How Tall is a Polar Bear Standing Up?

Polar bears are mostly around 2.4 meters to 3 meters tall while standing up on their hind legs. Their physique shows that females are usually smaller in size and height than males. That’s why they also look smaller standing up than their male counterparts. We all know that polar bears walk and stalk on their four legs.

However, there are sometimes when they stand up. In the standing position, they look strong, big, and sometimes aggressive. Polar bears stand tall as a symbol of strength and resilience in the freezing lands of the Arctic. Their stand-up habits always leave a “WOW” factor.

Can Polar Bears Stand Up?

Yes, polar bears can stand up on two legs just like humans. They have four legs, like other animals. However, the main feature that sets it apart from others is its ease of standing up straight. They can walk and stand up on their hind legs, just like other species of bears.


However, standing is not their preferred way of moving and walking. They are best adapted to walking and running on all fours. Polar bears only stand up for some reason. Bipedal behavior in polar bears in captivity is also observed and documented occasionally.

According to a study by the Sea World Organization about the bipedal behavior of polar bears, they spend less time standing up on their hind legs as compared to walking on four legs. The musculoskeletal structure and biomechanics of the polar bear’s hind limbs allow it to stay in a stand-up position for a short time.

How Tall Is a Male Polar Bear?

A recent report shows male polar bears are approximately 3 meters tall. It means they are 10 feet tall when they are standing up. This is the height of a fully-grown male polar bear. However, this height was about their stand-up position on their hind legs because they reach only 1.3 to 1.6 meters on their four legs.

According to a study by the National Wildlife Federation, their height of 3 meters makes them one of the largest four-footed animals on earth. It means they are included among the largest mammals.

This is equal to the height of a giraffe’s neck or a queen size bed! There are many other mammals, too, that are also the largest and taller than polar bears. Male polar bears are almost double the size of female polar bears.

How Tall Is a Female Polar Bear?

Female polar bears are approximately 2.4 meters tall on their hind legs. Their shorter height than men has already been mentioned. This is because they become sexually mature earlier as compared to males.

This height difference also gives us a clue that the weight of female polar bears is also less than males. If we talk about female polar bears’ height on four legs, their height ranges from 1.2 to 1.4 meters. ~ Source

Why Do Polar Bears Stand on Their Hind Legs?

polar bear standing up on hind legs

Polar bears stand on their hind legs for many reasons. Here are a few worth mentioning reasons why polar bears stand on their hind legs:

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1. Improve Vision

Polar bears can have a higher vantage point by standing up on their hind legs. They can see more clearly over tall grasses, rocks, or other obstructions. The improved vision helps them spot any potential prey. They can also keep an eye on predators and humans from a large distance. It shows they can get a lot of benefits by standing up.

2. Smell Across the Landscape

Polar bears are intelligent creatures with keen senses of smell. They can smell their prey and other things from long distances. So, they can catch scents carried by the wind over larger areas just by standing up on their hind legs.

If a prey, predator, or human is hidden, polar bears can sense them with the help of smell while standing up. Thus, seals and other animals cannot play hide-and-seek games with polar bears!

3. Signal to Play

polar bear

Sometimes, polar bears give a signal by cuddling with other polar bears. They cuddle and play while standing on their hind legs. This is also their way of communicating that they want to play.

So, this is a non-threatening way of playing with other bears. This cute behavior is commonly observed during interactions between cubs and adult polar bears. Mock-fighting and play-wrestling are their favorite hobbies.

4. Reaching Food

Sometimes, polar bears stand up on their hind legs to reach hanging or elevated food. For example, this may be a bird nest or a carrion in trees. You can also see this behavior if they are trying to access the food inside bins, containers, pits, or other elevated sources.

5. Show Dominance or Assertiveness

Polar bears are fond of showing dominance or assertiveness. Standing on their hind legs is their best way to show dominance and establish hierarchy when they encounter each other in the wild.

They show dominance, especially during territorial disputes or mating competitions. Hence, polar bears can easily threaten their rivals or potential threats by appearing larger and more imposing. Also, they stand up to begin a fight.

6. Thermoregulation

Thermoregulation is another common reason why polar bears stand on their hind legs. Usually, they stand up more in warmer weather or during intense physical activities. Standing up on their hind legs helps them dissipate heat more efficiently and cool down. That’s why thermoregulation can only be achieved after reducing their large body surface contact with the ground.

7. Mimicry

There are many cases when polar bears try to mimic the behavior of other animals. For example, they mimic humans and try to walk like them on their hind legs. This is a learned behavior of polar bears in those areas where human presence is greater. That’s how the bears observe humans standing upright and try to copy them.

Length of the Polar Bear: Male vs Female

Till now, we have only talked about how big polar bears are in terms of height from head to toe. Let’s have a quick look at how big polar bears are in terms of length from nose to tail.

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● Length of the Male Polar Bear

The length of a male polar bear ranges from 2 meters to 2.6 meters. Their length is 2.85 meters from nose to toe.

● Length of the Female Polar Bear

The length of a female polar bear ranges from 1.8 meters to 2.1 meters. Their length is 2.47 meters from nose to toe.

The above-mentioned data shows that females are smaller in size in terms of length as well.

Polar Bear Height Vs Other Bears Height

polar bear

Here is a quick comparison table of polar bear height on all four legs and standing hind legs versus other bears’ height on all four legs and standing hind legs:

Polar Bear Height Vs. Other Bear Species Height
 Height on All FoursHeight Standing on Hind Legs
Polar bears1.3 – 1.6 meters2.4 – 3.4 meters
Grizzly bear / brown bear0.7 – 1.5 meters2.4 meters
Black bear0.7 to 1 meter1.7 meters
Giant Pandas0.6 to 0.9 meter1.7 meters
Sun bear0.7 meters1.3 to 1.6 meters
North American Black bearUp to 0.9 meters1.5 to 2 meters
Sloth bear0.5 to 1 meter1.3 to 1.6 meters
Spectacled bear0.6 to 0.9 meter1.6 to 1.9 meters

Polar Bear Height Vs Kodiak Bear Height

The Kodiak bear is a subspecies of the Grizzly bear, also referred to as the brown bear. Kodiak bears can reach heights of 1.5 meters when standing on all four legs and 3 meters when standing on the hind legs. If we compare these height parameters with the height of polar bears, then the answer is obvious.

Polar bears are a few inches taller than Kodiak bears. Thus, we can say that polar bears and Kodiak bears are smaller and taller than each other. Their heights are closely relevant. But still, polar bears have an extra edge over Kodiak bears.

According to a LiveScience research report, polar bears have earned the status of largest bears due to their extra height. ~ Source

Polar Bears Height Vs Other Mammals Height

Here is a quick comparison table of heights between polar bears and some famous mammals on Earth:

Polar Bears Height Vs Other Mammals Height
 Height on All FoursHeight Standing on Hind Legs
Polar Bears1.3 to 1.6 meters2.4 to 3.4 meters
HumansNAApproximately 1.75 meters
Tigers1.5 to 2 meters3 to 3.2 meters
Elephants2.5 to 4 meters9 to 10 meters
Lions1 to 2.5 meters5 to 7 meters
Giraffes4.2 to 5.5 metersNA
Hippopotamus1.25 to 1.6 metersNA
Camel1.8 to 2.2 metersNA
Moose2 to 2.3 meters4.2 to 5 meters
White Rhinoceros1.6 to 2 metersNA

Important Note: Robert Wadlow is known as the tallest man on earth. He lived at 2.7 meters in height. In other words, he was 8 feet 11 inches tall. But still, he falls short in height as compared to an adult polar bear standing straight on his hind legs.

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The size of a polar bear standing on all fours is often likened to that of a large pony. Polar bears always catch the attention of observers due to their standing capability on their hind legs!


How tall is the biggest bear standing up?

Polar bears have the record of being the largest and tallest bears standing up. They are the tallest polar bears of the same species and other bear species of the world. Polar bears are 10 to 11 feet tall standing up. On the other hand, the other bears are only 9 feet tall if we record the tallest among them.

How tall is the tallest polar bear on record?

One of the tallest polar bears ever recorded was 3.4 meters (11 feet and 1 inch) tall. In 1960, it was first discovered in the Kotzebue Sound jungle in Alaska. Arthur Dubs was the name of the man who shot this bear. It was exhibited outside the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. The exact location of this display is still a mystery. However, there are photos of the fair that you can see here.

How tall are newborn polar bears?

Newborn polar bears are also known as polar bear cubs or “cubs of the year”. The height of a 2-month-old polar bear cub is about 1 to 2 feet. They weigh between 20 and 30 pounds and measure about 12 to 14 inches (30 to 35 centimeters) in length.

Are polar bears taller than elephants?

No, polar bears are not taller than elephants. Elephants are much larger and taller in size and height than polar bears. We know very well that polar bears are 10 to 11 feet tall standing on their hind legs, while elephants are 11 to 13 feet tall on their four legs. It means elephants are taller even on their fours. A polar bear standing on his fours is half the height of an elephant standing on his fours.

What animals are taller than polar bears?

There are several animals that are taller than polar bears. Let us use the tallest animal, the giraffe, as an example. Other animals that are taller than polar bears are elephants, moose, camels (Bactrian Camel), and ostriches. These are just a few animals surpassing polar bears’ height.

Are polar bears angry when they stand up?

Sometimes, but not necessarily. Standing up is the natural behavior of polar bears. It doesn’t mean they are angry whenever they stand up on their hind legs. They also stand up out of curiosity, alertness, scares, and so on.

Do polar bears sleep stand up?

Not at all! Polar bears do not sleep standing up. They have different sleeping positions, but standing up is not included in them. Mostly, they sleep on their bellies or the sides of the ice or land. Interestingly, they dig a pit in the snow in order to sleep peacefully. Their backs are always facing the wind to block the cozy air. So, in this way, polar bears sleep.

What are the factors that can affect the height of a polar bear?

Many factors can affect the height of a polar bear. One of those factors is the growth of polar bears. Food availability and climate change determine their height and growth.

In other words, if the climate is harsh and food is scarcely available, it leads to malnutrition. This affects their height and overall size. Genetic makeup also affects the height of a polar bear’s structure and size.


The towering height of a polar bear is a blessing to their adaptability in Arctic regions. So, these fluffy giants are living with confidence and motivation. More importantly, the height of polar bears varies because it depends on their age and size.

Lastly, we want to say thank you to our readers. I hope you enjoyed reading about these crazy facts about polar bears.

Happy reading!

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