A-z - Animals

5 Bears Bigger than a Grizzly

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key point

  • Grizzlies stand about 8 feet tall and weigh about 900 pounds.
  • Gender is a factor in how big a grizzly can grow, with males being larger.
  • The Kodiak bear is one of two North American brown bears that are larger than the grizzly.

Grizzly bears are huge and one of the largest mammals in North America. There are all kinds of bears that inhabit the planet, and here you'll learn about 5 bear species that are bigger than a grizzly.

Grizzlies are about 3 to 5 feet tall when standing, and some grizzlies reach as high as 8 feet when standing on their hind legs. Their weight varies from 180 to 900 lbs. Popular for their furry appearance, their size puts them at the top of the food chain. Sex is a factor in determining how big a grizzly can grow, with males being two to three times larger than females.

Bears have lived on Earth for millions of years, many of them being top predators. Let's take a look at 5 bears that are bigger than a grizzly and whose size might surprise you.

1. Kodiak Bear ( Ursus arctos middendorffi )

Kodiak vs. Grizzlies
Kodiak bears are bigger than grizzlies.

© iStock.com/Jess Bray

The Kodiak bear is one of two species of brown bears in North America and is a larger relative of the grizzly bear. Today, the Kodiak bear is one of the largest bear species in the world, weighing up to 1,500 pounds. The largest ever recorded weighed about 2100 pounds and was kept in captivity. Kodiak bears stand about 5 feet tall on all fours and reach a maximum of 10 feet on two legs.

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Kodiaks have a larger bone and muscular framework compared to grizzlies. The islands in the Kodiak archipelago off the coast of Alaska are where Kodiak bears live in the wild. Unlike grizzlies, Kodiaks are more social and will sometimes congregate in feeding areas.

2. Polar bear ( Ursus maritimus )

Polar Bear Baby - Cub with Parents
Polar bears are the largest bear species in existence.

©isabel kendzior/Shutterstock.com

Polar bears are considered the largest bears in the world, slightly larger than Kodiak bears. They are one of the few bears that are bigger than a grizzly. Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia and other cold areas close to the Arctic are the habitat of polar bears. The bear's size helps it survive in extremely cold climates.

Polar bears generally weigh between 330 pounds and 1,300 pounds, with the males being the largest. The largest polar bears live in the coldest regions of the Arctic and are huge, with the largest polar bear ever recorded weighing 2,209 pounds and standing nearly 12 feet tall. The average height of a polar bear is usually between 6.5 and 8.3 feet. Polar bears survive primarily on carnivorous diets, mainly seals.

3. Giant short-faced bear ( Arctodus simus )

A saber-toothed cat tries to drive a short-faced bear from its territory.
Arctodus bears have 2-inch teeth and 3-inch claws, so they probably don't have to be afraid of saber-toothed cats.

©Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com

The giant short-faced bear is an extinct species that died out about 11,000 years ago. This species lives in North America and is 5 feet tall when standing on all fours and 11 feet tall when standing on the rear two legs. They weigh up to 2,000 lbs. Due to its long legs, the species is estimated to be extremely fast, capable of running at around 40 miles per hour.

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The reasons for the extinction of giant short-faced bears are unknown, but they were one of the largest land carnivores in North America. The spectacled bear is the closest living relative of the species and is native to South America.

4. Cave bear ( Ursus spelaeus )

cave bear
An unusual looking bear, the now extinct short-faced bear, an animal of the last ice age, sits in deep grass on the rocky coast of a prehistoric North American wetland.

©Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com

Cave bears inhabited caves in Europe and Asia before becoming extinct about 30,000 years ago. Most of the fossils of this bear have been found in caves, so it is believed that they stayed in the cave for a longer period of time, unlike other bears that enter the cave to hibernate. The giant is believed to have been omnivorous like brown bears today.

Cave bears weigh between 800 and 2200 pounds; standing upright, they are about 10 to 12 feet tall. The bear walked on all fours and was about 6 feet tall. This large species first appeared during the Pleistocene Epoch, about 2.6 million years ago.

5. Arctotherium angustidens

Arctotherium sketch
Arctotherium (shown here in sketch form) is mainly found in South America. Image: Robert Bruce Horsfall, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

© Robert Bruce Horsfall (1869–1948) / Public Domain – License

Arctotherium angustidens was the largest bear species that ever lived, much larger than a grizzly or any other bear. This species is closely related to the short-faced bear, but lives in South America. Arctotherium angustidens lived during the Pleistocene 2.5 million years ago and became extinct about 10,000 years ago. The bear reaches a massive size of 3,500 pounds when mature and stands 11 to 13 feet tall. The largest of all bears, this giant is about 2 to 4 times the size of a grizzly bear.

How long can a bear live?

Grizzlies can live 20-25 years in the wild, but in captivity they can live up to 50 years. When comparing Kodiak bears, the lifespan is the same except that the oldest known captive Kodiak lived 34 years. Polar bears can live 20 to 30 years, and some believe they can live up to 40 years with special care and dietary needs. However, most polar bears do not survive their puberty due to predators (only cubs are preyed on), intraspecific mortality, starvation, disease and parasites, and human influence.

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  • 9 Best Books About Bears
  • Watch two bears face off in terrifying Trail Cam fight
  • Are grizzlies extinct? 11 Places They're No Longer Found
  • What does the largest bear ever eat to feed its 3,500-pound body?

More from AZ Animals

featured image

grizzly bear
In the United States, the grizzly bear is a threatened species.

© Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.com

about the author

Emilio Brown

Spiders, snakes, and lizards are some of my favorite types of animals, and I love keeping a few species as pets. I love learning about all the wonders nature has to offer and have been a writer for 5 years. In my spare time, you will find me walking into nature.

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  1. Bear, available here: https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/zoology/item/which-is-the-largest-bear-on-earth/
  2. , available here: https://bear.org/bear-facts/extinct-short-faced-bear/
  3. (1970)