A matchup between a pitbull and a coyote would make for a fascinating faceoff. Coyotes, being one of the most common species of wild canids in North America, are widely found in forests, deserts, and grasslands. Though they have adapted to different environments, they have become drawn to human settlements due to accessible food sources like livestock and pets. This makes them a formidable opponent of the American pitbull terrier – historically bred for fighting and blood sports – although it’s impossible to predict who would win such a battle without direct observation.
While the chances are pretty much even. Coyotes are generally larger and faster than their canine opponents, but they lack the powerful strike force and higher jumping ability of pit bulls. Though these powerful pooches may push their opponent back when they face off, coyotes have strength of their own — with strong jaws capable of high-pressure bites able to hold down their prey and an added wildness that makes them skilled hunters.
Ultimately, the size and demeanour of each animal as well as other characteristics would determine who comes out victorious in a fight between these two predators.
The table below shows a quick overview of strength characteristics and differences between pitbulls and coyotes*:
|Height||21 to 24 inches||18 to 21 inches|
|Weight||20 to 50 pounds||30 to 75 pounds|
|Speed||43 mph||30 mph|
|Jumping abilities||3 feet||13 feet|
|Teeth length||1.45 inches||Approx. 1 inch|
|Bite force||727 PSI||313 PSI|
|Strike force||Up to 2,150 lb.-ft./s||Up to 2,250 lb.-ft./s|
|Behavior||Social; aggressive||Social; majorly friendly|
|Habitat||North & Central America||N/A|
|Conservation status||Least concern||Least concern; domestic breed|
*According to the United Kennel Club, we took into consideration the traits of Canis latrans species and pure-breed American pitbull terriers for comparison purposes. For different coyote subspecies and non-purebred pitbulls, strength data and facts may differ.
The strike forces listed in the table were determined by multiplying the maximum weight for each species by the maximum speed.
Although the size difference between Coyote and Pitbulls is certainly a minor one, there is still a significant difference if you compare them side-by-side. On average, coyotes reach a height of 24 inches at shoulder level and can measure anywhere from 3.3 to 4.3 feet in length.
Pitbulls, according to the United Kennel Club and American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) reach maximum heights of 21 inches – three inches shorter than the largest coyote. There is no set measurement for a pitbull’s length but observations show that they can be similar in size to their wild counterparts.
However, it is worth noting that female coyotes and pitbulls are usually smaller than their male counterparts.
Although pitbulls are smaller in size than many other animals, they are very powerful and robust. Bred for fighting, these dogs have muscular bodies much denser than most, so they usually weigh more than their similarly sized coyote counterparts. According to the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA),pitbulls can weigh up to 75 pounds, whereas coyotes max out at 50. This significant weight difference gives pitbulls an advantage in a fight against a coyote – or indeed any animal of similarly small stature.
Pitbulls are known for their strength and agility, but they aren’t the fastest animals on the block. Coyotes may have them beat in this department since they can reach speeds up to 43 mph while pitbulls can only reach a maximum of 30 mph. This gives coyotes an edge when it comes to evading danger or going on the offensive against other canines. Nevertheless, not all hope is lost for the pitbulls – their reputation as formidable foes comes from more than just their speed. They are inherently strong and determined fighters with an incredibly powerful bite, so even if a coyote takes off running, that doesn’t mean it’s getting away unscathed.
4. Jumping Abilities
While coyotes might not be able to compete with a pitbull in the vertical distance jumping department, standing at an impressive 13 feet into the air when leaping, their climbing abilities make up for it. With surprisingly strong hind legs, a coyote can jump about three feet as well as scale fences and other vertical obstacles, allowing it to escape and flee from a potential fight against the pitbull. This remarkable ability of coyotes is evidence of their high level of adaptability, which has been asserted through their successful spread throughout North America over the years.
5. Teeth Length
Coyotes have jaw-droppingly long teeth compared to those of a pitbull – in fact, their canines are a whopping one and a half inches long while most dog breeds have canines slightly under an inch or at most one inch in length. Although there aren’t any studies that costly focus on specific canine lengths among different breeds of dog, scientists have concluded from general research that their conclusion stands true for the majority of breeds. When you put it all together, what does it mean?
It means both coyotes and pitbulls possess sharp and strong dentition able to tear through flesh with relative ease. Namely, pack animals like coyotes are more likely to come out victorious in battles over food or territory due to their extra-long teeth enabling them to cause extra damage with every bite.
6. Bite Force
Despite its small size, the coyote can pack quite a punch and prove to be dangerous. According to the comparative bite force studies conducted on big-biting mammals, coyotes have a bite force quotient of 88, which translates to 727 PSI. While this is nothing to sneeze at, wolves have it beat with 136 quotients, usually amounting to over 1,000 PSI. This makes coyotes’ bites weaker compared to other wild animals like bobcats as well.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no real evidence to support the idea that pitbulls have a particularly powerful bite force. In reality, studies on canine bite force reveal that it depends more on the size of the dog rather than its breed. Generally speaking, large breed dogs such as pitbulls may have a bite force of up to 1,934 newtons or 313 PSI, which is significantly lower than other predators such as coyotes whose bite force can reach up to 740 PSI
7. Strike Force
Although coyotes may have longer teeth and stronger bites, their smaller size means that pitbulls usually have an advantage when it comes to the force of impact. Pitbulls’ larger bodies give them more mass, which translates into a higher impact force when running at full speed.
This can be calculated as speed multiplied by body mass – a 75-pound pitbull running at top speed could generate an impressive strike force of up to 2,250 lb.-ft./s or about 70 pounds. Coyotes don’t quite reach the same level of power due to their smaller size; however, they make up for it with speed and agility.
A 50-pound coyote running at full speed is still able to generate an impact force of around 2,150 lb.-ft./s – only 4 pounds less than the pitbull. These numbers suggest that while larger pitbulls are typically stronger than a coyote of similar size, an impressively large and fast coyote may be just as powerful as a comparatively small pit bull.
Coyotes and pitbulls may both be social animals, but their behaviours are vastly different due to the wild vs. domestic nature of the two species. Coyotes are semi-solitary creatures; they form strong monogamous bonds with a single mate, but typically search for food alone.
Meanwhile, pitbulls have a strong pack instinct and prefer living in family units; even if their roots may suggest otherwise, most pitbulls make excellent pets. But the territorial nature of these two animals is still present regardless of domestication; pitbulls often act aggressively to defend their yards from intruders, whether human or animal.
On the other hand, cayotes rely on their keen senses to establish their territorial boundaries among other coyotes or wolf packs, as well as in areas that may already be occupied by a canine like a pit bull. The overlap between a coyote and pitbull territory can often occur near forests, parks, and other vast outdoor spaces due to the similarity of the two species’ hunting patterns.
While it is near impossible to compare a coyote’s and pitbull’s diet due to the possibility of human intervention, both are carnivores driven by their hunger for meat. Stray dogs, much like coyotes, will hunt for small mammals like rodents, lizards and snakes if given the opportunity.
Dogs may even succumb to scavenging food scraps or consuming vegetation in times of desperation. It is unlikely that coyotes and pitbulls would compete in their search for sustenance as long as there are enough resources available to them, however, clashes could occur if the pitbull was abandoned or found its way into an area occupied by a community of coyotes.
Coyotes are incredibly adaptable creatures and can survive in a wide range of habitats, making them pervasive across North and Central America. They have been found in everything from forests to swamps, deserts, and semi-arid areas.
Coyotes have also adapted to the presence of human beings throughout much of their range, even thriving in some urbanized areas. While pitbulls don’t normally live in the wild, if they were feral they would likely follow behaviour similar to coyotes by forming packs with other strays that are facing existential threats due to human interference.
In some cases, such as on borderlands where dogs form packs for protection against coyote predation, pitbull packs may even join forces with coyotes for mutual assistance.
11. Conservation Status
Coyotes are an incredibly common presence throughout North and Central America and, as they aren’t endangered, they remain an integral part of the continent’s ecosystems. Similarly, American pitbull terriers and other breeds often mislabeled or grouped under the pitbull umbrella have not been declared endangered either. Through breeders striving to maintain the breed’s characteristics according to the set standards of the American Kennel Club (AKC), Pitbulls remain plentiful in households across the United States.
Coyotes and pitbulls have been compared often due to their similar size and strength. Coyotes, although smaller than pitbulls, typically have a stronger bite force and are quicker than bulkier canines. Therefore, in a one-on-one fight, it would come down to the actual size of both animals; for example, a large coyote would always win against a smaller pitbull or vice versa.
When the sizes are roughly equalized, however, the coyote’s aggressive behaviour gives them an edge over their four-legged opponents — trained obedience won’t make up for instinctual fighting capabilities.
Hence, being wild animals with many years of evolution behind them gives coyotes an advantage when it comes to territorial disputes between dogs and coyotes as they are programmed by nature to fight back when threatened.
Dogs who have been loved and raised in a family setting are prone to being more docile and protective of their surroundings. This protective tendency is seen in larger breeds like German Shepherds and Rottweilers. In fact, a video case perfectly illustrates this point – as the resident dog owner is chased down by an aggressive stray, his own dog runs toward the aggressor barking loudly in a valiant attempt to protect his owner from harm.
Rahul M Suresh
Visiting the Zoo can be an exciting and educational experience for all involved. As a guide, I have the privilege of helping students and visitors alike to appreciate these animals in their natural habitat as well as introducing them to the various aspects of zoo life. I provide detailed information about the individual animals and their habitats, giving visitors an opportunity to understand each one more fully and appreciate them in a more intimate way.