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Differences Between a Grizzly Bear and a Brown Bear

Grizzly Bear vs Brown Bear

Bears have always been pictured as any gigantic animal that has a furry coat. Common colors for these bears would be brown, black, white, and probably a combination. So you probably might have heard of terms like grizzly bear or the brown bear, and the big question is, ‘are they similar?’ This is what this article aims to reveal so you would now be able to determine if such a bear is a grizzly or a brown bear.

What is a brown bear?

It might probably be a good idea to start off with the brown bear as the grizzly is actually family to the brown bear. For starters, its scientific name, Ursus Arctos, has several subspecies under it that are generally recognized. One is the coastal brown bear, being given its name because of its location, as well as the range of size, and the other, the inland grizzly bear.

Let us list down the characteristics that distinguish one over the other. Let’s start with their weight. The brown bear may weigh as much as 680 kilos or as much as 1,500 pounds. The inland grizzly, on the other hand, may weigh as much as 80 kilograms or around 180 pounds. When looked at from afar, though, both species look kind of big, but don’t be deceived. The brown bear is so much bigger. Another distinguishing feature is its color. Predominantly brown and dark colored, this is why it has the nickname of the brown bear. The grizzly, on the other hand, may have the same coloring except that the grizzly has that extra silvery and grizzly sheen to its fur, making its appearance ‘grizzly’. More descriptions that would be given to the grizzly bear would include ‘grizzled,’ which means golden and grey tips on its fur. Another characteristic that distinguishes the brown bear from the grizzly is the non-existence of the hump on the shoulder area. The grizzly bear has this pronounced hump on their shoulders.

While the different locations for both species will be disputed on what really exists in which part of the world, some scientists call the bears that exist in their location a grizzly or a brown bear and vice versa. What is important is that we understand that there are bears that have become extinct and should be properly cared for. Diet is another distinction. Brown bears are considered omnivores while grizzly bears are having the digestive system of a carnivore, they are mostly omnivores as well. A grizzly bear’s diet consists of both plants and animals, but mostly feed on fish. Brown bears survive on vegetables for their diet, which would include live plant including berries, flowers, grass, pine cones, mushrooms, fungi, and acorns. They have paws that are well equipped to dig through trees reaching for roots and shoots.

It is important to understand and appreciate the existence of the different species of bears. Having existed all these years, some bears become thought of as enemies of humans. One of the reasons is the scarcity of food. The more populated certain areas are, especially in the mountains, the more likely that there would be contact with humans as well. The existence of rails on mountains as well has also contributed to spillage of grain, which is scavenged by bears.


A Brown bear is bigger than that of the Grizzly bear.

A Grizzly bear has a pronounced hump on its shoulders that the Brown bear does not have.

A Grizzly bear, though brown and at times, black, has more distinguishing colors at the tips of its fur, like white or gold, giving it a ‘grizzled’ look. Some Brown bears may, at times, have the same coloring.

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  1. “Another characteristic that distinguishes the brown bear from the grizzly is the non-existence of the hump on the shoulder area. The grizzly bear has this pronounced hump on their shoulders.”

    That statement is wrong, Brown bears also have the pronounced hump. Watch live cams of Brown bears at Brooks River in Katmai National Park Alaska on Explore.org to see for yourself

  2. I don’t understand the meaning of the sentence,”What is important is that we understand that there are bears that have become extinct and should be properly cared for.” Do you mean, “Because some species of bears have become extinct, it is important that we take measures to assure the survival of the remaining species of bears, whose survival may also be threatened?”

  3. This article is very misleading and plain out wrong!

    In fact, grizzlies and brown bear are the same species!

    The only difference is that any brown bear subspecies in north america are called grizzlies.

    So unfortunately all the ” difference between” you have stated in your article are wrong.

    Which mean both the brown bear as well the grizzly bear;

    – have a pronounced hump on their shoulders.

    – are omnivorous. They don’t feed mostly on fish, as it is a seasonal food source, which they only access when the salmon spawns.

    – vary in size and coloration, depends on the subspecies.

  4. This aticle is completely incorrect. Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bear, found in North America. Technically, grizzly bears are only found on the American mainland, with the bears on the Alaskan Kodiak islands known as Kodiak Bears, but those are also referred to casually as “grizzlies”, too.

    In short: it’s the same difference as between moose and European elk, or reindeer and caribou, or American elk and wapiti: i.e. none!

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