Written by Vet Tech

Russian Bear Dog – A Complete Guide

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
The Russian Bear Dog is a large guard dog originated in the Caucasus mountain region where it was used for guarding sheep herds against predators. Therefore, the common belief is that this dog can fight a bear. Read on and discover the pros and cons of life with a Caucasian Shepherd.

Breed Characteristics:

The Russian Bear Dog is an intriguing breed that is known for its large size and devotion to protect. Their reputation precedes them with their intense love for their family and their overwhelming need to protect what’s theirs.

This breed is truly one of a kind and has devoted fans all over the world for this reason.

In this article we’ll dive into the details of the Russian Bear Dog, and how you can support them in your home.

History Of The Russian Bear Dog

The Russian Bear Dog is also referred to as the Caucasian Ovcharka, or the Sheepdog of the Caucasus due to where they originated in the Caucasus Mountain Range.

This Mountain range was home to the Ancient Molossers (ancient dogs in the area), and the Caucasian Ovcharka is the oldest living descendant of the dogs present at that time.

Due to their robust size and fierce need to protect, they were used to protect herds and homes from bears and other large predators.

Once word of their ability to protect spread around the region, they were soon used by the Soviets to protect government facilities and factories.

This breed’s popularity began to spread all around Europe and soon exploded when the very first Russian Bear Dog was featured in a show ring in 1930. It was soon after that show when the Russian Bear Dog officially become a recognized breed.

The Russian Bear Dog is still quite popular in Europe and is beginning to grow in popularity in the US.

Appearance Of The Russian Bear Dog

Perhaps the main reason behind this breed’s popularity is their striking appearance.

The Russian Bear Dog will stop you dead in your tracks with their large frame, their broad face that is often compared to a bear, and their dark eyes that can intimidate the fiercest predators.

This breed has a thick double coat that can stand up to harsh weather. Though their coat can range in length, it is always thick and plush. Their coat color can range from white, black, brown, rust, to fawn.

The most well-known feature of this breed is their large size. The Russian bear Dog can weigh anywhere from 110-200 pounds and can stand up to 30 inches in height. This breed is listed as one of the biggest dogs in the world!

Personality Of The Russian Bear Dog

The best words to describe this breed would be dignified, calm, brave, and powerful. When used for work, this breed is always loyal to their job.

While the Russian bear Dog is well suited for protecting livestock and members of their family, many wonder if this breed can become acclimated to family life.

Aside from their harsh reputation, the Russian Bear Dog can be incredibly loving when in an environment that provides them with the care, activity, and training they require.

When in a home with an experienced dog owner, they can be stoic and loving members of the family.

Though it’s possible to have a Russian Bear Dog as your family pet, it’s incredibly important to make sure this breed receives proper socialization and training to reduce their risk of aggression.

This breed is born territorial and with a fierce need to protect what is theirs, so you must show them the appropriate ways to interact with humans and other animals from the start.

If you are dedicated to fulfilling their needs, this breed can be a lovely family member in a home with grown children or adults.

Potential For Aggression

Any breed that was originally bred for guarding and protecting their family, will, of course, be hardwired with these instincts.

In order for them to be a trusted member of your family, you will need to train them from the start and work often to socialize them and expose them to new surroundings.

Just like with any other breed that was created for protecting, you will have to plan for some extra attention and training than you would with other family breeds. Because of this, The Russian Bear Dog is not recommended for a first-time dog owner.

They will require a strong and stern leader that can provide them with the socialization and training they need.

This breed’s size makes them much more dangerous in terms of aggression, as they can seriously injure someone they direct their aggression toward.

That’s why this breed should never be in a family with small children, no matter how well they are trained.

Just like with any other large breed dog, it’s just not a risk worth taking.

As long as you are dedicated to positive reinforcement training, socialization, daily exercise, and providing a loving environment, this breed can fit well into an adult-only/small child free home.

Overall Health Of The Russian Bear Dog

While the Russian Bear Dog can live a healthy life of up to 12 years, there are a few health conditions you should be aware of. Some of their common health ailments include:

1. Hip And Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia refers to the abnormal arrangement of the joints. When a large breed dog experiences this condition, they will often experience severe grinding of the joints.

This can lead to pain, limping, lameness, deterioration with age, and other complications with their movement. Since these conditions are often hereditary, it’s best to purchase your Russian Bear Dog from a breeder that provides health certificates for both parents.

2. Gastric Bloat (GDV)

Gastric bloat is a serious condition that affects deep-chested dogs. In GDV, the stomach flips on itself trapping the contents of the stomach and cutting off blood circulation.

Symptoms of gastric bloat include a distended abdomen, retching with no vomit production, weakness, pale gums, and collapse.

Dogs with these symptoms need to be taken to the vet immediately, as this condition is quickly fatal without medical intervention.

3. Heart Conditions

Russian Bear Dogs are prone to several heart conditions that can weaken the heart muscle and result in heart failure and death when these conditions are not managed properly.

It’s important to be diligent about their yearly exams for this reason to help detect these conditions as they develop.

Training Your Russian Bear Dog

Training this breed can be a bit more challenging as they are incredibly independent. Though they do like to do things their way, this quality is easier managed when beginning training in their puppy stage.

The best time to begin training for this breed is between 8-16 weeks of age.

Make sure you are an experienced dog owner if you plan on owning this breed, as they require someone who is firm and confident. Though they respond well to a firm training routine, this does not mean negative reinforcement. This simply means someone who is confident in their stance.

This breed can be challenging, so they need someone who is dedicated to the cause.

The Russian Bear Dog responds well to positive reinforcement, as any kind of negative force can quickly discourage them and leave them frustrated.

Negative reinforcement style training also results in snapping back of breeds who are prone to stubbornness and aggression, so it’s important to make sure your relationship is built on trust and positive reward.

Socialization is extremely important with this breed, as they are extremely territorial and protective of their home and family.

By introducing them to new people, other animals, and places outside of your home, you can greatly minimize the risk of hostility toward the unknown.

Socialization should also be a continuous process, as they can become accustomed to their own space in their homes, resulting in protectiveness and aggression towards new people and animals in and outside of their space.

If you only socialize your Russian bear Dog as a puppy, it’s quite common for them to lose the ability to socialize well with others as they age.

If your Russian Bear Dog becomes too difficult to handle at any point, make sure to reach out to a professional for training.

Exercise And Your Russian Bear Dog

Though this breed is large and requires a large space to roam, they don’t require a large amount of daily exercise. They will be pleased with 30 minutes to 1 hour of browsing throughout their yard, or even a short walk each day.

When you do incorporate their daily exercise into your routine, make sure you are making time for stimulating play. Since this breed was originally bred for work, they thrive in a home that is mentally stimulating.

Consider playing fetch, offering mentally challenging toys, and even play interactive dog games with your Russian Bear Dog.

The most important factor to consider for this breed is to keep them at a healthy weight. Since they are prone to joint problems and arthritis, keeping them at a healthy weight can help take the stress off their joints.

Important Tips For Owning A Russian Bear Dog

Let’s review some of the most important tips to consider if you are making the decision to bring a Russian Bear Dog into your life.

  • Constant socialization is extremely important for this breed. Make sure to start the socialization process as a puppy, and continue this well into their adult years.
  • This breed has a thick coat, so it’s best to brush them every other day if possible to reduce the amount of loose hair in your home.
  • Limit activity during the hour after your Russian Bear Dog eats in an effort to prevent gastric bloat.
  • Due to their large size, it’s best to not have the Russian Bear Dog in a home with small children.
  • Consider putting them on joint supplements once they enter their adult years since they are so prone to joint problems.
  • Try your best to keep them at a healthy weight to prevent any stress on their joints.
  • Since this is such a large breed, it’s best to only have them in a larger home with plenty of yard space for them to explore.

Russian Bear Dog – Summary

When in the right home, this unique breed can be a perfect family member. As long as you are dedicated to your Russian Bear Dog’s needs, this breed can be a wonderful addition to your life.

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