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How Could This Bear Be Mistaken for Puppy by a Chinese Family?

By Orgesta Tolaj


11 December 2023

What would you do if you found out that your pet is not who you thought they were? What if you kept noticing that your pet was able to eat like a bear, but you would snap yourself out of it constantly? Well, this is the real-life story of Clifford the Red Dog. Or, at least as close to it as it can get. This bear was mistaken for a puppy by this Chinese family. And guess what? It took them longer than you think to realize who their pet really was.

Bear Mistaken for Puppy

In a remote part of China, a family made an unexpected discovery. They realized that the puppy they had adopted two years prior was not a Tibetan mastiff as they had believed. It was actually a bear. Su Yun was residing in a village near Kunming in Yunnan Province. She purchased the animal during a vacation in 2016, initially thinking it was a Tibetan mastiff. The revelation of their unusual pet highlights an amusing case of mistaken identity in the realm of domestic pets in this unique Chinese family story.


The owner of the dog noticed its big appetite, consuming a box of fruits and two buckets of noodles daily. Over two years, the dog’s weight increased to 250 pounds, and it continued to grow larger.

What Is a Tibetan Mastiff?

Tibetan Mastiffs are a large and ancient breed of dog that originated in the Himalayan region of Tibet. They are known for their imposing size, strength, and distinctive lion-like mane around their neck. These dogs were traditionally used to guard livestock and property in the harsh mountainous terrain of Tibet.

© Yasin Vatansever / Pexels

They typically have a thick double coat that provides insulation against the cold. Their tails often curl over their back. Tibetan Mastiffs are known to be reserved and aloof with strangers. However, they can be devoted and affectionate with their families. Due to their size and temperament, they require consistent training and socialization from an early age.

How Did They Find Out That the Puppy Was a Bear?

As the dog continued to grow, resembling a bear, the owner, Su, became increasingly suspicious. Despite her fear of bears, she contacted authorities who confirmed that her pet was actually an Asiatic black bear, a vulnerable species. Su’s bear, which had been living in her home, had to be tranquilized before being taken to the Yunnan Wildlife Rescue. Staff members were too scared to interact with the wild animal while it was fully alert, necessitating the use of tranquilizers for its safe removal.

The Asiatic Bear Reveal

Originally reported by the Independent in 2018, the peculiar story has resurfaced and gained viral attention this week. Notably, a fully grown male Asiatic bear also referred to as a Himalayan bear or moon bear, can weigh up to 400 pounds.


Asiatic bears, also known as Himalayan bears or moon bears, are a group of bear species native to various regions in Asia. The term encompasses several bear species, including the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), which is often the species referred to in this context. These bears are characterized by their distinctive crescent-shaped white or yellowish chest mark, which resembles a moon, leading to the name “moon bear.” But, hey, at least they got the Himalayan part right!

Do you think you would have noticed earlier, or would you have also mistaken the bear for a puppy?

You might also want to read: Real Sun Bear or Animal Impersonation?

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!