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. Was that a bear or a furry dog?
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.”
The best part about dogs is that they come in all shapes and sizes. Thus, we 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 to call them out.
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Table of Contents
- Why Do Dogs Look Like Bears?
- Dogs That Look Like Bears
- 1. Chow Chow
- 2. Pomeranian
- 3. Tibetan Mastiff
- 4. Akita Inu
- 5. Alaskan Malamute
- 6. Newfoundland Dog
- 7. Maremma Sheepdog
- 8. Šarplaninac
- 9. Caucasian Shepherd Dog
- 10. Great Pyrenees
- 11. Gaddi Kutta
- 12. Bush Dog
- 13. Yorkshire Terrier
- 14. Keeshond
- 15. Leonberger
- 16. Bichon Frise
- 17. Cuvac
- 18. Spanish Mastiff
- 19. Anatolian Mastiff
- 20. Pyrenean Mastiff
- 21. Estrela Mountain Dog
- Puppies That Look Like Bears
Why Do Dogs Look Like Bears?
Dogs that resemble bears are not anything new – we didn’t make this up. In fact, this family from China once took in an Asiatic Black Bear thinking he was a Tibetan Mastiff. What’s more, they ended up raising the bear for over 2 years!
While this may not be a common occurrence, it does happen. So why do some dogs look like a bear? If you trace back far enough, bears and dogs share a part in their genetic lines. Not as similar as historic wolves, but enough for them to resemble one another.
Both dogs and bears are classified as carnivora. That is, they both are meat eaters that depend on protein as the main source of their diet. As a result, they both were given sharp teeth, as well as agility and muscular frame.
Sometime in history, carnivores evolved into two types: the feliformia (such as feline-types) and the caniformia (which both the ancestors of dogs and bears are part of). That said, the latter were given a long snout and non-retractable claws.
So because both species are from the caniformia group, it was inevitable that they developed some similar physical qualities. However, they are in different families. While dogs are part of the Canidae family, bears are in the Ursidae family.
Dogs That Look Like Bears
Because dogs (even purebreds) can vary a lot in physical appearance, we cannot guarantee every individual 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 the 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. And although they can be a bit stubborn, they are known for being overall well-behaved dogs that develop deep bonds with their owners – thanks to their loyal nature.
Plus, Chow Chows tend to be 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. However, 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. In fact, a Pom may be the best teddy bear dog.
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 true 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 Pom might be the next best thing. Their cheerful and positive demeanor has made them a favorite breed around the world.
3. Tibetan Mastiff
Highlights: Intelligent, Proud, Reserved
On the other side of the size spectrum, we have the Tibetan Mastiff. This massive mastiff dog was (and still is) used by Tibetans to protect flocks of sheep from predators including tigers and bears. One look and you can see they’re suited for the job.
These dogs are utterly huge, and their thick coats only add to the impression of size and might. Since they were bred to protect flocks, they have a somewhat nocturnal tendency. That is, they enjoy napping 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 (and plenty of shedding).
Their furry, erect ears contribute too, though they are somewhat pointier than those of an actual bear, whose ears tend to be rounder. This breed is known for its tendency toward cleanliness. Not only do they often groom themselves, but also for those around them.
While some dogs might be content to walk around with dog chow in their fur, Akita Inus tend to 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 in mind, you might want to look for another dog 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.
6. Newfoundland Dog
Highlights: Strong, Calm, Sweet
The black Newfoundland dog is for those who want a breed that has the body of a bear, but a heart of pure honey. Despite the looks, these dogs are known for being incredibly sweet and are especially good around children.
Just think of how kind Nana, who happens to be a Newfoundland, was in Peter Pan. They are calm and considerate around adults and children alike, making them great therapy dogs. But what makes them great is their sweet tempers.
And, much like a grizzly bear, Newfoundland dogs are excellent swimmers. This is partly due to 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 the protection of sheep flocks from creatures looking for an easy meal. Among shepherd-type dogs, the Maremma looks most bear-like by far.
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 very 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. So if you want a great watchdog that looks like a bear, look no further.
Highlights: Reliable, Serene, Serious
The Šarplaninac (that funky “Š” is there is pronounced like “sh”), also called the 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 owners like sheep.
However, they do so only with the best of intentions. That is, they’re protective and loyal while always having your back. Without a bleating flock to direct, the shepherd 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 dog breeds around. Plus, 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 wildlife.
Like most shepherding dogs, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is extremely loyal and smart. But due to their limited exposure outside of the field of herding, they still maintain a strong territorial tendency and are protective of land they deem theirs.
However, like pretty much any dog breed, if trained properly early on, even the strongest of instincts can be curbed and shaped to make a friendly, well-adapted dog. Just make sure you have plenty of patience with these dogs.
10. Great Pyrenees
Highlights: Intelligent, Patient, Sweet
The Great Pyrenees is nothing short of greatness. As such, these extra-big 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 mauled. Still, we do recommend you exercise some caution.
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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, but with minor differences in features and coat colors.
These dogs originate from the harsh mountainous regions of northern India or Himalayas. But because of this, they need that thick and fluffy coat to be able to withstand the chilling winters. Fortunately for us, it’s 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, guard dogs and companions. 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 dog 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 really want to see one, try a zoo.
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? They’re just a more cuddly version of the real thing.
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. Don’t let the small size fool you, they’re ones with big personalities.
If the idea of having a teddy bear dog is more attractive to you, then the Yorkshire Terrier is the dog breed to get! They can make decent lap dogs due to their size, but they need to have some time to be active and romp around.
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Highlights: Friendly, Energetic, Sociable
The Keeshond is very much similar to that of a Pomeranian, though slightly bigger with different colors. They’re a medium sized spitz type dog with a large fluffy coat. But because of primarily the coat, the Keeshond resembles a bear too.
Some people may think the Keeshond looks like a cross between a bear and a fox. Others think they look more like a fox than a bear, depending on the dog. Although this may be a legitimate debate, we’re still going to side 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 people and dogs. They’re a social dog breed and love playing and frolicking with others.
Highlights: Calm, Playful, Affectionate
The Leonberger is a massive German dog breed that can weigh up to 170 pounds! They tend to have a brown coat with a black mask, which really brings out the bear-like qualities in them. Don’t they really look like a small brown bear?
Leonbergers are some of the fluffiest brown dogs in the canine kingdom, which makes sense why they’re on this list. But aside from looking like a bear, the Leonberger is an excellent and sweet-natured companion dog for all.
Though they’re big and strong, they have a gentle and calm personality. They can be a little playful, but they’re very much gentle giants that prefer a slow pace. 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 ready to cuddle with their owners.
The Bichon is always friendly and optimistic when it comes to, well, just about everything. In the home, they’ll be charming and sweet, though they love to have a good time. You can’t find a dog breed more cheerful than a Bichon.
For many years, they’ve been called the world’s greatest “personality dogs” and it’s easy to see why. They get along with other dogs, humans and especially kids. Spend an afternoon with the Bichon Frise and you’ll know exactly why.
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Highlights: Fearless, Vigilant, Loyal
The Slovensky Cuvac is essentially a larger, white Golden Retriever. In our opinion, they most resemble a classic white polar bear. What’s more, they have the courage and fearlessness to fight off unwanted intruders, including bears.
The Cuvac, however, comes exclusively in a white coat. That’s because they were purposely bred this way for people to distinguish them from other wild animals at night. After all, they were some of the best guardians for Slovakia.
Because they were bred in the Slovakian mountains, the fluffiness of the coat is necessary to protect them from harsh winters. Just like with real polar bears, the Cuvac’s coat acted as one of the best insulators for the large animal.
18. Spanish Mastiff
Highlights: Affectionate, Smart, Sweet
The Spanish Mastiffs are both beautiful and spirited, making them ideal sheep guardians for the Merino livestock. In fact, they’ve had this job since the Middle Ages, often following nomadic shepherds into greener pastures.
Like many mastiff-types, the Spanish Mastiff has a face that closely resembles a small bear. It’s the bulky frame and demeanor that make them top candidates on our list. And with their brown-ish coats, it wouldn’t be unusual to mistaken one for a bear.
For a mastiff, they’re relatively calm and gentle. But when the situation calls for it, they’re like a completely different dog. They will do all they can to protect and defend their loved ones. With a little bit of patience and trust, they’re amazing dogs.
19. Anatolian Mastiff
Highlights: Confident, Dependable, Reserved
First originating from Turkey, the Anatolian Mastiff (otherwise known as the Kangal Shepherd), is a powerful yet confident mastiff-type shepherd. They’ve been working as premier shepherds for thousands of years in Turkey!
Given their dark-colored hues and meaty facial structures, the Anatolian can often be mistaken for a grizzly bear. After all, these massive dogs can weight upwards of 150 pounds, which can resemble that of a small bear cub.
Though they’re much smaller than a bear, the Anatolian isn’t afraid of one. In the packs, they’re able to defend against much larger wolves, lions, jackals and even bears. It’s no wonder the shepherds relied so heavily on them!
20. Pyrenean Mastiff
Highlights: Sweet, Calm, Independent
The Pyrenean Mastiff is not the same as the Great Pyrenees, though they both originated from the same mountainous region. And as big as the Great Pyrenees is, the mastiff is much larger – weighing up to 180 pounds!
Majestic and thick, the frame of the Pyrenean will make you reminiscent of wild bears. Though they may look dangerous, they’re actually gentle and even-tempered dogs. At least, with their humans. We can’t say the same for wild wolves.
However, the coats of the Pyrenean Mastiff are long and beautiful, though we recommend you brush them regularly. Otherwise, mats and tangles start to build up and can potentially hurt the dog. Still, they’re an impressive sight to see.
21. Estrela Mountain Dog
Highlights: Vigilant, Smart, Courageous
When it comes to livestock guard dogs, the Estrela Mountain Dog is one of the best. Largely due to their loyalty and bravery, the Estrela will fight to the end in order to save his or her pack. As such, they’re highly dependable dogs.
The dark-brown coat that the Estrela dogs has gives them a look that resembles a cross of a brown bear and grizzly bear. And with the dog’s massive 130-pound frame, the comparison to a small bear is not unrealistic.
But despite the fearsome appearance, the Estrela has a soft spot for family members and kids. In the home, they can still be dominant though. It’s why socialization as a small puppy is so crucial for these dogs.
Puppies That Look Like Bears
As dog age, they 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.
22. 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. Still, an adult might sport a coat reminiscent of a bear as well.
While they used to be bred for various farm work, nowadays the Bouviers are more likely to serve as police dogs or personal companions. Thanks to their rational mindset, they tend to be perfect for discerning work.
And although the Bouvier has the fluffy coat associated with bear-like dog breeds, they do not come with all the extra shedding. That’s right – these dogs are hypoallergenic dogs perfect for owners sensitive to dog allergens.
Highlights: Even-Tempered, Dignified, Sensitive
With the Eurasier, also called the Eurasian Dog, there can be a bit of variation in their looks due to the breed being relatively new. 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 short fur length around the neck, thus shortening the mane 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 scolded too harshly. It’s best to be softer with them and encourage good behavior, and training should always be conducted by the owner.
Highlights: Affable, Diligent, Playful
As puppies, the Samoyeds 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 therefore more bear-like.
In any case, there is a striking resemblance between a Samoyed puppy and a polar bear cub. It is the white fur, the dark eyes, and black nose that all come together to make them almost near indistinguishable to the actual polar bear.
And, unlike some other breeds, this breed maintains a playful demeanor well through into their older years. So if you find yourself the owner of a Samoyed, 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. It’s no coincidence that the Goldendoodles are highly intelligent and have fantastic temperaments perfect for any household. They’re special mutts.
The cross between the Golden Retriever and Poodle, a Goldendoodle looks eerily similar to a bear during its early years as a puppy. With the right coat color, you would 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.
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26. 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) you can’t help but cuddle with and give hugs to.
For years, these dogs have been bred to root out truffles thanks to their excellent nose and diligent attitude. No other dog specialized in such a unique job. But 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 – both on the field and in the home. Lagottos also get along with other dogs and kids. The bear-like appearance is just a plus.
27. Golden Retriever
Highlights: Friendly, Playful, Energetic
Everyone knows of the Golden Retriever. However, they aren’t the first breeds to come to mind when talking about dogs that look like bear. Still, a puppy Golden Retriever looks very much like a teddy bear, though with a golden coat.
The Golden Retriever is one of America’s top family dog breed for obvious reasons. They are kind and sweet, but also loving and loyal. Goldens love to play and they’ll get along great in any environment with all people.
With all the great things about the Golden Retriever, there is some bad. For instance, the dog is notorious for shedding. Plus, they have a ton of energy which requires a good amount of daily exercise – or risk a destructive Golden Retriever.
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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