Lion vs Wolf: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Grey Wolf
© Holly Kuchera/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: March 7, 2023

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Lions and wolves are two of the most dangerous forms of cats and dogs alive today. Lions live in sub-Saharan Africa, but wolves prefer colder climates in North America, Europe, Asia, and some northern parts of Africa. Although these species do not interact, who can’t help but wonder how a lion vs wolf fight would pan out? They are both pack predators that are incredibly effective in their hunting methods.

We’ll take close look at the most significant ways that a lion and wolf measure up to one another in terms of physicality and fighting abilities. Then, we’ll reveal which animal has the highest chance of surviving a battle with the other!

Comparing a Lion and a Wolf

Lion vs wolf
Lions are fierce felines and wolves are powerful canines.
LionWolf
SizeWeight: 264lbs – 550lbs
Length: 4.7ft – 8.2ft
Height: 36in-48in
Weight: 80-150lbs
Length: 3.4ft – 5ft
Height: 26in – 36in
Speed and Movement Type-35 mph (can briefly reach 50mph)
-Sprints to enemies
35mph in short bursts
– Uses a galloping sprint
Bite Power and Teeth650-1000 PSI bite power
-30 teeth including up to four, 4-inch canines
400 PSI bite power, perhaps more in the wild.
– 42 sharp teeth
– 2-inch-long canines
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
– Keen sense of vision with front
-facing eyes like many predators.
– Wolves can hear creatures from miles away.  
Defenses– Stays with pride for safety in numbers
– Large size
– Can quickly run away from enemies
– Safety in numbers in its pack
– Speed to run away from danger  
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.
– Powerful bite with 2-inch teeth
– Sharp claws can lead to slashing attacks
– Has limited climbing abilities    
Predatory Behavior– Primarily stalks and pounces on the opponent
– Can act as an endurance predator
– Uses groups to take down prey
– Endurance predators that chase down and tire out enemies with consistent speed and sapping attacks  

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

Mysterious Gray Animals - wolf

A wolf vs lion fight would be settled by size, viciousness, and fighting skills.

©Holly S Cannon/Shutterstock.com

A fight between a lion and a wolf is not going to be decided by any one single factor. Instead, determining the winner of this contest requires a thorough look at an assortment of factors, from the size of the creatures to the ways they hunt others. We have compiled seven very important considerations that will tell us with some certainty which of these mammals would win a battle.

Physical Features of Lions and Wolves

A Lion in the African Desert

Lions can weigh over 500lbs, much more than wolves that weigh about 150lbs.

©2021 Photography/Shutterstock.com

The law of the wild is such that the larger, stronger creature wins a fight most of the time. Only especially smart, effective predators can punch about their weight and bring down a bigger opponent. Take a look at the physical features of lions and wolves and see which one gets the advantage in various scenarios.

Lion vs Wolf: Size

Lions are very large mammals that stand almost four feet tall, measure 8 feet long, and weigh over 500lbs. They are capable of taking down creatures even larger than themselves. However, the largest type of wolves only weigh about 150lbs on average. They’re 5 feet long with a height of about 3 feet. The largest wolf ever recorded tipping the scales at 175 pounds. That pales in comparison to the largest lion on record, which reached 827 pounds!

The lion has a distinct size advantage.

Lion vs Wolf: Speed and Movement

A lion can sprint towards prey at about 35mph on average, a speed that a wolf can match. Lions can reach 50mph in some cases, though. However, wolves are marathoners; they can run at a high speed for a lot longer than lions. They use their tirelessness to wear down prey before striking.

Lions have the advantage in speed and movement.

Lion vs Wolf: Bite Power and Teeth

Lions have 30 teeth including 4-inch canines that can unleash anywhere from 650PSI to 1000PSI bites when taking down prey. Wolves have 42 sharp teeth with 2-inch-long canines and a measured bite power of 400PSI. However, that measure was flawed and did not account for the unique way a wolf bites in combat. A wolf’s actual bite could be much stronger in the wild.

From what we know, the lion has a stronger bite and deadlier teeth, so it gets the edge.

Lion vs Wolf: Senses

Wolves and lions are both predators that use a variety of potent senses to find their prey. Lions have amazing vision, especially in low light. They have a good sense of smell that can pick up other animals’ markings, and they can hear prey from miles off.

Wolves also have a powerful sense of smell that is used to track prey. Their hearing is even greater, capable of sensing creatures from over a mile away. Their vision is highly attuned to movement, but not quite as keen as a lion.

All in all, these two probably have about equal senses, so they tie.

Lion vs Wolf: Physical Defenses

The key to a powerful offense is a good defense. Both the lion and wolf find safety in numbers and can use their speed to run away from any danger they encounter. Although they can each use their size to scare off prey, only the lion can use its immense size to demoralize enemies in such a way that a pack of hyenas has trouble finishing a single lion.

Lions get the advantage in terms of their physical defenses.

Combat Skills of Lions and Wolves

wolf howling on top or rock

Wolves use endurance hunting methods to wear down and kill their prey.

©Allison Coffin/Shutterstock.com

The physical traits of animals can help determine which has an advantage in a fight, but combat skills also play a major role. Take a look at how lions and wolves deal damage and kill their prey. This will give us a better idea of how a fight would play out.

Lion vs Wolf: Offensive Capabilities

The lion is loaded for bear in terms of fighting. They have sharp claws that can tear prey open as well as the strength to smack an enemy with their powerful paws and leave them reeling. Of course, it’s their bite that frightens their prey the most. Their long teeth and powerful bite are enough to kill much larger creatures, like wildebeests.

Wolves are also effective at fighting, using their long canine teeth, strong bites, and sharp claws to kill enemies. They can even pursue some creatures a short way up trees.

In many ways, these two creatures are the same in terms of offense, so we are giving them a tie in this category.

Lion vs Wolf: Predatory Behaviors

A lion is an apex predator that hunts in two ways. This large cat can be an opportunistic predator that identifies a tasty meal and moves in to kill it, or it can be a highly effective ambush predator. They can lie in wait for stragglers in a herd and then pick them off just as easily as they can lunge after a creature at the local water source.

Wolves are endurance predators that chase, harass, and injure their foe until it is too tired to continue. They can sap a creature’s energy until it doesn’t have the power to fight back.

The lion is more diverse in its predator behaviors, so it gets the advantage.

What Are Key Differences Between a Lion and a Wolf?

Grey Wolf in the Snow

Wolves are lighter and shorter than lions, but they have a much larger range.

©Holly Kuchera/Shutterstock.com

Wolves are canine carnivores that weigh 150lbs and reach lengths of 5ft, and lions are felines that weigh up to 550lbs and measure over 8ft in length. They’re both predators, but the lion prefers to ambush prey while the wolf wears down its enemies. Wolves live in North America, Asia, Europe, and a small part of Africa while lions live in sub-Saharan Africa.

These key differences between the two creatures along with the other factors throughout this comparison can help determine which creature wins in a fight.

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

How Long Do Lions Live

A lion would beat a wolf in a fight with relative ease, using patience and overwhelming power.

©Stephanie Periquet/Shutterstock.com

A lion would win in a fight against a wolf. Although lions and wolves are both carnivores with potent fighting abilities, a lion is overwhelmingly larger and stronger than a wolf.

The fight would begin the moment that a lion and a wolf sense each other, and it would not take long for them to seek out what they’re smelling and hearing. The lion probably won’t set an ambush for the wolf; this would be a direct fight.

The wolf would try its normal routine to wear down the lion, jump in for a bite or a slash, and then back away and keep moving. The lion is patient enough to wait out the testing phase, but it will eventually get its paws or teeth on the much smaller creature. After all, lions get a lot of practice killing smaller canines like hyenas.

As with the hyena, it would only take one mistake for the lion to lunge, snatch the wolf with its paws, and bite its throat and head, delivering fatal blows that would leave the feline the survivor of the battle.  

What Animal Can Take Down a Lion?

buffalo herd vs lion

African buffalos are capable of driving off lions and even injuring them

©iStock.com/Mark Haeussler

It might become a target for voracious lions in its old age. But in its prime, the Cape buffalo constitutes a true menace its herbivore status notwithstanding.

Capable of reaching 5 feet 6 inches at the shoulder, and weighing just under 2,000 lbs, it also comes equipped with a pair of heavy fused horns which end in sharp tips.

Several incidents exist of this immense bovid getting its own back on its number one nemesis. On one occasion in the Okavango delta, a huge male charged to the rescue of a female defending her calf. The female had already impaled a lioness but was surrounded and outnumbered by other members of the pride. The male avenged the attack and drove off the rest of the felines. Proof of just how deserving the buffalo is of its reputation.


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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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