Man’s Best Friend vs. Bears: These are the best bear hunting dog breeds


Hunting bears with dogs is an old, and well established tradition. While modern weapons makes bear hunting somewhat safer than it was back in the days of single shot flintlocks, or spears and rocks, it never hurts to have a large animal at your side when taking on what may be the most fearsome predators on the planet. However, no matter how hard you try, you aren’t going to take a Chihuahua bear hunting -please don’t try. Instead, you want to get a good bear hunting dog breed. But what are those breeds, and what makes them so good for bear hunting?

Well, keep reading and see for yourself:

Caucasian Shepherd Dogs

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Caucasian Shepard

If there is any animal Russians know and understand, it is bears. So is it any wonder that they came up with a massive bear hunting dog breed? The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a massive, long haired dog that can easily break the 200 pound mark. Bred to protect sheep flocks and homes from predator attack, and of course to hunt bears, this dog is loveable and bonds well with family, but is an absolute terror when facing down other predators.

As befits a large working dog, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is docile and friendly with the humans that make up their family. This makes them ideal guard dogs, and valued pets, along with powerful, and effective working and hunting dogs.

Karelian Bear Dogs

While the Caucasian Shepherd Dog can go toe to toe with bears, the Karelian Bear Dog is a different kind of bear hunting dog breed. Bred in Finland and surrounding areas since neolithic times, the Karelian Bear Dog makes up in intelligence what it lacks in size.  Karelian Bear Dogs can be used to herd and harass bear, making them easier targets for hunters. Their speed, aggressive behavior towards bears, and intelligence makes them an ideal adversary against the larger predator.

In Washington State, where hunting bears with dogs is illegal, Karelian Bear Dogs are used as bear deterrents by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Karelian Bear Dogs are also great all around hunting dogs, making them perhaps the most versatile breed of hunting dog out there. After all, what isn’t there to like about a dog that can chase off or hunt bears, and still serve as an all around companion and universal hunting dog? Plus it isn’t the size of a pony!

Hound Dogs

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Plott Hound

These hound dogs are popular in West Virginia for hunting small black bear. In fact when hunting black bear, any well trained hound dog will do the trick. Several hound dogs in a pack are ideal for cornering and well… hounding a bear. When selecting hound dogs for bear hunting you want dogs that are intelligent, fast, and strong. The strength of the pack is what matters when using hound dogs for bear hunting, so you’ll have to invest a lot of time, and possibly money into putting together your bear hunting dog team.

Bear Hunting With Dogs

Traditional bear hunting with dogs is under attack by people who do not understand how bear hunting with dogs works. Typically a pack of dogs will chase and corner or tree a bear, allowing the hunter to harvest the bear. Because bears are clever predators, and often are hard to stalk and corner without the help of dogs, humans have been hunting bear with dogs for probably as long as we’ve had dogs and hunted bear. As you have seen, there are breeds of dogs developed especially for bear hunting, from the  very large, to fast and nimble hounds. In the United States, most bear hunting is done with packs of dogs, leaving massive bear dogs as pets, curios and guard animals.

This also means there is no one ideal breed of dog for bear hunting. In fact many successful hunters use packs of mixed breed hounds. Training is sometimes more important than breed, but you always want to start out with a proven hunting dog breed as a dominant trait in a bear hunting dog.

Bear hunting dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes dictated by culture, history and hunting techniques. Not all states allow bear hunting with dogs, which may actually put some popular bear dogs at eventual risk for loss. However, bear hunting with dogs is still going strong in most of the United States. Bear hunting with dogs is the proven best way to hunt small and often destructive black bears. As bear populations boom in many urban and rural areas, a good bear dog is your best first line of defense against them, even if you don’t hunt. So if you hunt with bears, that’s great.

If not, maybe get yourself a couple bear dogs. They make great pets, and will keep bears away from your yard!

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