If you’re into hunting or nature in general, or perhaps you’ve deemed the bear as your spirit animal, you’ll likely enjoy having a bear tattoo.
It’s an animal that is feared and respected by tribesmen and city men alike. Despite its gentle nature and fluffy appearance, it has the strength and ruthlessness to destroy even an armed man.
Even so, it’s been depicted tons of times in pop culture as a pretty chill animal. Its bulky physique and tendency to hibernate has inspired the Pokémon called Snorlax (the blue one that always sleeps and looks like the Buddha).
Its gentle appearance has also inspired characters like the goofy Po from Kung Fu Panda and the friendly Baloo from Disney’s The Jungle Book. And they’ve even made their way into the arms of loving children as teddy bears.
In this article, I’ve compiled 50 of the best bear tattoos there are—from teddy to deadly. Each piece’s artist is credited so that you can check out more of their work or choose to message them directly. At the end, there’s a few notes on what characteristics the bear symbolizes, so stick around!
Black and Grey Bear Tattoos
This incredibly detailed shoulder piece mimics the effect of charcoal drawing. It uses bold shadows to complement the dynamic scene and deliver feelings of conflict and awe, by Bora Mesut Palas. (@boramesutpalas on Instagram).
This awesome double forearm tattoo uses a symmetric image of a calm bear’s face, split apart by an arrow with two numbers at the tip of the arrowhead, presumably the owner’s birthday, by Exposito Tattoo. (@sergioexpositotattoo on Instagram).
This blackwork bear tattoo placed on the chest uses intricate line art to sketch out the bear’s face, by Jon The Beard. (@jon0217 on Instagram).
In this piece, a Native American warrior wears a bear headdress, a symbol of protection, courage, and leadership, by Alexander Primera. (@alexanderinkartist on Instagram).
In this design, the bear’s silhouette is used cleverly as an outline for an image of the woodlands, using different shades and textures to create a realistic look, by Tyler ATD. (@tyleratd on Instagram).
Like the previous piece, this bear’s silhouette is used as an outline to contain the image of the forest, complemented by a flock of birds in the distance, by Marvel Xavier. (@marvelxavier on Instagram).
In awesome detail, this upper arm tattoo features the bust of a Native American warrior wearing a bear headdress in the woods. By using advanced shading techniques and a mastery over negative space, Felipe Labrin wows us with this hyper realistic piece, by Felipe Labrin. (@felipelabrintatuajes on Instagram).
In this calf tattoo, a bear’s curious expression, drawn in hyper realistic detail, is contained within the silhouette of a bear paw, by Amir_edrisittoo. (@amir_edrisittoo on Instagram).
In this piece, the artist depicts bears in their gentler states. A mama bear looks into the distance, smiling while in the company of her curious cubs, by Dimitrihk Studio. (@dimitrihkstudio on Instagram).
This eye-catching blackwork bear tattoo is done in good old American traditional style. Its fur is drawn using multiple thick strokes and depth is created using smooth black to white gradients. Its eyes give off a rawness only seen in the expression of a hungry wild animal, by Gustavo Castro. (@gcastrotattoo on Instagram).
This tattoo features the bear in a calm state. The artist masterfully shades the fur to give it a realistic touch while still sticking to their contemporary style,, by White Bluff Tattoo Company. (@whiteblufftattoo on Instagram).
This blackwork upper arm tattoo shows the head of a roaring bear. The shadows in this piece are as bold as this creature is pissed, by Natasha. (@natallitattoo on Instagram).
In this forearm tattoo, the bear stands upright as if scanning the distance for its next destination. The background is filled with simply drawn trees and an expansive mountain range, by Emil. (@emil.pluvia on Instagram).
This upper arm tattoo features a bear with its mouth wide open, accompanied by various ornamental elements, by MINO & RUDY TATTOO. (@minorudytattoo on Instagram).
In this chest tattoo, a bear is shown roaring. Its strands of fur seemingly turning into wisps of pure energy, by Ksenia Ovchinnikova. (@ksenia_o on Instagram).
In this piece, the bear’s head blends into the background of the woods, by Kevin owen. (@cosmetic_ink_ireland_ on Instagram).
Colored Bear Tattoos
Drawn in neo traditional style, this fierce furred fella was colored with gentle browns on its fur, warm reds and oranges for the surrounding debris, and is topped off with an electrifying golden hue on its teeth and fangs, by John Mendoza. (@john_mendoza_tattoo on Instagram).
If you’re a fun lover or a thrill seeker, perhaps you’ll like dressing your bear tattoo up with different accessories. This bear tattoo placed on the back of the forearm uses a vintage comic style and shows the bear wearing some white shades reflecting the gorgeous city skyline, by Madstatus. (@madstatus on Instagram).
In this piece, the artist draws a bear in extraordinary detail alongside an axe with intricate Celtic patterns. The clever use of depth, shading, and color really make this hyper realistic upper arm piece a memorable look, by F E R N A N D O GRÜTZMANN. (@fernandogrutzmanntattoo on Instagram).
This awesome design show the bear’s fierce side. In the piece, the bear wears shining red boxing gloves. This grizzly’s squaring up and is ready for anything—ding ding! by Tony Ezzell. (@easydoesittattoo on Instagram).
In the woods, the bear is one of the most vicious creatures there are—and the most resilient. These killing machines, built with pure muscle, will steamroll through a hail of arrows and shrug off a spray of shotgun rounds. Which is why you’ll never want to come across one. by SauceDaddy Austin. (@g_square_tattoos on Instagram).
This woodland beast is regal as it is ferocious. It’s a majestic creature when seen from a distance, but come closer and you’ll see who’s boss, by Matty G. (@_mattygee on Instagram).
The bear also represents courage and strength, so it’s often used as a symbol of protection. In this piece, a woman embraces a bear and is topped off with a beautiful bunch of tropical flowers, by Vintage Karma. (@vintagekarmatattoos on Instagram).
This bicep tattoo features a panda bear, drawn in traditional style, squaring up with a pair of glossy red boxing gloves. The surrounding stalks of bamboo give the piece an oriental feel , by DANIELRC TATTOO. (@danielrc.tattoo on Instagram).
This neo traditional piece shows the bear in awesome modern comic book style detail. It roars ferociously in its berserk state while its eyes glow an ethereal white, by Roland. (@goldfinger_tattoo on Instagram).
This one’s basically a painting. In this piece, Andrés Acosta’s bear is drawn in hyper realistic style. The bear seemingly blends into the heavens in this exquisite bicep tattoo, by Andrés Acosta. (@acostattoo on Instagram).
This forearm tattoo features the bear colored dynamically with streaks of purple and pink, giving it a feminine aura. Its eyes are lined with light blues as if wearing makeup, a great tattoo that screams women empowerment, by Kateryna Zelenska. (@tattoozelenska on Instagram).
Cute Bear Tattoos
This adorable piece by SiS! features their adorable tattoo style that makes use of chalk like textures and pastel colors for a cutesy look. In this forearm tattoo, the bear is in multi pastel color flames and is showing off their fierce side, by SiS!. (@sisi.lovelove on Instagram).
Another great piece by SiS! This back tattoo features a small little bear cub dressing up like a tiger with an adorable pink bowtie. Flowers with pastel colored petals help this piece really pop , by SiS!. (@sisi.lovelove on Instagram).
In this upper arm tattoo, a fluffy bear hugs a specially wrapped bottle of honey! The background is a simple heart outline with glittering elements that really make this piece shine , by SiS!. (@sisi.lovelove on Instagram).
In this piece, our fluffy friend tiptoes his fluffy behind somewhere nice and snug to catch some well-deserved z’s, by Tea Tauriainen. (@spaceodditytattoo on Instagram).
This illustrative piece of a mama bear walking with her two cubs uses subtle shading to give the piece a touch of realism then finishes it off with the image of a sparkling North Star, by Petitegabs. (@petitegabs on Instagram).
This piece’s artist uses watercolor almost exclusively to achieve a gentle look. This innocent little panda cub wears a green backpack and carries a walking stick—probably off to panda school, by TORRES. (@_torrestattoo on Instagram).
In this piece, a mama polar bear treads a tundra with her two cubs. “Splashes” of blue and purple ink are used in the background to emulate a night sky painted in watercolor, by Tasevska Andrijana. (@_annafromtheblock on Instagram).
This blue teddy bear balances a heart at the tip of its nose, seemingly falling asleep. In this piece, the artist uses gentle color gradients to shade the bear’s fur, and draws its coat like a sweater vest using looping lines, by Jagoda Matuła. (@jagoda_matula on Instagram).
This piece uses smooth, almost faded blue lines to draw this chill little fella embracing himself as an act of self love, by Tattooist_PITATA. (@tattooist_pitata on Instagram).
Minimalist Bear Tattoos
This person makes it known that they aren’t ashamed of their imperfections and flaunts them. Do you have freckles or a mole? Turn them into a tattoo! This person cleverly turns their mole into a cute, minimalist bear face tattoo, making it a great ice breaker—and a smile maker, by Playground Tattoo. (@playground_tat2 on Instagram).
This little panda bear chilling over a wall was done in as few lines as possible and makes for a fun ice breaker, by Playground Tattoo. (@playground_tat2 on Instagram).
Sometimes a thin outline can be enough. In this piece, the bear treads gently towards its next resting spot, by Ina Aaltonen. (@tattoosbyina on Instagram).
Just because they’re killing machines doesn’t mean they’re bad moms! This shoulder tattoo, drawn using one single stroke, shows a mother bear snuggling with its cub for a good night’s sleep, by ilvi inks. (@ilviinks on Instagram).
If you’re going for a minimalist approach for your bear tattoo, there’s a handful of ways you can go about doing it. In this piece, the artist focuses on drawing the outlines and the highlights to achieve a minimalist yet realistic look, by Islander ink. (@islanderink on Instagram).
This Norse themed, hand poked, bear tattoo placed on the chest uses Norse runes (Elder Futhark) and clean line art to get its message across, by Indigenous Tattoo. (@indigenoustattoo on Instagram).
This piece uses a unique style of illustration. Its outline is drawn straightforwardly using simple lines and shapes while the fur is drawn in a batch of three strokes—almost as if dry brushed, by Kristy York. (@yorkietats on Instagram).
This piece shows a calm little fella chillin to some beats, all warm in his cozy old hoodie, by HOMEBOY. (@homeboytattooer on Instagram).
In this piece, the bear cub’s silhouette hides behind that of its mother’s as they walk together, by Black Line Parée Frédéric. (@blacklinetattoo_limoges on Instagram).
Geometric Bear Tattoos
This black and grey thigh tattoo pays tribute to the more gentle nature of the bear. Instead of being shown in a bad mood, snarling angrily, like in other depictions, this artist draws the bear relaxing in the woods with its cub on a moonlit night, by Diamond Tattoo CassinaDePecchi. (@diamondtattoocassina on Instagram).
This creative piece by Lieli Soul uses geometric shapes to depict the lower body of this bear, with small fragments breaking off as the bear walks, by Lieli Soul. (@lieli.soul on Instagram).
For this inner forearm tattoo, the artist, Fernanda Oliveira, contrasts the flowy, realistic illustration on the left side with a more rigid, geometric illustration on the right, by Fernanda Oliveira. (@fer.oliveira_art on Instagram).
This piece contrasts the realistic approach on the left side with a geometric design on the right. The artist tops it off with more geometric elements for a cohesive look, by Hannah Edwards. (@sadgirltx on Instagram).
In this one, the artist contrasts the traditional drawing style at the lower half with a contemporary style at the top, which is done using only a single stroke, by backtobasicstattoo. (@backtobasicstattoo on Instagram).
What does the Bear symbolize?
Even with the tribes of old, bears were held in high regard. These woodland animals were idolized by groups like the Native American tribes because of their power and commanding presence.
It’s the national animal of Finland, while the black bear and grizzly bear are state animals in the United States. You’ll even find this animal on the state seals of California and Missouri and the heraldic arms of Warwickshire in the United Kingdom. It’s also standing proudly on the logo of Toblerone.
So what exactly is the reason people love bears so much? What does the bear symbolize?
Even though the bear is known for its big, lumbering, gentle nature, the bear isn’t an animal you can approach lightly in the woods. These things are killing machines. A single grizzly bear swipe can rack up to 300 lbs of power. That’s two entire humans landing full force on your torso—yikes.
And their claws won’t give you an easy time either. If you think they‘re as hygienic as big cats who sharpen their claws, and that their swipes will slice through your flesh cleaner and smoother (as if that will somehow feel better)—then you’re wrong. Their claws are thick and blunt and will hit as hard as their heavy paws.
This strength is exactly why bears are feared and respected in the woods. In Native America, warriors use bear heads as headdresses to symbolize their strength and skill in hunting.
Have you ever seen a bear tiptoe its way around the woods in pursuit of its prey? I wouldn’t think so. Most footage of bears is them lumbering through the woods in broad daylight. That’s because bears aren’t ambush predators—they don’t need to be.
Their incredible strength and surprising speed are enough for them to charge head on and subdue anything that they come across. Because of this, they walk confidently in the woods without fear of predation.
Despite them being massive killing machines, they’re actually very good mothers. When they aren’t charging at their next meal or hibernating, they’re walking around the woods teaching their children… how to bear.
Sometimes, though, humans like to approach bear cubs. When bears haven’t yet become fully grown murder machines, they’re actually pretty cute. The problem is, when you think the mama bear is away… she’s most likely not. And she will maul whoever decides to touch her cubs.
This is why Native Americans wear bear claw necklaces as a symbol of protection and good health. Some of their warriors even believed that merely dreaming of a bear, killing and eating one, or merely touching one would make them invincible.
One of the reasons why the bear is such a unique animal is because it hibernates. Although, be informed—bears aren’t true hibernators. Yes, they go into a deep sleep during the winter months in order to adapt to their surroundings—but it’s different from true hibernation.
Whereas true hibernators will not wake up even when moved or touched, the “hibernation” that bears go through (called torpor) lets them react quickly and easily when startled in their sleep. So… you can’t poke a bear while it’s sleeping in its cave—you will die.
Nevertheless, this image that bears have in terms of hibernation has stuck with a lot of people. Their big lumbering bodies give people the impression that they are calm and gentle creatures. And, left alone, they are. This is why they are often associated with medicine and healing.
Learn more about bear “hibernation” by visiting this link.
Next time you see a bear, go show it your tattoo! Maybe it’ll turn friendly. I’m just kidding though. Bears are powerful and dangerous animals. Remember that! That’s one of the reasons why they’re respected even in modern times where humans dominate the entire food chain.
So if you see one… just admire it from afar. They’re beautiful animals. Symbols of strength, gentle giants, woodland guardians—and pretty bangin’ tattoos.
Did you enjoy these Bear tattoo designs or are you looking for more inspiration? Check out the following links to see more designs from talented artists.