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Grizzly Bear Claw & Paw Facts (Size, Strength & More)

Bears have four paws with five claws on each. Their paws are between 5-6 inches wide and 7-11 inches long. Bears use their powerful paws, and sharp claws, to maul their prey.

Did you know that grizzly bears have some of the biggest paws in the animal kingdom? 

Not only that, but they also have sharp claws, which they use frequently.

But how big are grizzly bear paws, and how sharp are their claws? And how can you identify a bear print?

In this article, we’ll discuss grizzly bear paws and claws, how you can identify them, their size and sharpness, and more.

Do Grizzly Bears Have Paws?

Yes, grizzly bears do have paws. Their front paws are about five inches wide and seven inches long, while their hind paws are about six inches wide and eleven inches long. 

Grizzly bears use their paws for a variety of tasks, including digging, climbing, and catching prey.

They have five toes on each paw, each with its own claw.

The pads on the bottom of grizzly bear paws act as shock absorbers when they walk, helping them avoid injury when walking over rough terrain.

Through millions of years, grizzly bears have developed specialized paws. They’re wide to support their weight, and the front paws work as paddles when they swim.

grizzly bear sitting showing its paw

Do Grizzly Bears Have Claws?

Grizzly bears have long, sharp claws that they use for digging, climbing, and tearing meat. Their claws can grow up to four inches long and are a formidable weapon against predators or prey. 

Grizzlies use their claws to dig for food, excavate burrows for rodents, or hibernacula for other animals. They also use their claws to climb trees, where they often feast on honey or insects. 

Claws are also important weapons and tools for grizzlies. They sometimes use them to defend themselves against predators or to kill prey.

bear claws

Grizzly Bear Paw Facts

Here are some general facts about grizzly bears’ paws:

  • They can grow to be 6” by 11”
  • They’re wide to support their weight
  • When swimming, the front paws work as paddles
  • Due to their wide structure, they’re great for walking on ice or in harsh terrain

Grizzly Bear Paw Size

Grizzly bears have large paws. They can be up to 5 inches wide and 7 inches long for the front feet, and 6 inches wide by 11 inches long for the hind feet. 

As grizzlies are large animals[1], they also need large feet to support their weight.

Their paws are used for a variety of things:

  • Swiping and mauling prey
  • Paddles for swimming
  • Walking and running

You’d think that grizzly bears wouldn’t be very good runners, due to their large feet, but this is not the case. Grizzly bears can run up to 30 mph.

Related: How Fast Can a Bear Run?

Running Grizzly Bear

How Strong Is a Grizzly Bear Paw Swipe?

Grizzly bears have some of the strongest paws in the animal kingdom. They use their powerful paws to dig for food, swipe at attackers, and to move objects.

When hunting, they typically use either their powerful bite or swipe. They’ve been known to kill smaller animals with just a single swipe of their paws.

Related: How Strong Are Bears?

How to Identify Grizzly Bear Paw Prints 

Here are the indicators to look for in grizzly bear paw prints: 

  • They have 5 toes on each foot. 
  • Their large toe is on the inside. 
  • Grizzlies’ toes are also almost completely aligned, which differentiates them from black bears.
  • Their front tracks are wider, while rear tracks are longer.

Knowing how to identify grizzly bear paw prints is important for understanding the behavior of grizzlies and for safety reasons.

The size of grizzly bear paw prints can vary depending on the grizzly bear’s sex, age, and size[2]. Male grizzlies typically have larger paws than females. Cubs have much smaller paws than adults. 

When identifying bear prints, know that grizzly bears’ prints are bigger than black bears. Their toes are also more aligned (horizontally).


Grizzly Bear Claw Facts

Here are some facts about grizzly bear claws:

  • They can range from 2 to 4 inches
  • They’re used as weapons
  • They’re used for digging roots and excavating dens
  • They’re very sharp

Grizzly Bear Claw Size

Grizzly bear claws are quite large. They’re both long and strong, providing them with a useful, versatile tool. They’re slightly curved, but not as much as a black bear’s claws.

Claws are versatile tools, and something most carnivorous, land-bound animals have. Their claws can be used as a weapon against potential predators or prey, or they can be used as useful tools.

Grizzly bears typically use their paws for excavating dens, or for digging up roots. They’re also used for better grip while climbing.

Related: Can Grizzly Bears Climb Trees?

Besides using their claws as weapons, grizzly bears also use their claws to mark and rub trees. Even though it looks like the grizzly is just scratching an itch when doing so, research shows that it’s a mating habit.[3]

bear resting while showing its claws

Grizzly Bear Claw Length

Grizzly bears’ claws are 2” to 4” in length. Compared to black bears, grizzly bears have long claws.

Grizzly bears are one of North America’s largest land predators. Their claws are not as big as polar bears, but they’re longer than those of black bears. 

Their claws can reach up to four inches in length, and play an important role in grizzlies’ hunting and scavenging habits. Black bears’ claws are usually less than 2”.

How Sharp Are Grizzly Bears Claws?

Grizzly bear claws are very sharp. They are not just for show but play an integral part of the grizzly bear’s hunting and defensive arsenal. 

Their claws are used to dig for food, climb trees, and catch prey. Their claws can also inflict serious injuries on people and other grizzly bears. They are sharp and curved, which allows grizzlies to easily tear into flesh. 

Besides their claws, grizzly bears also have sharp teeth and a powerful bite, which they also use on prey. 

Grizzly bears have a bite force of up to 1,100 PSI.

Related: Bear Bite Force

bear claws while eating prey

Grizzly Bear Paw vs. Polar Bear Paw Size

Polar bears have much larger paws than grizzly bears. Their front paws can reach 12” inches wide by 12” inches long, while grizzly bears’ paws are only 5-6” wide and 7-11” long. 

While polar bears have larger feet, their claws are smaller.

Grizzly bear claws are about 2-4 inches long, depending on the individual. Polar bear claws are smaller, about 3.75 inches, but they’re sharper.

There’s a good reason why polar bears have sharper claws: they’re used for better grip on ice.[4]

For most of their lives, polar bears roam around on the ice. If they don’t have a good grip, they would slip most of the time. In combination with this, the food-pads are laced with a slip-resistant substance.

Not only does it allow them to avoid slipping, but it allows them to run across the ice without any issues.

In terms of size, grizzly bear paws are about twice the size of polar bear paws. This much larger paw size is mainly because of two things:

  • They swim a lot
  • They need to walk on ice

Polar bears are categorized as marine mammals. They spend a significant time in the water and need good paddles. The large paw size also helps them distribute their weight evenly when walking on ice.


Grizzly bear paws and claws are some of the most impressive features of the animal. They are large, strong, and sharp. Grizzly bears use their claws for a variety of activities, including digging, climbing trees, catching prey, and protecting themselves from danger. 

Although grizzlies are not as common as black bears in North America, they should not be underestimated. Their size and strength make them one of the most powerful predators in the wilderness.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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