Karelian Bear Dog vs Bisben - Breed Comparison | MyDogBreeds

Karelian Bear Dog is originated from Finland but Bisben is originated from India. Karelian Bear Dog may grow 16 cm / 6 inches shorter than Bisben. Karelian Bear Dog may weigh 32 kg / 70 pounds lesser than Bisben. Karelian Bear Dog may live 3 years less than Bisben. Both Karelian Bear Dog and Bisben has almost same litter size. Karelian Bear Dog requires Moderate maintenance. But Bisben requires Low maintenance

Basic Information

Working dog
Working dog
Height Male:
54 - 60 cm
21 - 24 inches
50 - 76 cm
19 - 30 inches
Height Female:
54 - 60 cm
21 - 24 inches
48 - 74 cm
18 - 30 inches
Weight Male:
20 - 23 kg
44 - 51 pounds
18 - 55 kg
39 - 122 pounds
Weight Female:
20 - 23 kg
44 - 51 pounds
16 - 52 kg
35 - 115 pounds
Life Span:
10 - 12 Years
12 - 15 Years
Litter Size:
4 - 8
4 - 10
Medium dog
Giant dog
Other Names:
Bisben Sheepdog, Bisben Shepherd, Himalayan Bisben, Himalayan Bisben Sheepdog, Himalayan Bisben Shepherd, Himalayan Sheepdog, Himalayan Shepherd, Indian Sheepdog, and Indian Shepherd
Colors Available:
Black and White
jet black, either solidly or with white markings on the feet and chest. Other commonly seen colors are tan, tricolor, and “wolf-color,” which probably means grey, brown, black, and/or various shades of sable.
Shortish and dense
long, wiry, coarse, harsh
Affectionate, Aggressive, Alert, Cheerful, Courageous, Curious, Energetic, Friendly, Independent, Intelligent, Lively, Loving, Loyal, Outgoing, Playful, Protective, Responsive, Social, Stubborn, Territorial
Aggressive, Courageous, Energetic, Independent, Intelligent, Stubborn
Moderate maintenance
Low maintenance
Kids Friendly:
New Owners Friendly:


The Karelian Bear Dog is a Finnish Spitz-type dog who is regarded as a national treasure in the country. They have always been noted for their hunting skills, and because the dog has been found in ancient Viking graves you can assume it is an ancient breed.

In fact the ancestry of the dog can be traced to neolithic times, when dogs followed human settlers to regions of Scandinavia and Europe.The American Kennel Club does not fully recognize the Karelian Bear Dog. It is however included in their Foundation Stock Service.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding this large herding dog said to come out of the Himalaya Mountains of Asia. The belief is that sheepdogs were crossed with wolves toward the end of the 18th century, but his origin is basically unknown. They are both herding dogs and guard dogs. Others theorize that rather than a wolf, the breed arose from the Mastif family. Still others claim that the Bisben is not a breed at all but rather a “landrace”. A landrace is an animal group that is only found to exist in the local area or is bred locally for a specific reason, while a breed is developed intentionally and from a select purebred with pedigree. The Bisben may be a landrace since it is very popular in India but hardly known anywhere else. What is known is that the Brisben was in existence at the end of the 1700’s and its job was to protect and herd livestock. There are three main theories about the origin of the Bisben. They are, in no particular order:

1. The Bisben was developed by mixing several different Himalayan and Indian Sheepdogs with wolves. The wolf population in the Himalayas and in India live in very close proximity to dogs and people and this population is quite large. These Tibetan and Indian wolves are known to be smaller, more comfortable with people and less aggressive than wolves from other parts of the world.

2. The Bisben was developed by mixing local sheep herding dogs with the Tibetan Mastiff. This gave the breed its protective nature and its large size according to this theory.

3. The Bisben was developed by mixing local dogs with the ones the British, Portuguese and French imported to the India subcontinent.

There is a fourth theory as well and it combines all three of these, supposing that the Bisben is a product of crossing local dogs with wolves, Tibetan Mastiffs and European dogs.

Regardless of their origins, the Bisben grew into one of the most respected animals in the Southern Himalayas. Their assistance to the shepherds of the area was unquestioned and irreplaceable. They were touch enough to herd flocks of goats or sheep across several treacherous and unstable mountain passes. The environment in which these dogs worked when herding is one of the harshest environments on the face of the earth. Temperatures were dangerously cold, altitudes dangerously high and the terrain just plain dangerous. Many deadly large predators live there as well. This included tigers, Asiatic black bears, golden eagles, Himalayan brown bears, snow leopards, fox, dholes, wolves, and small cats. The Bisben had to be able to fight off all of these predators. In addition to these herding and protecting duties, the Bisben was also known throughout the region as an excellent hunting dog. They are capable to this day of hunting large prey such as antelope or deer. They are equally comfortable hunting alone or in a pack. He has grown into one of the most popular hunting dogs in all of India.

The Himalayas, being so rugged and treacherous, were inaccessible to most of India for many centuries and the Brisben was unknown as well. Through the British imperialist expansion across all of the Indian subcontinent, the lowlands people were connected to the highlands and mountain people for the first time. This also meant that the Brisben was no longer unknown. The entire country began to appreciate the dog for its protection and herding of livestock, as well as a companion animal who would protect its owner and family as well. As India continues to grow the popularity of the Brisben grows as well and its numbers increase regularly. The breed, if it is a breed, remains an Indian secret. They have migrated to the countries around India, but their number are small. It is only in India that they are revered and prosper. They are not present in any great numbers in Europe, North America, Japan, or most of Asia.

Whether or not the Bisben becomes a recognized breed depends upon those who own and fancy them. Most Bisbens are bred to only other Bisbens in an effort to purify the breed. However, few dogs have pedigrees and the practice of breeding the Brisben to other breeds and mixed breed to acquire specific characteristics continues to this day. It is unlikely that the Bisben will ever be a purebred dog. It is quite variable in how it looks depending upon what the breeding line of the individual dog actually is. Does it look like a wolf? Does it look like a larger version of a local or European dog? There will always be these questions around the Bisben. Is it a breed or a landrace?


Standing at between 54–60cm in height and weighing roughly 20–23 kg, the medium sized Karelian Bear Dog has a beautiful shiny coat. The outercoat is shortish, straight and dense and the undercoat is soft and thick.

The color of the coat is black with white markings. The dog has a bushy tail which curls in a circle over the back and the tail’s end is white. The ears of the dog are small and erect while the small eyes are intense.


It is best to have your Karelian Bear dog trained and socialized as he can tend to be aggressive towards other pets in the house, and even towards people he isn't familiar with. The owner of these dogs must be firm and fair with training as the Karelian is a strong-willed dog.

He is devoted to his human owners while being somewhat aloof and unfriendly with strangers. They are very territorial.

He is a very social dog and just loves spending time outdoors with his family. He is also good with children in the home as he is a playful dog.He is a dog who is going to require a lot of space to use up his energy. He needs a lot of mental and physical stimulation, as in the past he has always had a lot of work to do, and just loves being active. He is a confident, brave dog who takes his job as family protector seriously.

As mentioned in the previous section the appearance of the Brisban can vary greatly from one dog to another based on the individual dogs’ ancestry. Breed or landrace, the Brisban breeding line is not very pure. Therefore, appearance can vary greatly from what is described here and there is no standard by which to measure the Brisban. Most are distinctly large animals, being as tall as the European mountain dogs – the Newfoundland or the Bernese Mountain Dog, Swiss Mountain Dog. St. Bernard and Great Pyrenees. Reports are that it is perhaps the largest dog in India. At least it is one of the largest dogs in India. The Bisben is said by some to be a large, bulky, husky dog while others claim it to be tall and athletic, leaner than the Mastiff bred. Again, there is disagreement on the size and shape of the Bisben’s head with some claiming it is massively square like a Mastiff while others say the head is long and like that of a wolf not a Mastiff. The long hair of the Bisben and its confusing heritage may be the cause. They are most often black but might also be found to be tricolor, tan and “wolf-color” or brown, grey, shades of sable and black. No matter how it looks, this is a dog that was designed to work in the harshest conditions known and their physical appearance should make that abundantly clear.

Health Problems

The Karelian Bear Dog can reach 10 to 12 years of age with good care, but just like with other dog breeds, he can be prone to certain health problems such as eye and dental problems as well as hip dysplasia.

Many people don’t realize that dental problems are far more serious than what they imagine. An offensive breath can be the first warning sign of tooth decay with your canine friend.

There are other problems that can develop orally for your dog and these include inflammation of the gums, swollen gums and mouth tumors. You need to brush your pet’s teeth but also see to it that he goes for regular dental check-ups at the vet.

Because he is not a purebred and is probably a land range, there have not been a lot of health studies done and written up on the Brisban. It is believed that the Bisben is for all practical purposes a healthy working dog. As long as the breeding practices are not compromised it should remain a healthy line. It is bred for temperament and work not for appearance and showmanship. Some problems that plague large dogs have been noted in the Bisben. These conditions include hip and elbow dysplasia; optical issues such as Entropion, Ectropion and cataracts; ear infections; and Demadex and Demodectic mange. Most of these conditions can be tested for either in DNA or early in a pup’s life and should be tested for by the breeder before a puppy is sold

Caring The Pet

There are many people who just keep a dog for watchdog purposes and fail to make the pet a proper family member by meeting its physical and emotional needs.

Caring for a dog means providing nutritious food and clean drinking water, seeing that he has a warm, dry place to sleep, providing the dog with exercise and ensuring the dog is healthy and content.

Caring for a dog is a big responsibility, and you have to think carefully before you bring a dog into your home and life.

You need to be careful with the food you select for your pet. If you’re feeding him a commercially manufactured food, you need to make sure to read the label and make sure the top ingredients are meat and not meat by-products. If this is something you’ve never thought about, ask your veterinarian for food recommendations.

Speaking of veterinarians, make sure you have a reliable, reputable vet you can call on. At some time or other your pet may get sick and then you want to have the name of a reliable vet in your contacts list on your cell phone. Sometimes your pet can become suddenly sick where he will need immediate, emergency help from the vet.

Just like you look after yourself, you need to look after your pet by brushing him, checking him for fleas, ticks and worms and keeping an eye on his eyes, ears, teeth and general health.

The Bisben is a large working dog that needs a lot of calories if you are keeping him busy. Do not let him get overweight. The Bisben should not be free fed but rather given two controlled portion meals per day.

Health issues

As previously mentioned, the Bison was developed with the harshest of conditions in mind and long hours of hard work. It is a healthy breed that is however prone to any of the issues that any large dog is prone to including dysplasia and mange and well as optical issues.

Exercise and games

The Bisben needs a lot of exercise as the breed is developed for hard work. Walks are essential but if you have more than one dog, pack walks are even better and pack time at the dog park or in a fenced yard is great. The Bison was bred to hunt in packs as well as alone and they love to play in packs. In any respect they need at least an hour of strong exercise daily. If they don’t get enough exercise, they can become aggressive, destructive and fearful. This could result in destructive activity, barking and excess excitability. They are not very happy in the city and thrive in the countryside.


Your energetic Karelian Bear Dog isn’t recommendeded for life in the city in a small garden. He needs a large garden or farm where he can run far and wide.

Exercising him will be an important part if you own one of these dogs. He is a social, friendly, active family pet who happens to make a good watchdog too.

Make sure you have your Karelian Bear Dog trained and socialized and he’ll make you a wonderful friend and pet.

The Bisben was so important to the people of the Indian subcontinent because of her temperament. He is a loyal, productive and courageous worker who took care of her flocks, her family and her pack. They are devoted to their family and if raised with children will care for them as well. He is suspicious of strangers. They are territorial and great watchdogs. They can take on any large challenger if need be to protect what they consider to be theirs. They can be highly dog aggressive and must be socialized as a puppy. Do not mix them with strange, unknown animals as the Bisben might attempt to kill them. If he sees them as his “pack” he will love and protect them, but not if he does not know them. Take as much time as you need to introduce him to a new animal and do not leave them unsupervised. They are not easy to train as they are stubborn, intelligent, want to be dominant and is a problem solver. If he doesn’t want to learn something forget it – he won’t. You can still train them. It just takes time and patience.

Comparison with other breeds

  1. Sakhalin Husky vs Karelian Bear Dog - Breed Comparison
  2. Portuguese Water Dog vs Karelian Bear Dog - Breed Comparison
  3. Puli vs Karelian Bear Dog - Breed Comparison
  4. McNab vs Karelian Bear Dog - Breed Comparison
  5. Porcelaine vs Karelian Bear Dog - Breed Comparison
  6. Hokkaido vs Karelian Bear Dog - Breed Comparison
  7. Petit Bleu de Gascogne vs Karelian Bear Dog - Breed Comparison
  8. Pumi vs Karelian Bear Dog - Breed Comparison
  9. Karelian Bear Dog vs American Bulldog - Breed Comparison
  10. Karelian Bear Dog vs Border Collie - Breed Comparison
  11. Karelian Bear Dog vs Alaskan Husky - Breed Comparison
  12. Karelian Bear Dog vs Catahoula Leopard - Breed Comparison
  13. Karelian Bear Dog vs German Pinscher - Breed Comparison
  14. Karelian Bear Dog vs Aidi - Breed Comparison
  15. Karelian Bear Dog vs Griffon Bleu de Gascogne - Breed Comparison
  16. Karelian Bear Dog vs Borador - Breed Comparison
  17. Karelian Bear Dog vs German Spaniel - Breed Comparison
  18. Karelian Bear Dog vs Canadian Eskimo Dog - Breed Comparison
  19. Karelian Bear Dog vs Finnish Lapphund - Breed Comparison
  20. Karelian Bear Dog vs Berger Blanc Suisse - Breed Comparison
  21. Karelian Bear Dog vs Griffon Nivernais - Breed Comparison
  22. Karelian Bear Dog vs Australian Kelpie - Breed Comparison
  23. Karelian Bear Dog vs Griffon Fauve de Bretagne - Breed Comparison
  24. Karelian Bear Dog vs Basque Shepherd - Breed Comparison
  25. Karelian Bear Dog vs Istrian Sheepdog - Breed Comparison
  26. Newfoundland Dog vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  27. Leonberger vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  28. Pyrenean Mastiff vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  29. Bisben vs Bernese Mountain Dog - Breed Comparison
  30. Bisben vs Anatolian Shepherd - Breed Comparison
  31. Bisben vs Alaunt - Breed Comparison
  32. Bisben vs Alangu Mastiff - Breed Comparison
  33. Moscow Watchdog vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  34. Spanish Mastiff vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  35. St. Bernard vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  36. Kars Dog vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  37. Moscow Water Dog vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  38. Ciobanesc de Bucovina vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  39. Great Dane vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  40. English Mastiff vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  41. Neapolitan Mastiff vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  42. Bully Kutta vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  43. Irish Wolfhound vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  44. Francais Blanc et Orange vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  45. Mountain Burmese vs Bisben - Breed Comparison
  46. Gaddi Kutta vs Bisben - Breed Comparison

Popular Dog Breeds