English Mastiff vs Lion: Who Would Win?

Our deep fascination toward the wild and our fondness for the Mastiff breed often make us formulate untypical yet interesting questions such as: “Who would win the fight between an English Mastiff and a lion?”

Should both end up facing each other, the lion stands a greater chance in the battle, but an English Mastiff remains capable of winning it if some factors come into play.

To dig in further and discover facts regarding two of these stunning creatures, this article is dedicated to providing more answers to your inquiries. We will determine their strengths, their chances of winning, and see if friendship is possible between the two. Let’s find out!

What Were English Mastiffs Used For?

Originally, the English Mastiff was bred to hunt, guard, and fight. He was not that large as he is today and running after quarries never posed a challenge to him. One remarkable part of his history is his involvement in killing off lions. Blood sport was a thing of the past and mainly, the English Mastiff was pitted against lions in an arena.

People loved to witness such a gruesome fight between a dog and a wild animal. The Mastiff’s size and thirst to fight spiced up the entire event until the said sport was banned.

Additionally, an English Mastiff fighting against a lion was depicted in ancient murals. In a 2500 B.C. artifact, this breed was portrayed in the Tigris river where he bravely wrestled with it.

The Wild Features of the English Mastiff

Undeniably, the English Mastiff’s appearance is daunting. Regardless of the number of large dog breeds you have come across, this Mastiff breed’s massive size is incomparable! There are other more features he displays that can make anyone take a step back. As advised, never approach an unfamiliar dog of this kind.

Some of the notable characteristics to recognize from this canine are:


With a bite force of 552 PSI, the English Mastiff can surely cause great damage to anyone. Mocking him or encouraging him to show hostility is never a good idea nor is it recommended to bring him outside without being trained to be social first.

Just like any other dog, the Mastiff possesses very sharp canines which can tear and shred the flesh into pieces. He has strong premolars and molars that help crush his food or even break bones. Paired with such a heavy and big head, his attempt to bite will even be more painful to anyone who is subjected to such an unfortunate fate.


The size of the English Mastiff’s paws is out of the ordinary. If you are stepped on with just one of his paws, you might feel his entire weight. If ever he jumps to stand and tries to lean on you using his forepaw, it is ideal if his claws are nicely trimmed. Overgrown nails might scratch against you and it can end up getting into your skin deeper as his body weight shifts toward you.


At a first glance, you can instantly judge how muscular and powerful the legs are of the English Mastiff. His two front legs are straight and sturdy and the ones from behind are slightly angular so he can manipulate the direction his body is going. Unfortunately, as a result of breeding, the English Mastiff’s joints are quite delicate. Jumping around and causing a great impact on his legs can lead to severe issues.

Body Size

Depending on whether the Mastiff is a male or a female, the weight ranges from 120 to 230 pounds and the height, 27.5 to 30 and above inches, ideally. Still, it is possible for such a breed of dog to go to greater heights regarding measurements. 

This outrageous body size of an English Mastiff is predisposed to enhance his ability to exert more power and thus, becomes stronger than anyone who is below the scale. 

The Wild Features of the Great Lion

Photo from: ryanvlabuschagne (IG)

Ferociously wild, the great lion is a well-known skilled hunter. Common to us is his magnificent mane for the males and the more delicate but menacing looks of the females. Nevertheless, they are big and heavy cats considered to be the most recognizable in the forest.

So, what makes the lion great at defeating his opponents? Here are the features he possesses.


There is not much difference when it comes to his bite force and that of the English Mastiff. With a 650 PSI, an injury caused by his strong teeth will be much greater. We often see lions in movies roaring and showing off their teeth. Being used to that kind of scene should never lead us to think less of the strength and viciousness of the wild animal.

His upper and lower canines are thicker and longer and the other teeth can easily chew on even the toughest of meats.


A lion’s claw displayed out of his big paws when he’s ready to attack is one of the most formidable ammunition of nature. They are deemed to be as strong as carbon fiber and as sharp as a razor. Getting scratched by a 300-pound muscular lion is the last thing anyone would want to experience. Paired with unforeseeable behavior, his playful actions might lead to something more than you would expect.


A lion’s legs are composed of muscles and flexibility. He is capable of using them to sneak after unsuspicious prey and pounce when the timing calls for it. His running speed is superb, most of all, with 50mph. Although he can sprint fast, doing it for long periods is largely outmatched by his lack of stamina. 

Body Size

As it is with other animals, male lions are larger than females. They can weigh from 270 to 570 pounds but one South African lion reached a staggering 690 pounds! Averagely, they are 34 to 40 inches tall.

When compared to the proportions of the English Mastiff, the lion certainly has the greater edge. He is quick, agile, and capable of running without the constant worry regarding his joints.

Hunting Tactics

English Mastiff 

Although popularly used as a hunting companion, the English Mastiff will only stand a chance against a courageous lion if he has other strong dogs with him. A one-on-one match is something he has no chance of winning since his victory heavily relies on numbers.

Despite being armed with destructive physical features, these are not enough to take down an opponent that is much bigger than him. Dependable support from other dogs that can help him tackle down a heavy and skillful lion is what he needs to survive.

And, even if he has a pack of English Mastiffs with him or he has been trained to hunt his whole life, it still does not guarantee him a win.


Lions can fight either in groups or in a one-on-one match. The more lions there are, the higher the chance of crushing their enemy. In the wild, they have an innate desire to win the best territories and defend their places. Hence, they form a pride to strengthen their reputation. 

The English Mastiff will certainly not outwit the lion in winning the duel. The lion is swift and an expert in doing his hunts. He knows when and where to strike. If he gets a grip on the dog’s neck, it’s over.

Motivation to Fight

English Mastiff 

Depending on how the English Mastiff is raised he will either avoid conflicts or start it himself. Currently, the canines of this type are bred to have even tempers and low aggression. His prey drive is still there, but it can only be usually sparked by the presence of an unfamiliar and small animal such as a squirrel or a rabbit.

If he meets a lion, a duel is mostly possible only if the confrontation is unavoidable. Since the Mastiff has a protective nature, if his owner’s safety is at risk, the situation can change drastically. Instead of fleeing the scene, he’ll highly likely stand on his ground and fight to the death.


Expect a famished lion to go to greater lengths just to fill his stomach. Lions are known to devour any readily available meat they can find. Usually, desperation to survive will encourage this wild creature to be in fights and even if he wins, the duel could cause him great injury. This can be detrimental once he has to hunt for his next meal.

At times, we hear about man-eaters. These lions have included human flesh in their diet. More so, if they have nothing spotted but an English Mastiff, they won’t let go of the dog alive.

Who’s Stronger Between the Two?

Photo from: mankwegametrackers (IG)

Hands down, the lion is much stronger. The tables could turn if there are enough English Mastiffs against a lone lion. The number means strength in certain cases, but still, the lion won’t be easily defeated.

Individually, the lion is heavier, bigger, and more capable of withstanding extreme events in the wild. Meanwhile, the English Mastiff is domesticated, smaller, and no longer has the capacity to do extremely exhaustive tasks his ancestors were capable of doing.

How Many English Mastiffs Can Take Down a Lion?

At least 5 to 7 or more English Mastiffs are needed to successfully take down one lion. Aside from the figures, the dogs should also have been trained to fight, have enough aggression level, be calculative, and be cooperative. 

Moreover, all canines have to be mature and are in their best health status. If the lion is old and sickly, fewer Mastiffs are enough to end his life. A cub won’t stand any chance either-even if there’s only one dog against him. 

Can an English Mastiff and a Lion Become Friends?

Unfortunately, no, they can’t. Friendship is a human concept wild and even domesticated animals fail to understand. Instead, when both animals are raised together by a human, such is called “imprinting”. 

Both the lion and the dog will think that they are the same species as their caretaker and the same as each other. They might exhibit behaviors we can perceive as being friendly, but deep down, we don’t really know much about their personalities. They can be each other’s acquaintances, but lions being wild animals, can turn on anyone, owners or pets.

Photo from: lion_attitude09 (IG)

A grown lion may show unpredictability at one point due to the changes in his hormones and aggression toward others may be manifested as his wild nature subtly defies domestication. 

“Manning” is another thing and it is far different from “friendship” too. Since an English Mastiff is considered a working dog, manning a lion to work alongside the canine is possible, but the process before anyone can successfully train a lion to work without causing great fear to anyone around him is not an easy task.

Other Mastiff Breeds That Can Defeat a Lion

Photo from: bigdogmomusa (IG)

Fighting in packs can increase the possibility of being triumphant in a dog vs lion fight. Now, having discussed the physical traits, instincts, and tactics as well as some other questions, it is time to address which other Mastiff breeds can defeat a lion.

  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Dogo Argentino
  • South African Mastiff 
  • Rottweiler
  • Fila Brasileiro

Nonetheless, there is no actual way of determining if a certain dog breed can stand a chance against the mighty lion. It is the same with sports, you don’t really know who would win unless you have an idea regarding each one’s condition and motivation to become triumphant.