Hyena vs Wolf: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: March 8, 2023
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Hyenas and wolves are two dog-like creatures that roam various parts of the world in packs to bring down prey and steal kills from foes. What happens if we take one of each of these mammals out of its pack and pit them against each other? Who would win in a hyena vs wolf fight? We’re going to discover which of these animals would walk away from a fight.

To make a proper comparison, we’re going to take several points of data and analyze them. We’ll determine which creature gets the advantage in various situations, and that will tell us which is most likely to win a fight.

Comparing a Hyena and a Wolf

hyena vs wolf
Hyenas and wolves are similar in most respects
HyenaWolf
SizeWeight: 90lbs-190lbs
Height: 2ft-3ft at shoulder
Length: 3ft – 5ft
Weight: 80-150lbs
Length: 3.4ft – 5ft
Height: 26in – 36in
Speed and Movement Type35-40mph
– uses a galloping sprint  
35mph in short bursts
– Uses a galloping sprint
Bite Power and Teeth1100 PSI bite power
– 32-34 teeth
– Conical teeth are meant for breaking bones  
400 PSI bite power, perhaps more in the wild
– 42 sharp teeth
– 2-inch-long canines
Senses– Powerful sense of smell used for hunting and recognition of others
– Hearing powerful enough to hear prey miles away
– Great nighttime eyesight
Powerful sense of smell
– Keen sense of vision with front-facing eyes like many predators
– Wolves can hear creatures from miles away.  
Defenses– Speed
– Safety in numbers
– Safety in numbers in its pack
– Speed to run away from danger  
Offensive Capabilities– Amazingly powerful bite
– Speed to overwhelm enemies
– Powerful bite with 2-inch teeth
– Sharp claws can lead to slashing attacks
– Has limited climbing abilities
Predatory Behavior– Cursorial predator that chases after enemies in packs, similar to wolves
– Will eat carrion and steal others’ hunts.
– Endurance predators that chase down and tire out enemies with consistent speed and sapping attacks  

The Key Factors in a Fight Between a Hyena and a Wolf

Are Hyenas Dogs

A hyena vs wolf fight would come down to speed and bite power.

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When studying a fight between a hyena and a wolf, not every aspect of these creatures would be meaningful to a fight. Instead, only a few key factors would come into play. This particular fight can be determined by measuring seven different factors under two categories: physical features and combat skills.  

Take a look at how each creature measures up.

Physical Features of Hyenas and Wolves

Silver Animals - Grey Wolf

Hyenas are slightly heavier than wolves, but they’re roughly the same size.

©nataliatamkovich/Shutterstock.com

The physical features of a hyena and wolf would play a significant role in determining which of them would win in a fight. After all, offensive capabilities, size, and speed are great signifiers of success in battles within the animal kingdom. See how the hyena and wolf measure up against each other.

Hyena vs Wolf: Size

The hyena and the wolf are very similar in terms of their size. The hyena weighs up to 190lbs and wolves can weigh 150lbs or slightly more. Both can reach 5ft long and stand about 2ft-3ft at the shoulder.

Believe it or not but prehistoric hyena species – Pachycrocuta brevirostris – weighed as much as a female lioness, or about 300 pounds! The largest modern wolf on record weighed 175 pounds, though dire wolves – which only recently went extinct – may have been slightly larger.

The only real difference is weight, and hyenas weigh more on average, so they get the advantage.

Hyena vs Wolf: Speed and Movement

Wolves are known for being endurance runners, capable of maintaining a high rate of speed over a long distance. They even have the closing speed to catch up to enemies that are a little faster than others. They can reach speeds of 35mph.

Hyenas can reach 40mph running and they have the endurance that is similar to wolves.

Hyenas have the speed advantage.  

Hyena vs Wolf: Bite Power and Teeth

When it comes to biting power, wolves have not had theirs effectively measured. A lab study yielded 400PSI in that setting, but a wolf can probably bite harder. They have long canines that can dig into their prey’s flesh and do serious damage.

We know that hyenas can bite over 1,000PSI, though. That’s enough to break bones while they’re still inside their enemies. They also have very sharp, conical teeth.

Hyenas get the biting power and teeth advantage.

Hyena vs Wolf: Senses

Both wolves and hyenas are amazing hunters that feed on other creatures, and they have finely tuned senses for the job. Hyenas have particularly powerful senses of smell and hearing, and their eyesight is great for hunting at night.

Wolves also have a powerful sense of smell, great hearing, and very good eyesight.

The similarity in their senses makes this comparison a draw.

Hyena vs Wolf: Physical Defenses

Both wolves and hyenas have some defenses to consider that could play a role in the fight. For one thing, they’re both pack animals. However, we are going to ignore the pack and focus on the other factor: speed.

The two animals are close in this respect, but the hyena is undoubtedly faster, so it gets the advantage.  

Combat Skills of Hyenas and Wolves

Mysterious Gray Animals - wolf

Wolves and hyenas are endurance predators

©Holly S Cannon/Shutterstock.com

Having the potential physical weapons and knowing how to effectively use them against others are two different things. We have to consider how hyenas and wolves fend for themselves in battle. The best way to approach this situation is to look at the offensive capabilities and predatory behaviors of each.

Hyena vs Wolf: Offensive Capabilities

The hyena only has one way of attacking and killing enemies: its powerful bite. Using its high speed, the hyena can catch up to most foes and give them a serious bite. Wolves have a less powerful bite, but they also have sharp claws they can use to inflict damage.

Given the overwhelming strength of a hyena’s bite, they get the advantage even though they only have the single method of attack.

Hyena vs Wolf: Predatory Behaviors

Both wolves and hyenas use pack hunting to bring down large prey. Both of them are also endurance predators that wear their prey down with frequent bites and smaller attacks before moving in for the kill. Their predatory behaviors would have to change in a battle since they don’t have the benefit of their pack.  

However, these two creatures tie in terms of predator behaviors.

What Are Key Differences Between a Hyena and a Wolf?

wolf howling on top or rock

Wolves are canines and hyenas come from a distinct family, the Hyaenidae

©Allison Coffin/Shutterstock.com

A hyena is a carnivorous and opportunistic predator that is 5ft long and weighs 190lbs, and a wolf is an endurance hunter that is about 5ft long and weighs 150lbs.

The major differences between them are the hyena’s higher speed and biting power relative to the wolf.  

The hyena is not an apex predator since it shares a range with hungry lions, but wolves are apex predators in most locations. They are not always capable of taking down all prey on their own, though. Their place on the food chain is secured through the strength of their pack.  

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Hyena and a Wolf?

hyena snarling

A hyena would win a fight against a wolf.

©iStock.com/AndyDiamond

A hyena would win a fight against a wolf. The hyena is faster, heavier, and stronger than the wolf, and those are the only two appreciable differences between these creatures. They’re both similar in stature and speed, but the fight would be determined by which creature can deal fatal damage.

The wolf’s 400 PSI bite would hurt the hyena but landing that bite without getting a bite in return would be tricky. If a hyena and a wolf both grasped each other with their jaws, the wolf would be in far worse shape.

Also, we have to consider fighting experience. Hyenas regularly tussle with lions, and they sometimes emerge victorious. They know how to be patient and methodical with their attacks.

For all those reasons, a hyena would win a fight.  

What Animal Could Beat a Hyena?

Jaguar - Cat, Abstract, Africa, Animal, Animal Body Part

A

leopard

could easily defeat a hyena.

©iStock.com/Byrdyak

Hyenas may be imbued with enough cunning and fighting skills to be able to overpower a wolf, but against a true apex predator like the leopard, a hyena would be no match. While these creatures may be evenly matched in criteria like size, speed, and weight, leopards possess twice the natural weaponry in their sharp claws, whereas hyenas rely entirely on their jaws to attack. This means the leopard would have significant advantages in the range of their strike. Additionally, leopard’s claws give them incredible climbing skills which could allow them to utilize any nearby trees or other high surfaces to launch an aerial assault on the hyena. Leopards are also solitary hunters unlike the pack-dwelling hyena, so in a one-on-one battle, these cats would have a significant advantage. Hyenas typically use their cunning to steal catches from other predators and make a quick getaway, their combat skills are nowhere near the skillful level of leopards.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/dlrz4114


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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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