Types of Brown Bears – Lower Classifications

Brown bears are one of the 8 types of bears found around the world. This species is made of several lower classifications like the grizzly bear and Kodiak bear.

Kamchatka brown bear at Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
Kamchatka Brown Bear

Brown bears prefer to live in mountainous terrain and near rivers. As the name suggests, these bears are usually brown in color however they can also be blonde or black.

The males of the species are taller and heavier than the females. Male brown bears can grow up to 7 feet tall and weight over 700 pounds. Females, on the other hand, grow to 5 feet 6 inches and weight about 350 pounds. Here are the different types of brown bears with names and picture examples.

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly bears are perhaps the most popular type of brown bear. These brown bears can live up to 25 years in the wild and are known to eat up to 90 pounds of food each day.

Grizzly bears live in North America, most of which are found in Alaska. They can also be found in smaller numbers in states like Montana and Wyoming.

Grizzly bear walks along a shoreline.
Grizzly Bear (Click image for more info on Grizzly bears)

Alaska Peninsula Brown Bear

Also known as the peninsula grizzly, this subspecies of brown bear lives in the coastal areas of southern Alaska and is sometimes confused to be a Kodiak bear or the typical grizzly bear. Generally speaking, it is acceptable to refer to all brown bear species (except the Kodiak bear) as grizzly bears.

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The Alaska Peninsula brown bear usually weighs between 800 to 1,200 pounds. Their large size is due to the abundance of food (clams, sedge grass, and annual salmon runs) along the coastline.

Alaska Brown Bear, Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska
Alaska Brown Bear, Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska (Click image for more info)

Kodiak Bear

The Kodiak brown bear is the largest subspecies of brown bears. These bears can weigh between 660 to 1,320 pounds.

They live exclusively on the islands in the Kodiak Archipelago in southwest Alaska. These bears can live up to 28 years in the wild. They are not picky eaters and will eat almost anything available.

Kodiak Bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, United States.
Kodiak Bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, United States.

Marsican Brown Bear

This bear is also known as the Apennine brown bear and is an endangered bear species. They live mainly in the Abruzzo National Park and the surrounding region in Italy.

In the wild, they typically live to about 20 years old. There are an estimated 40-60 bears living in the area. With approximately 10-12 females of reproductive age.

Close-up of a marsican brown bear (named Sandrino)
Close-up of a marsican brown bear (named Sandrino)

Eurasian Brown Bear

The Eurasian brown bear is one of the most common subspecies of the brown bear and is found in much of Eurasia (Europe and Asia).

It is also known as the European brown bear, common brown bear, common bear, and colloquially by many other names.

Eurasian brown bear resting
Eurasian brown bear resting

Syrian Brown Bear

This is one of the smallest subspecies of the brown bear and it lives in the Middle East. Despite the name, it is found mainly in Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. The Syrian brown bear typically has very light brown and straw-colored fur. They can weigh up to 550 lbs.

Syrian brown bear standing on rocks.
Syrian Brown Bear

Himalayan Brown Bear

This subspecies of the brown bear can be found in areas ranging from northern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, northern India, west China, and Nepal.

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Their diet is varied given that they are known to eat grasses, roots and other plants as well as insects and small mammals; they also like fruits and berries.

Himalayan brown bear in Zoo Hluboka
Himalayan brown bear in Zoo Hluboka

Tibetan Blue Bear

The Tibetan bear or Tibetan blue bear (despite its name) is a subspecies of the brown bear found in the eastern Tibetan Plateau.

Other names include the Himalayan blue bear, Himalayan snow bear, Tibetan brown bear, or the horse bear. In Tibetan, it is known as Dom gyamuk.

Kamchatka Brown Bear

The Kamchatka brown bear, also known as the Far Eastern brown bear is the largest bear in Eurasia weighing up to 1433 lbs.

Gobi Bear

The Gobi bear is a critically endangered subspecies of brown bears that live in the Gobi desert. There are just about 3 dozen of these bears in the wild.

A heavyset Gobi bear, probably a male, captured by an automatic camera anchored to the wall in the narrowest part of a canyon. Photo: Joe Riis
A heavyset Gobi bear, probably a male, captured by an automatic camera anchored to the wall in the narrowest part of a canyon. Photo: Joe Riis

Interesting Facts About Brown Bears

  • The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is the most widely distributed species of bear in the world.
  • Subspecies of the brown bear can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia.
  • Almost all of North America at one time was inhabited by the brown bear. However, today it can be found only in a few northwestern states, Alaska and Canada.
  • The largest number of brown bears, over 100,000, can be found east of the Stanovoi Range in Russia. 
  • In Asia, brown bears are hunted for their body parts.
  • Subspecies of brown bears vary greatly in shape, size, and color.
  • All brown bears have a distinctive hump between their shoulders which is a mass of muscle, giving them extreme upper body strength.
  • Brown bears can be 3 to 5 feet when standing on all fours and 5 to 9 feet when standing upright and can weigh anywhere from 400 to 1,700 pounds. 
  • Male brown bears are larger than female brown bears.
  • Brown bears are omnivorous mammals, feeding on both plants and other animals. 
  • Life expectancy is between 15 to 34 years in the wild.
  • Since the 1800s, the brown bear population has decreased from over 50,000 to between 1,000 and 1,500 in the lower 48 states.
  • The brown bear has been listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened since 1975 in the lower 48 states where it has been reduced to 2% of its historic range. 
  • Today, these bears mostly live in mountainous terrain and remote forests due to human invasion.
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