The chance of seeing a wolf vs lion play out in nature is almost non-existent, but that doesn’t mean we can’t play out the scenario by examining some key facts about wolves and lions. Let’s delve into this information so we can figure out where we’d place our bets.
Does Size Matter?
When it comes to size, the lion has a monumental advantage over the wolf. While a male grey wolf can weigh up to 175 pounds and can get up to 6 feet long, an average male lion weighs in at more than 420 pounds and is 9 feet long. This size advantage is a steep hill for the wolf to overcome, however don’t be so readily to count the wolf out yet.
Consider the honey badger. It is the epitome of the phrase "it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog." What the honey badger lacks in size, it more than makes up for in tenacity and grit. The honey badger weighs around 20 pounds and is capable of defending itself against much larger animals, including lions. Check out this footage of a honey badger defending itself against 6 lions!
When it comes to hunting and fighting, lions are capable of taking down large prey such as zebras, wildebeest and impalas.
They have two distinctive and deadly weapons to unleash on its opponent: razor sharp claws and ferocious teeth.
A lion has four claws on each paw and each claw can grow up to one and a half inches long, allowing easy disembowelment or incapacitation of prey.
The dagger-like incisors in a lion’s mouth can grow up to four inches long and one bite from a lion produces more than 650 pounds per square inch!
On top of these weapons, lions have powerful legs that are capable of propelling their 400 pound bodies 36 feet in the air.
On the contrary, wolves are only equipped with their teeth for attacking.
Wolves are pack hunters and regularly prey upon large animals such as deer, elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep and caribou.
They have 42 teeth which have evolved for biting and killing prey. A wolves incisors get up to 2.5 inches long and when they bite down on prey they exert more than 400 pounds per square inch. However when wolves attack they do not dispatch their victims quickly; their prey usually die of blood loss, muscle damage or shock.
While lions and wolves are both strong and share killer jaws, one major difference is their level of endurance: how long they can run without having to stop?
Wolves are like marathon runners. They can run for miles tracking prey and still have the energy to attack. And we’re not talking a casual jog here. The average gait of a wolf is 43 mph and can maintain this for a minimum of 20 minutes!
Lions, on the other hand have terrible stamina. They rely on short and powerful bursts of energy to take down prey and are unable to pursue an animal over long distances.
Although they can reach speeds of up to 50mph, they can only sustain that speed for only a short distance.
What wolves lack in size and strength, they make up for in collaboration and intelligence. They are extremely clever and able to apply strategy to a hunt. Within packs, individuals wolves typically carrying out specific roles during a hunt. Some wolves serve as scouts who observe prey days in advance. Herders lure and confuse prey and wolves are smart enough to know they should only go in for the kill when the animal is tired.
In the wild both the wolf and lion have no known predators, however lions routinely have to defend their pride against the threat of another lion trying to take its position. This is a constant risk. That means lions are regularly tested in the field of battle against other lions. This is a huge advantage over the wolf who does not have to face similar clashes of dominance.
Lion vs Wolf: Who Would Win?
Taking all of these factors into consideration, if a lion and a wolf were to fight, the lion would come out on top 10 out of 10 times. The lions is too big, too strong and too battle hardened.
In a direct confrontation, the lion would pounce on the wolf, pin it down, and do as it pleases with the wolf. The wolf would have no opportunity to launch any offense whatsoever.
The only way a wolf could win is if it used strategy. The wolf would need to run from the lion, tire it out and then seize the opportunity to get a grip on the back of its neck and crush its vertebra or slice an artery. However, that could be a difficult task, considering the lion’s has a thick mane to protect its neck.
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