What’s The Difference Between Black And Brown Bears?

Just like humans, a bear's colouring all comes down to its parents.

Kermodes are blond black bears (ursus americanus) found along British Columbia’s coast. Kermode bears can produce black young if mated with a black black bear, and black black bears can produce white young if both adults possess recessive genes for ‘blond’ colouration. Black bears also can have beige, cinnamon and blue-grey colouration. Grizzly, or brown, bears (ursus arctos), meanwhile, have a distinct shoulder hump, dish-shaped face and long claws. Black bears are smaller, lack the shoulder hump, have short claws, and an elongate dog-like face. Grizzly bears occasionally mate with polar bears producing hybrids nicknamed ‘pizzly’ or ‘grolar’ bears, but not with black bears.

Answered by Dr Gavin Hanke, curator of Vertebrate Zoology