Leopard vs Hyena: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: March 8, 2023
© kyslynskahal/Shutterstock.com
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Africa is packed with deadly predators that have to fight against each other for meals. Although a lion vs hyena fight is a popular matchup, it’s not the only big cat that goes up against the giggly carnivores. Leopards may be one of the few large mammals that are trotting around on their own, but these cats have the power to stay safe by themselves. Given their similar size and habitat, a leopard vs hyena fight would be very interesting.

We will explore this hypothetical fight and show you which animal stands the better chance of defeating the other!

Comparing a Leopard and a Hyena

Like other cats, leopards have retractable claws.
SizeWeight: 66lbs-198lbs
Height: 2ft-2.3ft
Length: 3.5ft-6.2ft
Weight: 90lbs-190lbs
Height: 2ft-3ft at shoulder Length: 3ft – 5ft
Speed– 35-37mph37mph
Defenses– Speed to outrun many predators in its area
– Climbing abilities
– Stealthy nature when hiding in trees
– Speed
– Safety in numbers as part of a pack  
Offensive Capabilities– Powerful bite
– Long teeth
– Sharp claws that are retracted when not in use, allowing them to stay sharp  
1100 PSI bite power
– 32-34 teeth
– Conical teeth are meant for breaking bones
– Speed overwhelms prey
– May attack in groups
Predatory Behavior– Unique hunters that wait until they are close to their prey before pouncing rather than running them down
– Deliver a fatal bite to the head or neck
Mostly nocturnal but can be diurnal or crepuscular
– Cursorial predator that chases after enemies in packs, similar to wolves
– Will eat carrion and steal others’ hunts.

What Are Key Differences Between a Leopard and a Hyena?

hyena snarling
Hyenas are fierce animals with a lot of speed and biting power at their disposal.


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The key differences between a leopard and a hyena are their morphology and pack behavior. Leopards are solitary “big cats” that have feline features, including long tails and retractable claws. Hyenas are pack animals with features similar to canines, such as a pronounced snout and a compact body, despite not being a member of any dog family.

Although these animals are very different in some ways, they do share some similarities, such as reliance on their teeth to kill prey. We must look closely at these animals to discern other meaningful differences that will impact the fight. Only then can we figure out which of them is more powerful and poised to win.  

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

Are Hyenas Dogs
Some species of hyenas are much smaller than leopards, but they can also rival them in size.

©iStock.com/Meet Poddar

The most significant factors in a battle between a leopard and a hyena hold true across most animal battles. We need to find out which animal has an advantage in size, speed, and the way they attack other animals. With that information in hand, it’s possible to determine which creature has the right combination of elements to decisively win this battle.  

Leopard vs Hyena: Size

Leopards are slightly larger than hyenas at their maximum measurements. A leopard can measure up to 198lbs, 2.3ft high, and 6.2ft long with its tail. Meanwhile, a hyena can grow up to 190lbs, stand up to 3ft at the shoulder, and grow about 5ft with a shorter, bushier tail. These animals are incredibly similar in size.

The leopard has a very slight size advantage.

Leopard vs Hyena: Speed and Movement

Both leopards and hyenas are tied for their speed. The top speed of leopards is between 35 mph and 37 mph. Hyenas also run 37mph at their maximum speed.

Hyenas and leopards are tied in terms of their speed.

Leopard vs Hyena: Defenses

Hyenas have little in the way of physical defenses. However, they have their speed to help them outrun most of the creatures that share their range. Also, hyenas are pack animals that live together with many other members of their species. Together, they can scare off or even kill lions, the king of the jungle.

Leopards are solo creatures with enough speed to leave most animals in the dust. Moreover, they can climb trees and avoid some predators in that manner. Fortunately, they also hide well in the foliage of trees. Humans have been surprised to see leftover carcasses falling out of seemingly random trees only to discover it was a leopard’s home.

Leopards have better defenses than hyenas.

Leopard vs Hyena: Offensive Capabilities

Hyenas are pack hunters, but they are powerful as individuals. In fact, they have an incredibly powerful bite for a creature their size. They can bite down with 1,100 PSI and have conical teeth that help them break the bones of their prey.

Being able to quickly shear off a chunk of flesh has benefits when considering that these animals must compete with lions and cheetahs for kills. Sometimes, they can only snag a quick bite before being chased from a kill.

Leopards rely on their powerful bite and incredibly sharp claws to bring down and kill prey very quickly. Most often, they will deliver a single bite to the neck or head of their prey, instantly ending the fight.

The leopard has powerful offensive measures when considering its power and ambush predation.

Leopard vs Hyena: Predatory Behavior

Hyenas are cursorial predators that work in packs to harry and weaken their prey before taking it down. They’re not as large or powerful as lions, so they need to be smart while hunting to avoid injury when taking down big animals like zebra. They’re not above stealing the kills of other creatures, either.

Leopards are ambush predators, but they’re unique. Many other big cats will ambush a creature from quite far away and then chase it down. The cheetah is such a mammal, but the leopard saves its stamina by creeping closer to the prey before attacking. It hunts mostly at night, but it is not afraid to attack prey when an opportunity presents itself.

When the leopard attacks, it uses its speed and power to bring down the prey while digging in with its sharp claws. The leopard always seeks to land a single bite on the neck or head to bring the battle to an end as fast as possible.

Leopards have more refined predatory behaviors.

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

Types of Jaguar cats - leopard
Leopards hunt prey individually, which would prove critical in this fight.


A leopard would win a fight against a hyena. The big cat is too skilled and deadly for the hyena to beat in a fight. Hyenas are used to fighting with backup in the form of their pack mates. However, they would come into this fight alone, putting them at an instant disadvantage.

Meanwhile, leopards live, hunt, and fight alone. Moreover, they take down big prey all by themselves. If the leopard was allowed to ambush the hyena, the fight would be over in seconds with the leopard’s mouth around its enemy’s neck.

On an even playing field, the leopard and hyena would likely test the other’s limits, going in for a bite or two. The leopard doesn’t just rely on its teeth, though. The cat would use its claws to slash at the hyena, causing pain and perhaps making the creature recoil. The leopard needs a brief opening to bite the head or go for the neck, which is exactly what it would do in a close-range fight like this.

Eventually, the leopard will use its speed, agility, and experience to break through the hyena’s defenses and land a fatal bite. Sure, the hyena might give as good as it gets so that the leopard could take some damage. In the end, though, the leopard wins.

What Animal Can Take Down a Leopard?

Male and Female Lion
Lions are far heavier than leopards and have a greater bite force

©Lara Zanarini/Shutterstock.com

An animal capable of outdoing it in terms of sheer power, not to mention weight, and strength. Enter Panthera leo, the maned king of the jungle. The apex predator capable of taking on the fearsome Cape buffalo would bring to the duel a maximum weight of approximately 500 lbs which is far greater than the leopard’s of 173 lbs.

The lion would also bring a bite force of 650 psi which although far lower than the jaguar’s of 1,500 psi, or even the tiger’s of 1,000 psi, is over twice the leopard’s of 310 psi. With its greater size and 58.8% muscle mass which is the greatest of any predator, the lion will simply be able to deal a greater degree of damage to its more slightly built opponent.

Especially since its fangs and claws are capable of growing to 4 inches and 1.5 inches respectively, as opposed to a leopard’s which are only capable of growing to 2 inches, and 1 inch. And thanks to its mane, the lion would be somewhat protected from attacks aimed at its neck region.

There is also the fact that the tawny carnivore is rather gregarious and may also be in the company of other lions. In which case the best option would be for the leopard to execute a quick getaway.

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About the Author

I've been a freelance writer since 2013, and I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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