Coyote Vs. Dingo: Who Would Win A Fight? [Explained]

Photo: Elena Alex Ferns / Shutterstock

Coyotes are one of the most common types of wild canids in North and Central America. Dingoes are famous wild dogs in Australia – even though they also occur in Asia. These two apex predators live in different parts of the world and never meet in the wild.

Yet, if they would come together, who would win a fight?

Coyotes and dingoes are similar in size, but dingoes are slightly heavier. They have a higher strike force and a stronger bite. Moreover, dingoes are much more agile than coyotes, being able to jump and even climb trees easily. In a one-on-one, dingoes would likely take the coyotes out.

The table below shows a quick overview of coyote vs. dingo strength characteristics and facts*:

Body size3.3 to 4.3 feet3.5 to 4 feet
Weight20 to 50 pounds22 to 60 pounds
Speed43 mph37 mph
Leap height3 feet6.5 feet
Teeth length1.45 inches1.4 to 1.5 inches
Bite force727 PSI906 PSI
Strike forceUp to 2,150 lb.-ft./sUp to 2,220 lb.-ft./s
HabitatNorth & Central AmericaAustralia & Southeast Asia
Conservation statusLeast concernVulnerable

*Data in the table above is based on average figures for the Canis latrans (coyote) and Canis lupus dingo (dingo) species. Size, speed, strength, and behavior might vary between the various coyote and dingo subspecies.

Strike forces were calculated considering the top speed mentioned in the table and multiplying it by the max weight each species can reach.

Coyote Vs. Dingo: Key Differences And Similarities

Photo: Kristian Bell / Shutterstock

1. Body Size & Appearance

Dingoes and coyotes are two wild dog species living in different parts of the world. However, they are about the same size.

In fact, coyotes reach lengths between 3.3 and 4.3 feet. Dingoes can grow between 3.5 and 4 feet in length. A difference is the tail length, which is greater in coyotes – about 16 inches, whereas dingoes’ tails measure about 12 to 13 inches.

Height-wise, coyotes are about 24 inches tall at the shoulder. Dingoes generally stand at a height of about 22 to 23 inches.

From a visual standpoint, coyotes resemble smaller wolves. They have grayish- to yellowish-brown fur, large, triangular ears, and a long and narrow muzzle. Their tails are also bushy and always kept down when they run.

Dingoes have more dog-like features. Their lean bodies resemble those of greyhounds, and their large ears are permanently pricked.

The fur color is much more diverse compared to coyotes. Typically, dingoes have a ginger coat on the head and back that fades to whitish-tan under the chin, neck, and belly. The tail tips are white.

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Color variations include yellowish-tan but also darker tan and black, depending on where the dingo lives.

2. Weight

While the average dingo is slightly smaller in size than the average coyote, the Australian wild dogs are typically heavier.

Their heft varies from about 22 to 60 pounds, even if some sources claim they are lighter. The reason there is some contradictory information around their weight is that most dingoes are lighter, their heft rarely exceeding 40 pounds.

Coyotes are about the same weight, but they are generally lighter. Their heft varies from about 20 to 50 pounds.

3. Speed

The speed difference between dingoes and coyotes isn’t major, but coyotes have an advantage in this department.

In fact, they can pull off up to 43 miles per hour. Comparatively, dingoes reach top speeds of about 37 miles per hour.

Since these figures refer to the top speeds these two species can reach – the averages are lower for both of them – it’s safe to say that some of the fastest dingoes could outrun a slower coyote.

4. Leap Height

While coyotes may be faster, dingoes are undeniably excellent jumpers. They can leap about 6.5 feet high, and they are also excellent climbers – something people would expect from cats rather than wild dogs.

As far as tree climbing is concerned, dingoes mostly climb trees to catch prey. Their leaping abilities enable them to jump over fences and other obstacles, too.

It goes without saying that being able to climb and jump are crucial assets when fighting a potential opponent or predator.

Coyotes – much like most wild animals – can jump too. However, they rarely manage to leap higher than three feet in the air.

Despite their lower performance, coyotes can still escalate fences by jumping up and using their strong hind feet to push themselves up and over the obstacle.

While they don’t normally pursue prey vertically, there have also been reports about coyotes climbing into trees.

These facts confirm that both coyotes and dingoes are excellent predators that can overcome obstacles if needed. In a clash of species, though, dingoes would have an advantage.

5. Teeth Length

Another similarity between coyotes and dingoes is the size of their teeth. This doesn’t come as a surprise, considering that they are about the same size.

Generally, coyote canine teeth are about 1.45 inches long. Dingoes’ canine teeth are about the same length, ranging between one and 1.5 inches.

Canine teeth in both species are incredibly strong and sharp. Both dingoes and coyotes can use them to tear the flesh off bones and kill prey in a heartbeat.

6. Bite Force

A similar skull and teeth size may give the impression of similar bite force. However, coyotes have a much weaker bite.

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In a comparative study of bite forces in canids, researchers found that dingoes have a bite force quotient (BFQ) of 113.28. That is the equivalent of about 906 PSI.

Coyotes have a bite force quotient of only 94, according to the same study, which is about 727 PSI. A separate study found an even weaker bite force quotient for coyotes, of only 88, which would work out at about 680 PSI.

With this in mind, it’s safe to say that dingoes have around 200 more pounds of force in their jaw. That’s a lot in the kingdom world, giving dingoes the ability to kill prey and crush bones easier compared to coyotes.

7. Strike Force

While researchers have studied the bite forces in most carnivorous mammals, the contrary is true as far as strike forces are concerned. That’s because these apex predators mostly rely on the strength of their jaws to kill prey or ward off competition.

However, the strike force at the moment of the impact can be calculated by multiplying the speed at the moment of the impact by body mass.

For comparison purposes, we considered the top speed for each of these species, as well as the top weight.

Based on these factors, dingoes are stronger than coyotes.

To go into detail, dingoes can generate an impact force up to 2,220 lb.-ft./s, which is around 69 pounds of force. Coyotes are faster than dingoes, but they are also lighter. Thus, their impact force is up to 2,150 lb.-ft./s or around 66 pounds of force.

The difference is minimal, and, depending on the actual speed and individual weight, some coyotes can be stronger than dingoes. Yet, in a one-on-one between the largest individuals for each species, dingoes would have an advantage.

8. Behavior

Coyotes and dingoes display some behavioral similarities, but there are also important differences between the species.

Something that sets coyotes apart from most canids is their minimal social interaction. Unlike wolves that form packs and strong bonds between the pack members, coyotes have a semi-solitary lifestyle.

Coyote packs mostly consist of a mating pair and family members – usually their offspring. However, individuals generally hunt or forage alone. They may sleep together and display monogamous mating behavior.

However, coyotes don’t mate for life. Even though they can mate with the same partner for several years, they can switch partners at any time.

Dingoes’ behavior is closer to that of primitive dogs. Young adults are generally solitary, but they form associations to hunt large prey. These associations turn into packs that can grow up to 12 members.

Rival dingo packs rarely interact with one another, but they are territorial and will defend their home range.

Both coyotes and dingoes breed once a year. Generally, only the alpha pair produces offspring, the alpha female usually killing the pups of lower-ranking females that may have become pregnant.

Mating usually occurs in fall for Australian dingoes (between March and April) and in winter for coyotes (January to March). Asian dingoes usually mate between August and September.

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9. Diet

An important difference between coyotes and dingoes is their food habit.

Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores. They prefer fresh meat and generally eat prey they killed themselves. More often, coyotes go after smaller prey, including rabbits, rodents, lizards, amphibians, and even birds.

Fruits and other plant materials supplement their diet in the wild.

Depending on their home range location, coyotes may take advantage of the proximity to human settlements, feeding on household refuse or going after livestock, poultry, and pets.

Australian dingoes are primarily carnivores. Similar to coyotes, they hunt small prey alone. However, they often form packs and hunt larger prey together.

Their primary food choices include small mammals, reptiles, and birds. They can also eat kangaroos, sheep, cattle, and wallabies. Food plants are also part of their diet, but there are no traces of household refuse.

Curiously enough, Asian dingoes have dietary habits more similar to coyotes, including an omnivorous diet and taking advantage of resources found near human settlements.

10. Habitat

Coyotes and dingoes live in different parts of the world, but their habitats aren’t all that diverse.

Inhabiting North and Central America, coyotes can be found in open areas, grasslands, deserts, and forests. They can also be found in urban and suburban areas, as well as agricultural lands.

Dingoes live in Australia and Asia, but they are not as adaptable as coyotes. Their preferred habitats include plains, forests, and rural areas.

11. Conservation Status

An important difference between coyotes and dingoes is their conservation status.

The former is a common species found all across North America. Coyotes are easy to spot in the wild and urban areas alike, and they can be hunted. Their conservation status is “least concerned,” and the coyote hunting season is open year-round in some states.

Dingoes are a vulnerable species, even though they aren’t facing imminent extinction – there are still around 10,000 to 50,000 individuals across Australia alone. Yet, dingoes are a protected species and cannot be hunted.

Who Would Win A Fight?

Coyotes and dingoes are similar in many ways. They don’t share a habitat, but in an encounter, it can be difficult to tell who would actually win the fight.

The odds could go in favor of dingoes and coyotes alike, depending on the individual size, speed, and even age.

However, if we were to consider the ideal circumstances – the largest dingo fighting against the largest coyote – dingoes would be at an advantage.

They are heavier and more powerful than coyotes. Dingoes also have a stronger bite and are more agile. If the bets were open, we would put our stake on these canids.

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James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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