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Russian Bear Dog - Fun Facts and Crate Size

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Russian Bear Dog - Fun Facts and Crate Size

Russian Bear Dog

Quick Facts

  • Not AKC recognized at present
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Size: extra large
  • Energy: low
  • Recommended Crate Size: 48" dog crate* to 54” dog crate*

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Also called the Caucasian Shepherd Dog or the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd, the Russian Bear Dog is HUGE and powerful yet kind and loyal too. 

He is...one big dog!  Weighing in between 110 and 200 pounds and standing 28 to 30” tall, this massive breed hails from areas around Russia, just as the name implies.

While this enormous dog is intimidating in body size, the size of his heart is even more immense.  He’s very protective so if you’re out walking him and come across a bear, you’re in luck.

Breed

The Russian Bear Dog got his start in the Caucasus Mountain region.  His purpose - to guard and protect the farm animals from danger, which often included predators big animals...like the bear, wolves, jackals, and sheep. 

He also protected against intruders.  It is said that the life of a shepherd in those days would have been near impossible if not for this courageously fierce dog.

This dog is fearless and tough, he aced the job he was created for and today, he is still a working mountain dog.  He has the capacity to be an awesome companion dog as well but only when properly trained and when he has a good mind to be.

Another name for this breed is “Ovcharka”, the native Russian word for “Sheepdog”.  Baskhan (Karachay) Paariy is yet another foreign reference for him.  In days of old, they were known as Karelian Bear Dogs 

The Caucasian Mountain Dog is an ancient breed.  He is a direct descendant of the Molosser breed which was around in the pre-historic days. 

He is one of the largest dogs in existence and is one of the oldest living Molosser breeds of dogs as well.  He is officially classified as a mountain shepherd dog with and is thought to be about 2,200 years in existence.

The Russian Bear Dog made his home in Russia, Circassia, Georgia, Amenia, the Soviet Union, and Azerbaijan, and later moved on the east of Germany.  In 1930, the Russian Bear Dog debuted in his first official show ring. 

In the 20th century, the Caucasian Ovcharka was officiated into a show dog and recognized as a breed that is recognized by many major organizations such as the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, and the Federation Cynolgigue Internationale. 

Eventually, he journeyed to North America.  Somewhere along the way, he found his way from the cold and frigid mountains into a warm spot inside the house next to the fireplace. 

Although the Russian Bear Dog is not yet registered with the American Kennel Club, he is listed on the AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS) which is an alternative recording service available for qualifying purebred dog that is waiting for AKC registration.  An application for the AKC membership was filed in 2010.

The Russian Bear Dog is not only classified as a shepherd mountain dog but is recognized as a guard and watchdog as well by the FCI.

There are somewhere between 200 and 300 Russian Bear Dogs currently residing in the United States.

Russian prisons are notorious for containing some of the most violent prisoners in the world.  Prisoners are a cinch for the Russian Bear Dog to keep in line though. 

They can be found keeping guard in many of the prisons across the country and doing a great job of it too.  What convicts in their right might would ever want to go up against this strong and mighty dog? 

Needless to say, the number of prisoners attempting to escape has greatly diminished due to the excellent guarding skills of this big dog.

 Appearance

The Russian Bear Dog is striking and humongous.  His physique is masculine and wreaking with muscles, through and through.  His bones are strong and big but those residing in the prairie rather than the mountains sported smaller bones. 

This breed weighs between 110 and 200 pounds and stands 28-30 inches tall.  Females run in the low numbers as they are smaller in height than males as a rule.  They are still quite large though.

Although the Caucasian Mountain Dog is also called the “Russian Bear Dog”, the term of endearment is due to the fact that he is known for hunting bears rather than his looks. 

But, he does look a lot like a bear and perhaps his name has a double meaning because, besides his size and massive furry coat, his broad face even looks bear-like with deep-set dark eyes that are somewhat oval in shape. 

There are zygomatic arches in his skull and he sports a very broad and bold forehead with a slight furrow that divides the two halves of his huge skull.

The Russian Bear Dog has a short and massive neck.  His legs are slightly bows which accounts for his slight wobble when walking. 

His tail is thick and furry and hangs to his hock but is often carried just above his back in a hook or ring shape when he is on the prowl or excited.  His ears are set high and are shaped like a triangle. 

In the past, his ears used to be cropped but in modern times, they are often being left natural.

One feature that stands out with this breed is their powerful muzzle that tapers off to his black nose.  His teeth are straight, sharp, and pointed.  They are quite large and somewhat resemble fangs.

Russian Bear Dog coats are extremely thick which was a feature bred into them to protect them from the freezing temperatures in the mountains and cold conditions on the prairie as well. 

Their coats are conveniently waterproof.  They have manes like bear do which keep their necks warm in the cold.  Mountain Russian Bear Dogs have heavier coats than the prairie versions of the breed do. 

Coat colors can be fawn, black, white, rust, gray, or fawn and can be in color combinations.

Nutrition

If you can barely keep your family fed, you might not want to even consider taking a Russian Bear Dog on.  You definitely want to feed him a formula that is designed for a Russian Mountain Dog as he will have certain nutritional requirements that you can speak to his veterinarian about.  He may also require customized digestive formulations. 

Caucasian Shepherd Dogs can eat a good bit.  Be sure to speak to your vet and even the breeder concerning the amount and frequency that is best for this breed.  Feeding him a high-quality dog food is imperative.

Although he will require a lot of food, much more than a smaller dog, he is not very active and can easily become overweight.  Obesity in any breed is not good but in this super-sized breed, his body is already maxing out the limits for dogs.  His legs are not built to hold up any more weight and his organs are not equipped to support more mass either so be extra cautious in this area.

As with all breeds, keep plenty of fresh water available to him at all times.  Keep in mind that the Russian Bear Dog is massive in size and will drink more than most dogs.

Grooming

With a long and full double coat, the Russian Bear dog isn’t exactly low maintenance as far as grooming goes.  He does shed, especially when the seasons change like spring and fall.

The length of this mountain dog’s coat varies.  Those who have longer fur need to be groomed more frequently.  Regular daily brushing of those with longer hair will help minimize shedding and is healthy for his circulation and hair health too. 

Plus, his hair tends to mat and tangle and he doesn’t take well to brushing them out so prevention is the best measure.

Those with shorter fur may only require brushing every day with the exception of spring and possibly fall.  This breed benefits from some light trimming occasionally but should never ever be shaved, even in the hot summer. 

His coat helps him regulate his body temperature and contrary to popular belief, lack of fur will make him hotter in the summer and he’s apt to sunburn too.

This bread does need to be bathed from time to time but given his size, if he isn’t fond of a bath, it’s not imperative that he has more than a few a year unless he tangles with a skunk or rolls in something dead.

If you are going to take him to a groomer to be brushed, bathed, and otherwise attended to, be sure to clear, beforehand, that he is a Russian Bear Dog.  He is intimidating, for sure, and not all groomers accept such huge, bold dogs.

Pay close attention to his nails.  If they need to be trimmed or cleaned, be sure to do so or have a groomer tend to them.  He will most likely keep them fairly worn down if he is outside much which chances are, he will be.  Keep his ears clean and dry.

Exercise

This bear hunting breed dog is not only massive, but he is also quick.  You have to be quick to catch a bear.  Their energy level is slightly on the low side though, conserving energy when it is not needed, much like a bear does. 

To keep them healthy and happy, you will need to walk the Russian Bear Dog but doing so can present problems. 

You want to be confident he is properly trained so he doesn’t go after a neighbor child on a bike, a kitten, or a dog he sees along the way.  You won’t be able to hold him back if he decides to. 

It is only with proper and thorough training that this determined and strong breed of dog can be contained and that cannot be stressed enough.

He will require no less than 30 minutes of exercise per day, preferably twice a day.  A walk is always in order but some of his exercise can be play time too where he is running and jumping about.  Obesity in dogs is a health hazard so encourage him to keep fit.

Being a smart dog, you’ll want to challenge him with some brain exercise too.  Make brain games fun and interesting and you’ll most likely get his full cooperation.

Pet Crate Size

Pet Crates Direct recommends a 48"* up to the 54” dog crate* for most adult Russian Bear Dogs.

More Information

Russian Bear Dog dog crate size

Temperament

The Russian Bear Dog is bold and brave, fearless and fierce.  He is also quite intelligent.  He is gentle and loyal but usually only towards his family and those he is sure are “friends” and not “foes”. 

He can be aggressive to strangers and if he feels there is a threat, he is big enough to tend to the matter which is a huge concern if he is not supervised and properly trained. 

He is known to be a dominant dog.  This comes in handy when he is protecting you like from a bad guy or a wolf.  It might not be so welcome, however, if he is protecting you because he feels there’s a threat and not because there really is one.

The Russian Bear Dog is a working mountain dog that is also a guardian.  All of these characteristics were bred into him.  When properly trained, he makes a magnificent service dog and gets the job done when it comes to stopping criminals in their tracks. 

He is absolutely miserable without a purpose and will look for his own purpose if you don’t give him one which can certainly get him into trouble.

To understand this breed’s temperament, it’s important to get back to his roots.  In the mountains and prairies, he was bred to guard, a stranger was usually a danger.  The same was true for another animal. 

It was much more likely he would encounter a wolf than another dog who he didn’t know.  His instinct to guard is likely to take over when a human or animal approaches that he is not familiar with. 

While extensive expert training can be implemented, instincts are instincts and are very difficult to remove because they run through a breed’s blood.  Such is the case with the Russian Bear Dog and his nature to be aggressive toward strangers.

Legalities

There are states and municipalities within the United States that have breed-specific laws.  For instance, Pit Bulls Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers are banned in the county and in the city of Denver, Colorado. 

Other states and cities require insurance to be carried on dogs with a high risk of causing harm to humans.  Most likely due to the fact that Russian Bear Dogs are relatively new to the U.S., there are no laws forbidding them in any state, county, or city. 

Many landlords and apartment complexes in North America do have strict policies on the weight limit of a dog and other rules that may apply to the breed.  They may be classified in a general category of “dangerous dogs”. 

Other countries do, however, have laws and regulations concerning the Caucasian Mountain Dog. Denmark prohibits the importation of them or the breeding or selling of them and other countries have similar legalities.

Training

This is a breed that simply must be trained and it is highly recommended that professional training take place by at least 7-8 months of age.  But even before that, light guidance can be given. 

The training of a dog of this caliber requires an expert in dog training, specifically, training of this breed as theirs should be tailored specifically to the Russian Bear Dog and must be very detailed and specific.

Socialization training is vital.  You will want him to get used to humans and other dogs and even cats.  Introduce him to people other than just the family or those who come around often.  Failure to socialize this breed can be dangerous.

Russian Mountain Dogs have a reputation of being difficult to train.  They can be very headstrong and uncooperative.  Never scold him or use a harsh voice or you will probably never get him to participate in training.  Treats and praise may help remedy his obstinance. 

This breed is certainly trainable.  Although they can definitely be taught to get along with children and other pets, it’s not advisable to have him in a family with either.  He does best as an “only dog”.

Health

The Russian Bear Dog is a fairly healthy breed that typically enjoys a life expectancy of around 10-12 years which is notable, given his massive size.  There are a number of health issues that may affect this breed, however. 

Keep a vigilant eye on the conditions below so you can address any concerns immediately and help ensure him a long and happy life.

Obesity is extremely dangerous in big breeds.  Make sure not to give him many (or any) treats between meals and adhere to the diet your vet recommends.  Also, be sure it gets plenty of exercise on a regular, daily basis.

As you might imagine, being so strong and enormous, the Russian Bear Dog stands a good chance of developing hip and joint issues.  Some of the ailments are potentially in his genes, unfortunately.

You will want to know for sure you are trusting a reputable breeder when you get a Russian Bear Dog.  The puppies of this fine breed can cost a pretty penny (up to $4000 each for high-quality pups from a good lineage) which means the breeders stand to make a sizeable profit off of them. 

It is an unfortunate fact that breeders can get greedy and fail to take the cautions that are imperative for breeding a good healthy dog. 

Hip Dysplasia is a common condition that is seen in the breed.  This condition entails a genetic deformity caused by environmental factors.  It is an abnormal formation of the socket the hip goes into. 

The hip can actually slip out of joint causing severe limping and even lameness.  If your Russian Bear Dog is limping, favoring a certain side when he walks or isn’t walking at all, have him checked out by his vet.  There is a surgery that can be performed.

Canine Elbow Dysplasia is another medical problem to watch out for.  This condition is much like Hip Dysplasia but involves the elbows.  Limping or lameness should be actively watched for and surgery is available if needed.

Digestive issues tend to occur in some Russian Bear Dogs.  As a preventative measure, meet with your dog’s vet when he is still quite young so you can feed him a diet that is recommended for this issue.  If he still has problems, consult your vet for possible treatments.

Eye problems seem to be a plague for Caucasian dogs, the Russian Bear Dog included. Ophthalmic issues cause poor sight which can also spur confusion.  Confusion and Russian Bear Dogs are not a good mix. 

Be sure to watch out for any eye problems creeping up like bumping into things and not making eye contact.  Some conditions can lead to blindness later in life so be sure to stay on top of the potential issue.

Cataracs are common to the breed too.  They usually develop as your dog matures and involve a thin covering of the eye.  If your Russian Bear Dog develops them, they can be removed surgically if they are causing him problems.

Heart conditions are not unheard for this large breed.  The heart has a heavy load to pump for and nourish.  Proper exercise and a well-rounded, breed-conducive diet will help decrease the chances of your dog developing heart issues though.

Ears can be a source of problems for this breed.  It seems that those who have cropped ears may be more apt to have ear issues. 

If you notice your dog pawing on his ears or if he seems to not be hearing very well, set up an appointment to take him in to see the vet. If he appears to be in pain from his ears or if they are red or swollen, take him in immediately.  Severe ear infections can be so serious they require surgical action and can even result in deafness.

Pet parents never have their fur-babies around long enough, even with dogs who live extended lives.  With careful monitoring of his health, regular exercise even when he is not exactly interested in it and regular well check-ups, you should enjoy a good amount of time with this big breed.

Is a Russian Bear Dog a Good Fit for Me?

The Russian Bear Dog is a strikingly good-looking dog.  He resembles a bear in looks and in temperament.  One look at his adorable face and you are likely to be hooked.  But, is he a good fit for you?

If you are a first-time dog-parent, this breed is definitely off limits.  He is too tough to tangle with and since you will be learning how to parent, he is not a good student to learn on.  This breed requires a strong and confident pet parent who can lovingly establish a leadership role and then he can still be a challenge.

Do you live where there is enough room for him to romp?  Although he’s often low key, the Caucasian Shepherd requires ample space when he does exercise and play.  Apartment life is not for him and many landlords and apartment regulations forbid such large dogs anyway.

What is the climate like where you live?  To take him to a super hot desert climate is not wise.  His heavy fur coat is designed to keep him warm in extremely cold weather.  If you live where it’s cold in the winter and cool in the summer, he might just be a good fit.

If your family includes children or other dogs, owning a Russian Bear Dog isn’t optimal.  While a small dog might jump on your child and scrape his knee up, if this massive dog jumps on a kid, it could be disastrous. 

Are you willing and able to provide the professional training this breed will require?  Can you foot the bill for the truckloads of dog food he will need? 

Does your schedule permit you to spend quality time with him in order to establish the tight bond he must have with his pet parent in order to thrive without being aggressive?

Owning a Russian Bear Dog is a huge responsibility.  You will be responsible for his well-being as well as the well-being of other dogs and humans.  He is a beast, larger than life and his capability to hurt someone or something is as enormous as he is. 

It is said that 99.9 percent of dog lovers are not good candidates for parenting a Russian Bear Dog.  If you are in the 0.1 percent, you may just be the perfect parent for this ancient and awesome dog.  Your life will, no doubt, be graced with more love, life, and loyalty than you ever imagined you could bear.

    * Links for crate sizes will bring you to the most appropriate Amazon page. 



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