Jackal vs Hyena: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: March 4, 2023
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Although sub-Saharan Africa is home to many deadly animals, including a few of the big cats, jackals tend to fly under the radar. They’re relatively small carnivores when compared to lions or any other apex predators, but they manage to survive in an inhospitable, highly competitive environment. Among their competition is the hyena, a cunning and powerful animal with an unfortunate reputation. In a jackal vs hyena fight, who would win? We will get to the bottom of this question by examining key differences between the creatures and thoroughly comparing them.

Comparing a Jackal and a Hyena

Jackals and hyenas are both carnivores.
SizeWeight: 11lbs – 30lbs
Height: 1.3ft Length: 2ft-2.5ft
Weight: 90lbs-190lbs
Height: 2ft-3ft at shoulder Length: 3ft – 5ft
Speed and Movement Type– 10-40 mph  – 35-40 mph
Defenses– Speed and endurance
– Has a better sense of smell than domestic dogs and wolves – Great sense of vision at night
– Very acute hearing that helps them find prey in underground burrows
– Speed
– Safety in numbers as part of a pack    
Offensive Capabilities– 94 Bite Force Quotient (BFQ), somewhat weaker than a mountain lion
42 teeth
– 1-inch, curved canines
–  They used their teeth to grab and then shake their prey
– 1100 PSI bite power, far stronger than most mammals
– 32-34 teeth
– Conical teeth are meant for breaking bones
– Speed overwhelms prey
– May attack in groups
Predatory Behavior– Can hunt or scavenge as part of a small group or alone
– Opportunistic predator and persistent hunter
–  May eat carrion
– Cursorial predator that chases after enemies in packs, similar to wolves
– Will eat carrion and steal others’ hunts.

What Are Key Differences Between a Jackal and a Hyena?

Hyena Birth - hyena pack

Hyenas are powerful carnivores, but they are not canines.

©iStock.com/Franz Schallmeiner

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The key differences between a jackal and a hyena are their size and families. Jackals are canines that weigh between 11lb and 30lbs, grow 1.3ft high, and measure up to 2.5ft long, but hyenas are their own family of carnivores called Hyaenidae instead of canines, and they can weigh over 100lbs, grow 3ft at the shoulder, and measure up to 5ft long.

You can easily tell these creatures apart by their size and by the large heads and thick necks of the hyena. However, we need to get more information before we decide which animal is more suited to win a fight.

What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between a Jackal and a Hyena?

Wild Dog Breeds: Jackal

Jackals are small, speedy animals that are related to wolves.

©Sharon Haeger/Shutterstock.com

The key factors in a fight between a jackal and a hyena are going to be centered on their bodies. These carnivores are not ambush predators like tigers, and they’re not venomous snakes. Their fight will be decided by power, size, speed, and ferocity. We will break down all these elements and decide which animal has the most advantages needed to win against the other.  

Jackal vs Hyena: Size

Hyenas are much larger than jackals. The average hyena weighs between 90lbs and 190lbs, stands over 2ft tall, and grows about 5ft long. Jackals are very small by comparison, weighing just about 30lbs, standing over 1ft tall, and growing 2.5ft long.

Hyenas have the size advantage in this fight.

Jackal vs Hyena: Speed and Movement

Hyenas and jackals can both reach the same top speed of about 40 mph. Hyenas are seen at this top speed more frequently, but jackals have incredible stamina. That’s not to say that hyenas can’t chase and snap at the ankles of their prey for a long time. However, jackals are true endurance runners.

Hyenas and jackals are tied for their speed and movement.

Jackal vs Hyena: Defenses

Hyenas and jackals both rely on their speed to outrun danger, and that is a good power to have. Hyenas are also known to stick with a pack to find safety in numbers. Jackals don’t always live in groups, though. They may live alone, live in pairs, or form small groups of up to six individuals.

Hyenas are deadly creatures, and even individual lions won’t attack a group of them due to their size and power. Jackals don’t have the same protection, even in groups. They just don’t pose as much of a threat.

Hyenas have the defensive advantage over the jackals.  

Jackal vs Hyena: Offensive Capabilities

Hyenas are known for having incredibly powerful jaws and conical teeth that help them grab and hold prey and also strong survival instincts. With a bite force of 1,100PSI, these animals can swarm enemies, tear out chunks of flesh, and break bones with a nasty chomp. Their speed and power help them overwhelm prey.

 A jackal’s bite is weaker than many other animals. It’s not as strong as a mountain lion or many members of the canine family. Nevertheless, their curved teeth help them get a good grip on their foes and then shake it to death or simply bite the back of their prey’s neck and kill it outright.

Hyenas have more powerful offensive capabilities.

Jackal vs Hyena: Predatory Behavior

Jackals are opportunistic predators and persistent hunters who go after small birds and mammals. They may hunt alone or as part of a group, and they may eat carrion if needed. Hyenas also eat carrion and have no qualms about stealing other creatures’ hunts. They are cursorial predators that chase after prey in a pack, wearing them down in a fashion similar to wolves.

The similarities in the predatory behavior between these animals are significant, so they tie.

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

Are Hyenas Dogs

Hyenas have too many advantages for jackals to overcome.

©iStock.com/Meet Poddar

A hyena would win a fight against a jackal because it is larger, stronger, and has better tools with which to kill its foes. The animals won’t take the other by surprise at all. This would be a toe-to-toe fight to the finish.

In that case, the hyena wins. The hyena only needs one good bite against its foe, and the battle is finished. A hyena could easily break the leg or skull of the smaller, lighter jackal. However, the same can’t be said of the jackal.

The smaller canine would have to really dig in on the hyena by biting repeatedly. That might work for a time, but the hyena is fast and smart. It will catch the jackal and kill it.

If these two animals fight on the savannah, the hyena comes out on top.

Animals That Could Take Down a Hyena

While it would win a fight with a jackal, the hyena’s cunning, bite force of 1,100 PSI, and advantage from being in a pack combined are still no match for a few of the bigger, more powerful animals that it shares a habitat with.

Lions see hyenas as their main opposition for food sources and will take out hyenas to reduce competition and maintain their apex predator status. In a battle of a single lion vs hyena, the lion has the advantage when it comes to size, speed, and power. While a hyena has a sharper bite it’s not big enough to bite around a large lion’s throat or head, and it’s likely that the lion will use its legs to pin down the hyena and ultimately land a death blow or fatally bite the hyena in a vital area. However, it’s possible that hyenas in a pack can be victorious if the lion is isolated, young, injured, or elderly.

The leopard is another animal that could take down a hyena. An individual leopard vs a hyena fight might even be finished in seconds if the leopard ambushes the hyena and can bite it in the neck or head. A longer battle would likely still result in the leopard skillfully using its speed and agility to break through the defenses of the hyena and land a fatal blow or bite.

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

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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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