11 Dog Breeds That Look Like Bears

Dogs are descendants of wolves, but that doesn’t mean they all have pointy ears and long, bushy tails. In fact, a lot of dog breeds look like bears. We’re talking big, lumbering canines you could easily mistake for a brown bear if you didn’t know any better. The dogs on our list have thick, fluffy coats and impressively large paws. Some have narrow snouts reminiscent of grizzlies, while others do have those slightly tapered ears like typical black bears. We even included one dog breed that looks like a teddy bear, because it was too cute to ignore.

Dogs vs. bears

In all actuality, dogs and bears are very much kindred spirits. According to the Get Bear Smart Society, bears are “highly evolved social animals.” They thrive on routine, build tight bonds with other members of their social group and communicate with specific body language. Like dogs, bears use scent to explore their world and can hear pitches much higher than the human ear can detect. Bears are also genuinely affectionate with each other and love to play.

Similar to the way every dog breed has its own unique personality, each type of bear displays a particular set of characteristics and habits. For instance, grizzly bears, like Afghan Hounds and Chow Chows, need plenty of space and tend to get agitated if too many strangers enter their orbit. Black bears, like Golden Retrievers and Siberian Huskies, are used to existing in the same areas as humans and are less aggressive overall.

That being said, if you live in an area with a sizable bear population, don’t let your dog wander too far from home. Bears are serious about protecting their young and hate being thrown out of their routine (aka, encountering strangers or surprises). Like canines, bears will go into fight or flight mode. While bears aren’t territorial about specific zones like wolf packs are, they do share “home ranges” with other bears and animals. Think of it more like a neighborhood than an apartment building.

Finally, though bears definitely eat meat and lots of fish, an enormous portion of their diet comes from plants. Unlike dogs, whose diets should be made up primarily of protein and only supplemented with plants, bears will happily scarf down berries, grasses and roots all day long.

While having a bear as a pet isn’t a great idea, you can certainly own a dog that looks like a bear. Folks might do a double take if you walk down the street or arrive at the dog park with one of the dogs on our list. These canines are big, furry and bear-y striking at first glance.

15 Dog Breeds That Act Like Cats

dogs that like bears akita
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1. Akita

Average Height: 24-28 inches

Average Weight: 70-130 pounds

Temperament: Loyal, Brave

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Activity Level: High

Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

Akitas are similar to grizzlies in that they prefer a lot of space. Known for their deep loyalty to their family members, this Japanese dog breed doesn’t take kindly to strangers - or rather, if you surprise an Akita with a new friend, they’ll probably bark and go into protection mode. The thick, double coat of an Akita gives it extra insulation and their pointed ears resemble those of black bears.

dog breeds that look like bears bouvier des flandres
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2. Bouvier Des Flandres

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 70-110 pounds

Temperament: Intelligent, active

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Like a bear investigating a campsite, a Bouvier des Flandres needs a goal. These dogs were bred to work on farms and love having jobs to do. If left to their own devices, they may become destructive. A Bouvier’s size and demeanor make them excellent watch dogs. Their thick, waterproof fur and stubbed tail could also make someone think you’ve got a bear at home. These pups have worked in both law enforcement and as service dogs over the years.

dog breeds that look like bears caucasian shepherd
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3. Caucasian Shepherd

Height: 20-30 inches

Weight: 100-170 pounds

Temperament: Fearless, dedicated

Shedding Factor: Moderate to High

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Talk about a dog that looks like a bear. Caucasian Shepherds hail from the mountains of Russia where their luscious coats kept them from freezing to death in some of the coldest areas on earth. Rounded ears and large heads on a black or tan Caucasian Shepherd immediately evoke the image of a bear—as does this dog’s reaction should it feel something is trying to harm its family. These are guardian dogs first and foremost.

dog breeds that look like bears chow chow
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4. Chow Chow

Height: 17-20 inches

Weight: 45-70 pounds

Temperament: Serious, loyal

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 8-12 years

An ancient breed from China, the Chow Chow is a semi-aloof, almost cat-like dog with eyes only for you. They come in shades of white (hello, tiny polar bear!), black and red. Though Chow Chows may be stubborn during training, they do love their humans and will stand up for you if they feel someone is encroaching on your space.

dog breeds that look like bears estrela mountain dog
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5. Estrela Mountain Dog

Height: 24-29 inches

Weight: 75-130 pounds

Temperament: Brave, affectionate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Activity Level: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

If a bear and a dog had a baby it would probably look something like the Estrela Mountain Dog. The key to bringing out the affectionate, doting side of this pup is early socialization and firm training. Otherwise you may have an enormous unruly creature on your hands. Overall, these dogs love being around their family and are careful guardians at home. They are also great with kids.

dog breeds that look like bears karelian bear dog
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6. Karelian Bear Dog

Height: 19-24 inches

Weight: 44-50 pounds

Temperament: Confident, independent

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Activity Level: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

If you’re looking for a friendly dog who enjoys kiddos, move on from the Karelian Bear Dog. These are independent souls who were bred to hunt large game. They have some bear-like facial features and at certain angles they look exactly like the big game they’re named after. Their black and white coloring is also a lot like a panda bear. Karelian Bear Dogs train rigorously and are fearless when it comes to hunting. Don’t expect kisses galore, but do expect them to happily protect you from harm.

dog breeds that look like bears leonberger
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7. Leonberger

Height: 25-32 inches

Weight: 90-170 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, goofy

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years

Check out this enormous German dog breed! The Leonberger is a big, affectionate, loving, friendly animal with true dog sensibilities. Their lush golden and black coats shed profusely, but it’s worth it for a gentle and sweet-natured pet like this. Just make sure socialization and commands are part of early training.

dog breeds that look like bears newfoundland
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8. Newfoundland

Height: 26-28 inches

Weight: 100-150 pounds

Temperament: Friendly, Loving

Shedding Factor: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 9-10 years

Newfoundlands (or Newfies) can grow larger than the smallest bear, the Malayan sun bear. Though they look nothing like the Malayan sun bear, neighbors could mistake a Newfie lumbering around the yard for a small brown bear or spectacled bear, depending on the coat color. Newfoundlands are big, sweet dogs with patient dispositions. Though they don’t need tons of space to run around, stuffing one into a small apartment may not be the wisest choice.

dog breeds that look like bears swedish lapphund
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9. Swedish Lapphund

Height: 16-20 inches

Weight: 30-45 pounds

Temperament: Playful, obedient

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Depending on how thick their coats are, Swedish Lapphunds could look like wolves or sloth bears with their narrow snouts and pointy ears. Like most spitz-style breeds, their fluffy curly-que tails and lively dispositions make Swedish Lapphunds excellent playmates. As a herding dog, these pups will learn commands well and enjoy time outdoors.

dog breeds that look like bears tibetan mastiff
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10. Tibetan Mastiff

Height: 24-26 inches

Weight: 70-150 pounds

Temperament: Stubborn, mellow

Shedding Factor: Moderate to High

Activity Level: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

A golden hued Tibetan Mastiff could closely resemble a blonde spirit bear, a type of brown bear known for its lighter colored coat. Tibetan Mastiffs are intelligent, protective dogs who usually aren’t in the mood to meet new people. However, at home they are all about spending time with their family and lounging freely. Training will be annoying because these big dogs think they know better than you—so be warned.

dog breeds that look like bears cavapoo
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11. Cavapoo

Height: 9-14 inches

Weight: 12-20 pounds

Temperament: Friendly, adaptable

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Activity Level: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

What do you get when you combine a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Miniature or Toy Poodle? A Cavapoo that looks like a teddy bear! These friendly sweethearts do well in all types of households and are perfect cuddle partners. Cavapoos are also smarties who enjoy learning and performing commands. If you’re a first-timer when it comes to dogs, this is a terrific choice.

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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...