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18 Best Bear Hunting Dog Breeds

18 Best Bear Hunting Dog Breeds

Hunting a massive bear is no mean feat. You need a canine friend that can rise to the occasion.

He’s got to be tough, tenacious, brave, intimidating, and intelligent.

Tracking scents also come in handy in more ways than one. It goes without saying that the canine has to be athletic and muscular so that he can track and chase down a beast of such magnitude over long distances.

Bear hunting is not a task for small, lazy, and weak breeds like the French Bulldog or Chihuahua. Those are best left at home to lounge around.

Here’s a conservative list of some of the best bear hunting dog breeds known to man.

1. Karelian Bear Dog

When it comes to bear hunting, the Karelian bear dog takes the crown any day.

This breed has been used to scare bears away from humans and livestock for centuries. He was specifically bred to hunt brown grizzlies but he can hunt pretty much any bear.

Granted, this breed is not the biggest out there but he makes up for this through his intelligence, aggression, and speed.

The KBD hunts bears by engaging in different tactics including chasing and barking.

2. Dogo Argentino

The Dogo Argentino is a perfect catch dog, thanks to his large and powerful body.

One look at him and you’ll know that this breed was meant for big game hunting.

It was bred in South America to hunt pumas and wild hogs.

Harsh hot climate has nothing on him. He can run and walk through a thick, rugged, and hot terrain effortlessly.

His fierce look coupled with everything else makes him a great companion for bear hunting.

3. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is a fantastic working dog. Whether it is in the military or police institutions, caring for the elderly, or hunting bears in the wild, this breed never disappoints. His courage, fierceness, and loyalty are mind-blowing.

The GSD also happens to be one of the most intelligent and trainable dogs around. You can teach him a skill in a few days’ time and he won’t forget about it forever.

What’s more, he can see the bear from a long distance off and will chase it down and scare it as per the training received.

4. Caucasian Shepherd

After decades of dealing with bear attacks in the land, the Russians decided to create a perfect hunt dog for bear hunting referred to as the Caucasian shepherd.

No doubt this breed is massive and goes beyond 200 pounds. The sheer size alone and the long-thick coat can scare away any bear.

It was also bred to protect livestock against predators and comes with all the characteristics of a fierce and passionate protector.

5. Rottweiler

While the out-of-this-world aggression of Rottweiler dogs towards humans is a horrible thing, it is certainly an advantage when hunting bears.

The amount of bite force a single canine from this breed can deliver is remarkable. A bear cannot survive it no matter how strong he is.

A Rottweiler is among the best dogs that fight bears. He is known to fight till the end. Don’t expect him to back down from a fight no matter the size of the opponent.

Now imagine hunting bears with a pack of Rottweiler dogs. Nothing can stop you from achieving your goals.

6. Coonhound

The coonhound is known primarily for hunting coons but if you are looking to go bear hunting, he can also become the best bear dog as well.

His great prey drive and amazing scent ability work in hand in the wild.

Despite being somewhat smaller, this canine can chase big game including bears, coyotes, and cougars.

When he runs and makes his intimidating chop and bawl, not even a grizzly bear can remain standing. 

7. Plott hound

Plott Hounds are famous for their athletic and muscular physiques.

Whether they are running on the track or chasing down a bear, these attributes play out a great deal.

His short, choppy barks while on pursuit help hunters know the direction of the game without disrupting the chase.

Like other hound dogs, this breed can find scents and follow them for miles. Once they find the bear, they will chase it and charge at it as individuals or in a pack.

8. American Pitbull terrier

The Pitbull is yet another best dog to keep bears away. The Rottweiler may be tenacious and ferocious but he definitely has nothing on the Pittie.

A number of countries have actually banned this breed because it can be quite a danger to society.

Luckily, if well-tamed ad trained, this canine can be one of the most amazing dogs out there—both at home and at the hunt. He can pursue and attack any animal larger than himself.

9. Siberian Laika

This West Siberian native also knows a thing or two about hunting bears. He was born and raised in Siberia where bears were as abundant as the birds.

The Laika resembles the Husky in more ways than one and even has some of his traits. These include good hunting instincts, a strong prey drive, and a great nose. He is territorial, aggressive, and protective.

When he sees a bear, he will bark distinctively and charge at it to scare it off or attack it if trained to do so. 

10. German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer

What gives the German Short-haired pointer the ability to hunt bears is his incredible tracking abilities as well as the stamina to keep going after the target.

He is famous for navigating the nastiest and steepest terrain to escape or chase down game.

Once he finds the bear, he will point at it without scaring it off. That will give you a chance to come in with your guns.

11. Golden Retriever

The Golden retriever is a friendly and goofy canine. Most people don’t think he can charge at a grizzly until they see him in action.

With great agility and a great sense of smell, this playful dog can be a great friend when hunting beasts in the wilderness.

Apart from being agile, a Goldie is very protective and territorial. He won’t just sit by when his owner’s security is compromised.

12. Akita

The beautiful and charming Japanese Akita bears a somewhat innocent and lively look for the most part.

However, he also happens to be an amazing bear hunting dog. This is mainly because he is courageous, alert, protective, and responsive.

He can sniff the scent of a bear from miles away. His fierce and tenacious character makes him a great catch dog as well.

He has no problem attacking a huge bear with his jaws and paws. It is for this reason that many areas of Japan use this breed to wade off bears from their fields and farms.

13. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Also called the African Lion Dog, the Rhodesian ridgeback is one of the best bear hunting dog breeds.

For a long time, this breed has made for a great lion hunting dog. No doubt, he can track down a lion and when he finds it, charge at it and try all he can to take him down.

His prey drive is so strong that he can’t resist chasing down something. His athletic and muscular body helps him on the hunt.

He can tolerate both hot and cold climates and can hunt anywhere in the world.

14. The Irish Setter

The Irish setter weighs 60-70 pounds and stands at a height of 2ft 3 inches at the shoulder.

For the most part, he is content being on the show ring displaying his beauty and other abilities.

If his owner brings along a bear hunt, he will throw his weight around just right.

This breed has a strong sense of smell, a great pointing ability, and amazingly sharp eyes.

15. Bloodhound

The biggest trait a bloodhound dog has is tracking. This breed can identify bear scents from a week ago.

Such tracking abilities can really give you a head start when you don’t know where the grizzlies are hiding.

However, this breed is not particularly aggressive. You will have to employ other tactics to kill the bear by yourself.

16. Boerboel

The South African Boerboels are also some of the best bear hunting dogs out there. They were bred to protect homesteads and remote farms against attacks from wild animals.

As descendants of the mastiff family of dogs, these canines are muscular, large, and big-boned.

As long as you train them to chase and attack bears, they will always put a smile on your face.

17. Borzoi

Like the Siberian Laika, the Russian Borzoi is no stranger to bear hunting. He is designed to run at the speed of lightning.

He may not outrun a bear but he will certainly chase it into the forest or towards your direction.

Unlike his counterparts such as the Pointer who need plenty of time to get to the prey, the Borzoi can catch up after a relatively short distance.

Perhaps his biggest asset in the hunt is his amazing eyesight. Trust him to keep his eyes laser-focused on the prey.

He can leap, chase with lots of rage, and persist until the bear is down.

18. American Foxhound

Last but not least, the American foxhound also falls in the category of best bear dogs.

As one of the members of the hound family, you bet his nose is impeccable. He can pick up an old scent from miles away and track it down.

He boasts plenty of stamina, energy, and a deep desire to prove that he can hunt better than other dogs.

This breed can exist in a pack pretty well, meaning he can bring down a bear pretty easily.


Q. Do dogs keep bears away?

A. Certainly. Black bears have been known to run away from even the smallest of dogs. For some reason, moving dogs really intimidate these beasts greatly.

The only time a bear can ignore a dog is if the latter is tied up. Of course, there are a few instances where a bear turns on a hunting dog alongside his owner and attacks them but these cases are rare. Most dogs can chase a bear off into the forest.

Q. How Does Bear Hunting with Dogs Work? Can You Hunt Bears With Dogs?

A. Well, traditional bear hunting with dogs involves using a pack of dogs to chase and corner a bear, allowing the hunter to catch the bear.

Generally, bears are clever predators, so stalking and cornering them is hard without the help of dogs. This is where bear dogs come in. Human beings have been using dogs to hunt bears for probably as long as we’ve domesticated dogs.

In fact, as you’ve seen on our list above, there are dogs bred to hunt bears, lions, and other wild animals—from fast, large, strong, and nimble hounds.

As aforementioned, bear hunting is usually done with a pack of dogs, which also means that there is no one particular ideal dog breed for bear hunting.

Dog breed that hunts bears come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the region, training, and bear hunting technique.

However, not all countries or states legalize bear hunting with dogs, which somehow limits the potential of some bear hound breeds.

But bear hunting with dogs is still going strong in many parts of the world and has been proven to be one of the best ways of controlling small but destructive black bears.

Q. Is Hunting Bear With Dogs Ethical?

A. Like any other kind of game hunting, there are a lot of controversies around bear hunting with dogs.

Opponents of the sport argue that it causes the bears unnecessary stress and often separates mother bears from their cubs. It also endangers the dogs.

But proponents believe that the sport is more or less the same as catch and release fishing and has several benefits to all parties involved—the hunters, dogs, and the bears.

For instance, they argue that the dogs love the activity and it keeps the bears wild.

On the other hand, hunters not only pursue the bears for the thrill of the chase but also get an opportunity to get closer to the animals.

This allows them to verify the animals’ sex and age before reaching a decision to bring them down.

To this end, they deem bear hunting with dogs to be more responsible than hunting with scopes.

All things considered, responsible bear hunting can help with bear management, especially in regions with huge bear populations.

Q. Can you shoot a bear if it attacks your dog?

A. Most states and countries don’t allow the killing of any wild animals in a bid to protect property including pets.

If you hurt a bear to save your canine friend, you will face charges and may serve time for the crime.

Q. What is the Best Bear Hunting Dog? What Dog Was Bred To Hunt Bears?

A. Well, the dog bred to hunt bears is the Karelian Bear Dog.

Finnish and Russian breeders specifically developed it for big game hunting. Now it is heavily used in wildlife settings for the same reason.

It is probably the best bear hunting dog. Hounds come in a close second.

But the best dog for bear hunting also depends on many other factors including climate and a region’s terrain.

For instance, Siberian Laika will do better in colder climates while hounds are more suitable and widespread across the United States.

In theory, any of the dog breeds we’ve listed could be trained to become the best bear killer dog even if they were not specifically bred to hunt bears.

Yes, training is sometimes critical than the breed though experts recommend starting with a proven hunting dog as a dominant trait in the best bear hunting dogs.

Talking of training, here are quick tips you can leverage to make your dog a true bear dog:

I. Basic commands

To ensure that your dog doesn’t get hurt in the process, he should learn to follow your commands to the latter.

He should know when to chase the bears, when to stop, or when to move out of the way.

II. Introduce him to the hunting environment

A good bear hound dog should be well acquainted with the terrain and the smell of the lakes, ponds, wild animals, and whatever else is in his hunting environment. This can go a long way in helping him track the bears easier.

Before taking your dog for bear hunting, consider introducing him to the terrain so that he can get a feel of the environment. It will also boost his stamina.  

III. Teamwork

Even the most aggressive bear will yield once it realizes that it is outnumbered. This is why bear hunting is usually done by a pack of dogs.

 So, whether you opt for the best guard dogs for bears or the best dogs that can kill bears, they need to function like a true pack. This calls for early socializing outside the hunt.

IV. Start Slowly

Most bear hunting dog breeds have been bred and trained for generations to hunt bears.

We are certain you don’t have the time for all that, but you can start slowly.

Consider introducing your dog to the very concept of big game hunting and tracking. As he gets better, change the game and terrain until he becomes a professional bear fighting dog.

Q. Can a dog outrun a bear?

A. No. On average, a dog can take up to a maximum speed of 31 miles per hour.

A bear, on the other hand, can take this number to 35 miles per hour.

A whippet can reach 35 miles per hour but he is not specifically designed for hunting bears.

Q. Can a bear kill a dog?

A. Yes, although bear attacks on dogs are very rare. For the most part, a bear would much rather run away or up a tree rather than engage a dog in an encounter.

However, if it comes to defending himself, then a bear can kill a dog in a matter of seconds.

Q. How many dogs would it take to kill a bear?

A. This is hard to say. A bear is two or three times heavier than a large dog and has razor-sharp claws.

Even if a number of dogs try to attack it, in most cases, a whole lot of them will end up being injured. Not a good idea.

Q. How much does a bear hunting dog cost?

A. A Russian bear dog or Karelian bear dog puppy ranges from $1,000 to $2,000.

Like other dog breeds, the price may vary depending on location, quality of the puppy, and the breeder.

A bear dog litter from a good lineage, for instance, may cost you more than $2000.

Final Thoughts

There goes our list of best bear hunting dog breeds. Clearly, there are a number of breeds to choose from when picking a companion for your next bear hunting trip.

As usual, sufficient training before taking the trip is necessary to bring out the best in your dog and keep him safe.

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