Firstly, what a great site! I've spent hours on it viewing the submitted queries/questions and answers. All fascinating stuff!

My question, prompted by the bear vs lion question, is who would win in a lion v tiger confrontation? My hunch is tiger, but please illuminate me!


Hi Thom,

Anyone's guess! Probably an even(ish) match, although tigers can grow bigger than lions... Don't know which species is the more aggressive, but I'm leaning towards tigers as well...


My understanding is that predators generally avoid confrontation so the one that is more intimidating may win the fight even before the actual fight begins.  In that sense, a lion has a bigger skull and larger facial region, and coupled with the mane (in the male lion) it would certainly look very formidable.  I would think that the lion therefore would probably intimidate a tiger (perhaps even if the tiger was slightly larger).

I might as well comment about biting...in terms of absolute values, tigers tend to have a slightly higher bite force on average than lions.  However, when adjusted for size, they both have typical bite force for their sizes so they won't be that much different in terms of biting abilities...

Hi Thom, there is a fairly comprehensive article that addresses this question with good referencing and a systematic approach to the question here. No conclusion is drawn, but overall it seems that it will depend on the individuals involved, since the two species are pretty evenly matched, although tigers probably do have a slight edge over lions.

Just to pitch in further, I was led to believe that part of the function of the lion's mane was to protect the neck. Since male lions fight each other more often than do tigers (taking over prides) then this acted as a bit of a shield as well as a tool of intimidation. Thus they have rather better protection than the tiger and may also be (on average) more experienced at fighting other big cats.

I get the impression that the mane is a mixed blessing - some reports say that the mane makes it easier for the lion to be subdued since it provides something to hold onto (think of hair-pulling). The neck bites used in hunting are deadly and the mane may make these harder to deliver by an opponent, but the outcome of fights does not usually depend on neck trauma - usually it's the combination of multiple varied injuries that prove decisive (and sometimes fatal).

Additionally, tigers are very territorial and the males fight over mating rights to females on heat, so they actually fight fairly often, whereas (according to Schaller) most male lion fights involve a lot of posturing and little contact, unless the males are evenly matched or there is a consortium of younger males attacking a pride-holding alpha male. The mane seems to be more useful as a posturing tool to create the impression of size, thereby avoiding fights.