Cheetah Bite Force: How Strong Is It?

The cheetah is the fastest animal on land, but many people don’t know that cheetahs also have a powerful bite. Just how strong is a cheetah’s bite though?

The bite force of a cheetah is approximately 475 psi, which is approximately three times stronger than that of humans. By big cat standards, however, it is one of the weakest. In comparison, a jaguar has a bite force almost three times stronger.

The cheetah has a weaker bite force due to its physical makeup, but as we’ll cover in this article, cheetahs don’t necessarily need such a powerful biting force.

Cheetah showing its teeth

Does The Cheetah Need A Strong Bite Force?

An animal’s physical traits often change over time based on its hunting techniques, feeding patterns, and other actions or behaviors that it needs to survive.

A cheetah is built for speed; it takes down prey by running and tripping/tackling the animal before clamping on to the neck to strangle it to death.

Cheetahs also choose smaller prey that they can easily handle. 

Gazelles, for example, are one of the cheetah’s favorite prey. They have a light body, and the neck is relatively soft, which a cheetah can easily clamp onto. It is also slender enough to fit the cheetah’s mouth. 

The cheetah’s teeth can easily pierce through the gazelle’s skin and provide traction while it steadily holds on and waits for the prey to suffocate.

As gazelles hardly require a massive bite force to kill, cheetahs do not require the biting power of other animals that prey on larger game or have to snap down with a large amount of force.

Cheetah chasing a gazelle

Cheetah Bite Force: Compared

When compared to jaguars, lions, and tigers, cheetahs have one of the weakest bite forces of all big cats. 

Here’s a comparison table with some of the known bite forces of different felines:

AnimalBite Force
Jaguar1500 psi
Tiger1050 psi
Bobcat827 psi
Cougar724 psi
Lion 650 psi
Lynx636 psi
Cheetah475 psi
Domestic cat70 psi

When it comes to other animals, crocodiles and alligators are among the most powerful biters that have been measured.

We haven’t been able to measure Great White Sharks and large whales, as it is extremely difficult (without having to throw in the element of being underwater).

Still, it’s estimated that Great Whites have a bite force of approximately 4000 psi.

Great white shark open mouth

Below is a table comparing the known bite forces of various animals and where cheetahs rank:

AnimalBite Force
Saltwater Crocodile3700 psi
American Alligator2125 psi
Hippopotamus1800 psi
Gorilla1300 psi
Polar Bear1200 psi
Grizzly Bear1160 psi
Hyena1100 psi
Alligator Snapping Turtle1004 psi
Mastiff550 psi
Cheetah475 psi
Black Piranha464 psi
Grey Wolf398 psi
Humans160 psi

Based on this, we can safely say that cheetahs are rated far below those animals that are designed to produce strong bite forces.

As you can see, humans have quite a hefty bite considering we don’t use it for hunting, but it’s still only a third of what a cheetah can produce.

Cheetah’s Bite Force Quotient

Bite force quotient is the value given to an animal’s bite force in relation to its body mass.

So, a lion may have a 600 psi bite force, which is higher than the cheetah’s 475 psi, but when we consider their size difference, the cheetah has a more powerful bite for its size.

Here’s how a cheetah ranks up in this list:

AnimalBite Force Quotient
Tasmanian Devil181 BFQ
African Wild Dog142 BFQ
Jaguar137 BFQ
Clouded Leopard137 BFQ
Grey Wolf136 BFQ
Sand Cat130 BFQ
Tiger127 BFQ
Cheetah119 BFQ
Spotted Hyena119 BFQ
Domestic Dog114 BFQ
Lion112 BFQ
Cougar108 BFQ
Domestic Cat67 BFQ

Final Thoughts On Cheetahs Bite Force

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals but they do not have the strongest bite. With a bite force of only 475 psi, cheetahs rank near the bottom of all big cats.

However, their bite force quotient is 119 which is higher than a lion’s.

Although cheetahs’ bites are not particularly strong, they do pack quite a punch since their jaws can deliver a bite that is three times stronger than that of a human.

Cheetah Cubs Learning to Hunt by Playing | BBC Earth

FAQs

Is Inbreeding Ruining Cheetah’s Teeth?

Yes, inbreeding causes many challenges for cheetahs in captivity and in the wild. One clear indication is the numerous reports of dental issues, palate deformation, and perforation. Cheetahs have some of the lowest genetic diversity in the cat family.

Are There Instances Of Prey Escaping From A Cheetah’s Bite?

A strong enough jerk can loosen a cheetah’s hold on to its prey’s neck. This usually happens with juvenile cheetahs who don’t know what they’re doing yet and are still learning how to hunt properly.

Does A Cheetah’s Bite Hurt?

Yes. Bite yourself as hard as you can to feel how painful it is. Consider now that you probably weren’t actually biting as hard as possible and that a cheetah can chomp down at three times that amount. Yes, a cheetah bite will definitely hurt.