Can a Dog Outrun a Bear? (The Answer Will Surprise You)

Alot of our readers here at Outdoor Dog Fun love being in the great outdoors with their dogs. That includes living, camping and hiking in bear country in the US. So I was asked the question, can a dog run faster than a bear? just in case they are threatened.

Can a dog outrun a bear? A dog cannot outrun a bear. Dogs can run at a speed of 31 miles per hour, whereas bears can run at a speed of 35 miles per hour.

Even though bears run faster than dogs, dogs can still protect you from them. But that does not mean you leave it to your dog to protect you entirely.

Before you go on a stroll through the forest in bear country with your dog, you need to have the knowledge we are about to share with you in mind, so you can better protect yourself and your dog.

When/Where Are You Most Likely to Encounter a Bear?

You are most likely to encounter a bear in the backcountry and wilderness.

You will also come across them in a national park.

Bears hibernate in the winter but are out and about in the summer, especially June. You can discover bears during dawn and dusk.

So the lesson here is: if you are planning a hike in bear country and you want to avoid them, you need to stick to hiking in the daytime and not during the month of June.

When Do Bears Attack Humans?

Even though it is better to avoid an encounter with a bear, sometimes avoiding them is impossible.

Want to know a little secret? Bears are avoiding you too!

Most often, bears will exhibit defensive behavior when they are protecting their cubs and food sources. If you spot a bear in the distance, do not go near them. It is their personal space. Do not invade it.

Can a Dog Outrun a Bear and Defend Their Owner?

In a competition between the two, our bet is on the bear. However, even bears have their weakness. An unleashed dog is a big problem for bears, but it is also a problem for you. You do not want your dog to chase after the bear. Why?


Bears will come for revenge. They will follow your dog as it returns to you at your campsite. And that won’t be good.

Put your dog on a leash and only unleash them if they are well-trained – meaning they will not run after the bear. Even then, we suggest you put a leash on them. When bears and dogs come face-to-face, emotions often get high and things can get out of hand.

But the encounter may not even take place because dogs can sniff out a bear and alert you of the approaching enemy. Moreover, your dog’s bark is enough to ward off these big and hairy animals from coming close.

If your dog loves to run but you want to avoid bears, play safe and train them to run with you not in bear country.

Alternatively get a breed of dog that can protect you from wild animals, given you warning that danger is approaching. Whilst they shouldn’t be expected to fight the bear, knowing there is danger ahead gives you a chance to leave the area quickly before you encounter the bear.

Which is the Best Dog to Keep Bears Away?

The Karelian bear dog, hands down, is the best dog for bear protection.

People have used Karelian bear dogs for decades, as tracking dogs to catch game. That is not their only use. They perform well during bear encounters. They can send a bear running home by barking and chasing them.

Karelian bear dog
Karelian bear dog

Karelian bear dog is comfortable around bears. They do not fear them or back down from a fight. Trained to respond to their owner’s commands, they will not follow through with the chase if the owner says to stay.

If you live in bear country, get a Karelian bear dog, as they are the best dog for bear protection.

When Will a Bear Attack a Dog?

Bears will attack dogs for the same reason as they would attack anyone. If they are protecting their cubs or food sources and they encounter a dog, their first response to it will be to attack the dog. When this happens, there is a risk that your dog may seriously injure himself or lose his life.

If you do not want your dog to go running after the bear, keep him on the leash, and always remember the answer to the question “Can a dog outrun a bear?” No.

Therefore, it is better that you train your dog to obey you and not run after the bear because it cannot win, especially when the bear becomes defensive and launches an attack on your dog.

What to Do When You Encounter a Bear with Your Dog?

As emphasized several times, you need to keep your dog on a leash. Do not let your dog out of your sight if you encounter a bear while on the trail. Dogs running after bears mean trouble for you. A dog will chase the bear, but will also lead them towards you.

You do not want the bear to find out where you live, as they will be after revenge. The best solution is for the dog to bark to make the bear nervous and retreat. Once the bear has backed away, you can continue to hike with your dog.

7 Top Tips on How to Avoid a Bear Attack

You see the bear, but the bear has not seen you

You spot a bear, but phew, they have not seen you…yet. Instead of running away from the area, tiptoe your way out of there, and do it quick.

You see the bear and the bear sees you

You find a bear, staring at you. What do you do? Keep your dog close.

Remain calm.

If the bear remains 15 feet or more away from you, do not make any sudden movements.

Do not enter their personal space, but try to turn back and walk the same way you came from.

If you need to go move forwrd, take a detour, giving the bear a lot of space.

You see the bear’s behavior towards you change

You find a bear in your path. The bear’s behavior changes towards you. If it does, and you are too close for comfort, move away slowly! Use a normal tone of voice to speak to them and move your arms, as you slowly back away.

You have come too close to a bear

You are walking in bear country when out of nowhere a bear comes, and now, you are too close to the bear.

Way too close!

If you have a close encounter with a bear, stand upright and make yourself as large as you can.

Do not stare directly into their eyes, but speak in a calm, firm, and assuring tone of voice as you gradually back up, get your dog, and walk out of there.

You find the bear moving towards you

You are walking in bear country and you find a bear, but instead of staying away from you, the bear is moving towards you.

You need to make a lot of noise, you wave your arms like a mad man in the air.

When bears see you, most of them think you are a lunatic and will back away.

You need to show the bear a way out

You see a bear in front of you. Be polite and courteous and show them the way out by leaving an escape route for him.

You need to be confident before a charging bear

You spot a bear, but that bear is not a happy bear, it is a charging bear. If the bear charges towards you and you know it has an escape route and you know it a black bear, you need to stand tall and make direct eye contact.

Yell at the bear and tell him to exit before you lose your cool (do not actually lose it, stay calm even though inside you are freaking out, but what he does not know will not hurt him). If you find a grizzly bear, do not use this bear avoiding tactic, but use a bear spray.

What You Always Need to Carry in Bear Country

When you are traveling in bear country, you always need to carry a bear spray, a first aid kit for your dog, and a cell phone.

How to use a bear spray

Also, there’s a bear bell you can attach to your dog’s collar for extra precaution. I bought one of these in Canada when hiking the Algonquin National Park and put it on my backpack. Locals said it would help ward off the bears and we never saw any! I thought it was better to be safe than sorry.

Related Questions

Will a black bear attack a dog?

Yes, a black bear will attack a dog if threatened. Usually, black bears are fraidy-cats and will run away if a dog barks at them or chases them away.

Do black bears eat dogs?

No, black bears do not eat dogs. However, they love human food so keep that away from them, as once they have a taste for it, forest food will no longer entice them. Never give them food to eat no matter how kind you are feeling.

Can a dog kill a bear?

No, a dog cannot kill a bear. When a bear can run faster than a dog, it would be impossible for a dog to kill them. Scaring them, yes, they can do. Killing them, no, they cannot do.

Will a bear kill a dog?

Yes, a bear can kill a dog. According to the International Bear News, researchers investigated black bear attacks involving dogs. They found that 49 attacks involved dogs with the canine suffering from an injury most of them. In 7 of the bear attacks, the bear killed the dog.

What Is the best dog for bear protection?

Karelian Bear Dogs are the best dogs for bear protection due to their ability to stand confident and unafraid during a bear encounter.

Should I be scared of black bears?

Yes, black bears should scare you. However, black bears attacking people is very rare and you can easily scare most of them away by standing and facing them directly.

Where To Next?

Wouldn’t like to know which of the many dog-friendly hiking trails in the US you are likely to see bears? We’ve prepared some really useful resources so you can plan your next canine hiking adventure – hopefully without bears!

DOG-FRIENDLY HIKING GUIDES
Name and link to the articleState covered
Can You Hike With Dogs In National Parks?Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Utah, Maine and Virginia
Top Rated Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails Near Grand Lake CoColorado
Hiking With Dogs Off-Leash in Colorado (15 Epic Hikes)Colorado

Michelle

Michelle loves enjoying the outdoors with her dogs. She grew in a big house near the beach with German Shepherds. Nowadays, Michelle has down-sized her dogs, proving small dogs can enjoy the outdoors too! Lucy loves playing fetch with her ball and frisbee. Max loves swimming and could walk forever. Latte's life is simple: follow Lucy and Max and fun will happen. Michelle and her 3 dogs enjoy escaping the city limits to hike, camp and swim.

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