Monday, September 25, 2023

25+ Bear Hunting Dogs: Best Breeds for Tracking and Trailing

If you are reading this, you are either an avid hunter or reside in a bear-infested area. In either case, you should have well-trained and reliable bear-hunting dogs as your companion.

These courageous canines are specifically bred and trained to track, trail, and sometimes even combat bears. Hence, a bear-hunting dog plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of both hunters and the surrounding community in regions where hunting bears is legal due to the substantial bear population.

But which dog breed is the best for bear hunting?

Well, let’s address the question and introduce you to a selection of remarkable dog breeds that excel in bear hunting. From the fearless Karelian Bear dog to the versatile Plott Hound and the determined Coonhound, we’ll explore their unique characteristics and more. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or simply fascinated by these furry friends, this guide is a must-read for anyone interested in dogs that hunt bears. Without further ado, let’s dive right in!

The List of Bear Hunting Dogs

We considered everything that mattress when putting together our list of bear-hunting dog breeds. Nothing skipped our radar, from their origins, physical attributes (like size and coat type), and temperament to how well they handle bear hunting tasks, their activity level, and care requirements.

It’s a lot to think about, but we covered all the bases to help you find the perfect bear-hunting buddy. So, get ready to find the ideal companion for your next hunts!

1. Karelian Bear Dog

Karelian Bear DogOriginating from Finland, Karelian Bear dogs are medium-sized, fearless canines with thick double coats that provides protection in cold weather. They stand out for their determination, agility, and loyalty.

Karelian Bear dogs excel at tracking and treeing bears, making them ideal hunting companions. They typically stand around 20-23.5 inches (51-60 cm) tall at the shoulder and come in black with white markings.

Despite having strong hunting instincts, Karelians make fantastic family pets when they receive proper mental and physical stimulation.

2. Plott Hound

Plott HoundDeveloped in Germany, Plott Hounds have great stamina, endurance, and sense of smell. As one of the best bear-hunting dogs, they have a strong instinct for trailing and treeing bears, often waiting patiently at the base of a tree until the hunter arrives.

These hunting hounds thrive in challenging terrains. Plott Hounds are typically large and muscular dogs with short and dense coats. They can come in various colors like brindle, black, and tan.

If you’re bringing one home, make sure to provide him with a balanced diet including the required nutrition to keep up their athletic structure.

3. Coonhound

CoonhoundCoonhounds like the Redbone, Bluetick, Black, Tan, and Treeing Walker Coonhound, have a natural talent for tracking and treeing bears. They possess a keen sense of smell and a distinctive bay that signals the location of the treed bear.

Coonhounds are loyal, intelligent, and well-suited for long hunts. Depending on the specific breed, they vary in size but are generally medium to large dogs. If hearsay is something to go by, these are the dogs that hunt lions.

Coonhounds can have different coat colors and patterns truly justifying the names. You can get one to have a constant companion who will guard your surrounding when needed.

4. German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired PointerThough primarily known for bird hunting, German Shorthaired Pointers can be trained for bear hunting. Their athleticism, versatility, and intelligence help them track and locate bears. These dogs are agile, adaptable, and have a strong drive to work.

Shorthaired Pointers are medium to large-sized, sporting smooth short coats that can come in different colors, including liver, black, and white.

When considering one, prepare a suitable environment first where he receives the right stimulation to stay healthy and happy.

5. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian RidgebackOriginating from Southern Africa, Rhodesian Ridgebacks were historically used for hunting lions. However, their bravery, endurance, and tenacity prove crucial for bear hunting as well. So, a Rhodesian Ridgeback is not just a dog that hunts lion but can be handy in bear-hunting expeditions as well.

Ridgebacks have a protective nature and natural instincts that make them reliable hunting companions. They are large and muscular dogs with short and dense coats. This breed is typically reddish-brown in color and has a distinctive ridge of hair along its back.

When caring for a Ridgeback, ensure he receives regular exercise and training to channel his energy effectively.

6. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan MalamuteOriginally bred in Alaska, Alaskan Malamutes are large and powerful dogs with dense coats that provide excellent insulation against the cold. While they are primarily known for their work in hauling heavy loads, they also have a history of hunting bears.

These dogs are strong, endurance-driven, and have a friendly nature. Alaskan Malamutes are among the largest of the sled dog breeds, standing around 23-25 inches (58-64 cm) tall at the shoulder. They commonly have a wolf-like appearance with a thick, plush double coat in various colors, including gray, black, and sable.

As is the case with all bear-hunting dogs, Alaskan Malamutes also need regular exercise, hunting, and sniffing games for good health and long life.

7. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd DogThe Caucasian Shepherd is one of the most fearless dog breeds in the world. Originating from the Caucasus region, these massive dogs have a strong protective instinct and are used to guard livestock. With their loyalty, courage, and imposing size, they come across as reliable bear-hunting dog breeds.

Caucasian Shepherds are giant breeds, often weighing over 100 pounds (45 kg) and standing over 25 inches (64 cm) tall at the shoulder. They have a thick and weather-resistant double coat with different hues like white, gray, and fawn.

Socialization, training, and regular exercise are important for their well-being.

8. Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan MastiffNative to the Tibetan Plateau, Tibetan Mastiffs are large and powerful dogs known for their strength and loyalty. While traditionally used for guarding and carrying loads, Mastiffs are also one of the best bear-hunting dogs.

With their protective nature and impressive stature, Tibetan Mastiffs can be formidable companions in the pursuit of bears. Tibetan Mastiffs are giant breeds with dense and heavy double coats that may show colors like black, brown, and golden.

If you wish to own a Tibetan Mastiff, provide him with consistent training and ample exercise to fulfill their physical and mental needs.

9. Chinese Bear Hunting Dogs

Chinese Bear Hunting DogsChinese Bear dogs are a large and powerful breed historically used for hunting big game, including bears. These dogs have a strong protective instinct and make excellent watchdogs.

These dogs come in different sizes and coat types depending on the specific breed. They can have short or medium-length coats and come in various colors like black, brindle, and fawn.

When bringing a Chinese Bear hunting dog home, be prepared to invest time and effort into their training and socialization to ensure a well-behaved and balanced companion. These bear-hunting dogs require plenty of exercise and attention to stay at the pink of their physical and mental health.

10. Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian ElkhoundOriginating from Norway, Norwegian Elkhounds are medium-sized, sturdy dogs known for their endurance and versatility. While they excel at tracking and hunting moose and other large game, you can use them for bear hunting.

Norwegian Elkhounds are courageous, and alert, and make dedicated hunting partners. They also have a thick and weather-resistant double coat that comes in shades of gray, often with lighter markings on the face and chest.

When welcoming a Norwegian Elkhound into your home, ensure providing him with regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them physically fit and mentally sharp.

11. Siberian Husky

Siberian HuskySiberian Huskies are known for their endurance, speed, and ability to withstand cold climates. While they are primarily used as sled dogs, their hunting instincts can be harnessed for bear tracking. Mind you, Siberian Huskies are dogs that fight bear.

These dogs have a friendly and social nature, making them suitable for both hunting and companionship. Siberian Huskies are medium-sized dogs with thick double-coated fur that may vary from black, to gray, red, and white.

If you want a Siberian Husky as a companion, give them regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and promote a healthy lifestyle.

12. American Eskimo Dog

American Eskimo DogDespite their name, American Eskimo dogs have no direct connection to Eskimo culture. They are medium-sized dogs with a thick white coat that provides protection against the environment. While American Eskimos are versatile working dogs, they have also been used for bear hunting.

This bear-hunting dog breed is intelligent, alert, and has a strong prey drive. They have a dense double coat that requires regular grooming to keep the best look.

To get an American Eskimo, prepare a suitable environment with mental stimulation and training to keep their active minds engaged.

13. Airedale Terrier

Airedale TerrierAiredale Terriers are medium-sized dogs known for their versatility and hunting capabilities. They have a keen sense of smell and excellent tracking skills, making them one of the best bear-hunting dogs.

Airedale Terriers are intelligent, and confident, and require regular exercise along with mental stimulation. They have a dense and wiry coat that is typically tan with a black saddle.

When caring for an Airedale Terrier, regular grooming is important to maintain their coat’s texture and prevent matting.

14. Irish Wolfhound

Irish WolfhoundIrish Wolfhounds are large and majestic dogs with a long history of hunting wolves, deer, and other large game. Although not specifically bred for bear hunting, their size, strength, and hunting instincts can be useful in tracking and trailing bears.

Irish Wolfhounds are gentle, and loyal, and make affectionate companions. They have a rough and wiry coat that comes in colors like brindle, and fawn.

Proper exercise and a balanced diet are crucial for maintaining their overall health and well-being.

15. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain DogOriginating from Switzerland, Bernese Mountain dogs are large and sturdy dogs with striking tricolor coats. While they are primarily working and companion dogs, their strength and endurance make them suitable for bear hunting.

Bernese Mountain dogs are gentle, loyal, and thrive in cold climates. They have a thick double coat with a base color of black and markings of white and rust.

Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and proper grooming are important for the overall health and well-being of this bear-killer dog breed.

16. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Greater Swiss Mountain DogSimilar to the Bernese Mountain dog, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a robust and powerful breed from Switzerland. They have a short double coat, which keeps their body warm. These dogs have a strong work ethic and can be trained for bear-hunting tasks.

Greater Swiss Mountain dogs are reliable, versatile, and require regular exercise. They typically have a tricolor coat with a black base, white markings, and rust-colored accents.

If you’re considering bringing a Swiss Mountain home, provide them with a balanced diet with regular exercise and games to keep them fit and engaged.

17. Newfoundland

NewfoundlandNewfoundland dogs are large and gentle giants with a thick double coat that offers insulation in cold water. While they come in handy in water rescue work, their strength and swimming abilities can prove useful in bear-hunting scenarios.

Newfoundland dogs are loyal, and patient, and make excellent family companions. They have a dense and water-resistant coat that can be black, brown, gray, or Landseer (white with black markings).

When caring for a Newfoundland, regular exercise, grooming, and access to water is important for their overall well-being.

18. Black Russian Terrier

Black Russian TerrierDeveloped in Russia, the Black Russian Terrier is a large and robust breed with a dense, waterproof coat. They were initially bred for military and guard work but can also excel in bear hunting tasks.

As one of the best bear0-hunting dogs, they are confident, protective, and require consistent training and socialization. Black Russian Terriers have a thick and curly coat that is typically black or black with some gray.

Regular grooming, walking, and exercise are important for their health and happiness.

19. English Mastiff

English MastiffEnglish Mastiffs are one of the largest dog breeds, known for their massive size and gentle temperament. While they are commonly used as guard dogs, their size and strength can be advantageous for bear hunting.

English Mastiffs are calm, and loyal, and require moderate exercise and regular grooming. They have a short and dense coat that comes in fawn, apricot, and brindle colors.

If you are adopting one, provide him with a good diet and daily exercise to maintain his weight and overall well-being.

20. Irish Setter

Irish SetterIrish Setters are medium to large-sized dogs with beautiful red coats. While they are primarily sporting dogs and family companions, their intelligence and energy make them suitable for bear-hunting activities.

Irish Setters are friendly and outgoing, and require regular exercise and mental stimulation. They have a medium-length coat that is rich chestnut or mahogany in color.

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are important for keeping an Irish Setter happy and preventing behavioral issues.

21. Scottish Deerhound

Scottish DeerhoundScottish Deerhounds are tall and elegant sighthounds with wiry coats. While they are historically known for their prowess in deer hunting, their speed and agility can also be advantageous in tracking bears.

Scottish Deerhounds are gentle and dignified and thrive in a home with plenty of space to run. They have a rough and shaggy coat with blue-gray, brindle, and fawn hues.

Regular exercise, including opportunities for off-leash running, is crucial for maintaining the physical and mental well-being of a Scottish Deerhound.

22. Gordon Setter

Gordon SetterGordon Setters are medium to large-sized dogs with distinctive black and tan coats. They are primarily sporting dogs but can also be trained for bear hunting. These dogs have a strong sense of smell and excellent tracking abilities, which makes them great bear-hunting dogs.

Gordon Setters are loyal, and intelligent, and require regular exercise for mental stimulation. They have a dense and silky coat that is black with tan markings. Regular exercise, mental stimulation, and consistent training are important for the overall well-being of a Gordon Setter.

23. Weimaraner

WeimaranerWeimaraners are medium to large-sized dogs with sleek silver-gray coats. While they are primarily bred for hunting game birds, their energy and athleticism can be channeled for bear-hunting tasks.

Weimaraners are intelligent, and active, and require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. They have a short and smooth coat, which is silver-gray in color.

Providing them with regular exercise and mental enrichment is crucial to prevent destructive behaviors.

24. Boxer

BoxerBoxers are medium-sized dogs with a muscular build and a short coat. While they are commonly known as family pets and versatile working dogs, their strength, agility, and protective nature can be valuable in bear hunting.

Boxers are energetic, and playful, and require regular exercise and socialization. They have a short and smooth coat that comes in various shades of brindle and fawn.

When considering a Boxer, it’s important to provide them with mental stimulation and positive training. This will keep them physically fit and mentally engaged.

25. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle DogAustralian Cattle dogs, also known as Blue Heelers or Queensland Heelers. They are medium-sized, sturdy dogs originally bred for herding cattle. Cattles are known for their intelligence, agility, and strong work ethic.

While not specifically bred for bear hunting, their natural herding instincts and tenacity can make them suitable for tracking and controlling bears.

Australian Cattle dogs have a short and weather-resistant double coat that comes in blue or red speckled patterns.

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are important for keeping them physically and mentally fit.

26. Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd DogOriginating from Turkey, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are large and powerful livestock guardian dog breeds. They have a strong protective instinct and are accustomed to living and working in rugged terrains.

While primarily used for protecting farm animals from predators, their size, strength, and vigilance can also make them effective bear deterrents.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have a dense and coarse double coat that provides insulation and protection. Their color varies from fawn, brindle, and white.

When caring for a pet of this bear-hunting dog breed, provide him a secure and spacious environment with proper socialization and training.

27. Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula Leopard DogThe Catahoula Leopard dog, also known as Catahoula Cur or Louisiana Catahoula, is a medium to large-sized breed with a unique coat pattern. Originally developed for hunting and herding in the swamps of Louisiana, these dogs are versatile, tough, and intelligent.

While they are often used for hog hunting and working livestock, you can harness their tracking abilities and fearless nature for bear hunting.

Catahoulas have a short to medium-length coat that can come in different colors and patterns, including merle, brindle, and solid.

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are important for keeping a Catahoula Leopard happy and preventing boredom.


Bear hunting is not an easy game but it becomes one when you have a furry friend at standby. All the bear-hunting dogs mentioned above possess the necessary qualities for bear-hunting tasks. These dogs are brave, reliable, and well-suited to work in demanding conditions. However, remember that responsible hunting practices and adherence to local laws and regulations are crucial. Furthermore, outside of hunting, these breeds also make wonderful and loyal companions.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best dog for hunting bears?

There are several dog breeds that excel in bear hunting. Some of the best bear-hunting dog breeds include the Karelian Bear Dog, Plott Hound, Coonhound, German Shorthaired Pointer, and Rhodesian Ridgeback. These breeds possess the necessary qualities, such as fearlessness, endurance, tracking abilities, and protective instincts that make them well-suited for bear hunting.

2. Is there a dog that hunts bears?

Yes, several dog breeds are specifically bred and trained for bear hunting. You can rely on them for tracking, trailing, and even treeing bears. Breeds like the Karelian Bear dog, Plott Hound, Coonhound, and more have a natural instinct for hunting bears. They work in tandem with hunters to ensure the safety and success of bear hunting expeditions.

3. What dogs are used to scare bears?

Dogs like the Karelian Bear dog and other similar breeds are often used to scare bears away. These dogs are trained to intimidate bears by barking, nipping at their heels, and creating a sense of threat. By doing so, they help to deter bears from approaching humans or specific areas. Their presence and behavior can be effective in keeping bears at a safe distance.

4. What is the Russian bear hunting dog?

The Russian bear hunting dog refers to several breeds originating from Russia that have been historically used for hunting bears. One notable example is the Caucasian Shepherd dog, a massive and fearless breed with exceptional guarding and hunting abilities. This breed is well-suited for bear hunting due to its size, strength, and protective instincts.

5. What breed is a bear killer dog?

While no specific breed is labeled as a “bear killer dog,” some breeds, including bears, have historically been used for hunting large game. These breeds possess the strength, tenacity, and protective instincts required to confront bears. Examples include the Karelian Bear dog, Tibetan Mastiff, Caucasian Shepherd dogs, etc. However, note that bear hunting with dogs should always be conducted responsibly and in adherence to local laws and regulations.

6. What dog has the strongest bite?

Kangal dogs are often associated with the strongest bites. This breed is known for its powerful jaws and ability to work as livestock guardians. However, it’s worth noting that bite force can vary within individuals of the same breed. Other breeds like the Rottweiler, American Pit Bull Terrier, and German Shepherd are also recognized for their strong bite force. Remember that responsible dog ownership and training are key factors in determining a dog’s behavior and bite force should never be the sole consideration when selecting a dog.

Sameeksha Medewar
Sameeksha Medewar
With 3+ years of experience in curating highly-informative and well-researched technical blogs, Sameeksha is a passionate technical writer, technology enthusiast, and computer science graduate. Besides, she enjoys curating copies of travel, entertainment, and food.

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