We’ve all been there before. One moment you are walking down the street, and a mass of fur appears in the corner of your vision. Your heart jumps for a moment as instinct takes over.
But when you turn your head, it’s not a bear sneaking up on you. Instead it is a friendly canine, tongue lolling about and loving life. Your moment of fear is replaced with a sudden rush of “oh my god, it’s so adorable.”
We at The Smart Canine have put together a list of our favorite dog breeds that look like bears. So the next time this happens to you, you’ll be prepared.
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Table of Contents
- Dogs That Look Like Bears
- Puppies That Look Like Bears
Dogs That Look Like Bears
Because dogs (even purebreds) can vary a lot in physical appearance, we cannot guarantee every dog for each breed will look like a bear. But if you’re adamant about getting a bear-looking dog breed – these dogs are by far your best bet!
1. Chow Chow
Highlights: Quiet, Protective, Stubborn
This is perhaps the bear dog, even though in their native country of China they are called Songshi-Quan, which translates to “puffy lion-dog.”
Whether it resembles a lion or a bear, there is no dispute that this is one chunky dog. Their thick and coarse coats surround them in layer upon layer of fluff.
Though they can be a bit stubborn, they are known for being overall well-behaved dogs that develop deep bonds with their owners. And they are very protective of their families as well.
So we’ll say they have the shape and size of a bear, but the heart of a lion. But, be warned, maintenance and grooming might take over your life.
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Highlights: Playful, Alert, Cheerful
Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Sure, they might be tinier than the tiniest of bear cubs, but Pomeranians still resemble a bear…just one that has been scaled down several sizes.
Their thick and wild hair can give them a bulky, even lumbering, appearance, regardless of the fact that the dog underneath is barely more than a couple pounds.
But, unlike bears, I don’t think a Pom has ever once intimidated anyone. They are generally friendly and, well, they are about the size of a football. But if you have ever wanted to own a 1/16th scale bear, then a Pomeranian might be the next best thing.
Their cheerful demeanor has made them a favorite breed around the world.
3. Tibetan Mastiff
Highlights: Intelligent, (Somewhat) Nocturnal, Reserved
On the other side of the size spectrum, we have the Tibetan Mastiff. This massive dog was (and still is) used by Tibetans to protect flocks of sheep from predators including tigers and…bears.
One look at it and you can see it is suited to the job. These dogs are utterly huge, and their thick coats only add to the impression of size and might.
Since they were raised and bred for years to protect flocks, they have a somewhat nocturnal tendency. That is, they enjoy napping and resting throughout the day, but can become more active at night.
If you find yourself with a similar sleep patter, then this might be the dog for you. If you’ve got an early bedtime, they might wake you up and want to play well past midnight. Nothing some early training can’t take care of though.
4. Akita Inu
Highlights: Fastidious, Independent, Dominant
This breed exists in two varieties: the Japanese Akita and the American Akita. Both of which fit the standards of this list. Not only are Akitas rather large, but their thick fur also gives them an ursine aura.
Their furry, erect ears contribute too, though they are somewhat pointier than those of actual bears, whose ears tend to be rounder.
This breed is known for its tendency toward cleanliness. Not only do they often groom and clean themselves, but they do so for those around them.
While some dogs might be content to walk around with dog chow in their fur, Akitas regularly clean themselves after meals and are generally fastidious, leading some people so see them as almost cat-like.
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5. Alaskan Malamute
Highlights: Quiet, Amicable, Nimble
Despite their intimidating size and appearance, Alaskan Malamutes are much more interested in making friends than in scaring anyone. So if you had a guard dog or watchdog in mind, you might want to look for another breed.
Despite their size, Malamutes are surprisingly nimble and can maneuver well around a house, though they love being outside even more. Their history as sled dogs has given them a unique combination of strength and agility.
Malamutes exist in quite a few varieties, so while some will look more wolf-like, others will be a bit thicker and might look more like a bear. They toe the line though, especially because their coloring tends to be darker, with blends of white and black. But we’ll let them join the list anyways.
6. Newfoundland Dog
Highlights: Strong, Calm, Sweet
This dog is for those who want a breed that has the body of a bear, but a heart of pure honey. They are known for being incredibly sweet and are especially good around children.
Just think of how kind Nana was in Peter Pan. They are calm and considerate around adults and children alike, making them great therapy dogs.
And, much like a grizzly bear, Newfoundland dogs are excellent swimmers. This is partly because of their webbed feet. As such, they can often be found on rescue teams, ready to leap into the water to safe a life or two. All in a day’s work for this breed.
7. Maremma Sheepdog
Highlights: Brave, Confident, Alert
Also called the Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog, this breed is another large dog bred for protecting flocks of sheep from creatures looking for an easy meal.
Their coloring might be not entirely-bearlike, as they are invariably white (or off-white), but when their fur piles up during the winter months, they can start to look like albino bears.Indigenous to central Italy, these dogs are extremely brave and confident. To this day, they continue to work as protectors of sheep in the Abruzzo region of Italy, where many an individual’s livelihood depends on the safeguarding of one’s flocks.
Highlights: Reliable, Serene, Serious
The Šarplaninac (make sure that funky “Š” is there, pronounced like “sh”) or Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog is a breed that takes its job seriously. With its origins in the Šar Mountains, this shepherd dog has the endearing trait of treating its owners like sheep.
But only with the best of intentions. Without a bleating flock to direct, it instead turns its attention to keeping its owners away from areas it perceives as dangerous.
Their dedication to their task is truly admirable. And though they can be stubborn, once trained they are one of the most reliable breeds around. They are even-tempered and set to work with pride and dignity.
9. Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Highlights: Fearless, Self-Confident, Territorial
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog hails from the Caucasus mountains, where it was bred for work as a, well, shepherd dog. It looks like a pattern that the dogs which most resemble bears were also meant to defend livestock from these very creatures.
Like most shepherding dogs, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is extremely loyal and intelligent. Because of their limited exposure outside of the field of herding, they still maintain a very strong territorial tendency and are protective of land they deem theirs (or their owner’s).
However, like pretty much any dog breed, if trained properly early on, event he strongest of instincts can be curbed and shaped to make a friendly, well-adapted dog.
10. Great Pyrenees
Highlights: Intelligent, Patient, Sweet
The Great Pyrenees is nothing short of greatness. These extra-large dogs resemble that of a small polar bear. Because they’re covered in a thick white fur coat with a sizable frame, it’s not unusual to mistaken one for a white bear.
Despite their looks and size, they are not aggressive dogs at all. In fact, the Great Pyrenees is known for its patience and calm demeanor. Sometimes they’re referred to as “nanny dogs” because they’re so great with children.
We would never suggest letting your children play with a bear. But with a Great Pyrenees, it’s pretty much the same thing without the possibility of your children getting hurt.
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11. Gaddi Kutta
Highlights: Smart, Loyal, Calm
The Gaddi Kutta is an extremely rare dog breed from India. They’re big and extra fluffy, giving them that bear-like resemblance. In addition, they look very similar to the Tibetan Mastiff, except with minor differences in features and coat colors.
These dogs originate from the harsh mountainous regions of northern India. They can also be found in the regions bordering the Himalayas. Because of this, they need that thick and fluffy coat to be able to withstand the chilling winters. Fortunately for us, the coat is what makes them dogs that look like bears.
These mastiffs can really do it all. Not only are they skilled hunters, but they’re herders, guardians and companions. Keep in mind, these dogs are highly protective and not friendly around strangers. We certainly don’t suggest keeping one if you’re a novice dog owner.
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12. Bush Dog
Highlights: Alert, Agile, Energetic
Bush dogs, also called Savannah dogs, are not your typical family dogs. However, one cannot deny the uncanny resemblance to small bears. In fact, they may be the one breed that looks the most like bears.
Native to the Amazon basin of South America, Bush dogs are an endangered species today. Still, researchers point to genetic evidence suggesting they’re closely related to the African wild dogs and the Maned Wolves.
It’s extremely hard to come by a Bush dog – even in the wild. They’re super shy dogs that are exceptionally good at hiding. Plus, they’re great swimmers and can likely get away by diving underwater.
If you’re looking to bring home a Bush dog, save your effort and time. But if you really want to see one, try a zoo instead.
13. Yorkshire Terrier
Highlights: Affectionate, Lively, Energetic
Okay, we’ll admit – the Yorkshire Terrier looks more like a teddy bear than an actual bear. We still think they deserve to be on this list. Teddy bears are the same thing, right?
Regardless, the Yorkie is a little bundle of loving joy. They’re always excited to play and play hard. They can be a little feisty at times, but know they do everything out of affection.
If the idea of having a teddy bear dog is more attractive to you, then the Yorkshire Terrier is the dog breed to get!
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Highlights: Friendly, Energetic, Sociable
The Keeshond is similar to that of a Pomeranian. They’re a medium sized spitz type dog with a large fluffy coat. Because of mainly the coat, the Keeshond resembles a bear.
Some people think the Keeshond looks like a cross between a bear and a fox. Others think they look more like a fox than a bear. Although this may be a legitimate debate, we’re siding with bears.
Keeshonds are also similar to the Pomeranian in temperament. For the most part, these dogs are easy-going and pretty friendly to all. They’re social dogs and love playing with others.
Highlights: Calm, Playful, Affectionate
The Leonberger is a massive German dog breed weighing up to 170 pounds! They’ll usually have a brown coat with a black mask – don’t really look like a small brown bear?
Leonbergers are some of the fluffiest brown dogs in the dogdom, which makes sense why they’re on this list. But aside from looking like a bear, the Leonberger is a fantastic companion dog.
Though they’re big, they have a gentle and calm personality. They can be a little playful, but they’re definitely very friendly large dogs. If you want them to, they can be excellent working dogs too!
16. Bichon Frise
Highlights: Cheerful, Curious, Playful
Okay, the Bichon Frise is another dog breed that looks more like a teddy bear than an actual bear. Thank to their curly fluffy coat, small beady eyes and petite size, they’re a real-life teddy bear.
The Bichon is always friendly and optimistic when it comes to, well, just about everything. You can’t possibly find a dog breed more cheerful than them.
For years, they’ve been called the world’s greatest “personality dogs.” Spend one afternoon with the charming Bichon Frise and you’ll know exactly why.
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Puppies That Look Like Bears
As a dog ages, it can go through countless physical changes. Its proportions, coat, and even eye color can all change as they develop. We’ve added a short list here for those dogs who start out looking bear-like, but as they grow up…maybe not so much.
17. Bouvier des Flandres
Highlights: Rational, Obedient, Adaptable
Our first puppy-bear-dog has a name that can leave you a little tongue-tied. Though these dogs eventually grow up to be compact and rugged, they start out with some…fluffier proportions. However, the occasional adult might sport a coat that makes it reminiscent of a bear as well.
While they used to be bred for farm work, nowadays they are more likely to serve as police dogs or personal companions. Their rational mindset makes them perfect for discerning work.
For example – such as what might be required as part of a police force, or equally ready to complete mental games as part of their exercise routine with a family household.
Highlights: Even-Tempered, Dignified, Sensitive
With the Eurasier, also called the Eurasian Dog, there is a bit of variation in their appearance. Their coats can range in color from darker to warmer colors, and their final coat length varies a bit from dog to dog.
But, as puppies, they tend to be surrounded by some more fluff. While adults might have different fur length around the neck, the rest shortens out as they develop. Let’s say the adults are still bear-like, but from the neck up.
Eurasier’s are extremely sensitive to vocalizations, and can become despondent if reprimanded harshly. Best to be softer with them and encourage good behavior, and training should always be conducted by the owner. They don’t do too well with training from those outside their family.
Highlights: Affable, Diligent, Playful
This one was hard to place. On the one hand, as puppies they have rounder features that are more reminiscent of a bear, but their coat has yet to come into its full fluffy glory.
On the other hand, adults have somewhat sharper features, but appear bulkier, and there fore more bear-like, because of their thick coats.
In any case, there is a striking resemblance between a Samoyed puppy and a polar bear cub. The white fur, the dark eyes, and black nose all come together to make them almost indistinguishable.
And, unlike some other breeds, this breed maintains a playful demeanor well through its lifespan. So if you find yourself the owner of one, be prepared for years and years of fun (and perhaps the occasional sled ride).
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Highlights: Lively, Intelligent, Proud
These dogs are some of the most popular mixed dog breeds in the world – and it’s easy to see why. Goldendoodles are highly intelligent and have fantastic temperaments perfect for any household.
A cross between the Golden Retriever and Poodle, the Goldendoodle looks eerily similar to a bear during its early years as a puppy. With the right coat color, you’d probably be able to convince your gullible friends you brought home a cub.
Still, there aren’t many dogs as great as the Goldendoodle, pure or mixed. Even if they grow out of their adorable bear-like appearance, you’ll have a wonderful time with these dogs.
They’re dependable, reliable and best of all, the perfect playmates for kids. We think you should give them a try!
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21. Lagotto Romagnolo
Highlights: Loving, Keen, Easy-going
The Lagotto Romagnolo is an Italian dog breed that looks something like a Goldendoodle once fully grown. However, as puppies, they resemble little bears (or possibly teddy bears).
For years, these dogs have been bred to root out truffles thanks to their excellent nose and diligent attitude. When they’re not working hard, they’re rather easy going and laid back dogs.
There’s not much to dislike about this dog breed. They’re one of the most versatile dog breeds in the world. The bear-like appearance is just a plus.
Did we miss any dog breeds that look like a bear? Let us know in the comments section below! Also, in your opinion, which dog breed looks the most like a bear?
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