10 Facts You Should Know About The Russian Bear Dog (with Pictures)

Taylor A Ritz

Also known as the Caucasian Shepherd, the Russian Bear Dog is an incredibly large and powerful breed from the Caucasus Mountains. These dogs are not for everyone but can make incredible pets and companions for the right home.

1. Where Does the Russian Bear Dog Come From?

The Russian Bear Dog was originally known as the Caucasian Orchavka. In Russian, this translates to Caucasian Shepherd Dog. Caucasian signifies that the Russian Bear Dog originated in the Caucasus region, a mountainous region encompassing Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The Russian Bear Dog, therefore, does not technically originate in Russia, but in all of these countries. He is still used as a working dog to this day.

The Russian Bear Dog is one of the mastiff-like breeds and was created to protect flocks and land, kill wolves, and as their name indicates, hunt bears.

2. What Does a Russian Bear Dog Look Like?

There are two breed types of Russian Bear Dog, the “mountain type” and the “steppe type.” The mountain type is typically larger, with a longer coat to get them through the harsh winters in the mountains. The steppe type is typically lighter in the body with a shorter coat.

Both breed types are large and come in a wide variety of coat colors. Their coat can be any solid color except for black, or a mottled combination of colors. Brindle, piebald, and white markings are also acceptable under the AKC breed standard.

3. How Big Is a Russian Bear Dog?

Russian Bear Dogs have been bred large. They need to be strong and powerful to protect livestock and shepherds from wolves and to hunt the large bears found in the Caucasus mountains. Their breeding was successful in this regard; Russian Bear Dogs tower between 23 and 30 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh between 100 and 170 pounds. Females tend to hover around the lower end of that spectrum while males are usually much larger than the females. 

4. What Is the Temperament of a Russian Bear Dog?

While Russian Bear Dogs are loving and loyal to their families, they are also extremely powerful and protective. As a result, they are distrustful of strangers and animals they do not know. While they may be low-energy, they are very territorial and will not back down from a fight, even if that fight is with a bear or wolf.

Their strength and vigor give them plenty of stamina, so living in an apartment or small house is not recommended. Russian Bear Dogs would fit well into families with large yards who are familiar with caring for large breeds and can provide firm boundaries as well as consistent training. 

5. What Are the Exercise Requirements for a Russian Bear Dog?

The Russian Bear Dog absolutely requires regular exercise. Their exercise should be rigorous and engage their minds as well as their bodies. Their intelligence requires them to be regularly challenged. Any family considering a Russian Bear Dog should have access to a large fenced-in yard.

Russian Bear Dogs are independent so they should be kept on a leash whenever outside of their home or yard. They may be low in energy, but they have plenty of endurance for long walks or even hikes. 

A tired dog is a well-behaved dog; dogs that do not get enough exercise can become bored and resort to undesirable, and even destructive, behaviors. 

6. How Do You Train a Russian Bear Dog?

In addition to regular physical exercise, Russian Bear Dogs need plenty of consistent obedience training. Training and socialization are vital from an early age for any dog, especially one as large and powerful as the Russian Bear Dog. Due to their massive size, an unruly Russian Bear Dog can be downright dangerous.

These dogs are intelligent, but also stubborn and independent, so training requires patience and dedication. Note that due to their protective nature, you will need to exercise caution when bringing people into your home.

7. How Healthy Is a Russian Bear Dog?

Like most giant pure breeds, Russian Bear Dogs can be more prone to health issues. Here are a few health concerns Russian Bear Dogs may suffer from:

  • Hip dysplasia (bones of the hip joint don’t fit together correctly)
  • Obesity
  • Bloat (potentially fatal twisting of the gastrointestinal tract)
  • Eye disease (cataracts)

Overall, Russian Bear Dogs are relatively healthy breed for such a large breed; they have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.

8. How Do You Properly Groom a Russian Bear Dog?

Whether your Russian Bear Dog has the long coat of the mountain type, the shorter coat of the steppe breed, or somewhere in between, their hair will no doubt be thick. They have a soft undercoat and coarse outer coat. This thick coat needs to be brushed twice a week or more to remove shedding hair and prevent matting. 

Once a year, Russian Bear Dogs will undergo a heavy shedding. During this time, extra brushing, as well as bathing, can help speed the process along. Otherwise, bathe your Russian Bear Dog as needed.

9. How Are Russian Bear Dogs with Children and Other Pets?

Russian Bear Dogs are loyal and loving to their families. That being said, they are cautious around strangers by nature and do not get along well with other dogs unless they have undergone socialization during puppy-hood.

If your family has small children or will have children in the future, you need to socialize your Russian Bear Dog accordingly from a very young age. These dogs are natural herders, and these instincts can take over around children. Just the sheer size of this type of dog, along with their pushy herding, can easily lead to a child’s injury, even if accidental. 

10. Does a Russian Bear Dog Make a Good Pet for a Family?

Russian Bear Dogs are loyal, protective and loving to a fault. They bond quite strongly with their human companions and take pride in keeping them safe. That being said, they were bred to protect their people and territory, and their large, powerful, intimidating presence can be a problem.

The adoption of a Russian Bear Dog is not a decision to take lightly. Potential owners should assess their ability to raise and train such a strong and stubborn animal before making a decision to bring one home.


Taylor Ritz

Taylor has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. She is a former zookeeper and animal trainer. She has her own dog, Dobby, with whom she has bicycled across the U.S. and thru-hiked the Long Trail.