Lion vs. Tiger


Lion vs. Tiger is always a fascinating contest, as it captures the attention of all big cat lovers. Lion is a crowned as a king of plain lands of Africa while tiger holds its reign across the dense forests of Asia. Both animals are known to mankind for thousands of years but today they are fighting for their survival. Worst still little is known and discovered about these magnificent big cats. Even a profound and in depth comparison of these two beasts hasn’t been compiled in a meaningful manner for the people. Perhaps; it is the right time now to make an in depth comparison and draw the conclusions. Some perspectives about lion vs tiger are already vindicated while others may end up on a never ending debate. So let’s bring on the contest of these two cats and see which one of them is on the advantage.
Note: Within comparison pictures of this article, there is a male lion and a female tiger. Practically; it is very difficult to have male lion and a male tiger together because of their aggressive nature.

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Lion vs Tiger Comparison in terms of their physical appearance and behavior.
Lion vs. Tiger is always an impressive comparison because both of these big cats are in neck to neck with one another; when it comes to their physical appearance. Photo courtesy of 

When it comes to the weight comparisons of big cats; lions only come second to the tigers. According to the weighing statistics; the biggest lion breed usually weighs around 500 pounds; whereas; the biggest tiger breed (The Siberian Tiger) weighs well over 600 pounds. According to many researchers; it is very rare for lions to even reach a weight of 500 pounds in the wild. The biggest lion ever in the wild was around 690 pounds which was shot in Kruger National Park in 1936. On the other hand; the biggest tiger ever recorded in the wild was more than 846 pounds. This tiger was shot at Russian Federation’s Sikhote Alin Gory Mountains in 1950. Normally it is very common for the male Siberian Tigers to weigh well over 600 pounds. Even the female Siberian Tigers sometimes weigh as equal as the lions i.e., weighing well over 450 pounds. Therefore; weight advantage goes to the tiger.
Weight Comparison = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs Tiger Weight Comparison. Tiger has more weight than a lion.
Average weight for a Siberian tiger is around 600 pounds; while an average weight for a male lion is around 500 pounds. Photo courtesy of 

Tigers also topple lions when their body lengths are measured. According to the observers; normal length for a tiger is around 9 to 10 feet long. On the other hand; the normal length for a lion is around 8 to 9 feet long. Tiger clearly has an advantage of a foot or so over the lion regarding its body length.The longest recorded length for a tiger is around 13 feet long, whereas; the longest recorded length for a lion is around 11 feet. It is believed that this long length of the tiger allows him to gain more body weight than a lion. This also means more muscle power for a tiger as compared to the lion. Please do keep in mind that these lengths have been measured from the tip of their noses to the tip of the tails. Among the total lengths of lions and tigers; the tail comprises of 20 to 25% of the overall length.
Length Comparison = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs Tiger Length Comparison. A Tiger's length is around 9 to 10 feet long wihle a lion is around 8 to 9 feet long.
Average length for a Siberian Tiger is around 8 feet while an average length of a male African lion is around 9 feet long. Photo courtesy of 

Along with lengths; big cats also have reasonable heights which make them a powerful beast. The height of the big cat can easily be evaluated; if the big cat sits on its hind legs and stands on its front two paws. The height is measured from the paws to the tip of its ears. Some observers also measure shoulder lengths as well. Tigers definitely have an advantage in this regard; as their heights are longer than that of the lions. The average height for a male Siberian tiger can be as long as 5.3 to 5.5 feet while for a lion it is usually around 5 feet to 5.2 feet. However; at shoulders a Siberian Tiger’s height is nearly 4 feet long, while an African lion is marginally smaller than 4 feet.
Height Comparison = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs. Tiger Heigh Comparison. A Siberian Tiger is bigger in height than an African Lion.
A Siberian Tiger is bigger in Height than an African Lion. Shoulder heights as well as the sitting heights of the Siberian tiger are bigger than the African lion. Photo courtesy of  

When it comes to speed and sprinting; the tigers again have an edge over the lions. In speed measurements; females are faster than males in both species. The average sprinting speed of a male lion is around 35 miles per hour. On the other; the average sprinting speed of a male tiger is recorded to be around 40 miles per hour. Lionesses are even faster than the male tigers. Their sprinting speed is around 43 to 45 miles per hour. But the fastest ones are the tigresses; who have a sprinting speed of nearly 50 miles per hour. It should be noted that the elongated body of the tigers; helps them to gain momentum while speeding. Male lions have a huge mane which restricts them from running while male tigers, lionesses and tigresses all have perfect aerodynamics to sprint faster than a male lion. These sprints are measured over short distance i.e., 25 to 50 meters at maximum. And they are measured at Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, USA.
Speed Comparison = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs Tiger Speed Comparison. Tigers are faster than lions in terms of their speeds as well.
A tiger is slightly faster than a lion, when it comes to the speed of lion vs. tiger. Tigresses are the fastest among lionesses, tigers and lions. Photo courtesy of 

So; who has got a bigger skull; lion or a tiger? In this comparison; a lion definitely has an advantage over a tiger; as its skull measurement is bigger than that of a tiger. Bigger skull means bigger impact and in normal cases a bigger bite force as well; especially for the carnivores. Normally; a lion has an average skull size of 380 millimeters; whereas; a tiger has an average skull size of around 351 millimeters. A lion has a concave skull; whereas; a tiger has a convex skull. Additionally; lion does have a mane near his skull and neck; which further makes his head bigger than that of a tiger. So definitely; the edge goes to lion; when it comes to the skull measurements and its size.
Skull Comparison = Advantage Lion

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Lion vs Tiger skull size comparison. A lion has a bigger skull than a tiger.
A male African lion's skull is bigger than the skull of male Siberian Tiger. Photo courtesy of 

A bigger skull for a lion may also mean a bigger bite force; but is bigger skull a good indicator of a bigger bite. Let’s take an example of Hyena; it has a smaller skull than a lion but its bite force is 3 times stronger than a lion. Basically; it is the jaw muscles that generate the bite force for the big cats. According to National Geographic’s documentary; a lion and a tiger can both generate a bite force of well over 400 pounds but that was just an assumption. According to Christiansen and Wroe, a tiger has a bigger bite force than a lion. They found that; a lion has a bite force of 357 pounds while a tiger has a bite force of 392 pounds.
Bite Force Comparison = Advantage Tiger

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Bite force of a Tiger. A tiger has a stronger bite force than a lion.
A tiger has a stronger bite force than a lion. The bite force of a lion is 357 pounds and bite force of a tiger is 392. Photo courtesy of 

Canine teeth are common in both lions and tigers. Bigger canine teeth also mean bigger impact on the prey. Among the big cats clouded leopards are believed to have longest canine teeth. However; in a comparison between a tiger and a lion; tiger has longer canine teeth than a lion. The lengths of canine teeth of tiger are about 78 millimeters while a lion has canine teeth of about 70 millimeters. This means that any canine related impact and damage from the tiger will be marginally bigger than that of a lion. The tiger has a double advantage here because previously not only his bite was powerful but now his canine teeth are bigger than the lion.
Canine Teeth = Advantage Tiger

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A tiger has bigger canine teeth than a lion. Lion vs tiger canine teeth.
Canine teeth of tiger are slightly bigger than the canine teeth of the lion. Photo courtesy of 

When it comes to intelligence, a tiger again topples a tiger. Intelligence level among species is measured on the basis of cranial volume. So; when it comes to cranial volume in between lion vs. tiger, a tiger is definitely the winner. The cranial volume found for a tiger is around 0.92 cubic centimeters, whereas; the cranial volume for a lion is measured to be around 0.75 cubic centimeters. Among all the big cats a tiger has the biggest cranial volume. This further means that tigers should be considered as intelligent of all the other big cats as well. Therefore; in lion vs tiger comparison the advantage goes to tiger. This is the key reason that tigers throughout the world has adapted to so many climates, prey options and living conditions.
Intelligence (Cranial Volume) = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs tiger Intelligence. A tiger is more intelligent than a lion.
A tiger owns lion when it comes to intelligence. A tiger is more intelligent than a lion. Photo courtesy of 

When it comes to roaring comparison of lion vs. tiger, a lion is more roaring than a tiger. According to the statistics, a lion’s roar can be heard 5 miles away, whereas; a tiger’s roar can only be heard at just 2 to 3 miles away. Lions definitely have a huge edge over tigers when it comes to the roaring power. According to National Geographic; hearing a roar of a lion is just like having a passenger jet at just 150 feet above you. The tiger just simply lags behind lion, when it comes to the roaring sound.
Roaring Comparison = Advantage Lion

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A lion has a louder roar than a tiger. Lion vs Tiger roar comparison.
A lion has a more louder roar than a tiger. A lion's roar can be heard 5 miles away while a tiger's roar is heard around 3 miles away. Photo courtesy of  

Tigers have a definite advantage over lions, when it comes to swimming. Even though lions do swim but they rarely do it under extreme conditions. Otherwise; lions prefer not to swim. Lions also avoid hunting within water as well. Only Swamp pride in Africa is known to have adaptability with water. Tigers on the other hand love to swim in deep waters and they are fully adept at it. Tigers are even known to swim couple of miles in rivers for their hunting. Moreover; they are also known to attack fishermen by a surprise pouncing into the boat. Therefore; when it comes to swimming and hunting in waters; tigers definitely own lion in this regard.
Roaring Comparison = Advantage Lion

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A tiger is a better swimmer than a lion. Lion vs tiger swimming comparison.
Tigers love to swim. A tiger is a better swimmer than a lion. Lions avoid swimming and they rarely swim. Photo courtesy of 

When it comes to hunting; lions hunt in groups. Usually; lionesses hunt for the whole pride and male lions only makes rare contribution. However; nomadic male lions are specialized hunters and they grow up young while hunting on their own. But still during their nomadic period; they form a coalition of 2 to 3 male lions for hunting. Tigers on the other hand are fully solitary animals and they hunt alone throughout their lives after leaving their mothers. This makes them skillful hunters. Tigers are known to single handedly kill gaurs and rhinos on their own; while a lion takes help of the group to bring down the large preys. So when it comes to individual hunting a tiger has an edge over a lion while in group hunting a lion will always outclass tiger.
Individual Hunting Comparison = Advantage Tiger
Group Hunting Comparison = Advantage Loin

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Lion vs tiger hunting comparison. Lions hunt in group while tigers are solitary hunters.
Lions are group hunters. Male lions rarely hunt; while tigers are solitary hunter. Tigers are more expert hunter than a lion. Photo courtesy of 

Both lions and tigers have powerful paws and claws. Paws are considered as the main armor in hunting for both of these cats. But whose paws are stronger in between these two big cats? Tigers certainly have edge over lions regarding their paw sizes as well. According to one observation; a lion’s claws were about 12.9 cm wide while a tiger’s claws were 16.5 cm wider. This also means that tiger paws will be heavier and will carry more power than that of a lion. Therefore; in the comparison of claws; a tiger is victorious as compared to lion, when it comes to the sizes of their claws.
Paw Size Comparison = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs tiger paws and claws size comparison. Tiger has bigger and stronger paws and claws.
A tiger has bigger paws and claws as compared with lion. Photo courtesy of 

Tigers again have an advantage over lion, when it comes to paw and claw striking. Not only the tigers use their paws and claws more often in their fights but they are experts at it to topple their opponents. Tigers are known to standing on their back feet and start striking multiple times like a boxer in a ring. Lions on the other hand also use paws in the fighting, but not with that much of a skill as compared to that of a tiger. Usually; a lion uses only its one paw in a fight. Tiger leads lion in claw striking by 3 to 1. This means that a lion will only manage to trigger a single claw strike while a tiger will strike three claws in a single instance. Faster claw striking also means more damage to the opponent and less strikes back on the face. Therefore; tiger own lions in terms of its paw and claw striking ability.
Paw and claw Striking = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs tiger Claw Strike Comparison. A tiger has strong claw strike than a lion.
A tiger has a better claw striking ability than a lion. Tigers claw striking is faster, heavier and power than that of a lion. Photo courtesy of 

Protection gear is an important part of any fight and very few animals have them. In the cat family lions have a huge mane around their neck and head which not only makes them look bigger but it also protects their neck as well. Tigers do not have such luxury. Some male tigers do have a puff of hair around their neck but that will be too small when compared with lion’s mane. In many instances of lion vs lion fights; usually the killer blow is made on the spine or on back side rather than on the neck of lions. So lion definitely has an advantage over tiger; when it comes to defensive gear. The mane of the lion will always protect his neck in any fight.
Defensive Gear = Advantage Lion

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A lion has an advantage of mane around his neck as a protection armor. Lion vs tiger mane comparison.
A lion has a mane around his neck which protects his neck. Tigers do not have manes around their neck. Male tigers do have puff of bigger hair around their necks. Photo courtesy of 

In any fight, agility holds a key for the success and in between the king of the beasts. In lion vs tiger, this factor can be very decisive indeed. So the question is; who is more agile in between a lion or a tiger? When it comes to agility; the experts usually favor tiger because he is more agile and possesses stealth attacking capabilities. Paws and claws striking capability of tiger is more than a lion. Maneuverability of a tiger is also much better than a lion. Lions are generally not that much agile as compared to tigers. Some experts believe that their big mane hinders their agility level during fighting while other experts typically regard lions as simply lazy big cats.
Agility Level = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs tiger agility comparison. A tiger is more agile than a lion.
A tiger is more agile than a lion. A lion is usually considered as laziest of the big cats. Photo courtesy of 

When it comes to attack on humans; or man-eater big cats, tigers have again better record than a lion. Man-eater is not a skill but it does carry a certain degree of psychological impact on the humans. According to the estimates from India, a Bengal Tiger named as, Champawat killed 436 people in India. On the other hand; there has been record of a lion pride eating 2 people per week for 15 years. The famous Tsavo lions; have also killed 40 people, during the 20th century as well. Similarly; a single lion has also killed 40 local individuals in 1943. So in terms of man-eaters big cats, a tiger turns out to be a bigger man-eater than a lion. Since tiger live in dense jungles; therefore, identifying and tracking a tiger is more difficult than a lion, which live on plain lands.
Man-eaters = Advantage Tiger

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A tiger is a bigger man-eater than a lion. A tiger has a worst record as man-eater than a lion.
Tigers are reknowned man-eaters throughout centuries. They are still considered as man-eaters even today. photo courtesy of 

Lions do have a population advantage over tigers. There are around 20,000 lions in the wild today, whereas; there are only 3500 tigers in the wild as of 2017. So lions definitely have numbers advantage as compared to the tigers. Lions live in groups; this group living helps them to protect their cubs in a much better way than tigers, who live as solitary animals. This is the key reason that population of the lions are striving in Africa; while the tigers are on endangered list. Therefore; the population advantage definitely goes to lion in this regard.
Population = Advantage lion

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Population Comparison of Lion vs Tiger.
Lions are more in numbers as compared to the tigers in the wild. There are only around 3000 to 4000 tigers are left in the world. Photo courtesy of 

According to the circus experts; lions are at their best when it comes to bluffing. This also means that lions play their card of scaring their opponent before making a fight. National Geographic showed in one of their documentary that a lion named as Maran successfully defended its territory against 3 nomadic lions by just roaring and scaring them off. Circus experts believe that even if a lion fights, it fights half-heartedly. Tiger on the other hand; when fights he truly means it. A tiger usually looks more confident and composed in fighting as compared to a lion. So in any fight of a lion vs tiger, a lion has an advantage by playing the bluff of scaring off his opponents.
Fighting Account (Lions are Bluffer) = Advantage Lion

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Lion vs Tiger bluff Fight. A lion is a bluff fighter.
Lions never fight with their heart. They play to bluff off and scare their opponents.. Photo courtesy of 

Today there are more lions and tigers in captivity than in the wild. About more than 50% of these lions and tigers are in USA and majority of them are in circuses. Circus individuals work both with lions and tigers. According to one circus expert, named as Robert Edmund Sherwood, if you put three lions and one tiger in a cage, the tiger will come out battered and disfigured but still victorious while all the three lions will stay behind the bars as dead. Sherwood; believed that lions mostly play bluff during the fight and they are cowards from inside. On the other hand; tigers are best fighters he has ever seen among big cats.
Fighting Account (One Tiger vs Three Lions) = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs tiger fight. A tiger will always win fight.
According to Robert Edmund; in a lion vs tiger fight a tiger will always. He believes that lions are usually cowards as compared to the tigers. Photo courtesy of 

During the Mughal era at Sub-continent (Present Day India and Pakistan), a staged lion vs tiger fight was very common. In order to entertain their guests the Mughals famously used to arrange lion and tiger encounters. Evenly matched lion and tiger were picked for the fight and according to Roberts and Rand, tigers were always victorious. This account truly shows that lion is a no match for a tiger in a face to face encounter. Tiger at Mughal’s era was considered as the true king of the beasts. Tiger again has gained an advantage over lion from this account of Mughal’s era as well.
Fighting Account (Mughal’s Era) = Advantage Tiger

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Tiger vs lion fight in Mughal Era. Tiger used to win these fights.
Lion vs tiger fights were common during Mughal Era at Sub-continent. It was reported that tiger always used to win against the lion. Photo courtesy of 

Lion and tiger fights were also popular during the time of Roman Empire as well. This lion vs tiger fight was part of entertainment for the people of the whole Roman Empire. The fight used to take place at the famous coliseum of Rome. Even hungry tigers and lions were used to unleash over the gladiators fighting in the arena. According to the writers; tiger always used to defeat lion in that arena. It was very rare for a lion to kill a tiger in those fights. So the Roman Empire’s account also gives an advantage to the tiger in a fight with the lion.
Fighting Account (Roman Empire) = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs tiger fight during Roman Empire. Tiger used to win these fights.
Lion vs tiger fights were also common during the era of Roman Empire. Tiger used to win those fights against lions. Photo courtesoy of 

Lion vs tiger fight was also popular among the English Kings as well. In order to entertain their guests; an evenly matched pair of a male lion and a male tiger was selected for the encounter. People used to call it anultimate result to crown the king of the beasts. This event was also used to settle the king of the beasts’ disputes as well. And according to the results; tigers always used to take the crown among those fights. Therefore; from all ancient fight accounts from Mughal Empire, Roman Empire and English Kings, tigers have undisputed killed lions within the fights.
Fighting Account (English Kings) = Advantage Tiger

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Lion vs tiger fights during English Kings's era. Tiger used to win these fights.
Tigers also used to win the fights during the era of English Kings as well. Photo courtesy of  

Most recently a rare lion vs tiger fight took place at one of the zoos in Turkey. In that fight a tiger’s paw got stuck in the lion’s mane, and when the tiger further thrust his claw inside lion’s mane, the tiger cut off his jugular vein. This incident specifically proved that lion can be at a disadvantage with the presence of its mane. But the question is “Were these two big cats evenly matched at the zoo?” But we can give tiger an edge here again.
Fighting Account (Turkish Zoo) = Advantage Tiger

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In a lion vs tiger fight at Turkish Zoo a tiger killed a lion.
Most recently in 2011; a lion vs tiger fight accidentally took place at Turkish Zoo. In that fight a tiger killed the lion. Photo courtesy of 

There are many accounts in which a lion has killed a tiger as well but in most of the cases the tigers were very young, female tigers, old tigers or they were trapped in some location. Other than that a fully mature tiger has always defeated a lion in all of the historic events i.e., English Kings, Roman Empire, Mughal Emperors etc. In all these fights an evenly matched lion and a tiger have contested against each other and the tiger has been the victorious one.

Author:

Published Date:

Last Modified: March 30, 2017

Publisher: LIGERWORLD

Genre: Lion vs Tiger, Lion Fight, Tiger Fight, Lion vs Tiger Comparison

Copyright Holder: © Ligerworld - All Rights Reserved

Copyright Year: 2017


Sources and References

  • Tigers of the World: The Science Politics and Conservation of Panthera tigiris! Tigers of the World!
  • Big Cats: Physical Characteristic! Big Cats (Lions, Tigers and Jaguars etc.) and their Physical Characteristics
  • Siberian Tigers: Camouflaged Hunting Mammals! Siberian Tigers
  • Animal Records: The Siberian Tiger! Siberian Tiger Records
  • Here Comes Circus: Lion vs Tiger by Peter Veney! Lions are Bluffer
  • Tiger Tales: Tracking the Big Cat across Asia! Big Cat Tales
  • Zoo: Animals, People, Places! Lion vs. Tiger Fights
  • Animals for Show and Pleasure in Ancient Rome! Lions and Tigers in Ancient Rome
  • Legends and Stories about the True King of Beasts! Lion vs Tiger! Stories about Lions and Tigers
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  • Here we go again: Recollections of an Old Circus Clown! Lion vs. Tiger Fights from the Circus
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  • Principles of Animal Mechanics! Lions and Tigers
  • Infections from Lion and Tiger Bites! Lion vs Tiger Bites
  • Tiger Genome and Comparative Analysis of Lion and Snow Leopard Genomes! Genetics of Tigers and other Big Cats!
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  • If you have any queries regarding ligers just feel free to contact us at sunnyitec@gmail.com.

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    Lions have also killed tigers in different fights as well.
    On many occasions when a lion has killed a tiger, the tiger was usually a female tiger, an old tiger or a juvenile tiger. Photo courtesy of