Are you considering getting a Russian Bear Dog as a pet?
This article will help you better understand the breed and the challenges that come along with it.
Also known as Caucasian Shepherds or the Caucasian Ovcharka, the Russian Bear Dog is officially classified as a working breed.
Unlike other working dogs, like German Shepherds and Sheepdog, the Russian Bear Dog was not primarily used for herding.
Instead, these dogs were used as guardians for flocks of sheep and would regularly have to fend off wolves and other wild animals that tried to eat them.
What does the Caucasian Shepherd look like?
Two instantly noticeable things are these dogs’ humungous size and thick, dense fur.
The breed originates from the Caucasus mountain area.
To survive their harsh climate, Russian Bear Dogs have adapted to have extra dense and fluffy fur.
Their luscious coat being one of their distinct features, these dogs can be fluffier than many other breeds.
This can be different shades, such as Agouti Gray, fawn, rust-brown, and red.
The dogs may have different colored facial markings that may vary significantly among individuals.
On rare occasions, they may even have a pure white coat.
Their second hallmark is their immense size and gives credit to their “bear” inspired name.
Growing, on average, to a height of 23 to 30 inches and weighing 170 pounds, it is easy to see how they got their name.
Some reports indicate these dogs reaching sizes compared to small tigers and bears, with one British puppy weighing in at 44 lbs at the young age of only 11 months.
Some other traits to help you distinguish this giant breed:
• Strong, Muscular body
• Thickly furred tail
• Drooping ears
• Large head
• Blunt Muzzle
What kind of personality does the Russian Bear Dog have?
The Russian Bear Dog is vast, but this doesn’t make them aggressive or unfriendly.
Like many other dogs, all they need is proper care and training to become the right family pet.
These dogs are known as headstrong and intelligent. While still in their puppy years, they can be playful and fun.
By nature, Russian Bear Dogs are always on guard and vigilant.
Their ancestors used to hunt wolves in packs of several dogs. This is one of the attributes that makes them beautiful guardians.
They are also naturally suspicious of strangers and the unknown thus tend to act against anything that may pose a threat to them or their owners.
Russian Bear dogs are expert trackers, and highly alert.
They will raise a warning by barking if they sense anything out of place.
Even though they have a pleasant personality and a calm temperament toward their own family, these dogs can be wary and intolerant of strangers.
Like any breed, Russian Bear Dogs have their negative traits. Many people thinking of them as scared or skittish.
They may also come off as lazy or sluggish, often taking lengthy breaks after small amounts of exercise.
What is the average life span of a Russian Bear Dog?
These dogs can live for up to 12 years if given adequate care. Like most breeds, they take about 2 years to reach full maturity.
Due to their large size, these puppies might need supervision, as they are often unaware of how big they are.
Where does the Russian Bear Dog originate?
These dogs can be traced back to the Caucasus Mountains region in Eastern Europe.
They were specifically bred to withstand the cold and harsh environment of this area.
Many mountain dog breeds can find their history in this region of Europe.
They are most famous for their initial purpose: to hunt and kill wolves.
Being so successful at their initial task, they carried on through the years to favor their guarding abilities.
Consequently, becoming service dogs under the Soviet Union to guard sensitive areas like camps and factories.
Legend and folklore surround this breed, and their story is well known over all of Eastern Europe.
Although the actual age of the breed is unknown, Western Europeans noticed it around 1920.
The United Kennel Club registered it in the U.S.A in 1995.
What is the best climate to raise Russian Bear Dogs?
Being as hardy as they are, Russian Bear Dogs can quickly adapt to any environment.
Despite their thick fur and cold background, they can withstand heat and high-temperature regions but will need a lot of hydration to keep cool!
They will feel more at home in a colder climate as this is closer to their homelands.
Like humans, dogs can differ from one another, so some will adapt easier, while some will find it more difficult to flourish in warmer regions.
Initially bred in rural areas, these dogs evolved into great explorers and enjoyed discovering new places.
An owner needs to give their dogs enough space to roam around and get the exercise they need.
They are great partners for outdoor activities like camping and hiking.
Unlike the softer dogs of the west, they don’t like being locked up inside the house.
What is a balanced diet for a Russian Bear Dog?
As with most animals, a dog’s nutritional needs will vary depending on its size and condition.
Be sure to consult a qualified vet on following a balanced diet for your Russian Bear Dog.
They will need proper, good quality dog food from puppyhood. As a result of their size, many owners tend to overfeed their Russian Bear Dogs.
Protein levels should be monitored as the wrong amount can be detrimental to the dog’s health.
In adulthood, they are at risk of bone disease. It is of utmost importance to ensure that your dogs get enough calcium in their diet from a young age.
Supplements or specialized dog food can help you achieve this and protect your dog from the disease.
What are the exercise requirements for a Russian Bear Dog?
Russian Bear Dogs can get bored and destructive if they don’t have an outlet for their energy, so be sure to take them for regular walks.
An hour-long walk daily should be enough to keep them nice and fit.
Seeing as they are regarded as “moderately active,” owners should not worry too much about extended exercise times.
Ideally, you would want to provide these dogs with a large yard or space to play in and enough toys and activities to keep them busy.
They bore easily, so make sure to keep a variety of different toys and activities for them.
How do I groom a Russian Bear Dog?
A Russian Bear Dog has 2 layers of thick fur. This helps them to regulate their body heat and insulate them against the cold. This might prove a challenge when it comes to grooming them.
Their long coats will need daily brushing. If they are not looked after properly, their fur might become matted and tangled.
Make sure to maintain a regular grooming regiment to ensure their fur stays clean and well preserved.
What are the common health risks to look out for in Russian Bear Dogs?
They are partially susceptible to all diseases, like most domestic animals.
Their genetics will make them have a hard time with vision and bone/joint problems with age.
Here are some breed-specific diseases that owners of a Russian Bear Dog should watch out for:
Hip Dysplasia is a condition that hinders the connection of the dogs’ hips bone to the pelvis.
This will cause trouble while walking and may be extremely uncomfortable. In some cases, it may be treated with surgery.
Like most large breeds, this is a common problem and is hereditary in this breed.
Hip dysplasia is usually becoming more prominent as the dogs age.
Similar to hip Dysplasia, this is a joint disease that affects the front legs.
It may also be treated with surgery. If this problem is left unchecked, it will cause a painful limp.
Both types of Dysplasia have limited treatment options.
Similar to humans, Russian Bear dogs can also get cataracts over the eyes.
This will lead to clouded and blurry vision.
This can be seen as a minor complication but may cause blindness in extreme cases.
There are some steps for owners to take to try and avoid cataracts.
Russian Bear Dogs may be treated with surgery if cataracts have developed.
Proper socialization is crucial with this breed and may prove to be one of the most essential parts of a puppy’s life.
At around 12 weeks of age, these dogs gain a suspicious and cautious nature.
This means that they will not trust unfamiliar people or surroundings so quickly.
This is why it is important to surround the puppy with positive experiences.
This will boost their confidence and make it easier for the dog to trust new things.
If not done correctly, these dogs may become very aggressive towards unfamiliar people and hard to control.
How can I train my Russian Bear dog?
These dogs are famously hard to train and are often too smart for their own good.
Although these dogs pride themselves on their independence, they can be controlled if trained from a young age.
With their hardy attitudes, they don’t take kindly to negative reinforcement.
You may have to coax your dog’s best side out with positive rewards for positive actions. This follows the operant condition that most dogs live by.
If treated aggressively, they will respond in an aggressive nature.
If you were to punish this dog for its wrongdoing, it might fight back.
To train these dogs successfully, the owner must establish dominance.
This should be done before and after training sessions.
To make the most of training, keep sessions short as the Russian Bear Dog is a very stubborn breed.
Tips for Training:
• Offer praise for obedience
• Start leash training young
• Train so that the dog looks to you for instruction on threats
• Reward good behavior
• Most of all, be patient
What to avoid:
• Long, boring sessions
• Punishment as a training tool
• Aggressiveness toward the dog
The training can be difficult and time-consuming.
But it is possible and essential if they are intended for home living.
Will a Russian Bear Dog work for a family pet?
While they are excellent guard dogs and companions, if trained correctly, they may grow impatient around children.
Supervision is always required as a child might not know what the dog’s body language is saying and may provoke a dog’s negative response.
After all, they were initially bred to kill wolves.
Should I get a Russian Bear Dog?
It is important to remember these dogs are significant, and they will need extra time and energy from you.
Here’s a simple checklist:
• Can I feed this large dog with quality food?
• Can I afford vet check-ups, toys, and food?
• Will I be able to train this dog?
• Will I commit to grooming this dog?
• Do I have enough free time for the required exercise?
Think carefully before making this commitment, as these dogs are big and a handful sometimes.
If the training was neglected, they might prove dangerous to have as a pet.
Overall, this is a beautiful dog with a fearless history and an excellent temperament. Given all they need, they would be perfect pets!