Coyotes and jackals are two species of the Canidae family. They don’t live in the same geographic ranges – they don’t even live on the same continents.
Yet, they have similar prey preferences and could compete for resources should they come together. In such a circumstance, who would win a fight?
Coyotes are larger and stronger than jackals. They are also faster and, despite their semi-social behavior, live in larger packs. Jackals have stronger jaws and a more powerful bite than coyotes. However, the difference is minimal. They also live in pairs rather than in packs. Whether on their own or with a mate, jackals wouldn’t stand a chance.
The table below shows a quick list of facts and strength comparisons of coyotes vs. jackals*:
|Body size||3.3 to 4.3 feet||2.25 to 2.75 feet|
|Paw size||2 x 2.5 inches||1 x 2.25 inches|
|Weight||20 to 50 pounds||11 to 26 pounds|
|Speed||43 mph||40 mph|
|Teeth length||1.45 inches||Approx. 1 inch|
|Bite force||727 PSI||776 PSI|
|Strike force||Up to 2,150 lb.-ft./s||Up to 1,000 lb.-ft./s|
|Habitat||North & Central America||Africa, Europe, Asia|
|Conservation status||Least concern||Least concern|
*Data in the table includes generic sizes and strength facts applying to all Canis latrans and jackal species. Figures may vary for coyote subspecies and various jackal species, including Canis aureus, Canis mesomelas, and Canis adustus.
Strike forces were calculated by multiplying the top speed by the heaviest weight mentioned in the table. Actual strength forces may vary based on the speed at the moment of the impact and individual body mass.
Coyote Vs. Jackal: Key Differences And Similarities
When comparing coyotes and jackals from a visual standpoint, the two look strikingly similar. The skull shape, ears, and even the fur color can make it hard to say which is which.
Yet, there are some crucial differences between the two species that can help identify the mammal correctly.
1. Body Size
If telling coyotes and jackals apart can be challenging when looking at pictures of the two, the difference becomes noticeable when putting these two mammals side by side.
Measuring between 3.3 and 4.3 feet in length, coyotes are undeniably larger than jackals. In fact, jackals only measure about 2.25 to 2.75 in length.
The shoulder height also varies; coyotes are about 24 inches tall at shoulder level. Western coyotes, which are shorter and smaller than the eastern kind, can still grow to shoulder heights up to 20 inches.
Jackals, even the largest ones, only reach about 16 inches of height at the shoulder. While four inches of difference don’t seem like much, they are an important asset in the animal kingdom.
2. Paw Size
Jackal and coyote paws are similar in shape and length, but coyotes have wider paws compared to jackals.
Both canids have oval paws with a length of about 2.5 inches. As all canids, these two species don’t have retractable claws, the tips of which are visible in the tracks.
Jackal tracks are narrower than coyotes’, measuring about one inch in width.
Golden jackals can have wider paws, though, and the same is true for side-striped jackals. However, they would still be smaller than coyotes’ 2-inch wide paws.
A smaller size typically means a smaller body mass, and this is true for coyotes and jackals, too.
Coyotes weigh between 20 and 50 pounds, depending on where they live – western coyotes are smaller and lighter than eastern coyotes.
Jackals are a lot lighter, weighing between 11 and 26 pounds.
Sure, some of the largest jackals can be larger and heavier than the smallest coyotes; generally, though, coyotes would have an advantage in a fight based on body mass and size alone.
Another advantage that coyotes have is speed. They are faster than jackals – albeit the difference is minimal.
Nevertheless, they would be able to catch up with a running jackal and build a higher momentum to take out the opponent.
For both species, these top speeds can only be sustained for short periods. Yet, that would be enough to give coyotes the trump card.
5. Teeth Length
Jackals and coyotes are members of the same family, and they have a similar skull morphology. Both species have similar jaws and dental formulas.
The most noticeable difference is the size – which doesn’t come as a surprise seeing as though jackals are smaller than coyotes.
Both species have sharp and strong fangs that can tear the flesh off carcasses and crush bones. However, coyotes can inflict greater damage when biting.
6. Bite Force
Talking about biting, the peculiar fact about coyotes and jackals is that the latter actually have stronger jaws and a higher bite force.
This fact was confirmed in a study comparing the bite forces of various big biting mammals. Researchers concluded that coyotes have a bite force quotient of 88, which is the equivalent of about 727 PSI.
Jackals have a bite force quotient of 94, which turns out to be 776 PSI. However, because the bite force quotient is related to the size of the animal, the actual bite force of jackals could be higher.
7. Strike Force
There are no studies to confirm the paw swipe force of most animals. However, we can calculate the strike force at the moment of the impact for most species.
The momentum is determined by the body mass multiplied by velocity – meaning that the strike force can and will be different each time an animal strikes.
Yet, the maximum strike force of a species is easy to find by multiplying the heaviest weight a species can reach by the maximum speed.
According to these calculations, coyotes can reach an impact force up to 2,150 lb.-ft./s – or around 66 pounds of force.
Jackals are lighter and slower than coyotes, so they also manage an impact force up to 1,000 lb.-ft./s, which turns out to be around 31 pounds.
Like most canids, coyotes and jackals are social animals. However, they have very different behaviors.
Coyotes are considered semi-social. They form packs more or less the same way wolves do.
Packs generally consist of a mated (and breeding) pair and their offspring, some of which can be adults. The mated pair and adult members of the pack generally work together in raising the dependent pups.
While pack sizes can vary, groups can grow up to 21 individuals. Generally, though, a pack will only consist of three to seven adults and two to seven pups.
All adults in the pack, except for the breeding pair, will not reproduce.
Despite living in packs, coyotes prefer hunting and foraging alone. Although packs may come together to kill larger prey, this is rare.
Jackals live in much smaller social groups formed by a pair that mates for life and their dependent pups.
Adult pups may remain with the parents for a year or two and help care for the new litters; however, adult jackals generally leave their parents and establish themselves in new territory with their partner.
A major difference between jackals and coyotes, besides the community size, is the fact that jackals mate for life, whereas coyotes do not.
Even though coyotes are also monogamous and can mate with the same partner for several years, they are more likely to change partners compared to jackals and even wolves.
The social bonds formed between jackals are also much stronger compared to those between coyotes. The mated pair generally does everything together, from sharing a den to searching for food, hunting, and eating.
Both jackals and coyotes are opportunistic omnivores. They are also scavengers, and their diets are mostly carnivores despite the plant material intake.
A study on the European golden jackal diet revealed that their diet consists of up to 94.2% meat and between 5.8% and 8.3% of plant materials.
The most common plant-based foods are fruits and grasses, and the situation is believed to be similar for jackals living in Africa and Asia.
Coyotes’ diets also consist of up to 90% or more meat and the rest of plant materials, including fruits and grasses.
Both species have a preference for small mammals, which are easier to catch. Ungulates and even meat from other carnivores were present in scats, but these likely resulted from scavenging behavior rather than direct hunting.
Coyotes and jackals living near human settlements may also consume garbage refuse and go after livestock and small pets, including smaller dogs and cats.
Jackals and coyotes live on different continents, but the habitats they prefer can be similar.
Coyotes occur in North and Central America and can be found in all habitats. They are present in forests, swamps, plains and grasslands, deserts, and urban or suburban parks.
Jackals occur in Southeastern Europe, North and East Africa, and South Asia. They generally prefer arid grasslands, steppe landscapes, and savannas. However, they can also be found in forests and scrub forests.
11. Conservation Status
Coyotes and jackals are abundant canid species. Both of them have the least concern conservation status, and they can be hunted.
In North and Central America, coyote hunting seasons and regulations vary from state to state. In some parts of the United States, the coyote season is even open year-round.
The situation is similar for jackals, depending on where they live. Each European country where jackals occur has its own hunting regulations and seasons. The same happens in Africa and Asia.
Who Would Win A Fight?
Jackals and coyotes have no chance of meeting in the wild, but if they would, coyotes would win the fight.
The only thing jackals got for themselves is a stronger bite. However, the difference between their bite force and that of coyotes isn’t great enough to make a difference.
In all other departments, coyotes have the upper hand. They are larger, heavier, and overall stronger. Coyotes are also faster, so jackals wouldn’t even be able to outrun their opponent. Moreover, coyote packs are larger than jackal social groups, which gives them another advantage.
Due to all these factors, jackals wouldn’t stand a chance either in a one-on-one or in a group fight.
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