Are Black Bears Dangerous to Dogs? (Viral Videos Inside!)

Black bears are generally the less aggressive of all bears. In fact, they prefer to stay away from confrontation than to fight. 

So, does this mean a black bear encounter with your dog is safe?

Here’s what you should know.

Yes, black bears can still be dangerous to dogs. Just like other bears, they are unpredictable and remain a serious threat to them even if they try to avoid them. 

Most black bears will take off or quickly climb a tree rather than pick a fight with a dog. However, this doesn’t make them harmless! 

Now, since dogs are smaller animals to black bears, do they see them as food? Do Black bears prey on dogs?

Continue reading below to find out! 

Table of Contents

Do Black Bears Prey on Dogs?

Yes, black bears can prey on dogs. However, this is rare as dogs aren’t natural prey to black bears. 

These bears are mostly vegetarian, typically eating berries, nuts, and insects. They are considered opportunistic feeders.  

So they sometimes prey on small animals. And this can include dogs if they feel the need to do so. Nevertheless, most black bears stay away from people and their pets.

Preying on dogs mostly happens when food is scarce. During these times, black bears may see dogs as potential prey. Smaller dogs, in particular, could be targeted. 

Hence, it’s best to keep your dog on a leash when bears are active. Especially if you live near a bear habitat.

Understand that black bears can also attack dogs and even kill not for food.

Let’s see a few reasons why:

Why Black Bears May Attack Your Dog?

When They Are Protecting Their Cubs

Female black bears are very protective of their cubs and may see your dog as a potential danger. If they sense that their cubs are in danger, they may attack your dog. 

They can do this even if your dog is not being aggressive.

Self Defense

Black bears may also attack dogs in self-defense. Dogs that chase or harass them may provoke an attack.

This is more likely to happen if your dog is off-leash and barking or growling at the black bear.

How Do Black Bears React to Dogs?

Normally, black bears stay away from dogs. However, they can react to dogs in a variety of ways:

Aggressive Behavior

If a black bear is confronted by your dog, it may become aggressive as a form of self-defense. This often happens if the dog is barking, growling, or charging at the bear.

In addition, a black bear can also react this way if it has cubs nearby or protecting a food source. In these cases, the bear may lunge, swat, or even attack your dog.


Often, black bears try to avoid contact with dogs by gradually moving away while keeping an eye on them. They can also climb a tree to get away from your dog’s reach or run if they have a clear escape route.


When a black bear is alone and encounters your dog, it may become curious. Sometimes, it stands on its hind legs to get a better look or carefully get closer to your dog. 

This unusual behavior can lead to a dangerous attack. So, both animals should stay out of contact.

Will a Black Bear Chase a Dog on Sight?

Yes, a black bear can chase your dog on sight, when it sees your dog as a threat or easy prey. However, this rarely happens. 

Most of the time, the bear will retreat and flee. Black bears don’t often act aggressively when they encounter dogs.

Will a Black Bear Run Away From a Dog?

Yes, black bears mostly run away from dogs. They do this to avoid contact with the dog. 

They also run to lead an escape route for their cubs to follow when dogs charge and become aggressive.

Additionally, they will take off when they feel outnumbered or trapped by many dogs. 

If it has an opportunity to get away, it rather uses it than engage in a fight.


Black Bear Attacks on Dogs – Statistics & Reports

In general, black bears are scared of dogs and will run away if they see one. However, there have been some cases of black bears attacking dogs, and in some cases, the dogs have been killed. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, since 1897,  three out of seven black bear attacks involved a dog. Fortunately, none of the dogs were killed.

Research has also shown that between 2008 and 2012, 49 out of 92 bear attacks in North America involved dogs. In 25 of those cases, the dog was killed. 

And It is believed that the cause of all the incidence was that the black bears saw the dogs as a threat. This was particularly when they were off-leash and barking or growling. 

Furthermore, the Wildlife Human Attack Database, in North America, reported 10 black bear attacks on dogs between 2010 and 2023. 

Take Note: 

It is worth noting that these figures only include reported cases. They may not be accurate representations of the total number of incidents. 

Furthermore, the extent of these attacks can range from minor wounds to more severe or even fatal results for the dog. Hence, if you’re in a bear country, it’s important to keep your dogs on a leash. 

This will help to stop them from chasing a bear and potentially starting a fight. It’s also a good idea to teach them commands like “come” and “stay” so you can quickly get them under control if a black bear does come close.

What to Do When Your Dog Encounters a Black Bear?

If you and your dog come across a black bear, here are some things you should do: 

Stay Calm

Remain calm and keep your dogs close to you on a leash. Call them to your side and have them remain seated until the bear moves away.

Make Noise

If the bear comes close to your dog, make some noise. You can yell, and also throw things at it without actually hitting it.

The aim of doing this is to scare the bear away and make it go away from your dog.

Fight Back Aggressively (Only if Attacked)

If you fail to chase a black bear away with noises, you should defend your dog with whatever is available.  Getting pretty physical can help! 

Use objects like sticks or stones (which you can throw from afar). And if possible, aim at the bear’s nose or eyes.

Report Any Case of Black Bear Attack or Aggression

Contact the wildlife experts to take care of the black bear. Give them the following information:

  • Where you saw the black bear 
  • Its size 
  • The fur color
  • The place you saw it last

Remember, black bears are wild animals and can be unpredictable. It’s important to take precautions to protect yourself and your pup if you do encounter one.

Can You Kill a Bear If It Attacks Your Dog?

Yes, you can kill a bear in self-defense if it attacks your dog. In the worst cases, you may need to kill it to protect your dog from an attack. 

Bears are not usually aggressive towards dogs. Nonetheless, if a bear does attack your dog, you have the right to defend your pet’s life by killing it.

It is only justified to kill a bear if it is actively attacking or pursuing your dog. This must be after other means of chasing it away didn’t work. 

Furthermore, you must be sure that the bear stands as an immediate threat to your dog’s life. It’s always best to avoid any interaction with bears in the first place. 

Keep your dog on a leash in bear country. In addition to that, always try to make some noise while hiking to avoid surprising a bear. 

Endeavor to keep food and trash properly so you don’t attract them. No one wants to kill a bear, but your dog’s safety must come first.

How To Keep Your Dog Safe From Black Bears

To keep your dog safe from black bears, there are a few precautions you should take:

Keep Food Secure

It’s important to keep food, garbage, and anything with a scent like gum or air fresheners away from your yard. Make sure to store these items in sealed containers inside your house. 

Black bears have an amazing sense of smell and will be drawn to anything that smells like food.

Make Noise

When you’re taking a walk with your dog, make some noise while on trails or in wooded areas. Try talking, singing, or clapping your hands to avoid surprising a bear. 

Let the bears know you’re around so they can get out of your way.

Keep Dogs Close

A Barking Dog on a Leash

It’s important to keep your dog on a leash and close to you at all times. Don’t let them run off or explore wooded areas on their own. 

Bears may see an unleashed dog as a threat and act defensively. Keeping your dog close also allows you to quickly pull them to safety if need be.

Following these tips and precautions will help ensure your dog is safe. It will also grant the dog a harmless encounter even if there’s a confrontation.

Can Dogs Outrun Black Bears?

No, dogs cannot outrun black bears! Black bears can run up to 35 miles per hour, while most dogs can only run up to 25 miles per hour.

Aside from speed, black bears’ body size and stamina are an added advantage to why dogs can’t outrun them. Black bears can weigh up to 350 pounds, while large dogs might weigh only 100 pounds.

Black bears equally have long legs and strong muscles that enable them to run long distances quickly. Dogs have shorter legs and less muscle mass, making them better suited for sprinting.

What’s more, black bears have greater endurance than dogs. This means they can run for a longer period without getting tired compared to dogs.

Do Dog Barks Chase Bears Away?

A Dog Barking at a Roaring Grizzly Bear

Yes, dog barks can scare bears away. Bears are naturally afraid of dogs and will see them as a threat. In most cases, they will simply run away when they hear a dog barking.

Regardless, the effectiveness of the dog’s bark depends on several factors such as:

  • The breed and size of the dog
  • Distance between the dog and the bear 
  • The bear’s behavior. 

If the bear is not feeling threatened, the sound of a dog barking may be enough to scare it away. 

But if it is feeling threatened or is defending its territory, the barking may not be enough to chase it away. it can even provoke the bear


To summarize, black bears are not always dangerous to dogs. They try to stay away from them except when they feel threatened or try to protect their cubs or territory.  

And since black bears eat meat, dogs sometimes become their prey. There have been records of black bear attacks on dogs which have sometimes led to total injuries and death. 

And if a bear attacks your dog, you can kill it in self-defense to save your dog. But this must be a last resort.

Your dog’s bark can scare bears away, but it does not always happen. Sometimes, it gets the bear angry and it will end up pursuing the dog. 

And remember, dogs cannot outrun the bear. This is why any contact should be avoided if possible.

Now you’ve learned that black bears are not always dangerous, and can sometimes be scared of dogs. 

But can your presence scare black bears away? You must be wondering! 

Find out in our article ‘’Are Black Bears Scared of Humans?’’


Minnesota Department of Natural Resource Reports on Black Bear Attacks on Humans and Dogs – ABC News

Black Bear Attacks in North America Involving Dogs (Research By Calgary Bear Expert) – CBC News

List of Fatal Bear Attacks in North America – Wikipedia