Gorilla vs Grizzly Bear: Compared

The gorilla and the grizzly bear are two animals you don’t want to annoy. These two are some of the most powerful animals, but how dangerous are they, and which is more powerful?

Gorillas have a longer arm span, greater muscle strength, and a stronger bite than grizzly bears, but grizzly bears are the bigger, heavier, faster, and more aggressive of the two creatures. Grizzly bears also have 20 long, razor-sharp claws, whereas gorillas have nails on their fingers and toes.

Gorillas and grizzlies are powerful in their way. Their danger potential comes from different factors, from size and body composition to predatory instinct and temperament.

Let’s compare these two creatures to see which is mightier, fiercer, and more frightening.

gorilla vs grizzly bear

Gorilla vs grizzly bear: Which is more dangerous? 

Before we pit gorillas and grizzlies against each other, let’s level the playing field. Grizzlies and polar bears tie as the strongest bears alive. So, we’ll compare grizzlies to the strongest gorillas around, silverbacks.

Silverbacks are big, burly male gorillas who’ve lived long enough to grow silvery hairs on their backs and shoulders (and strong muscles).

Gorillas usually develop these hairs from the age of 11 to 13.

Now to see how silverback gorillas and grizzly bears measure against each other based on physical characteristics, strength, speed, aggression, and predatory instincts.

Gorilla vs grizzly bear: Physical characteristics 

Both silverbacks and grizzlies are big and terrifying when they’re in a bad mood.

Plus, both can walk on their back legs – making them even bigger and more terrifying.

Let’s see what makes them look so tough.

Physical characteristics of a gorilla

Silverbacks’ strapping bodies give them an intimidating presence even when doing something non-threatening, like relaxing under a tree. 

Size:

  • Gorillas reach about 6 feet when standing on their back legs.
  • They can weigh up to 500 pounds.

Weapons:

  • Two legs, two arms, two hands, two feet, ten fingers, and ten toes – including two opposable thumbs (like us) and two opposable big toes. Gorillas can use their opposable thumbs and toes to grasp and manipulate objects, like wielding sticks during a fight.
  • Fingernails and toenails for scraping and scratching. 
  • Thirty-two large, strong teeth, including sharp canines.
gorilla with open mouth

Physical characteristics of a grizzly bear

Grizzlies are enormous creatures with spine-chilling teeth and claws.

Size: 

  • Grizzlies tower up to 8 feet when standing on their back legs.
  • They can be as heavy as 800 pounds. 

Weapons:

  • Four legs, four feet, and twenty toes.
  • Twenty terrifying claws that can grow several inches long – stories claim these blades can swipe off a moose’s or even a lion’s head. 
  • A full mouth of teeth – 42 of them, including canines.

Which is stronger?

Here’s why gorillas and grizzlies are among the strongest animals in the world:

Gorilla

Gorillas have incredible muscle power. Think of the strongest person you know. A gorilla is at least six times stronger! Gorillas are the strongest primates in the world.

Gorillas pack more muscle mass on their arms than legs. Their arms are also much longer than their legs – imagine being on the receiving end of punches from those long, pumped-up arms… 

Though, a bite might be worse than a punch.

Gorillas don’t only have muscular arms but also well-developed neck and jaw muscles which give their bite, well, bite. A gorilla bite can create 1300 pounds of pressure per square inch or psi (and you thought humans’ 162psi was impressive!). 

Grizzly Bear 

Grizzlies are well built under all their thick fur – some say their furless shape is similar to a human bodybuilder’s.

An unmissable part of grizzlies’ physique (not shared with most bodybuilders) is a huge bump on their backbone in the shoulder area. That shoulder hump is pure muscle mass. 

All this muscle makes grizzlies about five times stronger than the average human.

Grizzlies also have a powerful bite, measuring in at 1160 psi.

Grizzly bear teeth

Which is faster?

Gorillas and grizzlies aren’t the fastest animals – Usain Bolt could outrun a gorilla at his top speed of 27.33 miles per hour. Still, their hulky bodies are surprisingly speedy.  

Gorilla 

Gorillas can move at a top speed of 25 miles per hour. They use their long, strong arms to propel them forward at this speed.

Grizzly Bear

Grizzlies can build up speeds of up to 35 miles per hour – but they can’t keep up this super-fast pace for long.

Which is more aggressive?

Gorillas aren’t typically aggressive creatures but get worked up in certain situations. On the flip side, grizzlies are quicker to lose their temper.

Gorilla

If you’ve ever seen a gorilla beating its chest, baring its teeth, tearing down vegetation, grunting, and charging, you’ll likely say they’re highly aggressive animals.

However, this behavior is more for show than harm. Gorillas are gentle, even shy, creatures.

One situation can bring out aggression in even the most chilled gorilla. If a gorilla feels threatened (or thinks its family is being threatened), it will enter attack mode to protect itself and its loved ones.

three gorillas

Grizzly Bear 

It doesn’t take much to send a grizzly into beast mode. They’re most likely to lose their cool if they feel their lives or cubs’ safety are under threat, but grizzlies have attacked humans who weren’t attempting to harm them.

Like with gorillas, grizzlies’ aggressive behavior is sometimes an act. If the grizzly puffs itself up and leaps forward, then veers to one side, it’s likely bluffing.

Suppose the grizzly bear yawns or clacks its teeth, pounds the ground, huffs, puts its head down and ears back, and charges with intention. In this case, it means business, especially if cubs are nearby.

One explanation for grizzlies’ aggression is that it’s needed to keep their young safe. Grizzlies struggle to climb trees (because of their bulky builds and long claws) to escape threats. So, it’s in their nature to fight for their lives.

Predatorial instinct comparison

Though neither gorillas nor grizzlies are natural-born killers, grizzlies are by far the more predatory of the two. 

Gorilla

Gorillas are technically omnivores but mainly stick to vegetation like shoots, roots, fruit, and bark. They use their impressive bite force to rip the bark from the tree and devour this and other hard, bulky meals. 

Occasionally, gorillas eat insects (they’re most fond of termites or ants). But their diet doesn’t depend on a killer instinct.

Grizzly Bear 

Grizzly bears are omnivores, enjoying berries, honey, roots, and shoots.

But, unlike gorillas, they regularly indulge in fish and meat from animals like squirrels, moose, deer, and rodents (their digging prowess helps them find rodents hiding underground).

Grizzlies are keen predators, even prowling for large domesticated animals like cattle, sheep, and pigs.

They use their powerful bite to rip the animals’ flesh and break their bones. Grizzlies also like to nibble on tiny creatures like ants and bees.

Grizzly bear with a fish in mouth

Final thoughts on gorillas vs grizzlies

Gorillas and grizzlies deserve their spots on the world’s strongest animals list. Their well-developed muscles make them two of the most powerful creatures in the animal kingdom.

Gorillas’ and grizzlies’ strength, coupled with sharp teeth and nails or claws, also make these animals potentially dangerous, especially when feeling threatened.

Both animals can wreak havoc when provoked, although grizzlies are typically the more dangerous of the two animals.

Although gorillas are stronger and have a more powerful bite and longer arm span than grizzly bears, grizzlies are more dangerous because of their greater size, speed, aggression, predatory instincts – and those terrifying moose-decapitating claws.