Many dog owners report that their dogs look like wolves, lions or foxes, but then there are some dogs who look more like the canine impersonation of teddy bears. Of course, these dogs aren't the result of some love affair between Lassie and Winnie the Pooh, but they sure have a neat resemblance with some members of the Ursidae family.
Meat Eaters At Heart
Think bears and dogs do not look alike? Think again, as these two different species have some traits in common. Both species are under the order of carnivora, meaning they are meat eaters at heart.
Now, they don't depend on meat as cats do (cats are obligate carnivores who rely entirely on meat), but if you asked them whether they preferred berries or steak, they both would opt for the latter.
Being meat eaters by preference, Mother Nature blessed them with sharp teeth, excellent running abilities and highly developed senses.
Interestingly, at some point, carnivores split into cat-like and dog-like forms. The carnivores who split into the dog-like suborder were categorized under the suborder group Caniformia, while those who split under the cat-like suborder, were categorized under the suborder group Feliformia.
Bears and obviously the dog's ancestors ended up in the caniformia group, both species having a long snout and non-retractable claws which is what mainly distinguished them from the cat-like group.
Though being classified in the same suborder, dogs and bears belong to different families, dogs being in the Canidae family along with wolves and foxes, while bears are in the Ursidae family.
Did you know? Bears and dogs cannot mate. Dogs have 78 chromosomes, whereas bears have 74. Even though bears and dogs may share a common ancestor, it's not as recent as the common ancestor leading to the bear lineage or to the wolf/dog lineage.
10 Dog Breeds That Look Like Bears
Let's face it: some dogs don't look much like bears, but there are some dogs breeds that are more bear-like than others. Some dogs look like black bears, others look like brown bears and a few others look like polar bears.
Regardless, these dogs seem to share a common factor: they seem to bring back good memories of our old teddy-bears and it's hard to resist the urge to go hug them and hold them tight. But please don't! Many dogs dislike being hugged, and hugging an unknown dog may lead to serious injury! Following are some dog breeds that look like bears.
1) The Chow-Chow
"What kind of dog is that? It looks like a bear!" Owners of this breed are quite used to hearing this when they meet people who see a fuzzy chow for the very first time.
Forget about the Chow Chow's blue tongue and the lion-like ruff, the most bear-like feature of this dog breed is the coat, which is fuzzy-wuzzy and comes in bear-like colors such as light golden, deep mahogany, black, cinnamon, light fawn and cream.
If you see a chow chow, keep your instinct to fuss all over him at bay, according to the American Kennel Club standard, this breed is an independent spirit with an aura of aloofness which makes him reserved and discerning with strangers.
2) The Akita
You may have come to know this breed courtesy of the movie based on the true story of Hachikō, a loyal Akita who waited for his deceased master in front of the Shibuya train station for more than nine years.
What many people may not know though is that this breed's ancestors were selectively bred to hunt Sika deer, wild boar and Asian black bear for the Matagi hunters. Their job was to flush out the bear and keep it at bay until the hunters arrived.
The most bear-like characteristic of these dignified dogs is their large, bear-like head with erect, triangular ears. There is speculation that the black-masked Akitas might have been purposely bred to look like the bears they hunted.
3) The Tibetan Mastiff
Is it a lion? Is it a bear? No, it's a Tibetan mastiff! This breed may be the closest thing to a bear that somebody may own. Imposing, weighing in between 100 to 160 pounds and standing at 27 to 29 inches at the withers, this flock guardian dog was bred to protect livestock from large predators such as wolves, brown bears and leopards.
Among his bear-like features are the thick double coat, heavy mane and impressive head. As cute and cuddle as he may seem, his aloof personality makes him reserved towards strangers and highly protective of his property.
Seeing this breed in person though will often mean travelling off to distant lands, as this breed is rarely seen outside of Tibet.
4) The Great Pyrenees
Welcome to winter wonderland! Not only does this breed look like a polar bear, it is also is very tall, which makes it even more bear-like! Males grow up to weigh about 100 to 120 pounds, while females weigh about 85 to 100 pounds.
Other traits that are polar-bear like are the longer hairs around the neck forming a ruff, the rich dark brown eyes , black nose and black lips. And of course, the weather resistant double coat coming in white or white with markings does the rest.
These gentle giants were bred to be livestock guardian dogs, camouflaging within flocks of sheep to protect them from predators, so expect these nocturnal dogs to be territorial and prone to night-time barking.
5) The Goldendoodle
What happens when a Golden retriever falls in love with a poodle? A goldendoodle is born. OK, this is not really a dog breed per se, but rather a crossbreed, but it deserves a spot as a bear-like breed.
More than real bears though, some of them resemble closely those curly-haired teddy-bears children hug at night before going to sleep.
These dogs became popular because of the belief of them being hypoallergenic, because of their low shedding coats.
However, allergies aren't caused by hair as many think. According to a study, dog saliva has a greater potential than dander as an allergen source which means that saliva is an important source of dog allergens.
The good news though is that dog breeds who shed less don't release as much dander as their hairs don't get released into around as much as with other dogs.
Goldendoodles come in various colors including white, cream, apricot, gold, red and even black. The ones that more closely resemble teddy bears come from crossing English cream retrievers with standard poodles and are often referred to as "Teddy Bear Goldendoodles" due to their teddy-bear like coats.
Unfortunately, due to high demand for these "hypoallergenic" dogs, unscrupulous breeders have bred with little care in health and temperaments, leading to a surge of problems.
6) The Caucasian Ovcharka
Also known as the Caucasian Mountain Dog, this is a guardian breed originating from the Caucasus Mountain area.
What makes this breed so bear-like is its imposing appearance, courtesy of being heavily boned. The head is large with high-set hanging ears and often boasts a dark facial mask.
Coat colors include shades of agouti gray, fawn, and reddish. Males tend to appear as more massive and more powerful than females.
While these dogs are gentle with family members, they are predisposed to exhibit strong territorial instincts, making them very suspicious of strangers.
7) The Newfoundland
Newfoundland, affectionately nicknamed "Newfies" were bred to help Newfoundland fishermen work in the cold waters of Canada.
These fuzzy dogs may look like black bears, and the best part is that they tend to be sweet-dispositioned dogs and devoted companions.
According to the American Kennel Club standard, a sweet temperament is the most important single characteristic of the breed.
Newfies have massive heads, long coats and since they were bred to work in the water, they are a dog breed with webbed feet. Males can be quite massive, ranging in weight anywhere from 130 to 150 pounds.
8) The Leonberger
This breed looks like a cross between a bear and a lion. The Leonberger is a large and muscular working dog. Adult males are particularly powerful and boast a lion-like mane on their neck and chest area.
The face is characterized by a full black that goes from the nose up to and over the eyes. The eyes are ideally dark brown. Coat colors accepted in this breed are lion-yellow, golden to red and red-brown, sand colored and all combinations thereof.
These gentle giants are expected to have a gentle character and even temperament of allowing them to fulfill the role as family companions. Confident, and blessed with a playful demeanor, Leonbergers are inclined to naturally please and are adept to learning.
9) The Samoyed
The Samoyed is another dog breed that has been described as resembling a baby polar bear. One of the most stunning features of the Samoyed dog breed is of course its white thick coat which protected them from the harsh minus 60 degree temperatures typical of the Siberian town of Oymyakon.
In the old days, Samoyeds were the working partners of the Samoyedic people of Siberia who survived by herding and breeding domestic reindeer.
Another amazing feature of the Samoyed dog breed is the breed's "smile," a distinguishing trait that further adds to this breed's appeal. Read there to discover the secret behind the Samoyed's smile.
10) The Keeshond
The keeshond is an an ancient dog breed dating back to the 16th century in Holland. This dog breed is categorized as a German spitz dog, also known as Wolfsspitz. Keeshonds are nicknamed "the Dutch barge dog."
One of the most bear-like feature of this breed is its heavy coat. The coat tends to be very thick around the neck, shoulders and chest, forming a lion-like ruff-more that is much more profuse in the male.
The typical coat color is a mixture of gray, black and cream that may vary in shade from light to dark.
A hallmark trait of this breed is its spectacles, dark lines running from the outer corner of the eye to the base of the ear which makes these dogs appear as if they're wearing glasses.
As seen, there are several dog breeds out there portrayed to look like bears, perhaps that's a reminder of bears and dogs sharing the Caniformia subgroup? Who knows!
Did you know? Legend has it that the first teddy bears were crafted after Queen Victoria's chow chow puppy. Because she carried the pup everywhere she went, her friends disapproved that a queen was seen everywhere with her dog, so they hired a dressmaker who was paid to craft a a stuffed version of her pup to bring around!