Cheetah vs Lion: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Lion vs Cheetah
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Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: September 26, 2023

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Cheetahs are widely known for being the fastest animal on land, and they are also cunning predators. They can be found throughout Africa and parts of Asia, and that means they live near some of the other most powerful predators in the world. By that, we mean they share a range with lions, the animals called King of the Jungle. Who wins a cheetah vs lion fight? We’ll show you what happens when you pit overwhelming speed against raw power!

Comparing a Cheetah and a Lion

Lion vs Cheetah
A showdown between a lion and cheetah would pit two of Africa‘s most fearsome cats.
CheetahLion
SizeWeight: 80lbs – 140lbs
Length 3.5ft – 5ft
Height: 2ft-3ft
Weight: 264lbs – 550lbs
Length: 4.7ft – 8.2ft
Height: 36in-48in
Speed and Movement Type70 mph  
– Galloping run with long strides
-35 mph
-Sprints to enemies
Bite Power and Teeth400-500PSI bite power  
– 30 teeth
– 1-inch fangs
650-1000 PSI bite power
-30 teeth including up to four, 4-inch canines
Senses– Great night vision
–  Excellent sense of smell that helps them find prey
– Wonderful hearing that picks up on many frequencies
-Amazing sense of sight, especially night vision.
-Good sense of smell capable of smelling other lions’ markings.
-Great hearing allows them to hear prey miles away.
Defenses– Speed  – Stays with pride for safety in numbers
– Large size
– Can quickly run away from enemies
Offensive Capabilities– Speed to chase enemies
– Leverages bite and weight to bring down and strangle large prey
-Sharp dewclaw inflicts extra damage during attacks
– Sharp claws can gash foes
– Paw strikes can deliver a powerful, staggering blow  
– Strong biting power can splinter bones and tear prey open.
Predatory BehaviorAmbush other creatures by spotting them and running them down.– Primarily stalks and pounces on the opponent
– Can act as an endurance predator
– Uses groups to take down prey

The Key Factors in a Fight Between a Cheetah and a Lion

Fastest Cats - Cheetah

A cheetah’s speed will play a role in their battle against a lion.

©Maros Bauer/Shutterstock.com

The battle between these two big cats comes down to a mix of their physical prowess and fighting abilities. Fortunately, we have gathered data on both those elements that we will use to determine which animal has the greatest advantage. See which of these mammals is better poised to win this battle!

Physical Features of a Cheetah and a Lion

lion roar

Lions weigh over 500lbs and can grow 8ft long.

©iStock.com/3dan3

Just like the original Rumble in the Jungle, the cheetah vs lion battle would come down to a mix of physical attributes. We’re going to explore five segments of data to show you which animal has the physical advantage over the other. Consider each and see how these creatures stack up with each other.

Cheetah vs Lion: Size

Cheetahs are very fast creatures, and that comes at the expense of their size. They can weigh up to 140lbs and grow about 5ft long. Lions, on the other hand, are much larger than cheetahs. They can weigh over 500lbs and grow up to 8ft long and stand 4ft tall.

Lions have the advantage in terms of size.

Cheetah vs Lion: Speed and Movement

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal, and they can chase down just about any creature in their area with their long strides. They can reach blazing speeds of 70mph. Lions are fast, too. They can run at a pace of 35mph and use a burst of speed to reach 50mph for a short period of time.

Cheetahs have the speed advantage.

Cheetah vs Lion: Bite Power and Teeth

Both cheetahs and lions use their biting power and sharp teeth to kill their prey. Cheetahs have 30 teeth, 1-inch-long fangs, and can bite with 500PSI of power. That’s more than enough to kill their prey.

Lions are much stronger, biting with up to 1,000PSI and using 4-inch-canines to dig into their prey and kill them.

Lions have the advantage in terms of biting power.

Cheetah vs Lion: Senses

Cheetahs have acute senses that help them hunt for their food. Their night vision is spectacular, and their sense of smell is also very acute. They even have a high sense of hearing that can detect high and low frequencies.

Lions also have profound vision that is very good at night. Their sense of smell is good, too. Their hearing is amazing, allowing them to hear prey that is miles away from their position.

We’re going to call senses a tie since both creatures have similar levels in their important senses.

Cheetah vs Lion: Physical Defenses

A cheetah’s primary defense is the ability to outrun anything else on land. That’s all it needs because most creatures will give up when they realize they cannot catch the mammal. Lions stay in prides and get safety in numbers. They’re also very large creatures that are quite frightening, and they have the ability to run away from harm like a cheetah.

In terms of just physical defenses, the cheetah has the edge because it can end any fight as long as it can still run.

Combat Skills of a Cheetah and a Lion

hyenas preying on lions

Lions face down smaller mammals, like

hyenas

, and regularly win the fights.

©iStock.com/Staincliffe

Lions and cheetahs are both predators, so they know how to fight. In fact, they hunt quite similarly when performing solo. They will stalk and ambush predators and then use their teeth to grasp a vital area, like the neck, and drag the animal to the ground before finishing the job.

The only difference is that lions can also hunt in a pride. When they do this, they will act as an endurance predator, harrying their foes and slowly injuring them until the prey is too weak to fight back.

For their versatility, lions get the edge.

What Are Key Differences Between a Cheetah and a Lion?

Types of Big Cats - cheetah

Cheetahs are faster than lions and only ambush their prey while lions are heavier and act as endurance predators too.

©Elana Erasmus/Shutterstock.com

Lions are larger, stronger, and heavier than cheetahs. Lions can exert more biting power, too. Cheetahs tend to live on their own, but lions live in a pride, groups of lions that can have several members. Also, cheetahs are solely ambush predators, but lions are ambush predators as well as endurance predators.

Cheetahs are a lot faster than lions, capable of running at 20mph or more than their bigger foe. These differences will have a big impact on which creature wins their battle.  

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Cheetah and a Lion?

lion walking toward camera

A lion would beat a cheetah in a fight.

©iStock.com/Gunther Fraulob

A lion would win a fight against a cheetah. Neither creature is likely to ambush the other owing to their incredible senses. Although the initial clash would see a cheetah using its full speed to slam into a lion and get a few good bites and cuts, the lion’s thick neck and mane will reduce the damage that the cheetah can do.

Since this is a close-range fight, a lot of the battle comes down to size and power— the lion has advantages in both of those elements.

The most likely outcome is that the two large cats tussle and roll, and the lion uses its strong paws and sharp claws to dig into the cheetah, doing serious damage. The lion will use its weight to pin the cheetah at some point and land a devastating, fatal bite.

The cheetah could realize it is in trouble and run away at the outset of the fight, though. Aside from that, it doesn’t stand much of a chance since the lion will sense it before it arrives to fight.

Can Any Animal Beat the Mighty Lion?

Lions are some of the most fierce and majestic animals in the animal kingdom, so it is hard to imagine an animal that could win a battle against one. However, certain animals may have an advantage if they were to take on a lion in combat.

The first contender would be the elephant. Although elephants typically avoid confrontations with lions, their sheer size gives them an undeniable edge when it comes to physical strength and power. With their long trunk and tusks, they can easily fight off any attack from a lion and even use them as weapons during a battle. Additionally, their thick skin provides extra protection from any bites or scratches from a lion’s claws.

The great white shark is no stranger to battle, and it could be a potential winner when it comes to lion battles. With its razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaws, the great white shark has the capability of taking down large prey with ease. It also has an impressive ability to detect vibrations in the water from far away distances, giving it an edge over its competition. The great white shark’s size and strength mean that it would likely have a strong advantage against any other contender in a lion battle.


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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