Saturday, March 15, 2008

Origin of the Karelian Bear Dog

The area once known as Karelia in Northern Europe has always been populated by tough, big-game hunting canines. For a long time, similar dogs had been bred in Karelia for hunting large game. These dogs were known to have followed the first settlers to Finland thousands of years ago. These early tribes of people survived on what they could hunt, which is why dogs that were hardy, brave, smart, and tough enough to tackle bear, wolf, lynx were so important.
The Karelian Bear Dog closely resembles the Russo-European Laika. It evolved in the part of Finland claimed by the Soviet Union earlier this century. The Karelian Bear dog, which is more numerous outside its own country than any of the Russian Laikas, is used by elk hunters throughout Finland, Sweden, and Norway. It was first exhibited at a dog show in Helsinki in 1936, but after World War II the breed almost became extinct. All modern Karelians are traced back to forty dogs found and saved after the war. The Karelian Bear Dog was very popular towards the turn of the century when it could be found in vast numbers. Its numbers declined in the 1960's, but its popularity has been on the rise and it is now being bred in North America and many European countries.
Among this avid hunter's game are buck, wild boar, hare, and moose. He is also fearless enough to fight the wolf and bear and therefore, functioned as a protector by hunting these large wild animals. In his homeland of Finland, the dog is used mostly on elk and is the favored dog of native big-game hunters.

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