If you asked several people to name a breed of dog that looks like a bear, some would think of the pocket-sized pooches that remind them of the cuddly teddy bears we kept as children. On the other hand, some would think of the ginormous dogs covered in masses of fur that potentially could get mistaken for an actual bear walking down the street.
We’re going to give you our ultimate list of 15 dogs that look like bears, starting with the tiny teddy-bear dogs all the way up to the dogs whose size does actually rival that of a real bear.
Some of the dogs mentioned are probably the classic ones you’ve heard of before, whereas some are a bit more obscure and less well-known.
But one thing is for sure, they are all postively adorable!
Let’s kick off our list with the smallest pooch of the pack, the Pomeranian. A real-life cuddly teddy bear.
Taking their name from the ancient region of Pomerania, split between Poland and Germany, this dainty dog is the tiniest member of the Spitz family. Deriving from the German word for ‘pointed’, Spitz dogs are a canine group characterised by their pointed snouts and ears.
Pomeranians have a very distinctive look, sporting a dramatic and adorable puffy coat, which will make you unable to resist scooping them up for a cuddle.
Poms are tiny little dogs with an enormous personality. Confident, curious and charming, they’re often seen as being very pampered pooches, enjoying luxury and the finer things in life. We can let them off though, as this pampering is somewhat essential to keep up with their remarkable coat, one of their most distinguishing features.
Life span: 12-16 years
Temperament: Mischievous, confident, intelligent
Related to several other small dogs, such as the Maltese and Havenese, the Bichon Frise is tiny, fluffy and often described as being a little comedian. They’ll be sure to put a smile on your face with their cheerful personality and adorable teddy bear appearance.
The Bichon Frise is silly, playful and sometimes a little bit mischievous, but it’s all in good fun. You will never do any wrong in your Bichon’s eyes, they will love you, love life and love a good time.
Boasting white, fuzzy hair that’s cut into a rounded shape around their head, the Bichon Frise is a tiny little teddy bear that wants nothing more than to be cuddled like they are one.
Life span: 12-15 years
Temperament: Cheerful, playful, affectionate
This dog just wants to be your friend. Lovingly nicknamed as the ‘people’s dog’, the Keeshond is incredibly social having been bred to be a watchdog and to provide a bit of company for fishermen on small boats and barges. This is where they also gained the nickname the ‘Dutch Barge Dog’.
Keep in mind that even though they were bred as watchdogs, they aren’t the best at the job! They will probably give a little bark when a stranger comes to the house, but they’ll take no time in becoming that stranger’s best friend.
Keeshonds are intelligent and personable, and you’ll quickly realise that if you own one, you’ll never be able to do anything alone ever again. They will stick to you like glue. That being said, they don’t deal with being alone very well.
As tiny puppies, Keeshond’s look almost identical to a bear cub, which they do lose slightly as they grow older. But they don’t get any less cute. Their thick coat will take some upkeep, but with regular brushing it’s nothing to fear.
Life span: 12-14 years
Temperament: Personable, charming, intelligent
Quite a unique breed, the Eurasier was bred from some of our other bear-like pooches on the list, the Chow Chow, Wolfspitz and eventually the Samoyed too. It’s no wonder they look so much like a bear with this history!
Originally referred to as the ‘Wolf Chow’, this breed ultimately ended up being dubbed as the Eurasier, a way to celebrate the breed’s distinctive European and Asian heritage.
Unsurprisingly, the ancestry of the Eurasier means that they have a noble appearance, a mix between a cuddly teddy bear and a real-life bear, which will no doubt make people stop in their tracks to have a peek at this impressive dog.
Eurasiers are said to be a very balanced breed, calm, confident and moderately easy to train. Widely recognised as being great members of the family, Eurasiers form a strong bond with their loved ones and will quickly become more of a child than a pet.
Life span: 12-15 years
Temperament: Calm, family-orientated, intelligent
Another member of the Spitz family, the Samoyed originates from the cold climates of Russia. Sporting a dazzling white coat perfect for the weather, this breed looks like a miniature polar bear and initially had the job of pulling sledges.
‘Sammies’, as they have been coined by owners, are a sweet natured breed, but they are true working dogs at heart meaning they require frequent exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom.
Samoyeds are cheerful and full of life, which is true in both their personality and their appearance. A constant upturned mouth makes it look like the Sammie is always smiling at you. Remarkably, the Samoyed smile is not just for looks, it actually has a purpose. An upturned mouth will stop drooling which in turn prevents icicles forming on their face, a great evolutionary adaptation for working in cold conditions.
Their impressive white coat is one of the most distinguishing features of the Sammie. But it does take a lot of upkeep - expect large white clumps of fur to be deposited everywhere in your house. Seriously, it will get everywhere.
However, even though they may shed, at least you avoid the drool! Keep in mind too that your Samoyed pup will need some training, they are notorious for pulling on the lead. After all, they were bred to pull sledges so who can blame them?
Life span: 11-14 years
Temperament: Cheerful, intelligent, lively
This breed is one that definitely has an impressive presence. Believed to one of the oldest breeds around, the Chow Chow originates from China, and has a majestic appearance whilst still looking cute and cuddly at the same time.
Modelling a charming, wrinkly face and thick fur, the Chow Chow bares resemblance to a real bear. Despite the breed’s cuddly appearance, they are typically very aloof, enjoying their independence rather than getting any attention. This seems unfair when their appearance makes them look so cuddly!
Although not overly affectionate, they are devoted and protective over their loved ones. Known to be excellent work dogs too, the Chow ventures into roles such as hauling, hunting and guarding - a jack of all trades! Pre 1800s, these dogs were rather unknown to the Western world, until Queen Victoria in the late 1800s introduced the breed, igniting pup-ularity.
If the Chow Chow wasn’t distinctive enough, they also have a peculiar, unique blue tongue. Ancient Chinese legend believes that this unusual colouring is because these dogs were once allowed to lick up all the blue fragments of sky after it fell when the stars were set into place. Realistically, it’s because they have a high level of pigment in their tongue, but this historical legend sounds a lot more impressive.
Life span: 11-15 years
Temperament: Aloof, devoted, dignified
Another member of the Spitz family, the Akita Inu is a noble looking breed with Japanese heritage, once used for protecting royalty.
This is a loud and proud breed, known for having total devotion to their loved ones and will protect them without question. Oozing confidence, Akita Inus make great guard dogs, but they can be slightly too fearless when they feel the need to protect.
Alongside their aristocratic role, these dogs were also bred to hunt several different wild animals due to their extreme strength and power. Despite this, as little fluffy pups you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from a cute tiny bear cub. They carry a dignified appearance into their adulthood, but their thick fur and lovable face still makes them have a bearlike resemblance.
Thankfully, Akita Inus don’t shed excessively all year round, but twice a year they will ‘blow’ and their hair will come out in large clumps. Paw-rents of Akita Inus may need to invest in a heavy-duty vacuum for all the fur!
Life span: 10-13 years
Temperament: Protective, loyal, intelligent
Sometimes referred to more simply as the Maremma Sheepdog or just a Maremmano or Abruzzese Sheepdog, this beautiful breed is relatively unheard of. Despite many not being familiar with these dogs, they are extremely adorable and majestic, another one in our list of pooches that resemble a polar bear.
Originally bred in Italy to act as guardians to livestock against wolves, these dogs are hardworking and independent. Maremmano Sheepdogs are still known to continue their role as a guard dog in the Abruzzo region of Italy, and they are incredibly devoted to whatever job they are given.
As very large dogs with a strong working background, these breeds are best suited for owners with a large amount of space. Living on a farm is the ideal location for these pups, so they can continue to fulfil their original job role.
Life span: 11-14 years
Temperament: Devoted, independent, gentle
The Great Pyrenees is a dog that really lives up to its name. Great, ginormous and gentle, this breed could potentially be mistaken for an actual polar bear walking down the street due to its immense size.
Named after the mountains between France and Spain, the Great Pyrenees is a majestic creature with a whole lot of strength and power. Bred to deter predators from stealing sheep up on the snowy mountaintops, this dog may look like a giant beast, but they’re actually gentle and calm.
These dogs are loyal and affectionate towards their loved ones, but they do enjoy their independence. Known to be quite difficult to train, the Great Pyrenees will often find the typical things an owner probably finds im-paw-tant (sit, heel, stay and so on) mundane and not worth their time.
With an experienced owner however, this will not be an issue.
Life span: 10-13 years
Temperament: Gentle, independent, confident
Three of our other bear lookalikes, the Newfoundland, St Bernard and the Great Pyrenees all make up the ancestry of the Leonberger. Their name derives from the city of Leonberg in Germany, and their pup-ularity is ever increasing due to their loving nature.
Reminiscent of a real bear, the Leonberger looks muscular and intimidating, whilst being majestically graceful and elegant all at the same time.
Great size and strength make the Leonberger brilliant at hauling carts, but they also make great guard dogs. Perfect for an owner who likes an active lifestyle, the Leonberger will be happy to accompany you hiking, swimming, backpacking and whatever else you fancy.
Leonbergers require a fair bit of time, commitment and space, but with a doggie paw-rent who is willing to give this, the Leonberger will give you double that back in love, affection and devotion.
Life span: 9-12 years
Temperament: Loyal, mischievous, affectionate
The Tibetan Mastiff is an incredibly ancient breed - and it is a beast - one of the most bearlike in appearance.
Strangely, Tibetan Mastiffs are not actually Mastiffs. Europeans who ventured into Tibet allocated the breed with this name, as Mastiff was a title used for most big dogs in the West. Similarly, Tibetan Spaniels and Tibetan Terriers have been assigned into the wrong group of dogs because of this.
True guard dogs, bred to protect homes and livestock, this breed is dedicated to the role. They tend to be territorial and relatively aloof with strangers because of their working background, with a natural instinct to guard your family home. Despite this, they are committed to their loved ones and will be surprisingly chilled out as a pet.
The Tibetan Mastiffs pup-ularity is continually increasing, but they do take commitment.
Persistent training and socialisation are fundamental, alongside having to deal with some shedding from their immense coat. Despite this, the Tibetan Mastiff will dote on you and just want to make you happy, which will make it all worth it.
Life span: 12-15 years
Temperament: Devoted, aloof, protective
The Newfoundland, or ‘Newfies’ as they are affectionately dubbed by lovers of the breed, are maybe the one that came to mind when thinking of bearlike dogs. Massive, with masses of fur and a big slobbery face, Newfies truly are gentle giants.
Webbed feet and a waterproof coat equip these dogs with the tools to be working dogs for fishermen and even lifesavers. There are several tales of Newfoundlands displaying acts of bravery, saving people from chilly waters.
To add to their list of talents, this breed has a natural babysitting ability, known to be incredibly protective and gentle with children. In pup-ular culture, a Newfie named Nana is actually depicted as being a nanny to many children in the famous story of Peter Pan.
A Newfoundland will quickly capture your heart and become an integral member of the family, rather than just a pet. Although owning a dog of this size does come with the odd challenge, such as lots of drool and a thick coat that attracts mud and needs frequent brushing, their sweet demeanour and affectionate nature will make you forget all of that.
Life span: 8-12 years
Temperament: Sweet, gentle, brave
Also known as the Caucasian Ovcharka, this breed is giant, powerful, and imposing. Bred to protect livestock from predators such as wolves and bears, these dogs not only look very similar to a bear, their huge size actually compares to one too.
The exact origins of the Caucasian Shepherd are a mystery, but we do know they worked for shepherds in the Caucasus Mountains of Eastern Europe for centuries, whilst in more recent times they are used by the Russian military to guard prisoners.
Even though their role is to protect and intimidate, they are actually incredibly loving and devoted to their family. They are even super lazy when not acting as a guard, relishing in nap time! Caucasian Shepherds will do anything to protect you, alerting you to danger. However, you will find it hard to make them surrender a fight.
Definitely not the dog for first time owners as their size, strength and independent nature requires a lot of training to make them manageable. Not to mention their hefty drooling and shedding. Nevertheless, with the right dog paw-rent, a Caucasian Shepherd makes a brilliant furry friend, wanting nothing more than to protect its loved ones.
Life span: 10-13 years
Temperament: Alert, devoted, calm
Not to be mistaken with the Great Pyrenees, although just as impressive, the Pyrenean Mastiff is another one of our livestock guardian dogs. Reports of this breed go way back to the Middle Ages, but the breed is rare today as the need for these dogs has declined.
However, this breed makes an excellent family member - gentle, loving and protecting, only utilising their incredible strength when they truly feel like there is a threat.
All they want is a loving home, not requiring too much exercise and they even do well with alone time due to their independent nature. However, they still require affection and love alongside a regular trip to the groomers due to their heavy shedding, and don’t forget about the drool! All Mastiffs are notorious droolers, so expect a few slobbery kisses.
Life span: 10-13 years
Temperament: Courageous, intelligent, calm
Initially bred to rescue people from the freezing climates on the perilous Great Saint Bernard Pass in the Western Alps, the Saint Bernard looks strikingly similar to a real-life bear. Just without the danger of an actual bear.
When they were working dogs, they were a much smaller size to the huge ones that we recognise today.
Their history as rescuers means they are kind, loving and sweet-natured, another gentle giant in the list. They are also great with children, often described as being watchful and patient.
The St Bernard is very affectionate to their loved ones, and will probably still consider itself a lap dog, despite their giant size. Pleasing their owner is the St Bernard’s main goal, always wanting to cover you in cuddles and kisses…and drool.
Clumsy and gigantic, expect a few accidents and breakages if you own a St Bernard. They are very oblivious of their giant size, and will no doubt knock, smash and break countless items in your house, but it’s all totally by accident!
As long as you aren’t overly invested in the cleanliness and tidiness of your house, these dogs make incredible furry friends.
Life span: 8-11 years
Temperament: Patient, loving, gentle
You may be looking for a little lap dog with the looks of a teddy bear, such as the Pomeranian, or you may be after an enormous, dramatic-looking dog who rivals a real bear, such as the St Bernard (who still wants to be a lap dog by the way!)
Whatever breed takes your fancy, we know for sure that they’ll all win over your heart and definitely impress everyone you meet with their bearlike looks. One thing to note, however, invest in a good vacuum and hairbrush, as all of these dogs have a lot of fur to keep up with!