Brown Bear Types: A Complete List of All Species

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 25th September 2023

Alaska Peninsula brown bear
Alaska Peninsula brown bear / Gerald Corsi via Istock

Similar to how many creatures are smaller than humans, many more are larger than the average human.

One such animal is the bear, a large caniform found in several parts of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.

These creatures can weigh over a thousand pounds, although the typical size of a bear varies by species as some bears weigh more than others.

There are eight extant bear species; the largest is the polar bear which can grow as big as 1,500 pounds, and the smallest is the sun bear, which weighs around 140 pounds.

One of the most common bear species is the brown bear in Eurasia and North America.

Brown bear on a rock
Brown bear on a rock | Thomas Faull via iStock

Brown bears are some of the heaviest living terrestrial members of the order Carnivora, and the only bears larger than them are polar bears.

Despite being of the same species, not all brown bears are alike.

There are several types of brown bears inhabiting countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Despite the different kinds, brown bears are believed to have evolved from Ursus etruscus, which existed in Asia, Europe, and North Africa during the Pliocene to the Pleistocene era.

Keep reading to discover more about various brown bears, what makes them different, and other interesting facts.

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9. The Kodiak Bear

Kodiak Bear
Kodiak Bear | Jess Bray via Getty Images

The Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi), also known as the Alaskan brown bear, is a subspecies of the brown bear found exclusively on Kodiak Island in Alaska, United States.

It is the largest subspecies of the brown bear and one of the largest land carnivores in the world.

Although the exact number of this subspecies is unknown, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closely monitors the size of the population and the number of bears hunted in the state.

As mentioned, the Kodiak bear is a massive animal, with males weighing up to 1,400 pounds and standing up to 10 feet tall on their hind legs.

kodiak brown bear
Kodiak brown bear in the meadow | Gerald Corsi via iStock

Females are smaller, weighing up to 600 pounds and standing up to seven feet tall.

The largest Kodiak bear on record lived at the Dakota Zoo in North Dakota and weighed over 2,000 pounds.

The color of a Kodiak’s fur is affected by a few factors, such as seasons and location.

Generally, their fur is long and thick and varies from blond to dark brown.

The Kodiak bear is found exclusively on Kodiak Island in southwestern Alaska.

Kodiak Island
Kodiak Island in Alaska | Gerald Corsi via iStock

The island houses diverse habitats, including mountains, forests, and wetlands.

This bear likes to inhabit all these habitats, but it prefers to live in dense forests, where it can find shelter and easily hunt for food.

Kodiak bears are also omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals.

Their average diet consists of salmon, berries, roots, insects, small mammals, and occasionally, larger mammals like deer and elk.

8. The Grizzly Bear

Grizzly bear
Grizzly bear | JNevitt via Getty Images

Found in several North American countries, another name for Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) is North American brown bears.

These bears are found in various habitats, including forests, grasslands, and tundra, and are known for their large size and distinctive hump on their shoulders.

Grizzly bears were first described as such by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark but became classified by George Old in 1815.

Grizzly bears are large mammals that weigh up to over 700 pounds and stand up to eight feet tall on their hind legs.

Grizzly bear
Grizzly Bear by water’s edge | GarysFRP via iStock

In addition to having a noticeable hump on their shoulders, grizzly bears can be distinguished from black bears by the shapes of their heads, the profile of their face, and small, rounded ears.

They have thick fur ranging from light brown to almost black, which helps them blend in with their surroundings.

The hump on their shoulders is composed of muscle and provides extra strength for digging and carrying heavy objects.

Like many bears, they are omnivores, and their diet is affected by their location and the time of year.

Close up of a Grizzly Bear with a salmon in its mouth
Close up of a Grizzly Bear with a salmon in its mouth | Trevorplatt via iStock

Grizzly bears primarily eat grasses and other plants in the spring, while in the summer and fall, they eat berries, nuts, and fruits.

They also consume insects, fish, and small mammals.

Grizzly bears are excellent hunters and can take down large prey, such as elk, and moose.

Grizzly bears are also known for their hibernation behavior.

In the fall, they enter a state of hibernation, where they do not eat or drink for several months, allowing them to conserve energy during the winter months when food is scarce.

7. The Eurasian Brown Bear

Eurasian Brown bear
Eurasian Brown bear | Dgwildlife via Getty IMages

The Eurasian brown bear, also known as the European brown bear, is a large mammal native to Europe and parts of Asia.

The Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) is also called the common bear or brown bear.

These bears fought for sport in Ancient Rome fighting arenas, with the mightiest bears coming from places like Caledonia and Dalmatia.

The earliest specimen of this subspecies came from China, dating back around 500,000 years.

The Eurasian brown bear is a large animal with shaggy brown fur that can vary in color from light brown to almost black.

A close encounter of a Brown bear
A close encounter of a Brown bear | Henk Bogaard via iStock

The bears have a distinctive hump of muscle on their shoulders, which gives them the strength they need to dig for food and climb trees.

Their heads are round and have relatively small rounded ears.

A full-grown male weighs between 550 and 660 pounds and reaches a maximum weight of over a thousand pounds.

Females typically range between 330 and 550 pounds.

A mommy Brown Bear walking in the forest
A mommy Brown Bear walking in the forest | Kersti Lindstrom via iStock

Eurasian brown bears are generally solitary animals, although they may gather in groups to feed on abundant food sources.

These bears’ diets used to be 80% carnivorous, but evolution caused them to consume more plant materials.

These bears eat various foods, like plants, berries, insects, small mammals, and fish.

During the summer, the bears accumulate fat reserves in preparation for their winter hibernation, during which they can sleep for up to seven months.

6. The Syrian Brown Bear

Syrian brown bear
Syrian brown bear | mb-fotos via Getty Images

The Syrian brown bear, also known as the Asiatic brown bear, is a subspecies of the brown bear native to the Middle East and Central Asia.

This creature is popular for its heavy coat, strong frame, and shoulder hump.

One of the largest by size and savviest predators, the Syrian brown bear has contributed significantly to the history of the region’s ecology and culture.

The fur of the Syrian brown bear is typically quite pale and straw-colored.

The majestic pale and straw-colored fur of the Syrian Brown Bear
The majestic pale and straw-colored fur of the Syrian Brown Bear | Hein Nouwens via iStock

Longer and with a grey-brown base, the hair on the withers is frequently a different color from the rest of the body.

Their thick fur protects them from the harsh climate of their chosen habitats, and Syrian bears that stay in higher altitudes have lighter-colored hair.

Syrian brown bears are massive animals, with adult males weighing up to 550 pounds and females weighing up to 400 pounds.

They can grow up to 8 feet in length and stand up to 5 feet tall at the shoulder.

Syrian brown bears live in several countries, including Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.

They typically inhabit mountainous regions where they can find shelter and food.

Forests and mountain ranges offer the Syrian brown bear the ideal environment because they have plenty of plants for food and cover.

These bears are omnivores and prey on larger animals, like deer and wild boars.

Due to the destruction of their natural habitat and human activities such as hunting, Syrian brown bears have started to forage for food in urban areas, leading to conflict with humans.

5. The Himalayan Brown Bear

Sleeping Himalayan brown bear on rocks
Sleeping Himalayan brown bear on rocks | dmf87 via Getty Images

The Himalayan brown bear is also called the Himalayan red bear, isabelline bear, or Dzu-Teh, and it is a brown bear subspecies native to the Himalayan region of Asia.

This subspecies inhabits mountainous parts of China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The Himalayan brown bear is easily recognized by its reddish-brown fur, which is thicker and longer than other brown bear species.

Apart from its distinct fur color, the Himalayan brown bear is also the largest mammal in the region.

Himalayan brown bear
Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus), also known as the Himalayan red bear | Artush via iStock

These bears average 771 pounds, and because of sexual dimorphism, males are larger than females.

Male Himalayan brown bears range between five and seven feet long, while females average between four and six feet.

On their hind legs, these bears are as tall as eight feet.

The Himalayan brown bear is adapted to living in extreme conditions and is found in the high-altitude regions of the Himalayas.

A mother & Himalayan Brown Bear Cub
A mother & Himalayan Brown Bear Cub walking in the snow in the Himalayas | Jay Dee via iStock

Because most of their preferred habitat is usually cold, their thick fur helps them stay warm, while their large size and powerful muscles allow them to move through deep snow and climb steep mountain slopes.

However, as human populations continue to expand in the Himalayan region, the natural habitats of these bears are being destroyed and fragmented by roads, agriculture, and urbanization.

This fragmentation can lead to smaller and more isolated populations of bears, which are more vulnerable to genetic problems and other threats.

4. The Kamchatka Brown Bear

Kamchatka brown bear
Kamchatka brown bear | xtrekx via Getty Images

The Kamchatka brown bear (Ursus arctos beringianus), also known as the Far Eastern brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear found in the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.

With an estimated population of around 12,000, it is one of the largest brown bear populations in the world.

Despite being one of the largest brown bear populations in the world, the Kamchatka brown bear population is still affected by certain human activities, such as poaching and mining operations.

As one of the largest land predators, the Kamchatka brown bear weighs as much as 1,500 pounds and is as tall as 10 feet on its hind legs.

A large male Kamchatka brown bear
A large male Kamchatka brown bear (Ursus arctos beringianus) fishing salmons in the water of Kurile Lake, Kamchatka, Russia | guenterguni via iStock

They have thick fur that ranges from blond to dark brown and a distinctive hump on their shoulders made up of muscle mass to help them dig for food and defend themselves against predators.

Despite their size and strength, Kamchatka brown bears are generally docile and non-aggressive toward humans.

However, they can be dangerous if they feel threatened or provoked, especially when they have cubs.

Tolbachik is one of the most active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia | guenterguni via iStock

Kamchatka brown bears have an essential role in the Kamchatka Peninsula’s ecosystem.

They help to control the population of other animals, such as salmon and elk, by preying on them.

These bears are omnivorous and also feed on plants and fruits.

As mentioned, the Kamchatka brown bear population faces threats from poaching and mining activities.

However, conservation efforts are underway to protect these bears and their habitats.

3. The Hokkaido Brown Bear

Hokkaido Brown Bear
Hokkaido Brown Bear | Satoru S via Getty Images

The Hokkaido brown bear is also known as the Ezo brown bear or the black grizzly bear and is a subspecies of brown bear found on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and a few other regions.

These bears are known for their large size and distinctive appearance, making them a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike.

Despite its name, the black grizzly bear, it should not be confused with the North American grizzly bear.

Two Hokkaido brown bears
Two Hokkaido brown bears roaming around Shiretoko National Park | azuki25 via iStock

Hokkaido brown bears are the largest land mammals in Japan, with males typically weighing between 661 and 1,300 pounds and females weighing between 330 and 660 pounds.

As the name “black grizzly bear” implies, these bears sometimes have completely black fur, which is fuller than other brown bear species.

Their shaggy coats also range from light to dark brown, and they have a distinctive hump of muscle on their shoulders.

Shikotsu-Toya National Park
Spring afternoon in the volcanic landscape of Shikotsu-Toya National Park | KathrynHatashitaLee via iStock

The bears are primarily found in dense forests and mountains in Hokkaido, although they also inhabit some areas of the Russian Far East.

They are omnivorous, meaning they eat plants and animals, and their diet includes a wide variety of food such as berries, nuts, insects, fish, and small mammals.

Hokkaido brown bears are not typically aggressive toward humans, but there have been several attacks on humans, particularly during the autumn months when the bears are preparing for hibernation and may be more aggressive in their search for food.

2. The Tibetan Blue Bear

Tibetan Blue Bear
Tibetan Blue Bear | tjommy via Getty Images

The Tibetan blue bear goes by many other names; Tibetan brown bear, horse bear, Himalayan blue bear, Himalayan snow bear, etc.

As its name suggests, this bear is native to the Himalayan region, including Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal.

The Tibetan blue bear is one of the least-known bear species in the world, and much of its behavior and ecology remain a mystery.

This bear was first sighted and described in 1851 and has been rarely seen since.

Tibetan blue bear
Tibetan blue bear in Kobe, Japan | pelican via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.0

The Tibetan blue bear is characterized by its unique blue-gray coat because of the presence of a bluish-gray underfur beneath the black outer fur.

Because much remains unknown about this bear, its exact size is unknown.

However, the Tibetan blue bear is estimated to weigh between 300 and 440 pounds.

It has a broad head, short, rounded ears, and curved claws to climb trees and dig for food.

This bear is primarily herbivorous, eating bamboo, berries, roots, and other vegetation.

Tibetan blue bear fave food
Heavenly bamboo plant, Nandina domestica, and red berries close-up in a sunny day in the garden | Nature, food, landscape, travel via iStock

The bear’s coat is also thick and woolly, which allows it to survive in the cold, high-altitude environments of the Himalayas.

However, its unique color makes the bear easy to spot in the wild, attracting poachers.

Aside from poaching, this bear also suffers habitat loss because of deforestation, human settlement, and climate change.

1. The California Grizzly Bear

California Grizzly Bear
California Grizzly Bear | Photo via Amy Hart

The California grizzly bear, also known as Ursus arctos californicus, was once a magnificent and iconic species in the American West.

Historically, this bear was found throughout California and parts of Oregon and Mexico.

However, this subspecies, which went extinct almost a century ago, was the symbol of strength and resilience for the native people of California, who revered it as a spiritual and cultural symbol.

The California grizzly bear was large, weighing 1,500 pounds and standing up to eight feet tall on its hind legs.

California Grizzly Bear in California Grizzly Bear
California Grizzly Bear in California Grizzly Bear | Vahe Martirosyan via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.0

Like most bear species, these bears experienced sexual dimorphism.

While males could reach over a thousand pounds, females averaged 400 pounds.

Their fur ranged from blond to orange to dark brown.

The young ones had a white ring around their neck for a few years.

This bear’s color was similar to the mainland American grizzly and Eurasian brown bears.

Bear hunting
Bear hunting | Tadoma via iStock

The primary reason for the extinction of these creatures was the loss of their habitat due to human activities.

As more people settled into the state, these bears were getting hunted more for their meat and coats.

By the late 1800s, the California grizzly bear population had declined significantly, and by the early 1900s, the bear was extinct in California.

Aside from being a symbol of strength to the state, these bears also helped regulate the population of other animals, such as deer and elk, helping the state’s vegetation and landscape.


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