Hyena vs Wolf [Differences & Strength Comparison]


Hyenas and Wolves are both capable and fearsome predators in their own right. They each have their own traits that are unique to them. One question that might arise when you think of these two animals is which one could win in a fight.

In this article, we will go through the specifics of what makes a hyena a hyena and a wolf a wolf before figuring out which animal would win in a fight.

What is a Hyena?

Hyenas, or hyaenas (family Hyaenidae) are carnivoran mammals of the family Hyaenidae found in Asia and Africa. Hyenas are small, omnivorous African mammals that look a lot like dogs, but are closely related to felines and viverrids. There are three hyena species — spotted, brown, and striped. Spotted hyenas are the largest of the three. All hyenas are more or less nocturnal.

What is a Wolf?

The wolf also known as the gray wolf or grey wolf, is a large canine native to Eurasia and North America. They have pointed ears, elongated snouts, and bushy tails that curl behind them as a means of expression. The average wolf typically weighs somewhere between 80 and 160 pounds. Wolves can live up to 13 years in the wild, but most die long before that age.

FamilyCarnivora familyCanine family
Length3ft – 5ft3.5 to 5 feet long
SpeedCan run up to about 37 mph36 to 38 miles an hour
Height2ft-3ft at shoulder26-36 inches
Weight88 to 190 lbs80-150lbs
Bite PowerAround 1,100 PSIAbout 406 PSI
FoodCarnivores or meat eatersCarnivorous and eat meat
ColorSandy, yellow, or grey coat complete with dark brown or black spotsMost common color for a wolf is a mixture of brown, grey, black
SoundMake cackling laughSounds like howls, barks, whimpers, and growls.

Hyena vs Wolf

In this section, we will take a deeper look at the chart and delve into the differences between a hyena and a wolf.

Hyena vs Wolf: Family

When you look at a hyena, you may wonder what kind of family they belong to. They sort of look like a mix of a cat or dog, but the thing is hyenas do not belong to either family. They belong to the Hyaenidae, which is a part of the Carnivora family! There are four members of the Hyaenidae family, and they are: the brown hyena, aardwolf, striped hyena, and spotted hyena.

The wolf or Canis lupus belongs to the canine family and is the largest member of it. There is thirty or more subspecies of wolves. The name gray or grey wolf is also something they are called so you will sometimes you will see them referred to by that name as well.

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Hyena vs Wolf: Face

The face of a hyena is a unique and curious thing. While the aardwolf are the smaller one of the four, there is a basic look they all have. Their head is on the broadside with larger-than-life ears and a wide muzzle. A wide, thick muzzle makes you think their bite power has to be pretty significant and later in the article we cover that.

A wolf’s face is pretty unique and differs from other canines out there. Its muzzle and ears are less on the pointed side, which is something you tend to see in other canine species out there. However, just because this is the case it does not make them any less of a fearsome predator.

Hyena vs Wolf: Length

Length of the hyena depends on what member of the Hyaenidae family you are looking at.  Spotted hyenas can be up to 4 to 5.9 feet long and brown hyenas 51 to 63 inches. For the two smaller members it is: striped hyenas can grow 39 to 45 inches long while the aardwolf is 33 to 41 inches.

The average size of a grey wolf is about 3.5-5 feet long. This is usually only found in male grey wolves. For females, they tend to run on the smaller side and can be about twenty percent smaller than their male counterparts.


Hyena vs Wolf: Height

The height of a hyena is not that great, but do not think this makes them any less impressive. Spotted hyenas are about 2.5 to 2.6 feet long and brown hyenas can get between 2.3 to 2.6 feet. For the smaller members, striped hyenas get only as tall as 26 to 30 inches in height while aardwolves are only 16 to 20 inches.

The average height of a grey wolf is about 30 inches. This is taken from them in a typical standing position around the area of the shoulder. Like with size, females are going to have a smaller height compared to male wolves. It does not make them any less impressive, but it is a fact.

Hyena vs Wolf: Weight

Weight of the hyena, again, depends on what member of the Hyaenidae family you are looking at. The spotted hyena, which is the largest, can range from 88 to 190 lbs. Brown hyenas are a little lighter, their weight ranging 75 to 160 lbs. For the striped hyena and aardwolf, their weights are on the smaller side. Aardwolves are exceptionally light, weight ranging from 17 to 30 lbs. while striped hyenas are 57 to 90 lbs.

Remember to keep in mind that the average weight is typical of a male wolf with the female weighing less. In wolves, the average weight is around 100 pounds. However, weight can vary. Sometimes they can weigh between 31 pounds, all the way to 143 pounds. It partially depends on the subspecies.

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Hyena vs Wolf: Habitat

Hyenas are mostly found in places like Africa. However, they can live in different habitats, which makes them unique. They can live in the woodlands, sub deserts, grasslands, savannas, woodlands, and even mountains up to about 13,000 feet. It seems like these animals truly can live anywhere!

The most interesting thing about wolves is that they can survive in a diverse set of habitats.  While they are mostly found in North America and Eurasia, they can survive in areas like woodlands, tundra, forest, grasslands, and deserts. Wolves being able to thrive in so many environments is just yet another thing that makes these animals impressive.

Hyena vs Wolf: Food

Hyenas are carnivores or meat eaters. They have a varied diet, which includes giraffes, birds, zebras, gazelles, birds, warthogs, wild dogs, antelopes, wildebeests, and even insects! Another thing they can eat is scavenged food because they are scavengers. Hey, if other animals leave it, why shouldn’t the hyena take advantage of it?

Similar to hyenas, wolves are carnivorous and eat meat. Some animals they prey on are deer, moose, bison, elf, and caribou. The interesting thing is that these food choices are large, hooved animals. It is not like wolves do not hunt smaller pretty, but they prefer bigger ones. Hey, sometimes it is go big or go home!

Hyena vs Wolf: Bite Power

Because hyenas can take down such animals like warthogs and wildebeests, it should be expected that their bite power is extraordinarily strong and not something to take very lightly. The spotted hyena has a bite force around 1,100 psi, which should not be surprising. Out of the four in the hyena family, this group is the largest.

The bite power of a wolf truly knows no bounds. Its psi or pressure per square inch, which is used to measure this type of thing, is about 406. While this is less powerful than the hyena, keep in mind that a wolf bite is nothing to laugh at.

Hyena vs Wolf: Speed

While there are animals that can run faster than a hyena, you should not scoff at their full speed. Spotted hyenas can run up to about 37 mph and the others in the family can reach around those same speeds. It is safe to say that you could not outrun a hyena. Maybe if you were Usain Bolt but is not a given.

Like we saw with hyenas, wolves are not known to be the fastest animals out there. They can reach pretty decent speeds, though. Wolves can get up to 36 to 38 miles an hour. This is usually in short bursts, which is still impressive in its own right! It is not like the average human can do that!


Hyena vs Wolf: Color

The color of a hyena depends on which member of the family you are talking about. Spotted hyenas are spotted with a sandy, yellow, or grey coat complete with dark brown or black spots. For brown hyenas, their coats are on the simple side, mostly black or dark brown. Striped hyenas and aardwolves have similar coat colors. They range from grey to straw-colored with a black muzzle and black stripes all over the body.

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The most common color for a wolf is a mixture of brown, grey, black, with some white thrown in there. However, you can also find white colored wolves that are almost covered in completely white fur rather than the dark-colored coat you tend to usually see. These types of wolves are usually found in the arctic area.

Hyena vs Wolf: Feet

The front legs of a hyena are longer than its back legs. Their paws have about four toes with claws that are non-retractable. It is the difference between their front and back legs that makes this animal so unique. If you spotted their silhouette in the wild, you could definitely tell it was a hyena you were looking at.

A wolf’s foot is a curious thing with webbing between the toes, which are considered well arched and long. If you look at their paws, you see they are on the long side. The most noticeable thing about their foot is the middle toe being longer than the rest.

Hyena vs Wolf: Sound

One of the most common things people know about hyenas is their cackling laugh they make. The ones that make this sound are the spotted hyenas while brown, striped hyenas, and aardwolves are usually on the quiet side. They just do not make the pitched giggle sound spotted hyenas do.

The way a wolf communicates is like others in the canine family. They make such sounds like howls, barks, whimpers, and growls. It is the howling that is most well-known. You think of wolves and automatically think of a wolf howling at night. However, they make sounds other than howling.

Hyena vs Wolf: Eyes

The eyes of a hyena are similar in size to a human believe it or not. However, like other animals their vision is limited for color. It is suspected that they can only see colors like blue and green.

Wolves’ eyes are pretty impressive. They look similar to dogs but are harsher and more piercing than the domestic dog’s eyes. Wolves’ eyes can range from amber to pale yellow. The eyes can even be green. You will not see blue or dark brown/black eyes on a wolf because this is what you see in dogs.

Who Would Win in a Fight? Hyena or Wolf

So, my dear readers, you now know everything there is to know about hyenas and wolves. The only question left to answer is which of these animals would end up winning in a fight and that honor belongs to the hyena? Why do you ask? Well, the answer is quite simple.

A hyena would win against a wolf. While the average size and speed is similar, hyenas can be much larger and just a little faster. Throw in their 1100 PSI bite power and the wolf does not stand a chance. This does not make wolves any less impressive, but if they find themselves going up against a hyena, chances are they are not going to make it out of the fight in one piece or even alive.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, animal lovers out there! Wolves and hyenas are both very impressive in their own right. In a fight, however, the hyena is going to come out the victor. They have their size, slightly better speed, and powerful bite.

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