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Cougar Vs Wolf: Who Would Win?

Cougars and wolves are some of the most powerful predators in North America. They are both large, powerful mammals with sharp claws and teeth, and they both have no natural predators in the wild. But what would happen if these animals were to meet each other in a fight? In a battle of cougar vs. wolf, who would win? Keep reading to find out!

What is the Difference Between a Cougar and a Wolf?

What is the Difference Between a Cougar and a Wolf?
Cougar

Cougars and wolves are two completely different kinds of animals. Whereas a cougar is a large wild cat, a wolf is in the canine family.

Both cougars and wolves are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain. Though they often live in the same environments, they typically claim different territories and try to avoid each other–they rarely fight.

Why?

Because fights between predators can be extremely ugly, and even if one animal appears to have the edge, the fight can be unpredictable.

Wolves and cougars each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses that  would aid and hinder them if they were to fight each other. 

Let’s take a look at how these two animals would compare side by side to get a better idea of how they might fare in a fight. 

Size

Cougars are generally larger than wolves, averaging about 5 to 9 feet long and weighing from 75 to as much as 250 pounds, according to Big Cat Rescue. Wolves, on the other hand, average around 3 to 5 feet and weigh between 70 and 115 pounds, though large gray wolves can weigh as much as 150 pounds.

As you can see from the numbers, both animals can vary greatly in size. So, theoretically, a large gray wolf and a small cougar might be fairly close in size, and thus would be more evenly matched. 

Most likely though, the cougar would be much larger than the wolf and would have a significant advantage in a fight simply because of this greater size.

Speed

Cougars are generally faster than wolves as well. Wolves can run at top speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, but cougars can reach top speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

Of course, it’s unlikely that either the wolf or the cougar would be running full speed in a fight. But the difference in top speeds illustrates the overall difference in these two animals. 

Cougars are all around faster and more agile than wolves.

Power

When it comes to bite force, wolves actually have a slight advantage over cougars. Their jaws are longer, allowing them to clamp down harder and with more force.

Even then, the difference is not very large; wolves (gray wolves in particular) have a bite force of 400, while cougars have a bite force of 350. The wolf might be able to hold its own in this category, but only for a short period of time.

Again though, overall, cougars are generally more powerful than wolves because they are larger and faster. Since force equals mass times acceleration, the cougar’s greater mass, especially when running fast, will produce a greater overall force which could easily kill a wolf.

Aggression

Both animals are equally aggressive, though they tend to have their own territories and leave each other alone.

If a cougar gets too close to a wolf’s territory or young, then the wolf may fight to defend the area; the same is true if a wolf encroaches on a cougar’s territory. 

In times of food shortage, both animals may fight over food.

Both cougars and wolves are predators who know how to stalk and hunt prey, so both animals may attempt to use some of the same stealth techniques against each other.

Again though, fights between cougars and wolves are rare. They do happen occasionally, as discussed in the following video.

Defenses

Both animals have razor-sharp claws and teeth to help them defend themselves. They are not easily caught off-guard, so neither one is easy to sneak up on. 

Both wolves and cougars react quickly and aggressively to danger.

Wolves have the advantage of living in packs. If one member of the pack is engaged in a fight with a cougar, it could howl to the others, who could come and provide backup.

Though a cougar may easily defeat a single wolf, it would most likely have to flee from an entire pack of wolves.

Cougar Vs. Wolf: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Cougar Vs. Wolf: Who Would Win in a Fight?
Wolf

Again, cougars and wolves rarely fight each other, but fights do occasionally occur. And when they do, the cougar almost always wins.

This is because cougars are faster, stronger, and larger than wolves. They can do more damage with their powerful teeth and claws for this reason.

Cougars are usually strong and powerful enough to take a wolf in their mouth and whip it around, crushing its spine and killing it. 

In certain scenarios, the wolf may be able to get the upper hand, particularly since its bite force is stronger. It might be able to lock jaws with the cougar, and might even manage to crush the cougar’s skull if the cougar can’t retaliate quickly enough.

The wolf might also gain the upper hand if it calls for the rest of its pack because then the cougar would be outnumbered and could easily be defeated. Most likely though, the cougar would kill the wolf and flee the area before the other wolves arrive.

Conclusion

Cougars and wolves are both powerful apex predators that share many of the same habitats, though they rarely fight each other.

If they were to engage in a fight, the wolf might be able to damage the cougar’s skull with its powerful bite force, or it might call for the other wolves in its pack to provide backup. That said, cougars are usually larger, stronger, and more powerful than wolves, so in most cases, they will have the upper hand in any fight.

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