Wolverine Vs Bear: Who Would Win In A Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: August 10, 2023
Share on:


Listen to Article

Key Points

  • The greatest differences between wolverines and bears include their size and phylogeny.
  • Wolverines are aggressive, highly skilled fighters that like to punch above their weight class.
  • Bears are large animals that few creatures would be bold enough to attack.

In the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Russia, a small but belligerent mammal called the wolverine resides. The wolverine believes that a good defense is a good offense, and it frequently challenges larger, deadlier animals like wolves and bears. Sometimes, their foes leave because a fight is not worth the effort. Other times, a deadly fight breaks out. That begs the question, how well does a wolverine hold its own in battle? We’re going to take a look at a wolverine vs bear fight and get to the bottom of this question.

Using data from all the bears the wolverine could encounter along with information about these feisty creatures, we’ll figure out which animal could win a fight!

Comparing A Wolverine And A Bear

Bear vs Wolverine
SizeWeight: 22lbs – 70lbs
Height: 1ft-1.5ft
Length: 2.1ft – 3.5ft
Weight: 60lbs – 990lbs
Height: 2ft – 5ft at shoulder, up to 9ft standing
Length: 4.5ft – 9.5ft
Speed and Movement Type– 30 mph
– Uses a fast gallop to run
25-35 mph
Senses– Poor eyesight
– Great hearing
– Great sense of smell capable of smelling prey in burrows from above ground.
– Some bears can smell from several miles away
– Hearing twice as good as humans
– Good vision and some bears can see better at dusk.
Defenses– Thick fur
– Smelly musk that can drive off some predators  
– Large size
– Speed to run away
– Fierce threat displays
– Ability to traverse land and water
-Climbing ability
Offensive Capabilities– Claws and biting to kill prey
– 50 PSI bite power
Special molars designed to break bones and tear meat
– Powerful, bone-breaking bites – Sharp claws that can tear open prey
– Uses weight to pin down enemies
Predatory Behavior-Uses strong teeth and jaws to attack and kill
-Claws for digging and climbing can be used to cut prey  
Ambush predator in some cases, waiting for prey to get close before striking
– Opportunistic predator that pursues and kills prey in other cases
– Typically secures a kill with a single, powerful bite to the throat. 

What Are Key Differences Between A Wolverine And A Bear?

Black Bear Population by State

Bears are large

1,172 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?


that can stand on their hind legs as part of their threat display


The greatest differences between wolverines and bears include their size and phylogeny. Bears are very large quadrupedal mammals that are members of their own unique phylogenetic family, and wolverines are small quadrupedal mammals from the Mustelidae family that includes badgers, minks, and weasels.

Aside from these factors, the animals have some similarities including their dense fur, aggression, and the presence of a flatter head in some species to help them hunt.

These unique qualities can help us see which of the animals has an edge in the fight. Of course, we’re going to compare many other elements before we determine a winner.

What Are the Key Factors In A Fight Between A Wolverine And A Bear?

Incredible Wolverine Facts - Wolverine close-up

Wolverines are aggressive, highly skilled fighters that like to punch above their weight class.


A fight between a bear and a wolverine would be interesting to behold. However, we need to look at very specific factors to determine which creature would be most likely to win a battle against the other.

In that respect, we have come up with five key factors, both physical and mental, that we will use to draw comparisons between the animals. By seeing which animal has advantages in certain situations, we’ll find out which animal is most likely to win.

Wolverine Vs Bear: Size

Bears are far larger than wolverines. The average wolverine weighs between 22 lbs and 70 lbs and only measures 3.5ft long while standing less than 2ft from the ground.

Bears can weigh 900 lbs or more, measure 5ft tall at the shoulder, and stand up on their hind legs to be more intimidating. With a maximum length of 9.5ft, a bear’s full size is incredibly large compared to a wolverine.

Bears have the size advantage.

Wolverine Vs Bear: Speed And Movement

Bears are swifter than most people give them credit for being. They are capable of running between 25 and 35 mph. Since a wolverine can only run at 30 mph, some bear species are faster than them!

The fastest bear species have a speed advantage against wolverines.  

Wolverine Vs Bear: Senses

Bears have great senses that allow them to smell food from miles away. Moreover, they have a sense of hearing that is twice as good as humans. Their vision is often said to be good enough to identify creatures at moderate distances, and some bears can even see better as dusk approaches.

Wolverines are also predators, but their senses aren’t as attuned as bears. They have poor eyesight, great hearing, and an amazing sense of smell that helps them find prey that is deep underground in their burrows.

Both animals have very good senses, so we’re calling this a tie.

Wolverine Vs Bear: Physical Defenses

Bears are large animals that few creatures would be bold enough to attack. They have a great threat display where they stand up and grunt at enemies, and that scares off large creatures. They also possess a large size, the ability to swim and run fast on land, and they can even climb trees. Bears are just as adept in their defenses as they are in their offense.

Wolverines have thick fur that helps them absorb some blows and bites. Although they can also resist many types of poison and venom, that’s not applicable in this case. Lastly, they have a smelly musk that can make some predators rethink their desire to attack them.

Bears have better and more numerous defenses than wolverines.  

Wolverine Vs Bear: Combat Skills

Bears are deadly predators that attack by beating their foes with their massive paws, slashing them with their claws, and biting them to death. They use their weight to their advantage, pinning creatures before mauling them. When the prey is hurt and unable to fight back effectively, the bear delivers a strangling, severely damaging bite to the neck.

Wolverines also prefer to bite their prey at the throat and not let go until it dies, but their jaws are not all that large to take down excessively large prey. They have no problem working for their food, though. They can stalk and attack their prey, digging into them with claws and teeth, and wearing the animal down before moving in to finish them off.

Both of these animals are very deadly in their niche, but only one of them can win a fight against the other.

Who Would Win In A Fight Between A Wolverine And A Bear?

What do grizzly bears eat - leaves

Bears are simply too big and strong for wolverines to overcome


A bear would beat a wolverine in a fight by using its size and more effective attacks. Although some people have surmised that wolverines could attack a bear’s jugular vein and tear it open to kill it, that’s very unlikely.

Instead, the two animals would probably smell each other long before they saw one another. When they finally meet, it’s all up to the bear to determine how the fight goes. If it doesn’t mind taking a few deep bites in the attempt, the bear can simply overwhelm the wolverine.

Otherwise, it has to harry and swipe at the wolverine, wearing down the mustelid. Unfortunately for the bear, wolverines have amazing stamina, so it will eventually learn that it must make a move. With its back against the wall, the wolverine will try to attack, but the chances of it dealing fatal damage to a creature ten times its size are very small.

A slash with its claws or a deep, crunching bite is all the bear needs to end this battle.

Other Animals That Could Take Down A Bear

Elephants. Elephants are actually pretty fast for their size and any damage that a bear might inflict, would not be enough to kill an adult elephant. An average adult elephant can weigh 5,000 to 14,000 pounds, compared to a bear which has an average weight of 1,500 pounds. The pachyderm is considered one of the strongest land animals in the world and when faced with the threat of an attack, also enjoys the security of being in a herd. An elephant would beat a bear in a fight.

American Bison. This bison, with its strong skull and weight of up to 2000 pounds, has similar speeds to the bear but with its horns, it can charge and gore, taking the bear down. Bison are known to react aggressively when they sense danger and are confident and tough, factors that would help in their fight against the bear.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © DenisaPro/Shutterstock.com

Share on:
About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.