How Fast Can a Bear Run? A 2024 Guide

How fast can a bear run?

Most people would guess that a bear can run pretty quickly, and they would be right! Bears are some of the fastest animals in the forest, reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. This blog post will explore the fantastic world of bears and find out just how fast these creatures can run!

How Fast Can Bears Run

Bears easily surpass human beings in the speed at which they run. However, it’s important to note that each breed runs at a different pace, depending on a few factors, such as their level of aggressiveness and diet.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the brown bear, commonly referred to as the grizzly bear (although grizzlies are actually a subspecies of the brown bear), wins the title of fastest bear species thanks to its extraordinary ability to run up to 35 miles per hour. And what about the runner-up? Studies show that the American black bear is a close second, with a 25-30 mph running pace.

An average human being usually runs about 15 mph, while the fastest record holder has a maximum recorded speed of 27.44 miles per hour, which is significantly slower compared to the grizzly bear.

What’s impressive is that even though they can weigh up to 1000 pounds, bears still manage to sprint at an astonishing rate. These powerful predators utilize their muscles and claws while successfully maintaining an extraordinary balance.

How Are Bears So Fast

Don’t let their big boxy frame fool you—huge, muscular legs are a critical factor contributing to a bear’s speediness and athleticism. These bulkier four-legged species end up being faster than smaller animals, and it all boils down to shorter forelegs that help carry a tremendous amount of weight.

Besides their muscle mass-topped shoulder blades, bears have impressive claws that are pretty handy on soft surfaces but lead to a tougher time moving on asphalt and other rough terrains. Bears can grow claws up to four inches, which adds more traction when running, affecting their speed.

Another important factor is that bears are omnivores and can’t rely solely on a plant-based diet, so they must be fast and intelligent to catch their prey. We also can’t ignore the impact of the ever-growing prevalence of hunters over the need to activate their full agility potential.

How Fast Can Different Bears Run

Although bears are generally known to be quick runners, not all breeds are as fast. Let’s look at the speed rates at which different bears run!

Grizzly Bear

How fast can a bear run - Grizzly Bear

How fast can a grizzly bear run? Grizzlies are known to be the bears with the highest running speed, as they can run up to 35 miles per hour. Their forelimbs are so powerful that they can sprint and dig at an exceptional speed rate.

American Black Bear

How fast can a bear run - American Black Bear

A close runner-up, the black bear, can run at 30 miles per hour—twice the speed of the average human. So it’s no surprise that there were 13 bear attacks in North America in the 2020s. They can also use this advantage to climb trees, which separates them from other larger bear species.

Spectacled Bear

How fast can a bear run - Spectacled Bear

Spectacled bears have sharp claws that help them dig and climb up trees, but they are also one of the fastest bears, going up to 30 miles per hour when running.

Sun Bear

How fast can a bear run - Sun Bear

Sun bears are the smallest of the bunch, and this characteristic benefits the speed at which they sprint. Like the spectacled and the black bear, these species can run up to 30 miles per hour.

Asiatic Black Bear

How fast can a bear run - Asiatic Black Bear

Asiatic black bears have smaller physiques and can run up to 25 mph. These nocturnal creatures are now sadly considered to be endangered species.

Sloth Bear

How fast can a bear run - Sloth Bear

It’s no surprise that these bears share their name with sloths, as they are pretty lazy creatures but have sharp teeth and claws. They don’t have high running capabilities; the fastest they can go is 20 miles per hour.

Panda Bear

How fast can a bear run - Panda Bear

Pandas are known to be the slowest bear species ever to exist, and the most they can go is at 20 miles per hour. One explanation for why these bears are so slow is that they aren’t hunters but herbivores.

Polar Bear

How fast can a bear run - Polar Bear

Because of their massive body weight, polar bears aren’t as fast as the previous two we’ve mentioned. These bears tend to run at a 25 mph speed rate.

Kodiak Bear

How fast can a bear run - Kodiak Bear

Not only are Kodiak bears really fast, but they are also the second largest bear breed after the polar bear. They can run at an astonishing 30 miles per hour thanks to their powerful muscles.

Now that you know how fast do bears run, we can move on to ways you can protect yourself if, by some chance, you encounter some of these ferocious predators.

What to Do If You See a Bear

Bears may be fascinating, but they are not meant to be pets! These animals are far from tame, so you should always be cautious when interacting with them. But how do you do that?

Reading about how fast bears are, you must have figured out that the last thing you should do is try to outrun this animal. You should try to avoid these situations by making noise while hiking and properly storing your food not to attract bears.

It’s always wise to carry bear spray when moving through areas where you may encounter some of these animals. If you see a bear, you should react according to the given species. However, one rule goes for all bear breeds: never turn your back on the animal, and don’t run! This will only activate their chasing instinct.

When coming across a black bear, you should look the predator in the eyes, make a big stance, and continue making noise. This method won’t work on grizzly bears—it will cause a worse effect. To deal with a brown bear, you must back away slowly, preferably facing the animal.

There you have it—now you can enjoy sitting by your campsite in the woods without much worry that cubs will run your way!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a dog outrun a bear?

The answer depends on the breed of the dog and the bear in question. The average dog runs at 31 miles per hour, while the fastest bear can go at about 35 miles per hour. However, the greyhound sprints at 45 miles per hour, which is faster than any bear species.

Can you outrun a bear?

That is highly unlikely. While there are slower species of bears, such as sloth bears, their running speed can still reach up to 20 mph—five miles per hour faster than an average human. So, you probably wouldn’t want to take your chances and try to outrun them.

How fast can a bear run a 40-yard dash?

If a fast high school halfback runs a 40-yard dash in 4.5 minutes, a bear will run 44 feet per second.

How fast are brown bears?

Grizzly bears are known to be the fastest bear species in the world, having the ability to sprint at 35 miles per hour, which is more than twice the average human speed rate. 

Key Takeaways

So, how fast can a bear run?

As fast as 35 miles per hour! Bears are amazing creatures that can quickly cover a lot of ground running at full speed. If you ever see a bear running, watch out—you might just get left in the dust!

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