated very early, from two or three months, if you want him to obey a little. Very stubborn, he has a clear tendency to act only according to his good will. More than one owner may lose patience with this behavior. But you must not hit him. Very intelligent, the Karelian is a dog that must be educated firmly, but gently. Only psychological action will prove effective. A firm education is particularly essential when the dog does not hunt, because its balance will then depend totally on the relations which it will maintain with his master.

If he knows how to be a player, the Karelian Bear Dog is unable to play softly, and his displays of affection can throw an adult to the ground. However, in the presence of children and the elderly, he is able in principle to moderate his natural passion.

It will be understood: the ideal companion of this dog is a healthy and sporty adult; if possible hunter. Running, jumping, jumping, nothing makes this quicksilver more enjoyable. It is also prudent to close the garden inside which it is located, because it is able to perform jumps of 2 meters high practically without momentum. And if he manages to escape, he will soon reach the henhouses in the area.

Do not train this dog on the attack: its astonishing strength and its latent aggressiveness would turn it into a dangerous weapon and difficult to control. In any case, the Karelian Bear Dog is not intended to be a watchdog (even if he signals by accidental barking the arrival of any foreign person at home).

If he never shows himself servile, the Karelian is nonetheless an extremely faithful dog. It is the dog of a single master. Despite its difficult nature; like the rest of many Nordic dogs; we can trust him completely. He is not deceitful and accomplishes all things fiercely. Even if it's a stupidity, of course. The Karelie Bear Dog will appeal to those who do not like carpet dogs. However, it is strongly discouraged to discover a sudden passion for this breed, only by knowing a litter of puppies: certainly, they look like adorable pandas, but their docility will disappear very quickly to adulthood.

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