Discover 5 Dogs Bred to Hunt Bears

Written by Marisa Wilson
Updated: October 15, 2023
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Bear hunting dogs are used to track and trail bears. They must be able to identify the right bear scent and follow it until they find the bear. Some dogs are also trained to tree the bear, which means they chase the bear up a tree and then bark until the hunter arrives. Other dogs may be instructed to flush the bear out of hiding so the hunter can get a shot. 

Bear hunting dogs must be brave and relentless in their pursuit, as they often work in difficult and dangerous terrain. They must also be able to withstand the harsh conditions in which bear hunts often occur, such as cold weather and dense underbrush. Bear hunting dogs play a vital role in helping to ensure a successful and safe hunt for all involved, except the bears. It is illegal to use dogs to hunt in some states so be sure to check state laws. Aside from using these dogs to hunt, you can enjoy them better as pets

1. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian shepherd dogs are some of the most fearless dogs in the world. They have been used for centuries to protect sheep and other livestock from predators, and more recently, they have been trained to assist in hunting bears. These dogs are massive, with males typically weighing over 175 pounds. They have thick fur that helps protect them from the cold mountain climate where they originate. 

Caucasian Shepherd on a white background

Male Caucasian shepherd dogs typically weigh over 175 pounds.


Caucasian shepherd dogs are also known for their loyalty and courage, making them ideal hunting partners as well as companions. When it comes to bear hunting, these dogs are usually released into the woods ahead of the hunters. They will track and find the bears and then hold them at bay until the hunters arrive. This gives the hunters a chance to kill the bear safely. Caucasian shepherd dogs are an essential part of bear hunting teams, and their courage and loyalty make them perfect partners for this dangerous task.

2. Karelian Bear Dog

The Karelian bear dog is a native breed of Finland. Though its exact origins are unknown, the breed is thought to have been from the Neolithic times. The Karelian bear dog was used for centuries by the people of its homeland to help hunt large game, including bears. In recent years, the breed has become popular in North America as a working dog in various roles, including hunting, search and rescue, and tracking.

Photo of a black and white karelian bear dog's head

Karelian bear dog’s are black and white with a thick, double coat.


The Karelian bear dog is a medium-sized breed, with males standing 21 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder and females 19 to 22 inches. The breed has a thick double coat that is black with white markings. The coat helps protect the dog in cold weather and insulates it against briars and other sharp objects when hunting. The Karelian bear dog is known for its fearlessness, determination, and agility. These dogs are quick learners with a strong work ethic. They are also loyal and affectionate with their family making them great pets.

3. Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan malamute is a large, powerfully built dog breed with a dense coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns. The most common colors are black and white, but they can also be brown, gray, red, or sable. The coat is thick and fluffy, providing excellent insulation against the cold. The breed is known for its strength, endurance, and loyalty. They are also very friendly and good with children. 

Alaskan Malamute running in the snow

Alaskan Malamutes have thick, fluffy coats that provide excellent insulation against the cold


The Alaskan malamute was originally bred in Alaska by the Mahlemut Inupiat people as a hunting and working dog for hauling heavy loads over long distances in harsh conditions. They also could hunt down polar bears. Today, they are still used for sledding, but they are also popular pets. If you’re thinking of getting an Alaskan malamute, be sure to do your research first. They are a high-maintenance breed and require lots of exercise, training, and socialization.

4. Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan mastiffs are a large and powerful breed of dog native to the Tibetan Plateau in Asia. They have been used for centuries by local people for hunting and guarding livestock, and more recently, they have become popular companion animals in many parts of the world. Tibetan mastiffs are known for their courage, strength, and loyalty and make excellent guard dogs. However, they can also be very playful and affectionate with their families.

Head shot of a Tibetan Mastiff on a black background

Tibetan mastiffs weigh between 100 and 150 pounds and have thick, protective coats.


The Tibetan mastiff is a large breed of dog that typically weighs between 100 and 150 pounds. They are muscular and have thick fur coats that protect them from the cold weather in their native habitat. Tibetan mastiffs have a lifespan of 10-12 years. Tibetan mastiffs were initially bred for hunting and guarding livestock against animals like bears. However, they make excellent companion animals and guard dogs. They are known for their courage and strength just like the Caucasian shepherd dogs.

 5. Chinese Bear Hunting Dogs

The Chinese bear hunting dog is a large, powerful breed that was once used for hunting big game, including bears. Today, they are still used for hunting and protection but are also popular as family pets. These dogs are protective of their families and make excellent watchdogs. However, they are unsuitable for homes with small children, as they can be overly rough when playing. 

Chinese bear hunting dogs need plenty of exercise, and if not given enough attention and stimulation, they can become bored and destructive. If you are looking for a big, loyal companion who will always have your back, the Chinese bear hunting dog is your breed. Just be prepared to give them the exercise and attention they need to stay happy and healthy.

Honorable Mentions: 3 Dogs That Successfully Hunt Bear But Didn’t Quite Make The List

A brindled plott hound on a boat on the water

The Plott Hound makes a stellar hunting dog due to her grit and tenacity.

©Will Hughes/

While the 5 breeds above were bred for bear hunting, we found a few more who can successfully get the job done!

  • The Plott Hound was brought from Germany to America in 1750. The hardworking Plott is known for its grit. He will chase a bear for miles, never giving up on the pursuit. At home he is relaxed and mild, but in pursuit of a bear or other animal, he is relentless and goal-oriented.
  • The Treeing Walker Coonhound is highly intelligent, teachable, and eager to please. They are also known for their “hot nose,” meaning they can successfully track a bear’s scent. These fast dogs will tree a bear or other animal in minutes, and they work well alone or in packs.
  • The American English Coonhound (Redtick) have speed and strong noses capable of successfully treeing bears and other animals. They are super focused, and this characteristic is perfect for the pursuit of a bear. Sometimes, however, their one-track mind can lead to stubbornness if intercepted by his handler.


Bear hunting dogs are amazing animals that have a variety of uses. Aside from being used to track and trail bears, they can make a great addition to your home, and some are excellent for kids. What’s most impressive about these dogs is their bravery, relentlessness in the face of danger, and ability to withstand demanding conditions. If you’re looking for a fun and protective animal, then one of these hunting dogs may be right for you.

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If you have one of these bear-hunting breeds — or another large-breed dog — your best friend will thrive on any of the following high-quality foods:

  1. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
    • Nutritionally complete for larger dogs
    • The formula is completely grain-free
    • Includes real fruit and plenty of veggies
    • Packed full of antioxidants and nutrition
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  2. ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food
    • The formula is extremely high in protein and meats
    • Made from completely raw materials
    • Completely made in the USA
    • Formula is the same diet that your dog would eat in the wild
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula
    • Features chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients
    • Whole-grain brown rice and cracked pearled barley add some carbohydrates for energy
    • Omega fatty acids help support the skin and coat health
    • Probiotics improve your dog's digestive health
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  4. American Journey Duck & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free
    • Includes duck as the primary ingredient
    • Contains 25% protein content
    • Completely grain-free which is suitable for dogs with allergies
    • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
    Check Chewy
  5. Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice Recipe
    • Designed specifically for larger dogs
    • Includes salmon oil, one of the best sources of omega fatty acids
    • Includes ocean fish meal which helps improve the DHA and fatty acid content
    • Features probiotics, which help improve your dog's digestive health and immune system
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Svetography/

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About the Author

Creepy-crawly creatures enthrall Marisa. Aside from raising caterpillars, she has a collection of spiders as pets. The brown recluse is her favorite spider of all time. They're just misunderstood. You don't have to worry about squishing the creatures as her catching, and relocating abilities can safely move stray centipedes or snakes to a new location that's not your living room.

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