Are Bears Related to Dogs? (Detailed Explanation)
Have you ever looked at fuzzy-looking canines and thought they must be related to bears? Chow Chows, Newfoundlands, and Pomeranians may remind us of cuddy bears, but are they genuinely related?
Are bears related to dogs? No, bears and dogs are not directly related. They’re both entirely different species altogether – bears belong to a species called the Ursidae, and their DNA in no way indicates they belong to the canine family.
Sure, some dogs may look like bears because they share some of the same physical traits. So let’s consider what these are.
Common traits that bears and dogs share:
- Pointy snouts
- Thick fuzzy coats
- Sharp teeth
- Non-retractable claws
Bears and dogs are part of a classification known as the Carnivora Order. This Order is a comprehensive classification. Included in this classification is Canidae (which includes wolves, dogs, and other related species) as well as Ursidae (bears and similar animals) along with ten other families, for example, Felidae (cats), etc.
Participants of the Carnivora order are in no way related to each other. It just means that they’re closer to the top of the food chain, being meat-eaters.
Which dog breeds look like bears?
There are a few dogs on our list that look like bears. No wonder some people have nicked their dog “Teddy Bear.” Here are teddy-like dogs in no particular order:
- The Chow Chow
When people meet a fuzzy Chow Chow for the first time, their usual response is, “What dog is that? It looks like a bear!”
The feature that makes Chow Chows very bear-like is their fluffy coat. These fuzzies come in colors such as golden brown, back, and cream, and similar shades.
Chow Chows come from the Siberian region of China. Thus they come with thick fur coats to keep them keep warm.
- The Pomeranian
The Pomeranian fur, head, and legs look like that of a cuddly teddy bear. People often call Pomeranians “Teddy Bear Pomeranians,” but this is not an official term. Even though no two Pomeranians look the same, there is only the Pomeranian breed.
Pomeranians have dense, thick coats. People assume that these dogs have wider legs and heavier bones because of this. However, their dense fur makes them look this way.
Some people think you can groom a Pomeranian to look like a teddy bear. The truth is, the Pomeranian will only look like a teddy bear if it is born with dense fur. Grooming a Pomeranian will make it look neat, but it will not make it more teddy-like.
- The Newfoundland
Newfies! They were bred by the fisherman in Canada – helping the fisherman to work in the cold waters. Newfoundlands have a puffy and long coat.
You’ll see these bears in thick coats of brown, black, and gray fur. They often look like little black bears. They make charming and devoted companions too.
These dogs have webbed feet and are pretty massive, weighing about 130 to 150 pounds.
- The Akita
Akita’s heads are round and bear-shaped. Rumor has it that breeders purposely bred them to look like the bears they hunted.
That’s right! Hunters used these dogs to trap these Asian black bears, along with Sika deer and wild boars. Their job was to track these bears down and hold them off until the hunters arrived.
Akitas are very bulky. Their face shape makes them look like bears, although people look at their eyes and ears and display a wolf resemblance.
- The Tibetan Mastiff
These dogs are cute and cuddly. The Tibetan Mastiff weighs between 100 to 160 pounds. They have a very thick double coat which makes them even more bear-like.
Farmers did not use this breed for hunting bears but for protecting livestock from brown bears. This breed is prevalent in Tibet.
Tibetan Mastiffs have reserved personalities, and they are highly protective of their territory.
- The Great Pyrenees
Would you like to see a polar bear on land and amongst people? The Great Pyrenees very much resembles a polar bear because of its gorgeous white or sometimes off-white coat.
The Great Pyrenees are massive dogs. They are very tall and can weigh up to 120 pounds making them all the more bear-like.
Breeders bred them to guard livestock, defending sheep from predators at night. Unfortunately, this makes them nocturnal and prone to night-time barking.
- The Goldendoodle
The Goldendoodle is a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle. But it’s the English Cream Retrievers that breeders have crossed with standard Poodles that produce the ultimate teddy bear coat and one that children would love to hug.
This dog is a popular choice because of its low-shedding fur coat. But, unfortunately, unscrupulous breeders have not often appropriately bred them, which has led to many problems with this breed.
- The Bush Dog
These dogs are native to the Amazon Basin but exist throughout Central and South America.
Bush Dogs are also known as Savannah or vinegar dogs. They’re known as Savannah because their coats are so thick and fuzzy – full of brown fur. In addition, the Bush Dog has a broader snout than other breeds.
Unfortunately, these dogs resemble the Brown Bear so well that people mistake them for vicious bears and kill them. Their dwindling numbers have currently put them on the endangered breed list.
- The Maremma Sheep Dog
This breed is not well-known as it is often mistaken for a Pyrenees Mountain dog or a polar bear! However, it’s an Italian breed indigenous to central Italy.
Maremma Sheepdogs have thick white coats with black accents and are similar in size to Pyrenees Mountain Dogs.
They are just like mountain dogs. They work well on a farm, safeguarding the livestock. They are protective and also make ideal family pets.
- The Caucasian Shepherd Dog
These dogs are of Russian descent. They are also known as Russian Bear Dogs. They have developed a thick coat of fur to help them survive in the Tundra.
It is the sheer size of this dog that makes this breed very bear-like. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is massive, and its pups are among the biggest in the world. Adult males of this breed can weigh up to 220 pounds.
These dogs can be territorial and never back down from a fight, even against bears and wolves. As a result, they make excellent watchdogs and even great therapy dogs.
- The Keeshond
This dog looks like a bear because its fur is so thick around its neck and so fuzzy.
This dog comes in shades of gray, black, and cream. This dog looks like it sports spectacles, given the dark lines that run from the corner of its eyes to the base.
The Keeshond is an ancient dog breed. Spanning as far back as the 16th century in Holland, this breed is known as “the Dutch Barge Dog.”
- The Samoyed
At a glance, you may think you’ve seen a polar bear! The Samoyed is yet another gorgeous bear-like dog with a thick white coat to protect it against the Harsh Siberian Climate in Oymykon.
Nicknamed “Smiley,” the corner of this breeds mouth is curved upward, giving it a smiley-looking face. Not only does it have a smiley face, but it is also a playful and affectionate family pet.
Nomadic reindeer herders bred Samoyed to help with herding.
Interestingly enough, it appears some dog breeds whom breeders trained to watch out for bears ended up looking like bears themselves. Either a dog’s fur, size, face, shape, and coat makes (or a combination of these) make them look like huggable bears.
Although bears and dogs are not directly related, stick to one of the breeds above if you would like a furry, bear-like friend.
Would my dog be considered a bear?
If your dog is not on this list of breeds, that in no way means it doesn’t look like a bear. Does your furry friend possess one or more of these bear-like characteristics? Then you can consider your pet as a bear.
Are bears more related to dogs than to cats?
Yes! We can further split The Carnivora Order into feliforms and caniforms. Cats fall under feliforms, while bears and dogs fall under caniforms. So, bears are more like dogs than cats.
Can a dog outrun a bear?
No. Dogs can run at speeds of 31 miles per hour, whereas bears run at 35 miles per hour. So, even though an unleased dog is a big problem for bears, never leave your dog to chase a bear. Bears will come back for revenge.
My dog looks like a teddy bear. Can I hug my dog?
Dogs do not like being hugged. Hugging is a human activity, and not something dogs are accustomed to so, hugging a dog can lead to injury. Therefore, please refrain from doing so.
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Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.