Difference Between Hyena and Jackal

Hyena vs Jackal

Hyena and jackal are often confusingly understood animals due to the similarities in their ecological aspects. However, these are two different types of animals with some interesting and considerable differences between them. Although many people would have understood that there is only one hyena species and one jackal species, there are couple more species should be added to each animal for that to be a correct statement. This article discusses the most important information about both hyenas and jackals and provides a comparison about the two animals in order to make it an account that is more sensible.


Hyenas are mammal of the Suborder: Hyaenidae of the Order: Carnivora. There are four different species of hyenas described under three genera. They are naturally distributed throughout the African continent and in some tropical parts of Asia. Spotted hyena, Brown hyena, Striped hyena, and Aardwolf are the four species of hyenas in the world. Despite their phylogenetic relationships are close towards cats, their behavioural and morphological characteristics are more like canids than not. They are wolf-like in physique with lower hindquarters and high forequarters. Therefore, there is a considerable slope along the dorsal line of the backbone from front to back. Their tall forelimbs and short hind limbs with the thick neck give them a unique appearance.

Hyenas are ecologically very important component of the ecosystem, as they are scavengers as well as opportunistic predators. They really clean the environment by scavenging on the leftover food from the big cats or by feeding on the other dead animals. Their large canines and carnassials are important for their feeding behaviours. Hyenas are believed to be grooming themselves like felids, but they usually do not wash their faces like most of the cats. It is interesting to notice that the mating behaviours of hyenas are unique, having a series of copulations with short intervals in between two.


According to the scientific classification, Jackals also fall in Family: Canidae and in Genus: Canis. There are three distinctive species of jackals, distributed commonly in dry areas of Asia and Africa. Golden jackal range in Asia through Middle East and Mediterranean countries down to Central and Northern Africa. Side-Striped jackal and Black-Backed jackal are ranging in Central and Southern Africa.

Usually a jackal is 1 metre long; 0.5 metre tall, and weighs 15 kilograms. They are excellent predators and opportunistic omnivores those have well developed canine teeth for the predation. Their long legs prove their ability to run fast, which is useful in predation. Their snout is characteristically elongated and muscular. Interestingly, jackals prefer to live in pairs and male marks the territory through urination of defecation. In wild, jackals live around eleven years, whereas it is around 16 years in captivity.


What is the difference between Hyena and Jackal?

• Both animals belong to the Order: Carnivora, but Jackals are canids while hyenas belong to another taxonomic suborder.

• Hyenas consist of four species, but there are only three species of jackals.

• Hyenas are larger compared to Jackals.

• Hyenas are morphologically more like canids than felines, but their phylogenetic relationships are closer to felines. However, jackals are unique about their physical characteristics.

• Hyenas have considerably taller forelimbs than hind limbs, whereas it is not that prominent in jackals.

• Jackals have a greater natural distribution range compared to hyenas.

• Grooming is more prominent in hyenas than in jackals.

• Repeated serial mating with short intervals is present in hyenas but not in jackals.


  • patazdweller

    Thank you for this information.

  • wiseacre1

    Hyenas are larger than jackals-you say the opposite in your summary.

  • Gary M

    They are both canine. dogs and not cats.