Lion vs Hyena: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: September 21, 2023
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Lions and hyenas are natural enemies that share much of the same range throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Both these mammals are fierce predators and live in packs. Being that these animals do have some similarities with each other, it’s important to ask: who would win a lion vs hyena fight? Although we can look at observed cases of predation between the two for the simpler answer, we can also take a scientific approach to answer this question.

By comparing these two animals on several points of data, we can determine which creature is most likely to survive a confrontation!

Comparing a Lion and a Hyena

lion vs hyena
Lions and hyenas are strong predators that share a range in Africa.
SizeWeight: 264lbs – 550lbs
Length: 4.7ft – 8.2ft
Height: 3ft-4ft at shoulder
Weight: 90lbs-190lbs
Length: 3ft – 5ft
Height: 2ft-3ft at shoulder
Speed and Movement Type-35 mph (closing speed of 50mph for very short bursts)
-Sprints to enemies with a galloping gait
– Uses a galloping sprint  
Bite Power and Teeth650-1000 PSI bite power
-30 teeth including up to four
– 4-inch canines
1100 PSI bite power
– 32-34 teeth
– Conical teeth are meant for breaking bones  
Senses-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.
– Powerful sense of smell used for hunting and recognition of others
– Hearing powerful enough to hear prey miles away
– Great nighttime eyesight
Defenses– Stays with pride for safety in numbers
– Large size
– Can quickly run away from enemies
– Speed
– Safety in numbers
Offensive Capabilities– Sharp claws can gash foes
– Paw strikes can deliver a powerful, staggering blow  
– Strong biting power can splinter bones and tear prey open.
– Amazingly powerful bite
– Speed to overwhelm enemies
Predatory Behavior– Primarily stalks and pounces on the opponent
– Can act as an endurance predator
– Uses groups to take down prey
– Cursorial predator that chases after enemies in packs, similar to wolves
– Will eat carrion and steal others’ hunts.

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

lion face
The key factors in a lion vs hyena fight are physical traits and fighting abilities.


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The battle between a lion and a hyena will be a vicious flurry that starts and ends in less than a minute. Several factors play a role in determining the winner of such a contest. We have come up with seven points of data that will have the greatest impact on the fight, including the bodies and hunting methods of each animal.

Examining each data point will reveal the key advantages held by the lion and hyena, ultimately helping us determine which creature is most likely to win this battle.

Physical Features of Lions and Hyenas

Hyena Teeth- Hyena Bearing its Teeth
Hyenas have a stronger bite than lions!


The body structure of hyenas and lions is important to consider when we’re trying to figure out which mammal is going to win a fight. We’ve come up with five significant dimensions of physicality to parse with each one playing an important role in a hypothetical battle. See which advantages these animals have when fighting each other.  

Lion vs Hyena: Size

The hyena is roughly the size of a very large, domesticated dog. They can weigh up to 190lbs, stand 3ft tall at the shoulder, and grow 5ft long. That is quite big for a pack predator, but it’s small compared to a fully grown lion. Lions reach weights over 500lbs, stand up to 4ft tall, and grow over 8ft in length. The largest lion ever recorded in the wild weighed in at 690 pounds while captive lions have exceed 800 pounds. While prehistoric hyenas weighed in excess of 300 pounds, today they’re significantly smaller than lions.

Lions get the advantage for size with ease.

Lion vs Hyena: Speed and Movement

Being able to attack, retreat, and efficiently reach max speed is important in a fight. Hyenas are swift, reaching speeds of up to 40mph with a galloping gait. Lions run similarly, but they can reach maximum speeds of 50mph for very short periods.

Lions get the advantage in terms of speed and movement.

Lion vs Hyena: Bite Power and Teeth

Lions are powerful creatures, but they do not have the strongest bite. They bite with 650PSI (other estimates claim 1000PSI), and they have 4-inch canine teeth that can bite deeply into animals. Hyenas have one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom, over 1100 PSI. Their teeth are long and conical, perfect for breaking bones.

Hyenas have the raw biting power, but lions have very large teeth, so this area is a tie.

Lion vs Hyena: Senses

Lions are made to hunt other creatures, so their senses are highly attuned to this purpose. Their night vision is amazing, their sense of smell is good, and their sense of hearing can hear prey from miles away.

Hyenas are very similar in that their sight and hearing are great and capable of sensing prey from far off. However, their sense of smell is better than a lion’s.

Hyenas have the sense advantage.

Lion vs Hyena: Physical Defenses

An animal’s physical defenses will keep them alive longer in battle. Lions are massive, muscle-bound creatures that have a lot of stamina for fighting. They also tend to live in packs that are nearly impossible to overcome. Lions also have their speed to keep them safe.

Hyenas are also pack animals that live in large groups, even outnumbering lions. They are large for terrestrial predators, but they’re not larger than other animals that roam the savannah. Their speed and agility are also powerful defenses.

Nevertheless, lions have better defenses as a whole.

Combat Skills of Lions and Hyenas

Lion Bite Force - Lion Roaring and Showing Its Teeth
Lions have large teeth, massive mouths, and long claws to deal damage to enemies.


Having a big, strong body is great, but that can only benefit an animal that knows how to fight. Take a look at the offensive powers and predator instincts of lions and hyenas.

Lion vs Hyena: Offensive Capabilities

Lions have a lot of offensive weapons as solo fighters. Their claws are long and sharp enough to rip open smaller, weaker animals. They also have massive teeth, a strong bite, and the ability to open their mouths wide enough to wrap around most prey’s vital areas in the head and neck.

Hyenas primarily use their bite to inflict damage, but they make good use of their speed to launch attacks.  

All in all, though, lions have a better arsenal that they use to greater effect.  

Lion vs Hyena: Predatory Behaviors

Hyenas and lions are both predators. Lions are ambush predators in some cases and endurance predators in others. Sometimes they partner with members of their pack, and other times they hunt solo. They are very adaptable creatures.

Hyenas are largely pack animals that hunt similarly to wolves, using their speed and endurance to wear down enemies while striking from many directions.  

Lions are more capable predators, so they get the nod for predatory behaviors.

What Are Key Differences Between a Lion and a Hyena?

Indian striped hyena
Hyenas are 3ft tall, 5ft long, and 190lbs, but lions are 4ft tall, 8ft long, and 500lbs.

©Dr. Meet Poddar/

Lions are larger, slightly faster, and stronger than hyenas. Hyenas have a more powerful bite and senses that match or slightly surpass lions. Both creatures are predators that can hunt in packs, but lions also hunt solo. Hyenas will often have their kills stolen by lions that use their size and prides to scare off others.

Lions are felines while hyenas last common ancestor with cats was 30 million years ago. These are some of the more prominent differences between hyenas and lions.

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

lion walking toward camera
A lion would win a one-on-one fight with a hyena.

© Fraulob

A lion would win a lion vs hyena battle. Lions have the advantage in the most important categories, including size, speed, and power. A solo hyena and lion would meet in open battle in the best case, or a lion would ambush the hyena in the worst case.

The fight would last less than a minute. Both creatures would engage each other and transform into a rolling mass of fur and muscle. The lion’s tremendous legs would pin the hyena while the lion jockeys for a position to land a death blow.

Eventually, the lion will bite the hyena in a vital area, killing it. This is how the fights pan out in real life. A hyena has a stronger bite, but it’s not large enough to bite around a large lion’s throat or head. Killing a lion would then be a matter of outlasting the larger, stronger creature, and that is simply not going to happen.

Can hyenas win in a battle versus lions? Yes, but generally that’s when a large group of hyenas manages to isolate a single lion that’s normally injured or elderly. For example, hyenas will sometimes attack isolated male lions that are at a disadvantage.

However, when it comes to a one-on-one battle, the lion wins and the hyena becomes a meal. In the wild, a single lion has fought off multiple hyenas at a time using its power and ability to instill fear in the other animal!

Could a Lion Beat a Tiger in a Fight?

Wild Bengal Tiger lying on the grass and yawns.
Most of the time, a tiger would defeat a lion in combat.


In a battle between lions and tigers, the location of the confrontation is an important factor in deciding which creature comes out victorious. This is because lions are pack-dwelling creatures, whereas tigers are almost always solitary. Accordingly, if a lion is to enter into a fight more difficult than it can handle alone, they are quick to call for backup from its pride when it is available to them. Almost all recorded instances of lions and tigers battling has occurred in captivity, where the lion did not have contact with a pride and thusly the tiger was always able to use its superior speed and tactical skills to take down the other cat. Since lions and tigers inhabit different environments in the wild, they rarely come into contact with each other outside of captivity, so we can’t know for sure how things would turn out for certain, but from what we know in a one-on-one fight a tiger would defeat a lion.

What Animals Can Beat a Lion?

Porcupine in defensive pose
Who knew that a porcupine could be the death of the king of the jungle?

©Pavel Kovacs/

The lion wasn’t named the “king of the jungle” for nothing? Lions are fierce apex predators, stronger and more intimidating than most animals roaming about in Africa. However, there are a few animals that can stand their ground and even take down lions (besides the tiger). Those animals include:

  • Elephants–their sheer size, tusks, and powerful hooves are formidable weapons against a lion.
  • Hippos–these animals are one of the most dangerous land mammals in the world and can utilize their powerful jaws that have an 1800 PSI bite force to kill lions.
  • Water Buffalo–their strength is in numbers, utilizing mobbing tactics to fend off lions, at times killing them. Their sharp horns can inflict puncture wounds on predators as well.
  • Porcupines–unwise younger lions at times try to take on a porcupine, and pay the price when they get stuck with countless barbed quills. If a lion is alone and gets too many embedded quills, it can die.
  • Rhinos–Lions are usually smarter than to mess with these creatures. Rhinos can weigh roughly 4,500 pounds, but a full-grown rhino can actually reach a speed of 35 miles per hour. Its horn is capable of goring an adult lion to death.

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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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