The giant panda ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca ) is one of the world’s most endangered mammals and remains threatened as a result of intense environmental and anthropogenic pressure. The transformation and specialization of the giant panda’s diet into a herbivorous diet have resulted in unique adaptabilities in many aspects of their biology, physiology and behavior. However, little is known about their adaptability at the molecular level. Through comparative analysis of the giant panda’s genome with those of nine other mammalian species, we found some genetic characteristics of the giant panda that can be associated with adaptive changes for effective digestion of plant material. We also found that giant pandas have similar genetic characteristics to carnivores in terms of olfactory perception but have similar genetic characteristics to herbivores in terms of immunity and hydrolytic enzyme activity. Through the analysis of gene family expansion, 3752 gene families were found, which were enriched in functions such as digestion. A total of 93 genes under positive selection were screened out and gene enrichment identified these genes for the following processes: negative regulation of cellular metabolic process, negative regulation of nitrogen compound metabolic process, negative regulation of macromolecule metabolic process and negative regulation of metabolic process. Combined with the KEGG pathway, it was found that genes such as CREB3L1, CYP450 2S1, HSD11B2, LRPAP1 play a key role in digestion. These genes may have played a key role in the pandas’ adaptation to its bamboo diet.