Bear Safety: Brown VS Black Bears (4 Questions Answered!)

Bears are powerful predators that could also be dangerous for humans. 

Maybe you’ve watched them a couple of times and you are left wondering which species is more dangerous – brown bears or black bears?

Let’s answer that and more in this article.

Brown bears are more dangerous than black bears. They are generally larger and more aggressive. In addition, studies have shown that they are responsible for most bear attacks on humans. 

However, black bears can still attack humans when they feel threatened or for protection.

Now, you know that brown bears generally pose more threats than black bears. In this article, we will discuss some reasons why brown bears are considered more dangerous than others.

Keep reading below as we discuss these reasons in detail. 

Table of Contents

Why Brown Bears Are More Dangerous Than Black Bears

Here are a few factors that make up the reason why brown bears are more dangerous than black bears.


Brown bears, including grizzly bears, are larger and more aggressive than black bears.

They typically weigh between 180 and 1,320 Ibs (80 and 600 kg), with males being heavier than females.

They are known to attack humans when they feel threatened. And this is because their large size makes them see humans as prey.

On the other hand, black bears are smaller. They weigh between 123 and 500 Ibs. (57 and 227 kg).

Above all, the brown bear’s large size makes it look intimidating and more dangerous than a black bear.

Bite Force

Black bears have enough powerful bites to be able to kill many animals. They can drive their 2.5-inch canines into an important part of an animal. 

On the other hand, brown bears have a stronger bite force, particularly the grizzly bear subspecies.

They have teeth that are somewhat longer than 3 inches and a bite power of 1200 PSI.

This bite force is way more powerful than that of black bears. This makes brown bears the more dangerous bears. 

Movement and Speed

Brown bears and black bears move almost at the same speed although brown bears still take the lead.

The brown bear can charge at a top speed of 40 mph while the black bear can reach a top speed of about 35 mph. 

So if you get chased by both bears, a brown bear will be a bigger problem than a black bear. Hence, brown bears are more dangerous because they are faster and more difficult to outrun.


An Aggressive Brown Bear

Brown bears are generally more aggressive than black bears. They are also more territorial and are known to defend their space aggressively. 

Moreover, brown bears are less likely to back down from a confrontation with a human. They are also more likely to attack without warning. 

An Aggressive Black Bear

Hence, it’s more difficult for humans to avoid them. In contrast, black bears are not always bold and are likely to run away when confronted by humans. 

This makes them less dangerous than brown bears.



Brown bears are primarily found in Alaska and Canada, where they live in remote, wild areas with limited human contact.

This means that when humans do encounter brown bears, it is often in a situation where the bear feels threatened or territorial.

Black bears, on the other hand, can be found in a variety of habitats, including suburban areas and national parks. 

This means that humans are more likely to encounter black bears in areas where they are used to human presence, which can make them less likely to attack.

Statistics: Brown Bear Attacks Vs Black Bears

According to the National Park Service, brown bears are responsible for the majority of bear attacks on humans in North America. 

Between 1980 and 2014, there were 70 fatal bear attacks in North America, and more than 90% of those were caused by brown bears. 

However, black bears are still capable of attacking humans and there have been several fatal black bear attacks in recent years. 

For example, In 2018, a black bear killed a woman and her baby in Canada and in  2020, a black bear killed a woman in Colorado.

From the above statistics, most of the bear attacks are caused by brown bears. This is proof that brown bears are more dangerous than black bears.

Human Encounter: Grizzly Vs Black Bears

When it comes to encounters with humans, both brown and black bears can be dangerous. However, there are some key differences in the way that these two species react when they encounter humans. 

Grizzly bears:

Grizzly bears are known for their aggressive behavior and are more likely to attack humans than black bears. 

When a grizzly bear sees a human, it may stand up on its hind legs to get a better look at the person. This way, they assess the threat level. 

And if grizzlies feel threatened, they can charge at humans, often without warning. In some cases, these bears may also bluff charge. 

This means they’ll run at the person before stopping short. It’s a warning sign that they’re feeling threatened and need you to back away slowly.

Black bears

Black bears are generally less aggressive than brown bears. They’re more likely to run away when they see a human. 

However, if a black bear feels threatened or if it is protecting its cubs, it may attack. When a black bear sees a human, it may also stand up on its hind legs to get a better look. 

However, it is less likely to charge at humans without warning, unlike grizzlies. Instead, it may make noise or swat at the ground to try to intimidate the person.

Grizzly Bear Vs Black Bear – Who Will Win?

In a fight, a grizzly bear will more likely win!

Grizzlies are generally larger, stronger, and more aggressive than black bears. This undoubtedly gives them the upper hand in a fight.

Unlike black bears that flee at any slightest confrontation, grizzly bears are top predators. 

Even though they are omnivores, they spend almost their entire lives hunting and killing for food, including black bears.

They have sharp, curved claws that are as long as bananas, and strong teeth that can injure an animal badly. 

When a grizzly bear uses these sharp claws and powerful teeth on a black bear, the black might not survive the attack. 

The only advantage that the black bear has is the instinct to run which a grizzly bear would rarely do.

They prefer to rely on their size and strength to intimidate and hunt down their prey.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, brown bears are more dangerous than black bears.

They are generally more aggressive and more likely to attack without warning, unlike black bears. 

Factors such as size, speed, bite power, habitat, etc make up the reason why brown bears are more dangerous than black bears.

And statistics have shown that most bear attacks across different countries are mostly brown bears. 

This is due to their fearless reaction during confrontations. 

It’s important to remember that bears are wild animals and that humans should avoid interacting with them whenever possible. 

If you do encounter any of these bears in the wild, stay calm and back away slowly to avoid getting hurt.

Now, you’ve discovered that brown bears are more dangerous and will win a fight against black bears. 

Does this mean giant pandas also won’t stand a chance against grizzly bears?

Find out in our article ” Giant Panda vs. Grizzly Bear – Who Would Win“.