Russian Bear Dog: Everything You Need To Know

The Ultimate Caucasian Shepherd Guide

Spectacular to look at, Russian bear dogs are among the rarest, most interesting pets one can have. Although they may be a bit risky to keep as pets on account of their size and physical strength, these dogs are very beautiful and unique in their own peculiar way.

Due to their impressive strength, they make excellent guard dogs that can be relied on to protect the owner in any circumstances. In fact, many who own such dogs swear by their devotion and reliability, considering them devoted protectors in every sense of the word.

One needs to understand right from the start that these dogs aren’t for the faint of heart and that they can grow up to be very strong and difficult to handle. Not just that but unless you have experience raising dogs, you are bound to make certain mistakes during their training, which may cause you a lot of trouble in the long run.

This is because when a smaller dog misbehaves, you can easily restrain and reprimand them; but when a large Russian bear dog does so, you’re guaranteed to have your hands full.

What is a Russian Bear Dog? (Caucasian Shepherd)

Originally bred to protect livestock, these big dogs can grow up to 30 inches in height and can weigh up to 170 lbs. Loyal by nature, these dos can be highly dependable and love their families, yet potentially dangerous for anyone outside the family who dares to approach either the family or the household.

In fact, they are also quite wary of new acquaintances, even potentially dangerous if the dog hasn’t been properly socialized.

Also referred to as a Caucasian Shepherd or a Caucasian Ovcharka, the Russian bear dog has great sight and hearing, traits that make them very dependable as guard dogs.

Indigenous to the mountainous regions of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, the breed is believed to be around 2,500 years old and related to the Tibetan Mastiff.

Although they are still used for protecting livestock in those regions, they can also be found throughout North America and have even been recognized as a purebred by the American Kennel Club.

Caucasian Shepherd

Russian Bear Dog Appearance

The Russian bear dog is a large dog by most standards, one that will intimidate most people and animals who see one when they’re not expecting to. Even though these dogs are quite pretty as far as looks go, they can be a bit intimidating to look at from a distance and even downright scary from close by.

These dogs also have large paws and short legs but a very athletic body overall. With a broad body and a strong frame along with a powerful muzzle that tapers to the nose, these dogs are quite the sight.

The eyes of a Russian bear dog are medium size, oval-shaped, and brown in color in most specimens. I should also say a few words about the ears. You see, the Russian bear dog has high-set, triangular-shaped ears that some owners back in the Caucasus region prefer to crop short to prevent predators from biting them.

This is a practice that’s frowned upon in the Western world so you are advised to refrain from doing so should you choose to get a Russian bear dog yourself.

Height & Weight

On average, Russian bear dogs can grow quite large when they reach adulthood, around 28-35 inches for the males and between 26 to 31 inches for the females.

Interestingly enough, these are some of the largest purebred dogs in existence, which explains their popularity among passionate dog lovers.

In regards to weight, males can weigh between 110 and 200 lbs whereas females can reach weights between 100 and 180 lbs as long as they are well taken care of.

Color & Color

For the most part, Russian bear dogs can possess a gray, fawn, white, or tan fur, but certain mixtures can be expected. For instance, some of these dogs have been known to have a Piebald coat, which is basically a standard coat with minor white markings.

Although a bit more uncommon, some Russian bear dogs have also been seen to possess a brindle coat or tricolor coats of various shades. Even so, most of these dogs are either gray or tan on account of their genetic package.

These interesting dogs have a double coat, which means that they have two layers of fur, both relatively thick by most standards.

As for length, let it be said that they can either have a medium-to-long coat or a very short one depending on the parents.

If, however, the coat is long, then it will appear to have a mane around the neck and even thick feathering on the hind legs and tail. Not that common to be fair, but still possible in some cases.

Shepherd of the caucasus dog

Russian Bear Dog Personality, Behavior and Temperament

While there are many who would presume that Russian bear dogs are nothing more than oversized teddy bears, I’m here to tell you that this isn’t the case.

These are very protective dogs by nature, the type of dogs that people have used for thousands of years to protect livestock from dangerous predators.

As such, these dogs are very loyal to their family and have a natural distrust of strangers, which needless to say, makes them quite dangerous in an urban environment.

Behavior

It needs to be said that these dogs are very protective by nature, which is understandable considering their history. Despite their eagerness to get themselves in harm’s way, they are surprisingly lethargic most of the time.

In fact, they are some of the most lethargic and mellow dogs in existence when they’re in the presence of their owners.

Even so, they require daily walks to keep in shape and to avoid the appearance of certain medical afflictions that can plague large dogs like these.

Temperament

These are without a doubt, some of the most loyal dogs out there, which may be a problem when they interact with other people, especially strangers.

Truth be told, they can be quite unpredictable around small children, so it is perhaps best that you keep them away from any young children just to be on the safe side.

Although no purposefully aggressive towards family members and owners, the fact that they are so large and powerful can make them quite dangerous even when they play.

That said, do not expect Russian bear dogs to play around all that often because they’re the type of dogs that are very comfortable on their own and even enjoy having some time by themselves on a daily basis.

Caring and Training for a Russian Bear Dog

Training a Russian bear dog may prove a bit challenging for anyone who doesn’t have experience training large dogs. This particular breed is above average in intelligence yet not very obedient by nature.

In fact, these are independent dogs by most accounts, who are only eager to please their owners if they stand to gain something from the act.

This is why anyone who tries to train a Russian bear dog must possess a lot of patience and perseverance.

It is very important that you start training the dog as soon as the pup enters your household. The more you delay the training the more accustomed the pup will get to its surroundings, which means that its independent predisposition will likely encumber any attempt to bend them to your will.

Most of those who own such dogs will attest to how headstrong and stubborn these dogs can be, so if you can, try your best to socialize them as early as possible.

Bear in mind that these dogs are fairly strong and that you need to get them used to wear a leash from an early age. This will make it easier for you to train your dog more complex commands going forward and also to help you restrain the dog whenever it misbehaves.

Given their size, it is unadvised to apply any physical punishment for disobedience but to instead reward them whenever they follow your commands. On a related note, remember to reward them whenever they display a calm posture in order to reinforce the idea that being passive is something to be desired.

Caucasian Shepherd

Exercise Needs

Despite the fact that these are low-energy dogs for the most part, they still need to be walked regularly to keep them fit. if taken out for walks regularly, you will notice what impressive endurance these dogs have.

They also make good dogs to take with you when you go hiking/camping because they absolutely love to be out in nature.

A good way to keep them entertained for hours on a daily basis is o get them balls that they can chase because boy do they love chasing balls.

Needless to say, make sure there are enough obstacles preventing your dog from getting outside the house/property.

I say this because when they get in a playful mood, these dogs can easily break down flimsy fences or doors, which may end up creating a habit for the dog long-term.

The last thing you want in a Russian bear dog is for them to start breaking down fences and/or physical obstacles, even if they’re only doing it in a playful manner.

Grooming

It should be said that Russian bear dogs do not have a universal coat type. Their coat can range from a long coat with a mane around the neck to a thick coat with feathering around the hind legs and tail. Keep in mind that regardless of coat type, Russian bear dogs shed once a year, a quite heavy shedding process to be precise.

When the time comes and they start shedding, try giving them warm baths and do your best to brush them regularly. Also, remember that their nails grow a lot faster than those of most dogs, so clip them regularly to avoid overgrowth or cracking of any sort.

Russian Bear Dog Diet

When it comes to the diet of such a majestic dog, it goes without saying that they have specific caloric needs that need to be fulfilled on a daily basis. While puppies can be given regular dog food intended for young pups, their diet should be changed as they grow bigger.

It is advised that you set up a meat-based diet for dogs like these, one that involves plenty of dietary fats. These fats are sure to provide the dog with not only the energy they require but also to keep their coat shiny and healthy at all times.

To be more precise, an adult Russian bear dog should receive a 2,000 calorie food intake per day if they weigh around 100 lbs. If they weigh about 150 lbs or so, then the diet should have a caloric rating of at least 3,000 calories per day.

Now, if you have a particularly large Russian bear dog, one that’s heavier than 190 lbs, then you should definitely figure out a diet that contains 4,000 calories spread out through three meals a day. If possible, stay away from artificial ingredients and fillers like corn syrup because they can be quite harmful to your dog’s digestion long-term.

Russian Bear Dog Pups

Known Health Problems

Although the Russian bear dog seems too strong to fall prey to regular diseases, the reality is that despite their size, these dogs are just as vulnerable as smaller breeds. In fact, they are even more prone to viral diseases than smaller dogs on account of their lung capacity.

Then again, this is true to all larger animals, not just dogs. As for breed-specific illnesses, let us just say that most of them arise from inbreeding and/or irresponsible breeding.

Some of the common health issues Russian bear dogs can develop are Hip dysplasia, Elbow dysplasia, Cataracts, Luxating patella, Gastric torsion, Obesity, and a variety of genetic-based issues that I won’t address because of how rare they are.

Provided that you acquire the pup from respectable breeders, all you have to fear is that the dog will develop some form of dysplasia or gastric problem. These problems can arise regardless of how well you take care of your dog so a little genetic screening prior to getting a pup is advised.

Quick Breed Summary Table

Breed Information
Size 26-35 inches tall
Weight 100-200 lbs
Lifespan 10-12 years
Color White, gray, fawn, or red-brown
Coat Double coat, short or long
Shedding & Grooming Once during the summer, quite heavily
Temperament Protective, alert, and fearless
With Other Pets Likes to socialize with people and calm dogs
People Skills Can be quite aggressive towards strangers
With Children Generally good with kids but should be kept away from small children just in case
Exercise Needs Once a day, mostly activities that involve chasing and catching
Food Meat-based food is recommended, mostly based on dietary fats
Known Health Problems Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cataracts, luxating patella, gastric torsion, and obesity

All Things Considered

Russian bear dogs may not be the most obedient of dogs but they certainly make up in loyalty what they lack in obedience.

Bred for guarding purposes, these dogs will showcase tremendous loyalty and resilience in the face of danger and will always try their best to please their owners.

Seeing how these are large dogs by most standards, they may not be suitable for apartments and most urban environments, but they make excellent yard dogs if you have the necessary space.

Overall, they are among the best guard dogs in the world and this is something that most breeders agree on.

Caroline Jones

Caroline has been a dog lover since she was only 6 years old, when her parents got her a rescue Boxer. Since then her love for dogs has lead her to study Dog Behavior & Wellfare. She now educates people on how to properly raise and care for dogs, through her online site, Bark Friend. Now, she's a proud owner of a beautiful German Shepherd.

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