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Bear Hunting Dogs: 12 Dog Breeds Bred to Hunt Bears

Bear hunting dog breed Karelian Bear dog in the snow

Bear hunting with dogs is a popular activity and method to control rising bear populations. Bear hunting is a dangerous activity, so skilled bear hunters often bring their own bear hunting dogs to aid them.

Due to their abilities, some dogs have been hunting bear companions for over a thousand years. They can detect the scent of bears from long distances and can protect their owners in the event of an attack.

Dogs trained to hunt bears and large predators are the ideal hunting companions. However, not every canine breed is capable of achieving this. Continue reading to know some of the best bear hunting dog breeds.

12 Bear Hunting Dog Breeds

The best bear hunting dogs must be fearless as they chase in challenging terrains. They must also endure difficult conditions in hunting bears, such as colder climates and thick underbrush.

Small dogs and lazy breeds are unfit for bear hunting. When choosing the ideal bear hunting dog breed, hunters focus more on the dog’s eagerness to please than on its scenting or bear tracking abilities.

Without further ado, let’s dive into this extensive list of the different dogs bred for bear hunting.

1. Karelian Bear Dog

Bear hunting dog breed Karelian Bear dog

The best bear hunting dog breed is probably the Karelian Bear Dog. This working breed is originally bred in Finland and is renowned for its natural hunting skills and instincts.

The Karelian Bear Dog resembles a hybrid between a Border Collie and a Husky, with a few similarities to breeds such as Samoyed or more wolf-like German Shepherd dogs.

Although the modern breed standard for Karelian Bear Dogs specifies black-and-white markings, the original breed also contains gray wolf coats in various tones.

The Karelian Bear dog is a strong, alert, and fearless breed that can hunt small to large animals. This includes big games like polar bears, lynxes, wild boars, wolves, and moose.

Karelian Bear Dogs are specifically bred to hunt destructive black bears, but they can track almost any bear.

They are also produced and effectively trained in the Wind River Bear Institute for hunting bear techniques.

Modern non-lethal methods have been used for ages, including Karelian Bear Dogs to scare bears away from humans and livestock.

Their thick double coat and endurance can also compete in search and rescue or sled dog trials.

When Karelian Bear Dogs discover polar bear dens, they signal their handlers by barking, digging, and standing guard.

Karelian Bear Dogs have also been utilized for bear control at Yosemite and Glacier National Parks. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife also acknowledges them as bear hunting dogs.

As active dogs, they will always need enough exercise to avoid unwanted weight gain and obesity.

Their performance may be affected by the slightest weight gain, so it’s important to keep them fit by asking for veterinary advice.

That said, the Karelian Bear Dog is appropriate for experienced dog owners or bear hunters who are willing to meet this breed’s exercise, socialization, and training needs.

Check out this video of a Karelian Bear Dog in action:

Watch the Karelian Bear Team in Action

2. Dogo Argentino

Bear hunting dog breed Dogo Argentino

Another type of bear hunting dog is the Dogo Argentino, which was initially bred in South Africa to hunt bears, pumas, and wild boars. Its large and powerful physique makes it an ideal bear hunting dog.

When it comes to bear hunting with dogs, this breed was hailed as the top hunter of wild boars and mountain lions due to its exceptional strength, sense of smell, and bravery.

This hunting dog breed is unaffected by extreme heat and can run or walk across scorching terrain effortlessly.

The Dogo Argentino can be an aggressive bear hunter and a caring protector of its owners. It has a high prey drive and a strong will. At times, its mistrust of other animals makes its target endangered species.

Also, due to its intimidating appearance, it is also easily perceived as a threatening breed. However, these dogs can become superb family companions with proper socialization and training.

That said, this bear fighting dog requires the handling of experienced dog owners who is also prepared for the Dogo Argentino cost of ownership.

If you are genuinely interested in this breed, you can try checking out our list of top Dogo Argentino breeders. In this guide, you can find reputable breeders where you can find quality Dogo Argentino puppies for sale.

READ NEXT: How Much Does a Dogo Argentino Cost? (2022 Price Guide)

3. Coonhound

Bear hunting dog breed Coonhound

The Coonhound is a type of scenthound that belongs to the hound dog family. It is specifically an all-American dog bred to hunt bears.

The Coonhound bear dog is mainly bred to hunt raccoons, but it is also the best for hunting bears.

Despite its diminutive size, this bear dog is commonly used for hunting large game such as bears, coyotes, and cougars. In the wild, its strong prey drive and excellent sense of smell work hand in hand.

Coonhound bear hunting dogs rush and produce scary chopping and bawling sounds that scare bears away.

Additionally, there are other varieties of bear hunting Coonhounds, including the Redbone Coonhound, Bluetick Coonhound, Black and Tan, American English Coonhound, and Treeing Walker Coonhound.

Treeing Walker Coonhounds are among the most affectionate and intelligent hunting dogs. They are known to track and chase smaller animals by cornering them and barking until the hunter arrives.

This breed is also commonly used for traditional bear hunting, where the dogs hunt independently and frequently set camp for an extended time at the bottom of the tree.

4. Plott Hound

Bear hunting dog breed Plott Hound

The Plott Hound is another dog breed developed and raised to be an excellent fit for bear hunting with dogs.

They are bred specifically in North Carolina, and these dogs are essential members of the Coonhound family.

They are intelligent dogs, adept at tracking, and incredibly loyal to their owners. Plott Hounds are the most confident among other dogs regarding hunting.

Plott Hounds are renowned for their solid and athletic physiques. These characteristics play a significant role in running on the track or chasing a bear.

The short and choppy barks of Plott Hound dogs assist hunters in determining the direction of animals without interfering with the pursuit.

These bear-hunting dogs, like other hound breeds, can detect the smell of bears and track them for kilometers. Once they locate the bears, they will pursue them and attack them individually or as a group.

5. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Bear huniting dog breed Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also built to be the best bear-hunting dog breed and guard dogs. This is because they are massive, muscular, and strong.

Due to their superior senses and athletic strength, they are also outstanding at locating and following a smell.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks will often follow a scent for kilometers without giving up. It can survive in hot and cold regions and hunt in different places.

This breed has also been an excellent lion hunter for a very long time. They do not actually engage the lions in combat but excel at baying at them.

They can perform a range of jobs, including bear hunting, pursuing and bringing down large deer, fending off baboons, herding the occasional ox, and guarding the kraal, or livestock cage, at night.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is the most versatile breed of hunting dog and can also serve as an extremely loyal household pet.

You may also check out our article on the best Rhodesian Ridgeback breeders if you are keen on owning one as a bear hunting dog.

READ NEXT: 10 Best Rhodesian Ridgeback Breeders (2022): Our Top 10 Picks!

6. German Shorthaired Pointer

Bear hunting dog breed German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointers rank at the top of the list regarding bear hunting with dogs. They are very active dogs and were raised to be highly flexible, instinctive bear dog hunters.

While German Shorthaired Pointers are typically trained to point at birds, they could also be used to pursue and bark at bears. They are renowned for navigating steep terrain to evade or chase bears.

German Shorthaired Pointer dogs were mainly designed to be flexible hunters, which explains why they can point, hunt, and retrieve.

They can hunt bears due to their exceptional tracking skills and endurance when hunting prey.

After locating the bear, they will point at it without frightening it away. This will allow the hunter to approach bears and shoot them down. 

Typically, German Shepherd Pointers will aid in pursuing small and big games, including rabbits, raccoons, game birds, and bears. 

A German Shorthaired Pointer is easy to identify due to its multicolored spotted coats. Its fur is typically solid liver, reddish-brown, white, or liver with various patterns.

However, this dog requires owners that are active due to their need for physical activities.

READ NEXT: Male vs. Female German Shorthaired Pointers: Which Is Better?

7. German Wirehaired Pointer

Bear hunting dog breed German Wirehaired Pointer

The German Wirehaired Pointer was bred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to be the best bear hunting dog. It is an all-terrain hunting breed recognized for its searching abilities and stamina.

Like other water-loving dogs, such as the American and English Golden Retriever, German Wirehaired Pointers have water-repellent hair that allows them to excel on both land and water.

The German Wirehaired Pointer was raised to pursue diverse animals using various hunting techniques, including pointing, scenting, and retrieving.

They are also recognized as one of the best swimmers among other dog breeds.

The German Wirehaired Pointer’s exceptional sense of smell and stamina are sought by bear hunters. Still, it makes an excellent companion for busy families who can provide activities for this energetic dog.

8. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Bear hunting dog breed Caucasian Shepherd Dog

After decades of fighting against bear attacks on their land, the Russians decided to create the Caucasian Shepherd, the ideal bear-hunting dog.

These dogs’ sheer size and long, thick coats are sufficient to frighten away anyone. Additionally, the Caucasian Shepherd’s thick fur protects them from the cold mountain climate where they originate.

Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are among the world’s bravest dogs. They have been employed for generations to defend sheep and other animals from predators and, more recently, have been trained to help in hunting bears.

Additionally, the Caucasian Shepherd is recognized for its fearlessness and loyalty, making it the perfect hunting partner and companion.

When hunting bears, these dogs are typically released into the woods before the hunters. They will follow and locate the bears, then hold them at bay until the hunter arrives. This allows the hunters to fight bears safely.

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is an important component of bear hunting with dogs, and its bravery and devotion make it an ideal partner for this dangerous activity.

9. Irish Setter

Bear hunting dog breed Irish Setter

Originating in Ireland, Irish Setters were also bred to be expert hunters. Its dominant trait proves its worth as a bear hunting dog.

This dog doesn’t just have an interesting name but also a fascinating appearance. Some also say that they resemble Golden Retrievers.

In the past, Irish Setter dogs’ legs were shorter so they could set or crouch near prey to mark it for hunters. They have also been bred more for beauty than for functionality.

But today, the height of the Irish Setter has made it a more versatile hunting dog, capable of pointing, setting, and retrieving.

It also has a keen sense of smell and is a well-suited bear hunter in fields and wet or dry terrain.

In addition, the Irish setter has a pointing ability and knows how to utilize it effectively. It is precisely for setting or locating and pointing upland game birds.

Although it may take longer to teach them particular subcategories of hunting, they are naturally obedient and have the potential to be a devoted and competent hunting companion.

10. Tibetan Mastiff

Bear hunting dog breed Tibetan Mastiff

If you are looking for a dog hunting companion, Tibetan Mastiffs are among the strongest dogs for bear hunting. They are huge and fierce dog breeds indigenous to the Tibetan Plateau in Asia.

Tibetan Mastiffs were originally bred to kill Asia’s infamous black bear. Today, these fearless canines are still used for hunting boars, deer, and other similarly-sized prey.

This dog breed is trained to locate the prey and keep it at bay until the hunter arrives. This massive and powerful canine breed can fight a bear or wolf’s attack and may even prevail.

Tibetan Mastiffs are also considered flock protector dogs. They were bred specifically to protect property and livestock.

In addition, they can also be very affectionate and playful with their families.

READ NEXT: Male vs. Female Tibetan Mastiff: Which Is Better?

11. American Pit Bull Terrier

Bear hunting dog breed American Pit Bull Terrier

Pit Bulls are one of the most outstanding dogs for fighting off bears. Like other Pitbull breeds, the American Pit Bull Terrier can be trained to improve physical capabilities and perform nearly any task.

These dogs are massive, have strong fighting skills, and are powerful, making them excellent catch dogs.

They possess numerous qualities that make them excellent family and sporting dogs. However, many nations have prohibited this breed because of the myths and controversies surrounding it.

Fortunately, if adequately tamed and trained, this canine has the potential to be one of the most incredible canines available, both at home and on the hunt. It can pursue and attack any larger animal.

In practice, this means that they will keep prey until the arrival of the hunter. In fact, the American Pit Bull Terrier has been observed capturing boars and assisting with bear control.

READ NEXT: Pitbull Colors: 23 Coat Color Variations Explained (With Pictures)

12. American Foxhound

Bear hunting dog breed American Foxhound

The American Foxhound is also considered one of the best bear hunting and guard dogs. It was bred in Maryland and Virginia for fox hunting and is possibly the ideal breed for the nation’s popular deer hunts.

They form packs with other dogs and are superior to many other popular breeds, such as the Beagle.

Since this dog can live in packs effectively, it allows it to quickly kill a bear. It possesses excellent stamina, strength, and a desire to prove that it can hunt better than other canines.

Foxhounds, unlike other scent hounds, are running dogs, as opposed to “treeing” hound dogs. They enjoy the chase far more than the outcome of the hunt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Karelian bear dog bear hunting dog standing in the field with leash

Can a Dog Fight Off a Bear?

There are specific dog breeds that can fight off a bear. This includes the Karelian Bear Dog, Dogo Argentino, Plott Hound, and Rhodesian Ridgeback, some dog breeds suited to hunt bears.

In some areas, they are utilized to control increasing bear populations, including black bears. Still, modern non-lethal methods include using dog breeds to scare these animals.

What Is the Best Dog for Bear Protection?

Karelian Bear Dogs are the best dog for bear protection. Their rapid reflexes and brave attitude have made them a popular choice for hunting big game, such as brown bears, moose, and wild boar.

They are typically used for hunting squirrels, hares, and other small prey, but they can also hunt giant, violent creatures like bears.

Their confidence and fearlessness make them good watchdogs. However, their hunting skills can cause them to become violent against other animals and people if not properly trained.

How Much Are Bear Hunting Dogs?

On average, prices for hunting dog breeds range between $1,000 and $2,000, depending on the breed and the breeder. Reputable breeders will charge a greater fee, but it is a price that is worth the cost.

In some situations, you may be able to adopt a bear hunting dog from a shelter. Adoption should be less expensive than acquiring from a breeder and will likely cost several hundred dollars.

Final Thoughts

Bears are clever predators that are often difficult to pursue and corner without the assistance of dogs. That said, humans have likely been hunting bears with dogs for a long time.

Clearly, there are a variety of bear hunting dog breeds from which to select a companion for your next hunting trip.

These bear hunting dogs are strong and athletic, allowing them to track and chase large animals over great distances.

Training is what makes a decent dog an ideal hunting companion. Before embarking on a journey, providing your bear hunting dog with adequate exercise and training is vital to bring out its best qualities and keep it safe.

Do you have any bear hunting experience with your dog? Let us know in the comment section below!