The Difference Between Black and Grizzly Bears

Black Bear

During the COVID era, since we are unable to enter the concrete jungles due to the fear of ‘virus spread’, ‘real forests’ have become a haven for travelers.

As travelers, whenever we are venturing in a forest with a tourist guide or solo adventures, encountering a bear is both a fascinating and frightening experience.

Bears are becoming more and more appealing to enthusiastic nature lovers seeking to schedule an adventure with a difference. There is nothing quite like seeing the world’s most sumptuous animals in the flesh, and few are really as impressive as the bear. Tours that take you deep into bear territory offer you the unprecedented opportunity to spend time alongside these misunderstood creatures and learn more about how they survive and live.

The Difference Between Grizzly Bears and Black Bears

The two are often confused, and although you will have a guide with you who will point out the differences, it is beneficial to have some prior knowledge to help you differentiate between them.


Not all bears are black, and not all ‘black bears’ are black. In fact, they can vary in color from blonde to black. Many have a more vivid patch of fur on the chest, and even the extremely dark ones may have a light-colored snout. The Grizzlies also range in color but are mostly medium brown. The ‘grizzled’ look comes from the smaller tips of the long hairs, which are separate from the roots.


The mighty Grizzly Bears can be up to an impressive 2 meters tall when fully standing and around a meter tall at shoulder length when on all foue legs.

On the other hand, Black Bears are smaller and reach about a meter and a half when standing tall.

Body Shape

The shape of these two giants varies considerably. The sharp shoulder hump which can be easily observed in Grizzly Bears is not evident in Black Bears. The feature results from the enormous muscles that the Grizzlies have developed to dig for roots and catch ground squirrels.


The shape and facial features of the two species are very diverse. Grizzly Bears have a hole between the eyes and the nose’s tip, a concave profile, and round yet short ears. On the other hand, the Black Bears have more of an extended ‘Roman’ style profile, with a direct line leading from the forehead to the end of the nose, and more pointed, bigger ears.


Any animal’s claws can be quite threatening, but particularly those of the Grizzly Bear have a notorious reputation. Their claws are between seven and ten centimetres long and make sharp prints in their tracks. The large length of their claws means you can see them from quite some distance away, so this is one of the simplest ways to distinguish them in theory. Black Bears have more pointed claws that are around four centimeters long, so they are not visible in their tracks.

Whenever you explore the wild next, the information covered above will give you a head start on distinguishing these two magnificent species. Do not hunt bears. Respect them and give them their space. What COVID did to us this year is nothing compared to what humans have done to bear’s habitat for hundreds of years.

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