20 Best Bear Hunting Dogs

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Little is known, but Golden Retrievers are among the best hunting dogs. Surprised? Check this list of 20 hunting breeds that are ready to jump on bear hunting in no time.

Bear hunting dogs come with a specific set of skills. These dogs create a strong bond with their owners and have strong affection toward their handlers.

These dogs are highly territorial, careful, and fast to alert their handlers of the presence of other animals.

Bear hunting dogs listed in this article are the first choice by many hunters, thanks to their traits and features.

To note:

Although our team at Barking Royalty is against hunting and using dogs for hunting, this article is only informative on the best hunting dogs and traits that make them part of this activity.

Check the 20 best bear hunting dogs below.

Bear Hunting Dog Breeds

Bear hunting dogs have a certain set of skills that make them suitable for this activity.

Traits that are commonly seen in bear hunting dogs are:

  • Strong eagerness to please
  • Strong need to be obedient
  • Great smelling skills
  • Above-average training skills
  • Great sense of direction
  • Display of courage

Now, let’s see which dog breeds are the best bear hunting dogs.

Karelian Bear Dog

Originally from Finland, the powerful Karelian Bear Dog was bred from day one to be a hard-working dog.

They are known for their mostly black-and-white appearance and the great endurance they show during the harsh winter days.

Luckily, this active breed comes with a fluffy double coat that keeps them warm and dry.

As a working breed, Karelians were used as hunting dogs. When they were not used for hunting, Karelians were busy working and watching dogs.

Karelian Bear Dogs are of medium size and never recommended for first time dog owners.

They are spitz-like dogs, commonly black with white markings. Their ideal color proportion should be 70% black and 30% white.

As energetic dogs, they will always need some sort of action. Agility would be a nice sport to keep this breed in shape and help them burn that extra energy.

If you are based in a more cold area, your Karelian will love it, because they are true winter dogs.

Why is Karelian Bear Dog one of the best bear hunting dogs? This breed will hunt a variety of animals with no fear, thanks to their reflexes

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Are you a novice owner? If so, this Rhodesian Ridgeback isn’t for you.

A breed of such high energy levels and intense clinginess needs an experienced dog owner, who knows his way around independent dog thinkers.

Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed for active owners. Are you a passionate morning jogger? If yes, Rhodesian Ridgeback will be next to you from start to finish.

If you enjoy long hikes or short ones on rough terrain, your Rhodesian Ridgeback will check every rock with you.

This powerful dog was originally bred to hunt. Did you know that this breed isn’t scared to take on a lion?

Due to the breed’s great traits, high intelligence, and a strong need to please they have switched from hunting dogs to full-time pets. Today, they are hunting dogs of a choice.

Why is Rhodesian Ridgeback one of the best bear hunting dogs? Rhodesian Ridgeback will track their prey and bay them easily

German Shepherd

Dog lovers know that when it comes to the best dog breeds ever, the German Shepherd is at the top.

German Shepherd is an all-around dog who is perfect for many tasks.

Thanks to their intelligence, need to please, and ability to learn they are often seen as part of search and rescue teams.

German Shepherds were originally bred to help people with everyday tasks on farms and police work afterward, so they don’t have a strong history as specifically hunting dogs.

However, they can be good hunting dogs. They are not typical hunting dogs, but they can be trained in certain hunting categories and subcategories to become one.

Why is the German Shepherd one of the best bear hunting dogs? This German bear hunting dog is a naturally obedient and faithful companion, and as such, they can follow people quietly and focus on the task


Rottweilers are great dogs. They are great when it comes to guarding the property, and being next to children.

Did you know that this powerful dog is often recommended as a support dog to children with autism?

As hard-working dogs, they are happy when there is a task to be done. It should be known that there is no hard evidence in history that Rottweilers were primarily used as hunting dogs.

They do have a strong prey drive, but they are lacking in retrieving, a skill that is mandatory in hunting.

Just like German Shepherds, Rottweilers can learn to hunt – after all, they were used for guarding livestock.

People who love powerful dogs and have their eyes set on strong Rottweilers often do extra research on German Rottweilers and American Rottweilers searching for differences and similarities.

All in all, these dogs are of the same breed with some differences appearance-wise.

Why is the Rottweiler one of the best bear hunting dogs? Rottweilers have one of the most powerful bites within the canine world, making it an advantage when it comes to choosing the best dogs used for bear hunting


Boerboel is a large size working dog, only suitable for experienced dog owners.

They are fiercely loyal, confident, and a bit independent.

As an independent breed, they will need an owner who knows how to deal with large-size dogs.

Did you know that Boerboel is the only South African dog breed created to defend the homestead?

They were used as guard dogs, farmer’s dogs, and dogs always ready to fight off packs of baboons.

This breed is one of the AKC’s youngest breeds, as they were officially recognized in 2015.

Throughout their history, Boerboels were used to assist in hunts, commonly in tracking and holding games.

Their noses are fine when it comes to ground smell, but they are recommended as hunters dogs more.

Why is the Boerboel one of the best bear hunting dogs? Staying with the hunter and keeping him safe from charging or wounded animals is something that powerful Boerboel can really excel at when it comes to bear hunting

West Siberian Laika

West Siberian Laika is a spitz-type hunting dog, originally from colder parts of Russia.

Did you know that ‘Laika’ means ‘barker’? It should be clear that hearing this breed expressing his vocal capabilities is expected.

Often used for hunting, this breed is a versatile dog used for different tasks.

Even today, no raccoon can pass by unnoticed. This is a breed of strong hunting instincts and as such, they are not suitable for novice owners.

These dogs are powerful and muscular and will thrive in a home with an active family.

Regular walks and extra exercise time is a must to keep this breed active, and fit.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise across the States, and you don’t want your West Siberian Laika to be part of this trend, since weight gain can disturb overall dog health.

Why is the West Siberian Laika one of the best bear hunting dogs? These dogs are great hunting companions as they are courageous, highly intelligent, and great when it comes to agility

Plott Hound

Plott Hound was carefully developed and bred to be a great hunting dog.

Originally from North Carolina, this breed is an important part of the coonhound family.

These dogs are one of the most confident dogs when it comes to hunting.

Plott Hounds are cunning, great when it comes to tracking, and extremely loyal to their humans.

They are of medium size and commonly of brindle appearance. With 40 to 70 pounds and 27 inches at the shoulder, the Plott Hound should live between 12 to 14 years.

At least that is the case if you manage to provide the proper care, the right nutrition, regular exercise, and standard veterinarian check-ups.

Why is the Plott Hound one of the best bear hunting dogs? They know what to do when on the hunt, and they will be aggressive enough to keep a bear alive until the hunter arrives, and intelligent enough not to kill a bear

German Wirehaired Pointer

Within the canine world, the German Wirehaired Pointer is known as one of the best dog swimmers.

They are versatile gun dogs who love hard work and a nice swim.

Like other water lovers, German Wirehaired Pointers have water-repellent hair that helps them work great both on land and water.

From day one, this breed was bred to hunt a variety of prey, and use different hunting techniques – pointing, scenting, and retrieving.

German Wirehaired Pointer is a confident dog, which is why you can expect some stubbornness in this breed.

To train this breed properly think about puppy classes, or hiring a professional dog trainer.

Why is the German Wirehaired Pointer one of the best bear hunting dogs? This breed was bred specially for hunting, making them perfect hunting companions


A Coonhound, or a coon dog, is a type of specific dog. In fact, the Coonhound is a type of scenthound and a member of the hound group. This is an all-American dog breed that was primarily developed for hunting.

As hunting dogs, their primary role was to deal with smaller games such as raccoons, or big games such as cougars, bears, and even bobcats.

Have you ever heard of Black and Tan Coonhound? Or of a Redbone Coonhound?

There are members of coon family with unique traits that keep them as separate breeds.

To learn more about these two breeds, and get a better understanding of coonhound, compare these two breeds, to get the most information in minimal time.

Who knows, maybe a Redbone Coonhound is just the right fit for your lifestyle.

Why is the Coonhound one of the best bear hunting dogs? This breed is often the first-choice for bear hunting, due to their amazing tracking skills

German Shorthaired Pointer

When it comes to hunting dogs, German Shorthaired Pointers are at the top of the list.

German Shorthaired Pointers are extremely versatile hunting dogs who were bred to be instinctive hunters.

More specifically, they were bred to be hunting all-rounders, which is why they can point, hunt, and retrieve.

They will usually assist during the hunt of any game, including rabbits, raccoons, and game birds.

This breed is easy to recognize, as they have coats covered in spots of different colors.

Their coat is commonly solid liver or a reddish-brown, or white, or liver in various patterns. These dogs are highly active and they need equally active owners.

Make sure that you can meet this breed’s exercise needs because you bring your pup home.

Why is the German Shorthaired Pointer one of the best bear hunting dogs? This is an all-around hunting dog, who has high energy, a strong prey drive, and great hunting skills. Plus, they are very athletic making them a mandatory addition to any time-consuming mission even on rough terrain

American Foxhound

American Foxhound is an old breed.

This ancient breed is often associated with Revolutionary heroes and old times. However, among dog lovers’ circles, these dogs are known for their amazing speed, above-average endurance, and great working skills.

When it comes to the hunting arena, American Foxhound is one of the best hunting dogs.

They were bred to hunt foxes and they will do it easily, while they will be fast to chase any other small game as well.

It’s not uncommon for this breed to be used for hunting larger games such as deer. The main reason for this is their amazing speed.

Why is the American Foxhound one of the best bear hunting dogs? These dogs are pack hunters with a strong sense of smell

East Siberian Laika

East Siberian Laika is a dog of spitz type, originally from Siberia and the Yenisei River.

These dogs are of medium size, white females are being slightly smaller than males.

From day one, East Siberian Laika was bred to be a hunting dog. They were used for a variety of small and large games, ranging from squirrels, over sable, to mountain lions.

East Siberian Laika is a great dog to have when it comes to forming a team of sled dogs.

Why is the East Siberian Laika one of the best bear hunting dogs? Laika offers some of the finest hunting skills, including courage, intelligence, and agility

American Pitbull Terrier

Pitbulls are dogs of many traits that make them great family and sporting dogs.

They are strong, great in hands of experienced and honest owners, and great with children.

Probably the best trait when it comes to American Pit Bull terriers is that they are great companions and family dogs.

Where do they stand when it comes to hunting? The truth is that Pitbulls can be trained to perform almost any task, and American Pit Bull Terrier is no exception.

These dogs have strong instincts to fight and are powerful, which makes them great catch dogs.

In practice, this means that once they grab prey, they will hold it until the hunter arrives. American Pit Bull Terrier can be seen catching large game-like boars.

Why is the American Pitbull Terrier one of the best bear hunting dogs? When trained Pitbulls can be great hunting dogs. They can catch perfectly when trained the right way and will hold the prey until the hunter arrives

The Irish Setter

Originally from Ireland, Irish Setters were bred to serve as ace hunting dogs.

Even today, these dogs of amazing appearance are used as sporting dogs. When they are not busy working, Setters are great family dogs who love being around adults and children.

Thanks to their friendly temperament they will get along with children of all ages, as long as children are educated on how to behave around dogs.

Irish Setters are often described as dogs with an easy-going attitude, which is why their attitude is often called ‘rollicking.’

They tend to be a bit clownish and mischievous. Grooming them should be taken seriously if you want to preserve the breed’s neat look.

Why is the Irish Setter one of the best bear hunting dogs? This breed is best known for its great sense of smell and amazing pointing ability. Plus, their eyes are sharp


Borzoi is a dog breed from Russia mostly known for its elegant appearance and calm nature.

These dogs are sensitive and clingy. As such, they hate being left alone.

Borzoi, also known as the Russian Wolfhound, is a well-known hunting breed.

Their original purpose was to hunt in teams of three to chase wolves, foxes, and rabbits.

It’s clear that this breed is super fast, and that they can outrun most dogs.

Proper training and early socialization are mandatory if you don’t want your Borzoi to remain shy.

They will stick to your side and expect you to be calm all the time.

If you cannot provide constant company to this breed, you might think about getting a less clingy breed.

Why is the Borzoi one of the best bear hunting dogs? This is a very fast breed and as such this breed will easily run to prey and point hunters the prey

Caucasian Shepherd

Caucasian Shepherd Dog or Caucasian Ovcharka is an extremely large mountain dog best known for his strong guarding instincts and courage.

Unofficially this dog is named the ‘most aggressive dog’ in the world, at least when they are provoked.

Owners of this breed and experts explain that this dog kills by biting the neck of any enemy.

For centuries, Caucasian Ovcharka was used to serve shepherds in the Caucasus mountains as livestock guardian dogs.

Their main job was to defend sheep from various predators, including wolves, and bears. Today, these powerful dogs are used as prison guard dogs in Russia.

Why is the Caucasian Shepherd one of the best bear hunting dogs? Caucasian Shepherd is not only a fearless breed but also one of the rare breeds that can fight off a bear

Dogo Argentino

Can you imagine this dog of soft eyes hunting wild boar? They may be often described as gentle giants, but do let their temperament trick you.

This breed is more than capable to cross various terrains for chasing and hunting.

These white coat dogs were used to hunt puma, mountain lions, and peccaries.

Originally bred in Argentina, the Dogo Argentino should always be large, powerful in the stand, and highly athletic.

One look at this breed should communicate strength, power, and energy.

This breed can have a litter size of 8 to 10 puppies, so make sure that you can provide puppies with a proper home.

Why is the Dogo Argentino one of the best bear hunting dogs? This breed was bred to hunt big game making them one of the best additions to hunting missions

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are the ultimate family dogs.

How can this breed be transformed into a hunting buddy? The truth is that Golden Retrievers are a mix of water spaniels and retrievers.

As such, their original purpose was to be a versatile breed that could retrieve game equally on land and in the water.

The AKC recognized the breed in 1925. Did you know that Golden Retrievers were bred to be hunting companions to the elite?

Still, to use Golden Retrievers as hunting dogs they must be trained properly.

Why is the Golden Retriever one of the best bear hunting dogs? This friendly breed has great agility skills and a great sense of smell, plus they will be happy to retrieve anything that drops in the water


Everyone knows that Bloodhound is excellent when it comes to hunting. This breed is among the best trackers, that are packed with fearless energy and strength.

They may appear smaller in size, but don’t let their size fool you because they are hard-working dogs.

Bloodhound comes with an extremely long tail that goes over the back and up.

These hunting dogs are docile and will be happy to join you while you are napping after a busy day.

To keep Bloodhound’s joints healthy and strong, make sure that you provide enough exercise.

Why is the Bloodhound one of the best bear hunting dogs? This famous breed of floppy ears has an amazing sense of smell


If you want a truly loyal dog, you should get a powerful Akita.

If you are a first time dog owner, skip this breed, because they are highly recommended only to experienced dog owners.

Akita’s are brave, loyal, and obedient dogs in hands of experienced owners. They were specifically bred for hunting and mostly for their brave trait.

From day one, these dogs were bred to track games such as boar, elk, and bear.

When they were not busy working as hunting dogs, they were busy upgrading their watching skills.

Why is the Akita one of the best bear hunting dogs? Akitas are powerful dogs who will adapt easily to gunfire

Largest Bear Hunting Dog

Another breed that may be used for bear hunting is a famous Chinese bear hunting dog – Tibetan Mastiff.

This large-size dog is often promoted as the most expensive dog breed in the world.

Although they are not frequently used for bear hunting, in nomadic cultures they are used by locals to protect sheep from wolves, or other big animals, such as leopards.

Frequenlty Asked Questions On Bear Hunting Dogs

1. What Is The Best Dog To Protect From Bears?

Three dog breeds are often promoted as great protection dogs from bears: Great Pyrenees, Akbash, and Komondor. These breeds were originally bred to keep livestock safe.

As for the most used dog for bear hunting, the Karelian Bear Dog takes the first place.

2. How Many Dogs Do You Need To Hunt Bears?

As for the States, bear hunting is possible if there are at least six dogs.

Many believe that this number of dogs is mandatory to overwhelm the bear, force the bear to retreat, and run up a tree, where hunters usually shoot the bear.

3. Is Bear Hunting With Dogs Ethical?

The majority would tell that hounding is something that is far from being ethical both for bears and dogs.

According to biologists hunters often misidentify the gender of bears, resulting in the killing of nursing female bears.