Are Bears Smarter Than Dogs? (Dog vs Bear Intelligence)

Bears are smarter than dogs, according to some animal trainers and zookeepers. Wildlife biologists note that bears are actually one of the most intelligent terrestrial animals. 

Bears have the largest and the most convoluted brain relative to their size among all land mammals except humans. Conversely, the brain of a dog is around the size of a tangerine and (while smart) most dogs are not as smart as bears.

Of course, dogs come in a range of different intelligence levels, so some super smart dogs may be able to out-smart a bear.

Bears have evolved socially and are known to form hierarchies and build relationships with each other and even share resources.

Are Bears Smarter Than Dogs

These majestic giants boast impressive power and resourcefulness. However, despite their size and intelligence, bears are often scared of dogs which are much smaller and less intelligent than them. 

Are Bears Smarter than Dogs?

Bears are very intelligent and are actually one of the smartest land animals in North America. They have big and complex brains. 

This huge and strong animal that’s feared for its ability to kill instantly and easily also has an impressive brain that allows them to perform a variety of processes throughout their lives.

Bears are capable of counting, using tools, solving problems, and communicating. They’re also complex in terms of emotions. Their intelligence is also visible through their ability to evade predators in unique ways, both humans and other species. 

According to research, grizzlies (a species of brown bear) may also be self-aware, which is rare in the animal kingdom. There’s data showing that they can cover their tracks and hide from hunters using trees and rocks. Bears boast an excellent memory too. 

They remember a lot of information regarding food sources like which foods are found in which area. Moreover, a bear will remember familiar animals for years and recognize and identify them from a distance of up to 2,000 feet!

Read Also: Bear vs Hippo

Why Are Bears More Intelligent than the average Dog?

Bears are more intelligent than the average dog due to their ability to engage in complex thinking. Some species in particular have surprised scientists like the grizzly and the polar bear. 

The brown bear is really smart and able to count, solve problems, use tools, and more. According to Ocean Conservancy, polar bears are one of the smartest land animals in North America.

Polar bears are patient and highly skilled seal hunters with exceptional problem-solving skills, but many other species of bear also exhibit high levels of intelligence.

The black bear is considered intelligent, resourceful, and creative. It’s highly adaptive, insightful, and some research shows that black bears are able to make plans.

On the other hand, generally speaking, a dog is considered to be about as intelligent as a 2.5-year-old.

However, according to The Bark, although bears are considered smarter than dogs when their brains are compared, bears naturally fear dogs because of their resemblance to wolves.

Bears have been known to change their behavior when a dog is chasing them and they’re more likely to stay away from a certain area if they’ve been chased by a dog there before.

This video shows how a dog chased away a black bear that entered its territory:

Interestingly, there are dogs like the Karelian Bear Dog which are specifically bred to scare away bears. This species of dog is trained to bark at bears and chase them away; this method is praised by many as a safe and effective way to prevent human and bear conflict.

According to Rich Beausoleil, a wildlife biologist who’s worked with bear dogs for two decades, he hasn’t yet seen a dog injured in this line of duty. He adds that the dogs’ efforts have actually reduced the killing of thousands of bears. 

Related Article: Can Bears Jump?

Are Bears More Intelligent than Humans? 

Bears aren’t smarter than humans, despite their high level of intelligence and ability to adjust. Humans are the more advanced species and as such, it’s humanity’s responsibility to make sure these majestic mammals can live safely in their shared world.

Human intelligence is evidenced by our cognitive capacity to learn, create concepts, understand, apply reason and logic, as well as recognize patterns, make innovations, plan and resolve issues, bring decisions, remember information, and use language in different forms as a means of communication. 

Bears may not be smarter than humans, but they’re quite intelligent and highly evolved animals. They form relationships, share resources, and do complex tasks which indicates their capacity for processing and learning information. 

Bears can be taught to play instruments, perform tricks, and even play sports. They’re highly resourceful too, especially when it comes to finding ways to locate food. 

Brain size has been associated with intelligence. For comparison, the average weight of a human’s brain is around 1500 grams whereas that of a polar bear is around 450 grams and that of the grizzly weighs around 240. 


The average bear appears to be smarter than the average dog because of its ability to think critically. Of course, dogs come in a range of different intelligence levels, so some super smart dogs may be able to out-smart a bear.

But generally, bears are highly intelligent animals with the capacity to form relationships, share resources, and learn and process information. However, they’re not smarter than humans. 

Despite the fact that they’re more intelligent than dogs, they often fear canines and run away from them when being chased, probably because they associate them with humans. They may even totally avoid an area where a dog has barked at them. 

This is why there are often specially trained so-called bear dogs that are used to guard areas from bears.

The polar bear and the grizzly are praised as some of the most intelligent species of bear, although no other bear species can be underestimated. All bears are highly evolved creatures with excellent hunting and survival skills. 

Skip to content