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Tahltan Bear Dog
Tahltan Bear Dog sketch2.jpg
An artist's representation of a female Tahltan Bear Dog
Other names Chien d'ours de Tahltan
Nicknames Tahltan
Country of origin Canada

The Tahltan Bear Dog was a breed of dog that was indigenous to Canada. Believed to be extinct by most authorities.



The Tahltan was built somewhere between the lines of the spitz and pariah types. The ideal dog was, above all else, athletic and agile

As they were always bred solely for hunting value, appearance could vary significantly between dogs.


Coat and colour

Its coat was short, thick, and hard in texture. The colours varied greatly, but the most common colour was black with white markings (pictured).

Like others of their group, they had a peculiar yodel. Foxy in appearance, their main distinction among dogs is their novel tail. Short, bushy and carried erect, it has been described variously as a shaving brush or a whisk broom.


Raised by the Tahltan Natives to hunt bear, the Tahltan Bear Dog was a mighty power in a small package. Before a hunt, the dogs were ceremonially bled by stabbing them in the hindquarters with the fibula bone of a fox or wolf. The morning of the hunt, two dogs were carried in a sack over the Natives shoulder until fresh bear tracks were sighted. Upon release, these little dogs moved lightly over the crust of snow while the bear was slowed down by the deep drifts. Their fox-like staccato yaps harassed the bear into submission or confused him until the Natives could come close enough for a kill. To prepare for a foray against big cats, a claw from a dead lynx was used to ceremonially mark the dog's face.

The Tahltan Bear Dog had the courage to face a bear, but was friendly and gentle with smaller animals and with humans. They lived in the tent with the family, sharing bed and board. A Jesuit of the 17th century described the Natives communal houses in winter, saying he "could not decide which was worse — the smoke, the fleas or the dogs."

Descended from pariah-type dogs that had come with prehistoric migrations, the Tahltan Dogs were centralized in the remote mountainous areas of northwestern British Columbia and the Northern Yukon. Their usual diet was small bits of birds, meat and fish, and they flourished in the bitter cold. Outside their native environment, they succumbed to distemper, heat prostration and problems due to dietary changes. As white explorers came into the territory, bringing a variety of other dogs, the Tahltan Dog became diluted.

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