Bears are the largest land carnivores and marvelous animals in the process. They manifest the connection with the natural environment and represent a feared beast of the forest. Despite their large size, they are majestic animals, so it doesn’t surprise us if you wanted to get a bear tattoo.
We crafted this article to help you use the powerful meanings and symbolism behind the bear tattoo to make it as powerful as possible. Additionally, we found a way to help you pick the best bear tattoo idea that you’ll ink in your body. If the tattoo ideas are not enough, there are plenty of bear tattoo designs to choose from.
Bear Tattoo Meanings
As one of the rulers of the continental forests, the bear has a lot of powerful meanings. It has been there throughout different mythologies, cultures, and various other symbolisms which is why it’s so popular as a tattoo. Many people get them to flaunt their power, as well as them being majestic animals.
Bears are often seen as independent animals that have little need to form a pack or a large family, even though they are protective parents. They are considered the protectors of the forest, especially being one of the largest coastal animals, and the ferocious killers.
They’re known through legends and fairy tales. In the First Nations and Haida culture, another name for a bear is “Elder Kinsman” with civilization treating their visits as noble. It was also known in rituals, where the first civilizations laid dead bears and covered them in eagle down for health and to give the dead bears respect and tribute as it passes.
The First Nations also often compared the bears to humans due to what was believed to be virtues that are similar to those of humans. The Chief’s daughter of the First Nation was even rumored by the historians to have married a bear and birthed two cubs. Her other nickname was the mother of bears or the Bear Mother.
Although this historical information is assumed to be flawed, and generally controversial, it is believed that the First Nations achieved a great relationship with these ferocious, yet majestic animals.
As you may also know, bears are also a powerful symbol in the Native American culture with many of the symbols descending onto the contemporary art that is now being sold in the galleries. The bear symbol inspired fang-like necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and a lot of jewelry. Moreover, Native Americans wore adornments made out of bear fur to keep themselves warm in the winter.
Now, let’s take a look at the key meaning before the bear tattoo symbolism.
One of the key meanings of the bear or grizzly bear tattoos is strength. And that doesn’t surprise us, considering that bears are quite large, strong, and ferocious towards their enemies. The person who wants to get the bear tattooed on some part of their body wants to manifest that strength through the ink and harness its power to be stronger in everyday situations.
Even though you won’t often see a bear pack, but rather an individual bear or a smaller group of bears, that doesn’t mean that they’re not brave. Bears are super courageous and when they have a goal that they want to complete, their stubbornness won’t let them give up.
Still, don’t think that their courageous endeavors are just a product of their stubbornness. They’re always ready to go the extra mile and sacrifice themselves for whatever will benefit them. If you feel that there’s deep courage flame burning inside of you, then getting a bear tattoo sounds like a great idea to showcase just how brave you are on a large bear tattoo that you won’t be afraid to flaunt.
Given their large and defensive nature, it’s only expected to accept that bears are extremely protective. They are quite territorial, and with that in mind, they will not falter from the fact that they have to protect their territory.
They’re also protective of other things such as food, or the source of water. However, they’re most protective of their family or particularly bear cubs that they’d never allow anyone to touch. In such a case, both brown bears and grizzlies as well as all other types of bears will attack, to kill whatever they deem to be the threat towards their little ones, but more about that later.
Also Read: 18 Best Protection Tattoo Ideas & Meanings
As mentioned earlier, bear symbols were extremely popular among various traditions and cultures, especially the Native American culture, that found bears to mean strength, power, self-containment, and spirituality.
Who knows, perhaps bear is your spirit animal and you search your inner peace, as well as the strength behind its fuzzy fur and powerful figure. There are various Native American symbols for a bear, and below we’ll highlight some of the popular Native American bear tattoos that you can draw inspiration from.
Self-confidence is one of the main traits that all of us need to have. However, different life situations can draw us away from ourselves to the point that we forget what our true value is. With that in mind, sometimes we need to remind ourselves of what that value is and how worthy we are.
A powerful bear symbol as a tattoo can help you restore confidence in your body and spirit. If you choose a beautiful, bold, and accented bear symbol to compliment your body every one is going to notice it and it will only add up to your confidence.
It’s worth noting that bears don’t yearn for the fellowship too much, which is why the tattoo should inspire and promote self-sufficiency and inspire you to be good enough for yourself before you can be good enough for others. It also promotes self-love and self-enjoyment.
Not many animals are as protective of their offspring as bears. They’re the pure example of motherly love and what grown-up bears are capable of doing to anyone who tries to disrupt the territory or peace of a little cub and its mother.
Mother bears will do everything to warm up and feed their little cub so that they can grow up to be as powerful as them. If you ever enjoyed and admired the way bears are protective of their offspring then this tattoo can manifest your love for your little ones or your mother.
There are many ways to show the love between parents and children, and this protective trait of bears is exactly what we think is necessary when it comes to coming up with the best tattoo there is.
The Eight (8) Bear Species
Now that we showed you what a bear tattoo means, here are some ideas that you can pick up to get the idea of the best bear tattoo. If you aren’t inspired by the ideas we detailed in this list, you can always go to the list of designs that will give you an idea of your dream design.
Brown Bear: Some of the simplest bear tattoos is the one that showcases the traditional Eurasian brown bear which is prominent in most of the forests of the mentioned area. They’re large, have big and sharp claws, and can be aggressive if they need to be. Whether you go for a colored version of the tattoo or black and white, you won’t make a mistake.
Black Bear: Black bears are considered some of the most dangerous bear types. It is also known as the American Black Bear because it can be found across the United States, Canada, and especially Alaska, as it’s better at handling cold temperatures than brown bears.
Polar Bear: Polar bears among the most dangerous and aggressive bear species and they can grow significantly larger. They’re quite aggressive and agile and can even grab their prey from the water. Given that they live in the North Polar region, we can say that they’re quite adaptive. It’s also a great source of inspiration for a tattoo because you can come up with interesting winter scenery to use as the tattoo background.
Bear Cub: Cubs are the symbols of purity and innocence. They’re learning, they’re growing, and more importantly, they seek shelter and protection from the mama bear. You can always ink several bear cubs to highlight the number of children or your siblings, but for a fuller effect, we recommend inking bear cubs with their momma bear.
Panda: For decades, scientists argued whether pandas are bears or marsupials due to the shared characteristics with both. They, however, now agree that the giant pandas are in fact from the bear family. Pandas are adorable and often considered clumsy animals. If you want to get a panda tattoo, you can go for a cute version of the giant panda!
The Big Bear Constellation: The Big Bear constellation is also known as Ursa Major and is one of the most seen constellations in the northern sky. It consists of 22 stars of which 21 have planets, and 7 of them are the most prominent. If you’re an astronomy fan, the big bear constellation is a must-have tattoo.
Native American Bear: The Native American bear symbols are popular among people who like deep and meaningful symbols. They’re usually black and white tattoo designs, with various symbols and designs inside the bear’s body.
Bear Claw: Bear claws are also a popular symbol and they’re liked as both smaller and larger tattoos. Larger bear claw tattoos usually go on the back or chest. Smaller tattoos can consist of multiple claws or paws. In both cases, you can add some extra patterns to give the tattoo a more crispy touch.
40+ Best Bear Tattoo Design Ideas
If you still couldn’t think about the perfect bear tattoo for yourself, check out the designs we found and shared with you. Scroll on!
Small Bear Tattoo
Small bear tattoos are perfect for various occasions. You can combine various styles from tattoos, from smaller and thin bear lines to geometrical shapes. You can even play with shading techniques but we don’t recommend that for super-small tattoos as the shading gets smudged across the skin after a few years, and may need some working on the tattoo to refresh it.
We dedicated three small designs to show you. Bear head tattoo is the most common small tattoo, and you can design it however you want. Good thing is that you can put it everywhere you want and it’ll give a nice touch to your skin and style.
If you want a tiny tattoo, care bears from the cartoon with the same name look like a good pick, as illustrated in the middle picture. Still, given that carebears are so colorful and vibrant, they’re better off with some shading done on them.
Bear Claws Tattoo
Bear claws are some of the bears’ strongest weapons. They’re extremely sharp and can help the bear injure or even kill their victims. If a bear would attack in self-defense, it’d use its claws to take care of the prey. Some experts say that the sharpness of a bear’s claws is an exaggeration and that it only uses it to grab salmon from the water or some other prey. What we know for sure is that we don’t want to know how the bear claws feel.
In the same way, a bear claws tattoo can be used to showcase strength and power, as well courage in people. When placing the bear claw on one’s chest, they want to show that they’re strong individuals who are not afraid of anything and that the bear soul lives within them.
In all the tattoos we listed, you can see how detailed the ink shows the fur, the sharpness, and the strength. The last claw tattoo is imagined as part of an armband which is quite an interesting symbol that many can think of as a tribal tattoo.
Large Bear Tattoo
Some people believe that the soul of a bear lives within them. As we said before, bears are territorial, strong, fearless, and protective, especially when it’s about their family. The bigger the tattoo, the bigger the strength of an individual and their willpower to persevere and protect their loved ones.
Large tattoos can go anywhere, from sides and ribs to arms, thighs, and back. Back still remains the most popular tattoo for a bear. However, if you decide to go with a larger bear tattoo, make sure to add other elements like the forest, water, and mountains. You could even add some other animals to the party as well.
Cute Bear Tattoo
Teddy bear is among the most popular plushy toys for centuries back. While many love it, it remains cute and innocent, as well as reminiscent of childhood days. If you have a child, but you don’t want to make a more realistic bear tattoo, the teddy bear is the way to go.
Teddy bears can be both smaller and bigger, which is why they’re super popular among couples who gift each other teddy bears as a sign of attention or as an anniversary gift. The same goes with tattoos, they can be smaller and bigger, colorful or grey, and can add other cute elements like a ribbon, hat, or a piece of clothing. If you want to get a cute teddy bear tattoo, we hope these images will help you. We’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
Bear Tattoos For Women
Women in love with nature, cottagecore, and wanderlust lifestyle often imagine themselves as the spirit animal of a bear. After all, female bears are strong, determined, brave, and protective, especially when it comes to their cubs. In the same way, there are powerful, yet feminine tattoos that can help accent the love towards bears in the same way.
Above we highlighted both smaller and bigger bear tattoos. Some can be turned into sleeve tattoos, in combination with female Native American warriors, as well as floral tattoos that highlight gentleness, delicacy, and strength. What do you think about them?
Bear Tattoos For Men
Just as delicate yet strong as the female bears can be, the male bear can also rule the continental forests. It takes care of other animals and protects them from threats, keeping the forest ecosystem protected, clean, and shielded.
Male bears can be a leader of the family pack. He ensures that the female bear and her cubs are in a safe spot and will often come in aid when searching for the food. You can combine various symbols with male bear tattoos, but what we noticed is commonplace is that bears often look angry or roar to whatever wants to compromise their safety. Other symbols include bears hunting or moving in the forest.
We found the last image to be cute and represent the connection with family – momma bear, and two cubs that drink water by the river or lake.
The Big Bear Constellation Tattoo (Ursa Major Tattoo)
Are you an astronomy fan? The Ursa Major constellation is the home to many smaller and bigger stars and is easily visible across the Northern hemisphere sky. Although it’s seen to be mainly preferred across the female fans of ink, anyone can come up with an original and engaging design that your tattoo artist will be happy to realize.
What we also consider a creative practice is to merge the stars of the constellation so that they’d resemble an actual bear, to help others understand what the constellation means. Also, it’s a popular practice to use colorful designs for shading and even play with watercolor techniques to achieve better results.
Bear Tattoo Sleeve
Tattoo sleeves are super-trendy and popular. What’s more, a bear is a great symbol to add to your grandiose sleeve. If you want a forest- or wanderlust-themed tattoo sleeve, you can add a bear along with the forest, lakes, honey, fish, rivers, and other scenery. Alternatively, you can make tattoos with a stag, bear, wolf, fox, eagle, and other masters of the forest.
For people who use a bear to highlight their strength and use it to harness their courage and energy, you can always make a tattoo of a bear accompanied by a male or female warrior, as was shared in one of the previous designs. It’ll look glamorous, yet ruthless!
Bear Chest Tattoo
Bear chest tattoos are cool and depending on where exactly you place them both men and women can have them. The chest tattoos of the bear symbolize strength, power, and determination. There’s a strong bear hidden in all of us, willing to protect and establish a solid ground for a peaceful life.
Depending on how you feel about yourself and your confidence you can make different tattoos of bears on your chest. It can take moderately large and small tattoos, and if you want to highlight the power of love to your parent, significant other, or child, you can either make two bears or cubs and mother bears.
Bear Cub Tattoo
Bear cubs are innocent, gentle, and oftentimes clingy to their parents. They can also symbolize curiosity, being inquisitive, and hungry for knowledge about how the world works. You can tattoo a bear cub with their parents, or it being alone, it’s completely up to you and how you think the bear cub tattoo makes you feel.
Finally, you can make both smaller and larger tattoos, and if you want to show how creative and playful you’re, we recommend adding more color or even watercolors to your tattoo.
Polar Bear Tattoo
Polar bears are usually larger and generally considered more aggressive and dangerous as they live in the North, where it’s not as populated as it’d be in the continental climate. Polar bears can be featured using brighter, yet colder colors, or you can use a simple line design to manifest your minimalism. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong with getting a polar bear tattoo.
Polar bears are capable of hunting for their prey in ice-cold water and can generally withstand extreme weather conditions. They, as such, manifest tremendous strength and should be thought about with awe. If you feel like your strength and ability to persevere and get up on the top is synonymous with polar bears, you should get this majestic animal inked!
Bear Back Tattoo
Bear back tattoos are there to tell a story. Given they’re the largest area to get tattooed, back tattoos of a bear can tell the size of your soul, and how courageous you are. You’re able to face any challenge and overcome it no matter what it takes.
The storytelling opportunity of the back area also allows to paint a forest canvas of a bear and other animals, a bear fighting for dominance, or a bear family looking for their shelter and source of water and food. The back is your canvas, just tell your tattoo artist what you want.
If you’re still not sure about what you want from your back tattoo, you can always start small and choose a larger tattoo in the future that will match with the bear inside of you.
Geometrical Shape Bear Tattoo
Geometrical shapes are always a symbol of traditional and tribal tattoos. As of late, forest animals are a popular choice to get a geometrical shape. Wolves, stags, bears, foxes, they’re all a great combination. If you look at the bear designs we pointed out to show you how geometrical shapes look, you can see that you can easily play with sizes, and introducing various shapes.
The more shapes there are, the greater is the dimension. Hopefully, these designs will add more depth to your ideas!
Pandas are gorgeous animals that will simply overload you with cuteness. They were critically endangered, but thanks to the efforts of dedicated scientists, these bear relatives are pumping their numbers up. With their ability to survive, they can also be counted as symbols of strength, power, cute but deadly mindset.
With panda tattoos, you can never go wrong. They’ll look great anywhere on your body, and you can play with different design styles to match the tattoo with your personality!
Also Read: 30 Amazing Panda Tattoo Design Ideas
Frequently Asked Questions About Bear Tattoos
Have any confusion or concerns about getting your first bear tattoo? Check our FAQ section, and maybe we already provided the help you need!
Q: Can girls get a bear tattoo?
A: Of course they can! Bear tattoos are a symbol of strength, and they’re for everyone, no matter who you identify as! We even highlighted some feminine designs that you may like. Go check them up above!
Q: Are bear tattoos popular?
A: Bear tattoos are super-popular. There are hundreds of thousands of different designs on Instagram and other sites that you may get your ideas from. Even celebrities like Skylar Grey and Teyana Taylor have a bear tattoo!
Q: Is a bear tattoo suitable for small and minimalistic tattoos?
A: You can definitely use a bear as a small tattoo symbol. Your tattoo doesn’t have to be explicitly bear, but a claw, a cub, or even a teddy bear or some bear character from pop culture cartoons and shows. You should, however, be careful with shading and colors when it comes to smaller tattoos.
Q: Can I combine my bear tattoo with other animals?
A: As of late, we notice the trend of combining bears with other bears, as well as other forest animals such as stags and deer, wolf packs, foxes, and other wild animals that reside in the forest.