Comparison of Grizzles vs Black Bears

How do you tell these two animals apart?

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Grizzlies vs Black Bears

Black bear frontal

Looking a black bear in the face.

Grizzly frontal

Looking a grizzly in the face.

Side view of Black Bear

Black bear from the side showing rump higher than the shoulder. Also, notice the face is an almost flat line from forehead to nose.

Side view of a grizzly bear

Side view of the grizzly bear. See, the shoulders are higher than the rump. This helps the bear to dig in the dirt and to flip logs and stones.

Black Bear


  • Rump taller than shoulders
  • Straight face profile, little to no gap below ruler if put on forehead and nose
  • Ears larger, more erect, and more pointed
  • Short dark claws, 1.5 inches

Grizzly Bear


  • Shoulders taller than rump
  • Has a somewhat concave profile, with a big gap below the ruler if put on the forehead and nose
  • Smaller, more rounded ears
  • Long light claws, 2-4 inches

Bears have supe-smelling abilities. Compared to humans per the National Institute of Health:

  • An  average dog is 100 times better
  • Bloodhound is 300 times better
  • Bear is 2,100 times better, or 7 times better than a bloodhound

Bears have been known to make 18-20-mile journeys tracking carrion. Where you or I make a visual map to navigate around us. Bears are thought to make olfactory maps. What a neat skill.

To read more about the grizzly bear, check out this page.

Grizzly running on snow with insert showing claws.

Grizzly bear at a full-out run with one paw and claws visible. Insert gives you a closer look.

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