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Discovering The Mighty Russian Bear Dog: A Comprehensive Guide

Dog Breeds, Dogs

Last Updated - May 23, 2023

Russian Bear dog, also known as the Caucasian shepherd dog and Caucasian mountain dog, is a powerful, large dog originally bred to protect livestock and guard homes in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia. With their formidable size, thick coat, and fierce loyalty, Russian bear dogs have gained popularity globally over the last 100 years. They are often used as working dogs, guarding, or bear-hunting dogs and are also popular as household family pets.

When deciding if a Russian bear dog is the right breed for you, it is important to consider all factors, from genetics and personality to needs and adaptability. The following guide dives deep into the Russian bear dog, giving you an overview of what life is like with this companion.


Apartment Living

How easily a dog deals with living in an apartment. Despite the dog's size, you should also consider energy level, calmness, and friendliness.

Being Alone

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to panic and separation anxiety when left alone. When left alone, they can become very destructive, bark, whine, chew and cause mayhem. These breeds do best in a home with a family member around during the day, can go to work with their owner, or recommend attending doggy day care if the owner is not home during the day.

Sensitivity Level

Low sensitivity dogs are easygoing, tolerant, and resilient. They can handle a noisy and chaotic household, a loud or assertive owner, and tolerate an inconsistent or variable routine.

Tolerate Cold Climate

Short coat and little to no coat breeds are vulnerable to cold climates. These breeds will have a low cold tolerance and need to live inside in a cool climate and should have a jacket or sweater on for chilly walks.

Tolerate Warm Climate

Breeds with a thick and double coat are vulnerable to overheating. Breeds with a short nose and flat face are also vulnerable as they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If these breeds of dog live in a warm and humid environment, you will need to be extra cautious about taking them outdoor in the heat.


Cat Friendly

Friendliness towards cats and humans is very different. Some breeds are gentle and accept cats readily as part of the family. Some breeds will chase, fight, or rough play with a cat and cause severe injury. However, no matter the breed, proper socialization, and training can improve the situation.

Dog Friendly

Friendliness towards other dogs. Some dogs may try to dominate other dogs and attack and fight, while others would rather play. However, no matter the breed, proper socialization, and training can improve the situation.

Family Friendly

How affectionate a breed is likely to be with family members or other people he knows well. Some breeds are independent, some breeds can be aloof with everyone but their owner, while others treat everyone they know like it's their best friend.
Breed, however, isn't the only factor affecting affection levels. Proper socialization and training can improve the situation.

Kid Friendly

Kid-friendly dogs should be gentle with children, be more tolerant of screaming and running children as well as other children's behavior.

Openness To Strangers

How welcoming a breed is likely to be towards strangers. Some dogs will greet a stranger with wagging tails, while others are shy, reserved, cautious, or aggressive. However, no matter the breed, proper socialization, and training can improve the situation. 

Health And Grooming

Coat Grooming Frequency

Amount of bathing, brushing, trimming, and professional grooming needs. Consider how much time, patience, and budget you have for this type of care when looking at the grooming effort needed. All breeds require regular nail trimming.

Drooling Level

Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm or wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine. But if you are a neat freak, dogs that are drool prone may not be the right choice for you.

General Health

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems. However, this doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases, and it just means that they're at an increased risk.
If you're adopting or rescuing a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
If you are purchasing from a breeder, be sure to do your research. Purchase from a reputable breeder and ask for the parent's health records to understand what potential health issue your pup may have.

Shedding Level

Amount and frequency of dog hair shedding.

If you are getting a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. 


Easy To Train

Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt, an action, and a reward (such as treats, appraise, or toys). Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.


Dogs bred for jobs requiring decision-making, intelligence, and concentration, need to exercise their brains. Such as, dogs bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they can become destructive and exhibit behaviors such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

Potential To Mouthiness

Common in most breeds during the puppy stage. Mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need the training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy squeaky toys, as well as a good chew on a toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Prey Drive

Dogs who were bred to hunt have an inborn desire to chase--and sometimes kill. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, or rabbits, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small animals. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase. But you'll probably have difficulty getting their attention when birds fly by.

Bark Or Howl Tendencies

Some breeds are more vocal than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. While some breeds will bark at every passing bird, some may use other sounds to express themselves.

Physical And Mental Needs

Energy Level

The amount of physical and mental stimulation a breed needs. High-energy breeds are ready to go and eager for their next adventure. Low-energy breeds are like couch potatoes - they're happy to lay around and sleep.

Exercise Needs

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.

Mental Stimulation

How much mental stimulation a breed needs to stay happy and healthy. Purpose-bred dogs can have jobs that require decision-making, problem-solving, concentration, or other qualities. Without the brain exercise they need, they can be destructive and have unwanted behavior issues.


A dog's inclination to be protective of his family members, home, yard, or even car.

Watchdog Ability

A breed's tendency to alert you that strangers are around. These breeds are more likely to react to any potential threat, whether it's the mailman or a squirrel outside the window.


During the twentieth century, breeders began crossing different mountain types and hunting dogs in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia. By taking some of the most notable traits of other dog breeds in the area, the caucasian mountain dogs were bred to be the best example of similar breeds based on size, power, structure, and attractiveness. The breed was officially accepted by Federation Cynologique Internationale in 1984 and has been used ever since in Russia to serve as livestock guardian dogs and has evolved to work in other ways, such as being used as prison guard dogs in Russia. Today, this breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and is a member of the United Kennel Club.


Due to their origin, Caucasian shepherd dogs were bred to be "giant" in size. Unlike many other dog breeds and animals in general, males and females are typically around the same size. While full-grown females may be slightly shorter and weigh less, males usually weigh 100-170 pounds and stand 28-30 inches tall.

Because this is a large dog breed, puppies grow quickly. A one-month-old puppy may only weigh about 8-15 pounds and grow up to 55-130 pounds by four months. While they grow fast, Russian dog breeds may not be fully grown until they are about two years old.

Some people often confuse the Russian bear dog with a Tibetan Mastiff, but Russian bear dogs are actually about 15% larger.


As a giant dog bred for working at some capacity, Russian bear dogs are extremely active, loyal, intelligent, and confident companions. They are not "gentle giants' ' like other large dog breeds as they are extremely protective, making them an excellent guard dog. Russian bear dogs are intolerant to strangers, but are known to be calm and cuddle with their owners, to whom they are extremely loyal.

Russian Bear Dog

Source: Unsplash


Because of its origin and natural instincts, many people believe that Russian bear dogs cannot be family-friendly companions. But this is not necessarily true. Though it may take some work, Russian bear dogs can be adapted to a family environment with children.

Proper training and socialization for this breed is extremely important, especially if young children are in the household. While this dog can be calm and laid-back, it is necessary for them to be consistently active and stimulated and to be comfortable with small children and handling. As long as the dog does not see the children as a threat, it will be extremely loyal to and protective of its family, including the children.

Russian bear dogs are also known for their barking tendencies, in which they bark fairly rarely, only if they suspect danger. With protective instincts, Russian bear dogs will naturally see strangers or other dangerous situations as a threat and will typically react aggressively or violently. With appropriate training, they can learn to react to these situations appropriately.

When taking into consideration the training, socialization, activity, and nutritional needs, this dog can be a good, family-friendly companion.

Diet/ Nutritional needs 

As a giant breed, Russian bear dogs need to eat a large amount of high-quality dog food to become satiated. Like all other canines, this breed is an omnivore, meaning they eat meat and vegetables/plants. Like any dog, providing this breed with a healthy, nutrient-dense, balanced diet is important. It should be noted, though, that these dogs are also prone to obesity. By keeping the dog active consistently, feeding healthy, high-quality food, and keeping track of the dog's weight, you can prevent any potential issues with obesity.

If you have a puppy, you will need to feed food that is designed for giant breed puppies. This type of food is designed to be more nutritional and higher quality food than your average puppy food.

Meet with your veterinarian for their diet recommendations and specific food quantities for your dog.

Activity/ Exercise needs

Though they are large in size, these dogs are often referred to as relatively low-energy breeds. Because they are used to working, it is important to keep these dogs active as they may become anxious due to boredom. Activity can be physical but also mental stimulation, such as training and socializing, other mental games, or puzzles for dogs.

Activity is also important not only for their mental health but also their physical health. Consistent physical activity helps build cardiovascular health and endurance and prevents obesity. A large open or fenced backyard is ideal to allow the Russian bear dog to run, sniff, and explore freely. Consistent walks and activity of at least fifteen minutes twice daily are imperative for mental and physical health.

Appearance/ Colors

These dogs have naturally thick, long-haired coats as they were bred to work outside in the Russian mountains all year round. This double coat is often multi-colored and can be any color, such as brown, gray, black, cream, white, brindle, fawn, or apricot. White, black, and brindle are the most commonly seen combinations of colors, and solid-colored coats are possible but very rare.

The double coat of fur is made up of a coarse outer layer surrounding a soft inner layer. This dual layer of fur helps to protect the dog from cold temperatures and keeps them warm and from injuries due to its thickness.

Grooming needs 

Regular grooming for this breed is a must. Shedding is expected due to the dual-layered coat, and consistent brushing at least once weekly can be beneficial to limit shedding and keep the dog comfortable. Regular hair cuts can be beneficial in preventing the dog from overheating in hot summer months, depending on its environment.

Other grooming needs include regular nail trims to prevent any discomfort of overgrowth and ear cleaning, as long-haired dogs can sometimes be prone to ear infections due to debris build-up.


It is recommended for Russian bear dogs to live in homes rather than apartments for several reasons. Most notably, having enough space to roam freely throughout the day is essential due to their protective nature.

These dogs are bred to live in a cold environment and definitely prefer colder climates. It is okay for this breed to live somewhere with warmer temperatures. But it is extremely important to keep the dog hydrated, have access to a cool home with shade and air conditioning, and groom often to prevent overheating and dehydration.

If you have other pets at home, it is also important to consider them. Russian bear dogs are bred to be hunters and shepherds, as they tend to feel threatened by other animals and do not often get along with other pets in the home. With the right training and socialization at a young age, a Russian bear dog can adapt to having other pets in the home.


Caucasian shepherds are very smart and can learn training cues quickly, but they can become easily distracted due to their alertness and are often stubborn to training.

Proper training is especially important, not only because of stimulation but because the dogs are bred to be protective, often using violence or aggression by nature. Through appropriate training, the dog can learn to be protective and loyal without being violent toward anyone the dog perceives as a potential intruder or predator.

Life expectancy 

Large-breed dogs are often expected to have a shorter life expectancy as compared to other breeds. With a proper diet, environment, and exercise, Russian bear dogs typically lie to around 10-12 years old.

Russian Bear Dog Cost

On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 for a purebred Russian Bear Dog puppy. Owning a dog may seem costly at first, but it's also crucial to think about the ongoing expenses such as vet bills, grooming, and food costs in the long run. Unlike other dogs, Russian bear dog puppies do also grow quickly. Therefore, consider the cost of upgrading crates, beds, collars, etc.

If you plan on getting a puppy from a breeder, it is essential to research and buy from a reputable breeder. Look for reputable Russian bear dog breeders who specialize in Russian bear dogs. Ask for referrals from people who own a Russian bear dog and visit the breeder's facilities.

Potential Health Issues

The Russian bear dog is generally a healthy breed. But like any big dog, Russian bear dogs are prone to specific health issues, such as obesity, bloat, and hip dysplasia. But overall, they are healthier than most other purebred dogs.


As previously mentioned, these giant dogs are prone to obesity, and this can easily be prevented with an appropriate, healthy diet and regular exercise.


Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), is a condition that occurs in many large-breed dogs. It is a complication caused by the accumulation of gas or fluid in the stomach, affecting the digestive tract. This is an extremely dangerous situation and should be seen immediately if any signs are present, such as a swollen and hard stomach, retching without vomiting, drooling, excessive panting, and restlessness. To prevent this, you should monitor your dog's food and water intake to ensure they are not consuming too fast and avoid exercising immediately after a meal.

Hip Dysplasia 

Another common issue in large-breed dogs is hip dysplasia, in which the hip joints become loose due to excessive pressure on the joint. You should consult your veterinarian for future recommendations if any pain or limping is noticed. Treatment for this injury may require surgery in addition to pain medications. 


Are Russian Bear Dogs Dangerous?

While Russian bear dogs' size and strength can be intimidating, they are not inherently dangerous dogs. Like any breed, a dog's temperament is largely influenced by its upbringing and socialization.

Are Russian Bear Dogs Good With Kids?

Russian bear dogs are very large dogs when fully grown, and if they are socialized properly and trained from a young age, they can be good with kids. But at the same time, their large size and powerful build mean they may accidentally knock over or intimidate small children if they are not properly trained and supervised.

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About the Author

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.

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