Can Bears Be Domesticated article featured image

Can Bears Be Domesticated?

Bears are an incredible species that embodies smarts, strength, speed, and most would argue a friendly or cute appearance. But, can bears be domesticated similarly to dogs, cats, or horses?

Bears can not be domesticated for good reasons. Fully grown bears are the most solitary of all Carnivora. They wish to be left alone outside of the mating season, or if there happens to be a window of opportunity for a seasonal food source (salmon). Mostly, bears are instinct-driven, wild animals.

Can you Have a Pet Bear?

bear cub climbing on a tree

Despite being wild animals, bears can be legally owned in many countries and six states within the United States. It’s possible to own bears in other states with the correct permissions and permits.

Successful bear owners are a special type of people, who understand what they’re dealing with, and allow the bear to, well, be bears. However, tragedy can come quickly and with little warning if certain lines are crossed for the bear or the owners.

Should you Have a Pet Bear?

bear close up photo

As fun as it may be to imagine owning a bear, thinking about all of the perfect scenarios (along with unrealistic ones), bears are not an excellent choice to have as a pet. This is especially true if you’re thinking of treating a bear along the same lines as you would a cat or dog.

Even a trained bear will have a bad day, get irritable, or become angry at something. People can weather through the antics of a cat or dog having a temper tantrum, but a bear? Though bears are known to show signs of mourning and remorse at times, they are still wild animals that live in the moment.

Injury or death can occur when a bear throws a fit, even a brief one. One swipe from its powerful claws is enough to kill. Even in play with the best intentions, it can accidentally kill its owner.

So, depending on where you live, you can own a bear as a pet- but you likely shouldn’t.

Are Bears Trainable?

trained bear in a circus

Bears are trainable and have been used for centuries for different purposes, including entertainment and in times of war. Training bears in some countries is extremely cruel, often causing the bear to live its life in a frequently tortured state.

In nations that are more animal friendly and persecute against animal cruelty, a much softer, more rewarding approach is used with bears. The intelligence and trainability of bears have brought them to the silver and small screens.

Some of us may be old enough to remember watching “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” Television show, awestruck with “Gentle Ben,” the 1,000-pound Kodiak bear. Debuting in that series was also “Bart the Bear,” who was just a cub at the time but later on grew to be the most popular “Bear actor” in Hollywood. Bart stole the show in 15 movies and appeared in 7 tv shows.

Do Bears Like Humans?

trained bear and its owner

Bears naturally fear humans and usually do what they can to stay out of our way. However, due to deforestation and humans developing deeper into bear country, human-bear interactions have grown more common.

Bears are opportunistic omnivores who will rifle through garbage bags or jump into dumpsters looking for any form of food. Naturally, this has brought bears closer to humans, and some show signs of losing their fear of humankind.

Though it sounds like a good thing for a wild animal not to fear humans, it isn’t good at all. That fear of us keeps us from becoming easy prey in the eyes of the more powerful bear.

Bears tolerate the presence of humans and often go about their daily business of foraging for food. But now and then, you wind up with either circumstantial attacks on humans (getting between a mother and her cubs, for example) or predacious attacks by aggressive, solitary males.

They’re bigger, stronger, ad more naturally armed than we are. The longer they fear us, the better it is for most people who venture out into the wilderness unarmed or live out in the bear country.

Fun Facts About Bears

bear fun facts image

Are bears fast? Are they smart? Here are a couple of facts that will shed a little more understanding about this animal.

1. Bears are Fast

Bears are deceptively fast, with some breeds reaching up to 35mph, 25mph on average for most breeds. They can charge with a burst, reaching top speeds in just a few steps, giving them an advantage over prey animals.

2. A Keen Sense of Smell, Hearing, and Sight

Sense of Sight

Their eyes can see color and are sharp from up close to about 30 yards away. Much further than that, their vision becomes a bit blurry, and their keen sense of smell cancels out this long-range impairment.

Sense of Smell

Bears aren’t merely built to survive in the woods but to thrive. Their sense of smell can trace a scent from miles away – even food inside a car. In the world of dogs, the most popular for their sense of smell is the bloodhound. The sniffer of a bear is over 7 times greater than that of the most talented sniffing dogs.

Sense of Hearing

Compared to humans, they can hear tones lower than and higher than we can. In short- they hear much better (and much more) than we do. If they don’t smell us coming, they’ll most likely hear us coming.

3. Bears have Big Brains

Bears are widely considered to be the most intelligent animals in North America. They have a huge brain ratio to their body size, which has proven to be a great indicator of intelligence.

This intelligence helps them navigate large swaths of territory, climb trees, move about undetected by humans, and thrive in their natural environment.

It’s been theorized that bears have the capacity to recognize beauty, and they’ve even been caught using tools to achieve an end.

Final Thoughts

smiling bear close up photo

Who wouldn’t want a bear as a pet if there were domesticated and no such things as attacks, tempers, or accidents?

Were that the case, I’d bet that many large or oversized dog owners would have one eventually.

Sadly, that’s not the case at all.

Bears are creatures of the forest that are at their best out in the wild, doing their own thing. Unless we’re talking polar bears, you know what I’m getting at.

Can bears be trained or forced into submission?

Yes, and fortunately, since the 60s, methods of doing so have become much more humane.

But trained shouldn’t be confused with domesticated, and mixing up the two notions can end in disaster for either the bear or the bear along with its owners.

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