What's a bear's closest relative?

by OBDK on November 20, 2020

Do you think these two look alike? Bears are classified as caniforms, AKA doglike carnivores. But do you know what other animal is considered a caniform, too?



In fact, would you believe us if we told you that the bear’s closest relative is the seal? 


Seals, who are pinnipeds, are also considered caniforms. It’s thought they evolved from caniforms into the aquatic creatures they are now. Also in the caniform family are wolves, weasels, and skunks! 


Bears are considered part of the ursidae subgroup within the caniform group. Wolves and dogs are part of the canidae group, and weasels are part of the mustelidae group. 

There are eight species of bears that live in a variety of habitats in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. These eight species are: 

  • Brown Bear
  • American Black Bear
  • Asian Black Bear 
  • Spectacled Bear 
  • Indian Sloth Bear 
  • Giant Panda
  • Sun Bear
  • Polar Bear 

There are many subspecies within these eight species. For example, the grizzly bear is a subspecies of the brown bear. Bears are primarily found in forests, except for polar bears who are specially adapted to their arctic habitats. 


Read our article here to learn more about what regions these bears live in and whether or not bears actually hibernate!