Why you don't want a BOLD or FEARLESS dog as a family companion dog

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, July 4, 2023
Karelian Bear Dog.jpg
Karelian Bear Dog

Oh… the joy of a puppy playing with reckless abandon!

Jumping to and fro, chasing a ball and rolling around in the grass.

Not a care in the world!

Running and jumping on everything to explore and learn just for the sheer joy of it.

Such innocent delight!

But what happens when that puppy continues to act just as bright, bold, overconfident, and exploratory about everything in life for 14 more years!

A bold (or super confident) dog might sound like the right partner to have when fireworks explode overhead or thunder booms from the heavens.

But bold dogs quickly get themselves into real trouble because they don’t innately understand  boundaries.

Bold dogs:

  1. explore without reservation with a “what’s yours is mine” attitude
  2. go after what they want, like that turkey on the counter
  3. approach dangerous situations without fear, like engaging a bear or cougar
  4. often require a job to do to feel fulfilled and not exhibit behavioral challenges in the home
  5. invade another’s space without initial discernment, which can lead to conflicts with other dogs although it often wasn’t the initial intention.
  6. don’t tend to back down from a fight, not due to dominance, but fearlessness.

So let’s examine the bold dog to learn why their over zealous attitude for life isn’t the best trait to have in a quiet, calm family companion dog.

Jack Russell Terrier

One of the most bold and confident dog breeds is the small, but mighty, Jack Russell Terrier.

While there are always exceptions in every breed, the average Jack Russell Terrier has quite the personality.

They are basically fearless, knowing no boundaries too difficult to breach.

Bred small and fast to hunt the speedy red fox, the Jack Russell Terrier sticks its nose into everything.

Here is a short video of this quick and busy dog breed in action:


Karelian Bear Dog

Another bold and fearless dog breed is the amazing Finnish Karelian Bear Dog. They were bred to hunt large, aggressive wild animals, which is why they have a particular over-confident nature.

Unlike the Jack Russell Terrier above, the Karelian Bear Dog is an independent dog, as well as being bold. It prefers to hunt alone or in a pack of just one other dog. This confident dog breed faces the most perilous foes with hearts made of steel. Whether it be the charging moose aggressively protecting its female during rutting season or the bear protecting its territory from encroaching man, the Karelian Bear Dog will not back down.

Today, Karelian Bear Dogs are mostly used to teach bears in National Parks to stay safe and stay wild - away from humans.

This bold dog will approach anything without the fear required to stop it from getting itself into dangerous situations.

Think about this type of dog at the dog park.

Might not be the best idea.

Here is a video explaining how officers use this incredible fearless working dog breed to scare bears from being comfortable around humans, thereby keeping bears safe and free to live out their days in the wilderness.


Now, I’m not saying bold or over-confident dogs don’t have their place in human society. Clearly, the two above dogs are lovely breeds. They perform their duties well and many families love them.

What I am contrasting, though, are the traits most necessary for a calm, gentle family companion dog for today’s busy, modern family.

In the cities and suburbs, a dog with over-confidence will not do. The inability of such a dog to keep boundaries and learn to develop adequate personal space will be quite the challenge for many.

In stark contrast, the exact opposite of an overly bold dog is a nervous (shy) dog.

As Melissa J. Starling et. al. states in her research review for the scientific journal, Behavioral Processes, “‘Boldness’ in dogs is believed to be one end of the shy–bold axis, representing a super-trait… This study supports the existence of the shy–bold continuum in dogs. Differences in boldness among groups and sub-groups suggest that behavioural tendencies may be influenced by historical purpose regardless of whether that purpose still factors in selective breeding.”


An overly nervous or shy dog doesn’t work as a family companion dog breed, either. (But that’s a topic for another day.)

However, as Dire Wolf Project founder, Lois Schwarz, said, and many misunderstand, a level of inherited nervousness is required to be present in a well-mannered family companion dog breed.

What she means is that dogs who are too bold or overly confident are not fit for a gentle family companion role.

Through my intricate breeding work for over 16 years under Lois’s tutelage, I have identified TEN “super traits” built on a continuum… or as Lois understands it… the sliding scale.

We believe each of these scales are inherited separately.

As you can see by following the link below, the American Dirus dog’s ideal is just slightly on the confident side of the continuum… confident without being overly bold.


Many of our puppies are confident when you get them, but cautious of new and unfamiliar spaces, people, or other animals.

This instinctual temperament trait is necessary to keep little puppies safe. If they are overly bold, they may get into danger, not thinking through the consequences of their actions before they proceed.

The American Dirus dog breed is a thinking type. They think and observe, processing their surroundings first, before moving ahead.

This is NORMAL.

It is up to you, though positive and neutral experiences, to keep your dog’s confidence from waning.

Proper socialization training is the key.

If you have what it takes to bring this amazing new large breed companion dog breed into your family, there are

three more Genius Litter puppies (Essex/Regina) available right now.

Here’s the link:


The DireWolf Express is scheduled to leave on July 13th, with our vet health check-up   planned for July 7th.

There is no time to waste.

If you have been approved and are interested in a puppy, reply to this email and let me know. (You don’t have to be on our waiting list.)

If you would like to be considered for our puppies, the first step is to complete our puppy adoption questionnaire.

Click the link below to get started:


Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.