Russian bear dogs are huge and large-sized dogs hence the name. They are really fierce family protectors though their hairy coats and loving personalities make them feel like big and huge teddy bears.
These dogs are also known as Caucasian Mountain dogs, Baskhan, Pariy, and others. There are also different variants and types of these dogs. They are not suitable for apartment living and not for first-time dog owners. Russian bear dogs can only be trained by experienced dog owners or trainers as they have the tendency of being quite stubborn and difficult to train.
The history of these enormous dogs is extremely vague because they are really old dogs that have been around for a long time. They are one of the oldest and aged of the Molasser breeds.
They are from the Caucasus Mountain areas and are known to have been around for more than 2000 years. Though they are believed to have first been discovered in Soviet Russia. Some people believe that these dog breeds are of wolf descent and were probably domesticated while others believe that they are of Mastiff.
However, many experts believe that they are descendants of sheepdogs that migrated from Tibet. However, recent archaeology findings have led us to believe that their ancestry dates back to Mesopotamia.
Wherever they come from, their history is a bit of a whirlwind as it is almost impossible to pin down their ancestry to a point. What is known about them is that they were originally bred as guard dogs. Being mostly used by shepherds to safeguard their flocks and drive away wolves and other wild animals.
They are resilient dogs that have protection from extreme weather conditions. Several types of these dogs are now in existence.
The most popular variant recognized by dog kennel clubs is the ones that were developed in Georgia. Their history continues from sometime in the 1990s when they were used by the communist USSR as prison guard dogs. In the 1960s they were used as border patrol dogs by East Germany along the Berlin Wall.
However, the wall came down in 1989 and about 7000 of these dogs were given out to different German families to live normally for the remainder of their lives.
Nowadays, they are mostly family pets, watchdogs, and property guardians though they are still used by shepherds to watch their flocks.
Appearance And Size
Russian bear dogs are strikingly large in size. They are also very muscular with broad bodies, short legs, large paws, and an overall athletic body.
They have large skulls with flat foreheads, powerful muzzles that tapers all to way to their noses. Their eyes are oval-shaped, medium-sized, and mostly brown in color. They have erect ears that are triangular in shape. This dog has double coats meaning two layers of fur that protects them from extreme weather conditions.
Their coats can also vary in color, it may be tin, white, piebald, grey, fawn, and brindle, and their coat have long furs that are mostly wavy and dense.
They are large-sized dogs that weigh about 110 to 200 pounds for males and 100 to 180 pounds for their female. From shoulder to paw, they measure about 26 to 35 inches.
These enormous sized dogs require a lot of grooming. It is recommended to brush their hairs twice or thrice a week to avoid dead hair, hair tangling, and hair shedding.
They are not frequent hair shedders though they go through a heavy shedding period once or twice a year. Frequent warm baths and constant brushing will make this period pass painlessly.
Apart from the period of heavy shedding, bathing should be done only when absolutely necessary. Their teeth should be brushed two or three times a week with recommended dog toothpaste to avoid dental issues.
Their ears should also be cleaned weekly to remove debris or wax build-up that may lead to ear infections. Their nails are fast-growing and should be clipped regularly to prevent them from breaking and causing injuries to the dogs.
These dogs are also known to drool a lot, so it is advisable to keep an eye out for drools to avoid having a home covered in slobber.
Though they may be great family guard dogs, they are not advisable for families with small children as their sheer size might be too scary and intimidating for them.
They are very independent dogs and can be left alone for long periods of time as they were originally bred to guard sheep on pastures or farmlands.
They are loving, loyal, and extremely protective of their owners. Russian bear dogs are naturally always suspicious of strangers and do not relate well with other animals or people they are not familiar with.
Due to their enormous size, they are not very energetic but quite calm, collective, and very relaxed. However, they are also highly terrestrial and challenging. These dogs also do not back down from any confrontation even if it is with a wolf, a bear, or other ferocious animals.
They are quite intelligent dogs but their independent and stubborn nature makes them harder and a bit difficult to train. Nevertheless, with patience, consistency, praises, rewards, and firm boundaries, training them can be achieved.
They may be loving and affectionate, but due to their independent nature, it may be harder to get them to do something. This huge furry buddy is not really eager to please its owners. They are generally well-behaved dogs but may exhibit certain cautious, aloof, and aggressive attitudes towards strangers. This can be curtailed by early training and socialization as a pup.
Russian bear dogs are known to be mostly healthy but just like other dog breeds, there are some health issues they are more susceptible to. Some of them are;
Cataracts is a disease that develops when the lens of the eye becomes clouded with white blurry substances. It majorly causes blindness.
Obesity is a condition that occurs due to too much storage of fat in the body. Though Russian bear dogs are giant breeds, it does not necessarily mean they have to consume giant meals as this could lead them to become overweight.
Luxating Patellar is a medical condition that subjects some dogs to joint pains. It occurs when the kneecaps are dislocated from their normal positions causing the knees to shorten rather than lengthen. Thankfully, the condition can be corrected through surgery.
Bloating occurs when the stomach of the dog is distended with air or gas, it is a life-threatening condition. If not treated immediately can cause the dog to lose its life. It is mostly caused by careless eating and feeding habits.
Hip Dysplasia is most likely a genetic trait that affects the formation of the hips, causing it to go out of its normal place. It is an abnormal malformation of the hip bones which results in severe arthritis and eventually lameness.
Elbow Dysplasia is just like hip dysplasia but it a genetic malformation of the elbow joints. It causes wear and tear of the elbow tissues leading to osteoarthritis and probably lameness if the condition worsens.
Training And Exercise
Russian bear dogs have been ranked average in intelligence but that does not mean that they are docile and easy to train. They are known to be quite stubborn and headstrong.
Since they are independent dogs, they are only willing to please their owners up to a point though this does not mean that they are not loving and affectionate towards their owners.
Their difficulty in training makes it advisable to train them with professional help. Training a Russian bear dog requires a lot of patience and consistency. Early training and socialization are also quite crucial.
These dogs are low energy dogs, so they don’t require much exercise and activities. However, they still require mental stimulation with complex puzzle feeders and walking. Russian bear dogs have high endurance for long walks and hikes.
They can also be indulged in games like catch and fetch in large open spaces due to their large sizes.
When training these pups (if you are experienced to do so), start with basic commands like stay, sit, wait, here and lay down then gradually and patiently move on to complex training.
Food And Diet
Although these dogs are giant breeds, it doesn’t mean that they should be fed giant meals as they are prone to obesity.
The most essential ingredients in their diets are proteins that give them energy and should be from an animal source. Dietary fats also provide energy but in more concentrated form proteins. Essential fatty acids are also needed to keep their coats looking healthy and shiny.
It is very important to have a feeding schedule for these ginormous breeds. They should be fed two times daily preferably morning and evening. The amount of calories needed for their growth depends on their weight. Dogs weighing 100 pounds would require 2000 calories per day, dogs weighing 150 pounds would require 3000 calories daily and dogs weighing 200 pounds would require 4000 calories per day.
It is important to always check the food labels for ingredients before purchasing them. Also, note that fillers like corn syrup and artificial or low quality ingredients like kibble should be avoided.
Should You Get A Russian Bear Dog?
Some reasons why you should purchase these enormous sized dog breeds are:
1. These dogs are excellent guard dogs. If for any reason you need a companion that can also guard you then these breeds are right for you. They can protect you and your properties even at the expense of their own lives. Even their sheer size will be very intimidating to burglars who might want to rob you.
2. They have exceptional endurance. Russian bear dogs enjoy long walks and hikes as they were originally mountain dogs. They can accompany you and your family on road trips and mountain holes.
3. They have double-coated furs, meaning they are adaptable to extreme weather conditions. If you live in areas with extremely cold weather conditions then you do not have to worry about dressing them up as their coats are enough to shield them from extreme cold weather conditions.
4. They are independent dogs, therefore can be left alone for long periods of time without worry, If you stay away from home for long periods of time due to work or other events then you do not need to bother looking for where or who to keep them with. These dogs are very independent and can stay by themselves at home until you get back.
Buying Russian Bear Dogs
Russian bear dogs are really in need of homes as many of them are left in rescue shelters because of their sizes. If you are interested in adopting these pooches then you can get them from Caucasian Ovcharka Rescue Rehome USA and some other shelters.
If you cannot adopt but are looking to purchase, then you can get them from registered and reputable dog breeders. They cost anywhere around $1500 to $2000.
It should be noted that when adopting or purchasing dog breeds, it is important to ask the breeders for health clearances and opportunities to meet the fathers and mothers of the pups you are about to buy. This would help you confirm their pedigree but also to be sure that you are purchasing healthy dog breeds.