In the wild, the struggle for survival often hinges upon a carnivore’s ability to capture and overpower its prey. Among the many factors that contribute to their predatory prowess, bite force stands out as a paramount attribute. The intensity and strength of a carnivore’s bite are crucial for immobilizing and subduing prey, breaking through tough hides and shells, and even establishing dominance within their own species. Here are the top 22 most powerful bites in carnivore land mammals.

The values below are average bite forces at the canine tips and taken from the most recent and accurate 2007 research titled Bite Forces and Evolutionary Adaptations to Feeding Ecology in Carnivores by Per Christiansen and Stephen Wroe of the Ecological Society of America.

The bite forces were measured using dry skull measurements. However, these do not accurately mimic conscious bite force measurements, and measured bite forces from those measurements can be lower than the values from “live” measurements.

Please keep in mind that certain herbivores like hippopotamuses possess incredibly powerful bites, this article specifically focuses on the bite forces of carnivore land mammals.

List of the most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals

The given bite forces are at canine tips. Bite forces at carnassial teeth are always higher.

22. Cheetah: 338.8 Newton [34.55 kgf]

BFQ [Bite force quotient, see notes 1]: 72.77

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: An adult male African Cheetah snarling and showing aggressive behavior
An adult male African Cheetah snarls and shows aggressive behavior at Kruger Park, South Africa. The fastest land animal in the world, the cheetah has a bite force of about 338.8 Newton [34.55 kgf]. Image source: Deposit Photos

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), known for its incredible speed and agility, is a big cat in the subfamily Felinae that inhabits most of Africa and parts of Iran. The cheetah can run as fast as 109.4 to 120.7 km/h or 68.0 to 75.0 mph (the fastest properly authenticated cheetah hit 61 mph or 98.1 km/h, though), faster than any other land animal. It covers distances up to 500 m (1,640 ft) in short bursts and can accelerate from 0 to 96 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in three seconds.

The cheetah possesses a bite force that is relatively lower compared to other large carnivores. While specific measurements may vary, it is estimated that a cheetah’s bite force ranges around 338.8 Newton (34.55 kgf) at its canines. This relatively lower bite force is attributed to the cheetah’s specialized skull structure, which allows for a larger nasal cavity and lighter overall skull weight, optimizing their ability to sprint and chase down prey. The cheetah relies on its impressive speed and agility, rather than sheer bite force, to bring down and secure its prey during hunts.

21. Dog: 351.5 Newton [35.84 kgf]

BFQ: 114.3

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Greenland dogs relaxing
Greenland dogs relaxing. Image source: Deposit Photos

The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris or Canis familiaris) is a domesticated canid that has been selectively bred for millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes. Extensive genetic studies undertaken during the 2010s indicate that dogs diverged from an extinct wolf-like canid in Eurasia 40,000 years ago.

Being the oldest domesticated animal, their long association with people has allowed dogs to be uniquely attuned to human behavior, as well as thrive on a starch-rich diet that would be inadequate for other canid species.

Domestic dogs in the study mentioned above include only large semi-feral or feral specimens; in this case, two Greenland dogs (see notes 2) and three dingos (see notes 3). Some authors (MacDonald and Sillero-Zubiri 2004) consider the dingo to be a separate species.

In a recent study, 20 Finnish male police dogs (7 German Shepherd Dogs and 13 Belgian Shepherd Dogs, Malinois) accelerated 25 meters (80 feet) and bit the helper’s sleeve that is fitted with three force sensors. The German Shepherds’ median bite force was 360.4 N and the Belgian Shepherds’ median bite force was 247.0 N.

20. African wild dog: 374.6 Newton [38.2 kgf]

BFQ: 131.1

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: African wild dogs
African wild dogs. Image source: Deposit Photos

The African wild dog, African hunting dog, or African painted dog (Lycaon pictus) is a canid native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest of its family in Africa, and the only member of the genus Lycaon, which is distinguished from Canis by its fewer toes and dentition, which is highly specialized for a hypercarnivorous diet (see notes 4).

Compared to other canids, the African wild dog is lean and tall. Full-grown males stand 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 inches) in shoulder height and measure 71 to 112 cm (28 to 44 inches) in head-and-body length.

19. Snow leopard: 387.6 Newton [39.5 kgf]

BFQ: 99.9

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Snow Leopard
The Snow Leopard is the smallest member of the Panthera genus. As a result, it has the weakest bite force of the five members (tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard) of the genus. Image source: Deposit Photos

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. Snow leopards inhabit alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 meters (9,800 to 14,800 feet). In the northern range countries, they also occur at lower elevations.

It is the smallest member of the Panthera genus. As a result, it has the weakest bite force of the five members (tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard) of the genus, which is about 387.6 Newton (39.5 kgf) at the canine tips.

Snow Leopard is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because, as of 2003, the size of the global population was estimated at 4,080-6,590 adults, of which fewer than 2,500 individuals may reproduce in the wild. Drawing from the latest available data, the Global Snow Leopard and Eco-System Protection Program (GSLEP) uses an estimate of between 3,920 and 6,390 individuals in the wild.

18. Giant otter: 414.6 Newton [42.3 kgf]

BFQ: 115.4

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Giant otter
Giant otter has a relatively powerful bite compared to other otter species. Image source: Deposit Photos

The giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a semi-aquatic mammal found in South America, known for its impressive size and social behavior. They can reach up to 1.7 meters (5.6 feet).

Giant otters have a relatively powerful bite compared to other otter species.

The specific bite force of an animal is influenced by various factors, including the size and structure of its jaw muscles, the shape and arrangement of its teeth, and its overall anatomy. Although scientific studies directly measuring the bite force of giant otters are scarce, some general observations can be made based on their physical characteristics.

Giant otters have a large head with strong jaws and sharp teeth, which are well-suited for their diet primarily consisting of fish. They possess large, robust canines, premolars, and molars that aid in catching and consuming their prey. Their teeth are designed to grip and puncture fish, and they have been observed catching and eating relatively large fish species.

Compared to other otter species, giant otters have a relatively larger skull, indicating the potential for increased bite force. However, it is important to note that bite force is not solely determined by skull size but is also influenced by muscle strength and leverage. The muscular system, including the jaw muscles, plays a significant role in generating force during a bite.

17. Gray Wolf: 493.5 Newton [50.32 kgf]

BFQ: 127.3

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Grey wolf
Two timber wolves or Grey wolves (Canis lupus) standing on a rocky cliff in autumn in Canada. Image source: Deposit Photos

The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus), also known as the timber wolf or western wolf is the largest extant member of its family, with males averaging 43-45 kg (95-99 lb), and females 36-38.5 kg (79-85 lb). It is a canid native to the wilderness and remote areas of North America and Eurasia.

It is a highly adaptable and social carnivorous mammal known for its strength and hunting prowess. It is considered one of the largest members of the Canidae family and has a powerful bite force that enables it to capture and subdue its prey.

The bite force of a gray wolf is impressive and can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s size, age, and overall health.

A strong bite force is essential for wolves to bring down and immobilize their prey, which can include large ungulates such as elk, moose, and deer. The force exerted by their jaws allows them to deliver crushing bites to the neck or vital areas of their prey, effectively disabling them.

It’s worth noting that bite force is not the sole determinant of a predator’s hunting success. Factors such as hunting techniques, coordination within the pack, and overall fitness also contribute to their ability to bring down prey.

16. Cougar: 497.1 Newton [50.7 kgf]

BFQ: 118.8

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: A cougar (mountain lion) standing on a rock
A cougar (mountain lion) standing on a rock. Image source: Deposit Photos

The cougar (Puma concolor), also commonly known as the mountain lion, puma, panther, or catamount, is a large felid of the subfamily Felinae native to the Americas.

They have a sleek and muscular body with a small, broad head and a long, thick tail. Their bodies are built for agility and stealth. Adult cougars typically measure between 6 and 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) in length, including their tail, and weigh between 100 and 200 pounds (45 to 90 kilograms). Their fur is short and ranges in color from tawny to reddish-brown, helping them blend into their natural surroundings.

Although large, cougars are more closely related to smaller felines than to other big cats.

It is an ambush predator and pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources are ungulates, particularly deer, but also livestock. It also hunts species as small as insects and rodents.

15. Striped Hyena: 507.8 Newton [51.8 kgf]

BFQ: 128.9

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: A striped hyena
A striped hyena. Their bite force is powerful enough to splinter a camel’s thigh bone. Image source: Deposit Photos

The striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) is the smallest of the true hyenas. It is native to North and East Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. Though it has a habit of feigning death when attacked, it has also been known to stand its ground against larger predators such as leopards in disputes over food.

They are medium-sized carnivores with a stocky build and a sloping back. They typically measure around 3.6 to 4.3 feet (110 to 130 centimeters) in length and stand around 2.5 to 2.8 feet (75 to 85 centimeters) tall at the shoulder. The weight of an adult striped hyena usually ranges from 55 to 120 pounds (25 to 55 kilograms). One of their most distinctive features is their coat, which is covered in alternating dark and light vertical stripes, hence their name. They have a thick neck and a blunt muzzle, with large rounded ears.

The skull of the striped hyena differs from that of the brown and spotted hyena by its smaller size and slightly less massive build. It is nonetheless still powerfully structured and well adapted to anchoring exceptionally strong jaw muscles which give it enough bite-force to splinter a camel’s thigh bone.

14. Sloth bear: 522.1 Newton [53.24 kgf]

BFQ: 59.9

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Sloth bear
A sloth bear. Image source: Deposit Photos

The sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), also known as the Stickney bear or labiated bear, is a nocturnal insectivorous (eats insects) bear species found wild within the Indian Subcontinent. It evolved from ancestral brown bears during the Pleistocene and shares features found in insect-eating mammals through convergent evolution.

Sloth bears have a stocky build with a relatively small head and a long, flexible snout. They possess a thick, shaggy coat of fur, which protects them from thorny vegetation. On average, they measure around 1.5 to 1.8 meters (5 to 6 feet) in length and stand about 60 to 90 centimeters (2 to 3 feet) tall at the shoulder. Adults typically weigh between 80 to 140 kilograms (175 to 310 pounds).

Sloth bears are expert hunters of termites, which they locate by smell. They raid termite mounds using their long, curved claws. They break open the mounds, and using their long snout, they suck up the termites through their lips. This behavior has given them the name “sloth bear” due to their resemblance to sloths while feeding.

The large canine teeth of sloth bears (relative to both their overall body size and to the size of the canine teeth of other bear species) combined with an exceptionally strong bite force, and the aggressive disposition of sloth bears may be a defense in interactions with large, dangerous species such as tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses.

Tigers typically hunt sloth bears by waiting for them near termite mounds, then creeping behind them and seizing them by the back of their necks, and forcing them to the ground with their weight. Asian elephants also apparently do not tolerate sloth bears in their vicinity. The reason for this is unknown, as individual elephants known to maintain their composure near tigers have been reported to charge bears. The Indian rhinoceros has a similar intolerance for sloth bears and will charge at them.

13. Brown Hyena: 560.1 Newton [57.1 kgf]

BFQ: 135.9

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Brown hyena
Brown hyena. Image source: Deposit Photos

The brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea, formerly Parahyaena brunnea) is currently the rarest species of hyena. It is found in Namibia, Botswana, western and southern Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique, and South Africa.

The brown hyena is a medium-sized hyena with a distinct appearance. It has a shaggy brown coat that is coarse and long, which gives it a scruffy appearance. Its fur is typically a mix of shades of brown, gray, and black. The body structure of the brown hyena is more slender compared to the robust build of the spotted hyena. They have a sloping back, large rounded ears, and a bushy tail.

Brown hyenas are primarily scavengers the bulk of whose diet consists of carcasses killed by larger predators, but they may supplement their diet with rodents, insects, eggs, fruit, and fungi (the desert truffle Kalaharituber pfeilii). They are however poor hunters.

12. Spotted Hyena: 565.7 Newton [57.7 kgf]

BFQ: 99.6

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Spotted hyena
The spotted hyena has an ultra-strong bite force. Image source: Deposit Photos

The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), also known as the laughing hyena, is a fascinating and highly adaptable mammal native to sub-Saharan Africa. It belongs to the family Hyaenidae and is the largest member of the hyena family. Here are some details about the spotted hyena:

Spotted hyenas have a unique appearance with a compact and robust build. They have a sloping back, strong forequarters, and slightly longer hind legs. Adults measure 95-165.8 cm (37.4-65.3 inches) in body length and have a shoulder height of 70-91.5 cm (27.6-36.0 inches). Adult males typically weigh between 110 and 190 pounds (50 to 86 kilograms), while females are slightly larger, weighing between 120 and 200 pounds (55 to 91 kilograms). So, spotted hyena society is matriarchal – females are larger than males, and dominate them.

Their bodies are covered in short, coarse fur, which is predominantly yellowish or grayish-brown, adorned with distinctive dark spots. They have muscular necks, strong jaws, and powerful teeth, including large premolars that are capable of crushing bones.

Spotted hyenas are highly social animals and live in clans led by a dominant female, called the matriarch. The clan can consist of up to 80 individuals but typically ranges between 10 and 80 members. Within the clan, females are generally larger and more dominant than males. They have a complex social hierarchy, and cooperation within the clan is crucial for survival. Cubs are born into the clan and are reared communally, with females providing care and protection.

Spotted hyenas are known for their distinctive vocalizations, including the characteristic “laugh” that gives them their nickname, “laughing hyena”. This vocalization is a high-pitched, whooping sound that can be heard for several kilometers. They also communicate through growls, roars, whines, and other vocalizations. Visual cues such as body posture, facial expressions, and tail movements are also used for communication.

The species has a largely negative reputation in both Western culture and African folklore. In the former, the species is mostly regarded as ugly and cowardly, while in the latter, it is viewed as greedy, gluttonous, stupid, and foolish, yet powerful and potentially dangerous. In fact, these reputations are unjust, since they are highly social and amazing hunters.

11. Leopard: 621.1 Newton [63.33 kgf]

BFQ: 119.8

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: A snarling leopard
A snarling leopard in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa. Their formidable bite force enables them to overpower and subdue their prey. Image source: Deposit Photos

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is one of the five “big cats” of the Panthera genus (Tiger, Lion, Jaguar, Leopard, and Snow Leopard). Compared to other members of Felidae, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar but is smaller and more lightly built.

Leopards are medium-sized big cats. Males typically weigh between 66 to 200 pounds (30 to 90 kilograms), while females weigh between 46 to 132 pounds (21 to 60 kilograms). They measure around 3 to 6.2 feet (0.9 to 1.9 meters) in body length, with an additional tail length of 2.3 to 3.6 feet (0.7 to 1.1 meters).

A leopard’s fur is marked with rosettes similar to those of the jaguar, but the leopard’s rosettes are smaller and more densely packed and do not usually have central spots as the jaguars do. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic are known as black panthers.

The leopard’s success in the wild is due to its well-camouflaged fur; its opportunistic hunting behavior, broad diet, and strength to move heavy carcasses into trees; its ability to adapt to various habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe and including arid and montane areas; and to run at speeds up to 58 kilometers per hour (36 mph).

The leopard possesses a formidable bite force that enables it to overpower and subdue its prey. They can deliver a powerful bite, capable of crushing bones and exerting tremendous pressure. This strength allows it to bring down and secure its prey, ensuring a successful hunt and a vital source of sustenance.

They feed on a greater diversity of prey than other members of the genus Panthera and are reported to eat anything from dung beetles to common elands, though medium-sized prey species in the 20-80 kg (44-176 lb) range are usually taken. The largest prey reported killed by a leopard was a 900 kg (2,000 lb) male eland (an antelope found in East and Southern Africa), although leopards generally do not prey on such large animals.

10. American Black Bear: 744.3 Newton [75.9 kgf]

BFQ: 77.2

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Image source: Deposit Photos

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. They typically range in length from 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 meters) and weigh between 200 and 600 pounds (90 to 270 kilograms). They have a stocky build with a large head, small eyes, rounded ears, and a short tail.

Black bears have assured scavengers that can intimidate, using their large size and considerable strength, and if necessary dominate other predators in confrontations over carcasses. However, on occasions where they encounter the Kodiak or the grizzly bears, the larger brown bears dominate them.

Black bears do compete with cougars over carcasses and sometimes steal kills from them, like brown bears. One study found that both bear species are responsible for 24% of cougar kills in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

Although an adult bear is quite capable of killing a human, they generally try to avoid human contact and are typically not aggressive unless threatened or provoked. However, encounters between black bears and humans can occur, especially in areas where human development encroaches upon bear habitats. It’s important for humans to take precautions to prevent attracting bears to residential areas and to follow guidelines for safely coexisting with wildlife.

9. Spectacled Bear: 795.1 Newton [81 kgf]

BFQ: 103.1

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Spectacled bear
Spectacled bears can climb even the tallest trees of the Andes. Image source: Deposit Photos

The spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), also known as the Andean bear or Andean short-faced bear and locally as jukumari (Aymara), ukumari (Quechua) or ukuku, is the last remaining short-faced bear (subfamily Tremarctinae) and the only surviving species of bear native to South America.

Spectacled bears are medium-sized bears, with males typically being larger than females. They have a stocky build and a round face. Adult male spectacled bears typically measure between 1.4 to 1.9 meters (4.6 to 6.2 feet) in length from head to tail. Females are slightly smaller, measuring around 1.2 to 1.5 meters (3.9 to 4.9 feet) in length. On average, adult spectacled bears stand about 60 to 90 centimeters (23.6 to 35.4 inches) tall at the shoulder.

The weight of spectacled bears can vary greatly depending on their gender, age, and available food sources. Adult males can weigh between 100 to 200 kilograms (220 to 440 pounds), with exceptionally large males reaching up to 227 kilograms (500 pounds). Females are generally smaller, weighing between 35 to 82 kilograms (77 to 181 pounds).

One distinctive feature is the light-colored fur that surrounds their eyes, which gives the appearance of spectacles or glasses, hence the name “spectacled bear.” The fur coloration can vary from black to dark brown, and some individuals may have a reddish or chestnut coloration on their chest.

They are excellent climbers and spend a significant amount of time in trees, where they search for food and build nests for resting. They can climb even the tallest trees of the Andes. Once up a tree, they may often build a platform, perhaps to aid in concealment, as well as to rest and store food on.

These bears are generally shy and elusive, and they are mainly active during the day, although they can be active at night in areas where they face human disturbance.

Spectacled bears are omnivorous, meaning they eat a variety of foods. Their diet consists mainly of vegetation, such as fruits, bromeliads, cacti, and bamboo. They are also known to consume insects, small mammals, birds, and carrion when available.

They have a very strong bite force, allowing them to eat tough vegetation like bamboo.

8. Asian Black Bear: 858.3 Newton [87.5 kgf]

BFQ: 95.6

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus)
Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus). Image source: Deposit Photos

The Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus, previously known as Selenarctos thibetanus) is also known as the moon bear and white-chested bear. It is a medium-sized bear species and largely adapted to arboreal life. It lives in the Himalayas, in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent, Korea, northeastern China, the Russian Far East, the Honshū and Shikoku islands of Japan, and Taiwan.

Adult males typically weigh between 100 and 200 kilograms (220 to 440 pounds), while females are smaller, usually weighing between 65 and 90 kilograms (143 to 198 pounds). They measure 70-100 cm (28-39 inches) at the shoulder and 120-190 cm (47-75 inches) in length.

They appear to be more carnivorous than most other bears, including American black bears and will kill ungulates with some regularity, including domestic livestock. Wild ungulate prey can include muntjacs, serow, takin, wild boar, and adult water buffaloes, which they kill by breaking their necks.

7. Malayan Sun Bear: 883.2 Newton [90 kgf]

BFQ: 160.5

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Malayan sun bear
Malayan sun bear (honey bear). Despite being the smallest bear species in the world, it possesses a very strong bite force. Image source: Deposit Photos

The Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), also known as the honey bear or simply the sun bear, is a unique bear species found primarily in tropical forest habitats of Southeast Asia. It is the smallest bear species in the world, but despite its small size, it possesses a very strong bite force.

Adults are about 120-150 cm (47-59 inches) long and weigh 27-80 kg (60-176 lb). Males are 10-20% larger than females. They are omnivores, feeding primarily on termites, ants, beetle larvae, bee larvae, and a large variety of fruit species, especially figs when available. They have a long, slender tongue that enables them to extract honey effectively, which has given them the nickname “honey bear.”

6. Jaguar: 887.0 Newton [90.45 kgf]

BFQ: 118.6

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Jaguar
The jaguar has the strongest bite force of any big cat relative to its size. Image source: Deposit Photos

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is a big cat (the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion – and the largest in the Americas), a feline in the Panthera genus, and is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas.

It is a compact and muscular animal. Size and weight vary considerably: weights are normally in the range of 56-96 kg (124-211 lb). Larger males have been recorded to weigh as much as 158 kg (348 lb) (roughly matching a tigress or lioness; however note this animal was weighed with a full stomach). Females are typically 10-20 percent smaller than males. The length, from the nose to the base of the tail, of the cats, varies from 1.12 to 1.85 m (3.7 to 6.1 feet).

Their tails are the shortest of any big cat, at 45 to 75 cm (18 to 30 inches) in length. Their legs are also short, considerably shorter when compared to a small tiger or lion in a similar weight range, but are thicker and more powerful. The jaguar stands 63 to 76 cm (25 to 30 in) tall at the shoulders. Compared to the similarly colored leopard, the jaguar is bigger, heavier, and relatively stocky in build.

Jaguars are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain in their respective habitats. They are opportunistic hunters and have a diverse diet. Their primary prey consists of large mammals, including capybaras, peccaries, deer, tapirs, and even larger species like caimans and anacondas. They are known for their exceptional strength and ability to ambush their prey with a powerful bite, often aiming for the skull to quickly dispatch their victims. They have the third-highest bite force of all felids, after the lion and tiger. This strength adaptation allows the jaguar to pierce turtle shells.

A comparative study of bite force adjusted for body size ranked it as the top felid, alongside the clouded leopard and ahead of the lion and tiger. It has been reported that “an individual jaguar can drag an 800 lb (360 kg) bull 25 ft (7.6 m) in its jaws and pulverize the heaviest bones”. The jaguar hunts wild animals weighing up to 300 kg (660 lb) in dense jungles, and its short and sturdy physique is thus an adaptation to its prey and environment.

5. Giant Panda: 1298.9 Newton [132.45 kgf]

BFQ: 151.4

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Giant panda
The giant panda’s large size, round face, and powerful bite force are adaptations to its bamboo diet. Image source: Deposit Photos

The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is a unique and beloved species native to China. They have a distinct black-and-white coloration, with white fur on their face, belly, and limbs, and black fur on their ears, eye patches, shoulders, and legs. They have a stocky build with a round face, a large head, and a short, stubby tail.

Full-grown giant pandas typically measure between 1.2 to 1.9 meters (3.9 to 6.2 feet) in length from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. The length of the tail itself ranges from 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches). At the shoulder, giant pandas stand about 60 to 90 centimeters (2 to 3 feet) tall.

Why Giant Panda is classified as Carnivoran?

While the diet of giant pandas consists primarily of bamboo (over 99%), their digestive system is still more similar to carnivores. They have a simple digestive tract and lack a specialized structure like a rumen or multi-chambered stomach, which are commonly found in herbivores for fermenting plant material.

Thus, giant panda derives little energy and little protein from the consumption of bamboo.

Genetic studies have also revealed that giant pandas share genetic traits with other carnivorous species. They are more closely related to other bears (family Ursidae) than to other herbivorous mammals.

The giant panda’s large size, round face, and powerful bite force are adaptations to its bamboo diet. The round face is the result of powerful jaw muscles which attach from the top of the head to the jaw. Large molars crush and grind fibrous plant material.

4. Lion: 1314.7 Newton [134 kgf]

BFQ: 123.8

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: A very big African lion
A very big male African lion. Source: Deposit Photos

The lion is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. The size of adult lions varies across their range with those from the southern African populations in Zimbabwe, the Kalahari and Kruger Park averaging around 189.6 kg (418 lb) and 126.9 kg (280 lb) in males and females respectively compared to 174.9 kg (386 lb) and 119.5 kg (263 lb) of male and female lions from East Africa.

Reported body measurements in males are head-body lengths ranging from 170 to 250 cm (5 feet 7 inches to 8 feet 2 inches), and tail lengths of 90-105 cm (2 feet 11 inches-3 feet 5 inches). In females, reported head-body lengths range from 140 to 175 cm (4 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches), and tail lengths of 70-100 cm (2 feet 4 inches-3 feet 3 inches), however, the frequently cited maximum head and body length of 250 cm (8 feet 2 inches) fits rather to extinct Pleistocene forms, like the American lion, with even large modern lions measuring several centimeters less in length.

Record measurements from hunting records are supposedly a total length of nearly 3.6 m (12 feet) for a male shot near Mucsso, southern Angola in October 1973 and a weight of 313 kg (690 lb) for a male shot outside Hectorspruit in eastern Transvaal, South Africa in 1936. Another notably outsized male lion, which was shot near Mount Kenya, weighed 272 kg (600 lb).

3. Brown Bear: 1409.7 Newton [143.75 kgf]

BFQ: 99.3

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: Kodiak bear
Kodiak Bear is the largest Brown Bear on Earth. Image source: Deposit Photos

The Brown Bear is the largest terrestrial carnivoran. The largest subspecies, the Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi), rivals the polar bear as the largest member of the bear family. Other subspecies include the Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), Kamchatka brown bear (Ursus arctos beringianus), Alaska brown bear (Ursus arctos alascensis), Dall Island brown bear (Ursus arctos dalli), Peninsular brown bear (Ursus arctos gyas), Ursus arctos sitkensis, and Stikine brown bear (Ursus arctos stikeenensis).

The size range for Kodiak bear females (sows) is from 225 to 315 kg (496 to 694 lb) and for males (boars) is 360 to 635 kg (794 to 1,400 lb). Mature males average 480-533 kg (1,058-1,175 lb) over the course of the year and can weigh up to 680 kg (1,500 lb) at peak times. Females are typically about 20% smaller and 30% lighter than males.

2. Tiger: 1472.1 Newton [150 kgf]

BFQ: 130.4

Most powerful bite forces: A snarling Siberian tiger
A snarling Siberian tiger. The largest cat species in the world (with the exception of ligers, which are lion-tiger hybrids), tigers have an average bite force of 1472.1 Newton (150 kgf). Image source: Deposit Photos

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to 3.38 meters (11.1 feet) over curves and exceptionally weighing up to 388.7 kg (857 lb) in the wild. As a result of their huge size complemented with their muscular build, tigers have the most powerful bite force of all felids and the second overall of all carnivore land mammals. Their bite force is estimated at about 1472.1 Newton (150 kgf) at the canine tips.

In the wild, tigers mostly feed on large and medium-sized animals, preferring native ungulates weighing at least 90 kg (200 lb). They also prey on other predators, including dogs, leopards, pythons, sloth bears, and even crocodiles.

1. Polar Bear: 1646.7 Newton [168 kgf]

BFQ: 92.3

Most powerful bite forces in carnivore land mammals: An angry polar bear
The polar bear has the strongest bite force of all carnivore land mammals. Source: Deposit Photos

The Polar bear has the strongest bite force of all carnivore land mammals. It is a very large bear, approximately the same size as the omnivorous Kodiak bear. A boar (adult male) weighs around 350-700 kg (772-1,543 lb), while a sow (adult female) is about half that size. It is the most carnivorous member of the bear family, and throughout most of its range, its diet primarily consists of ringed (Pusa hispida) and bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus). They are also scavengers, occasionally feeding the carcasses of the whales.

Unlike grizzly bears, polar bears are not territorial. Although stereotyped as being voraciously aggressive, they are normally cautious in confrontations and often choose to escape rather than fight. Satiated polar bears rarely attack humans unless severely provoked. However, due to their lack of prior human interaction, hungry polar bears are extremely unpredictable, fearless towards people, and are known to kill and sometimes eat humans.

Many attacks by brown bears are the result of surprising the animal, which is not the case with the polar bear. Polar bears are stealth hunters, and the victim is often unaware of the bear’s presence until the attack is underway. Whereas brown bears often maul a person and then leave, polar bear attacks are more likely to be predatory and are almost always fatal. However, due to the very small human population around the Arctic, such attacks are rare.

Hippopotamus has the most powerful bite force of all land mammals: 8,100 Newton [826 kgf]

The hippopotamus is a mostly herbivorous, semiaquatic mammal, so I didn’t include it in the list above. But, in fact, it has the most powerful bite force of all land mammals. They are among the largest living land mammals, being only smaller than elephants and some rhinoceroses. Adult hippos average 1,500 kg (3,310 lb) and 1,300 kg (2,870 lb) for males and females respectively. Very large males can reach 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) and exceptional males weighing 2,660 kg (5,860 lb) and 3,200 kg (7,050 lb) have been reported.

They have exceptionally big and strong jaws, and large, very sharp teeth. The bite force of an adult female has been measured as 8,100 newtons (826 kgf or 1,800 lbf). For comparison, lions have an average bite force of 1314.7 newtons. Note that it was a female, male hippos are much more powerful, but they are too aggressive to be tested! Hippos have been recorded to break full-grown crocodiles‘ backs with a single bite.

Hippopotamus has the most powerful bite force of all land mammals. They have been recorded to break full-grown crocodiles’ backs with a single bite.


  1. The bite force quotient (BFQ) is the regression of the quotient of an animal’s bite force in newtons divided by its body mass in kilograms. “Average” BFQ was set at 100.
  2. The Greenland Dog (also known as Greenland Husky or Greenland Sled Dog) is a large breed of husky-type dog kept as a sled dog and for hunting polar bears and seals. It is an ancient breed, thought to be directly descended from dogs brought to Greenland by the first Inuit settlers. The Greenland Dog is a powerful, heavy-built dog. It has a broad, wedge-shaped head, slightly tilted eyes, and small, triangular ears covered with thick fur that prevents frostbite. It has strong, muscular, short-haired legs.
  3. The dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is a wild dog found in Australia. Its exact ancestry is debated, but dingoes are generally believed to be descended from semi-domesticated dogs from East or South Asia, which returned to a wild lifestyle when introduced to Australia. Both dingo and dog are classified as subspecies of Canis lupus in the Mammal Species of the World.
A Dingo in Fraser Island, Australia
A Dingo in Fraser Island, Australia. Image source: Deposit Photos
  1. A hypercarnivore is an animal that has a diet that is more than 70% meat, with the balance consisting of non-animal foods such as fungi, fruits, or other plant material. Some examples include felids, dolphins, eagles, snakes, marlins, and most sharks. Every species in the Felidae family, including the domesticated cat, is a hypercarnivore in its natural state.


M. Özgür Nevres