Can A Labrador Kill A Coyote? (A Detailed & Complete Analysis)

By Benjamin Tash

Coyote attacks on dogs have been on the rise and they pose a huge threat to Labs. If you’re wondering whether or not Labs are able to defend itself or kill a Coyote in case of an inevitable attack, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s Whether Or Not Labs Are Able To Kill A Coyote:

It’s unlikely for a Labrador to subdue and kill a coyote with ease as they have an inferior prey drive, predatory instincts and bite force as compared to a coyote. Labradors are also at a disadvantage in terms of their physical characteristics when compared to coyotes as they are better suited for endurance rather than as an attacking force with high agility. 

It’s important to understand the strength capabilities of your pooch in warding off attacks from wild animals.

Therefore, we’ll compare and contrast between the two in terms of their strength, agility, physical characteristics, bite force as well as their prey drive down to a T.

We’ll also touch on the ways to protect your Lab from coyotes. 

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Physical Characteristics Comparison

1) Size & Weight 

A larger size and weight doesn’t always mean a better upper hand overall. Coyotes have an advantage over Labs due to their leaner and more muscular build that allows them to be quick and agile which are better suited for the wild and hunting of prey.

The body composition of coyotes allows them to run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour while also providing them with the necessary strength for capturing and subduing prey whereas Labs are far slower.  

Meanwhile, Labradors are generally larger and taller with an athletic build which makes them slower and less agile as compared to coyotes.

That’s because a Lab’s larger size and heavier build can make it more difficult for them to change direction and make necessary maneuvers quickly. This means that if a coyote were to attack, they could easily dodge or evade the Labrador’s movements, making it difficult for the dog to defend itself or counterattack. 

Since coyotes have a lean and muscular build, they also tend to have a higher power-to-weight ratio compared to Labradors.

This means they can generate more force and speed relative to their body weight which gives them an edge in acceleration and overall performance in case of an altercation. And because of this, coyotes have the potential to deliver more forceful bites and strikes than a similarly-sized Labrador. 

To top it off, a coyote’s higher power-to-weight ratio also enables faster reflexes which can be advantageous during altercations, as they can dodge or counterattack more effectively than Labradors whose larger size and lower power-to-weight ratio may slightly hinder their response time.

These factors will greatly increase the chances of a coyote killing a lab in a confrontation. 

Check Also: Can A Labrador Beat/Kill a Pitbull? (6 Factors Analyzed)

2) Muscle Mass 

Coyotes have a muscle mass that is superior to that of Labradors due to several factors related to their evolutionary history, lifestyle, and survival needs. This increased muscle mass gives them an edge over Labradors in various aspects, including defense and overall physical activities. 

This is because Coyotes have a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers which are essential for rapid and powerful movements such as sprinting and jumping. This muscle composition allows them to conserve energy during rest periods and quickly spring into action when needed.

Labradors, while they have a mix of fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers, they do not have the have the same energy conservation capabilities as coyotes do – which puts them at an disadvantage during confrontations with coyotes. 

This is partly due to the fact that coyotes have evolved over thousands of years to become efficient hunters and survive in various environments. This evolutionary process has led to the development of a lean and muscular body that is highly adapted to their predatory lifestyle.

Labradors, on the other hand, have been selectively bred by humans for specific tasks such as retrieving waterfowl which has not required the development of the same level of muscle mass as coyotes.

Labradors also have not been subjected to the same survival pressures as coyotes. And as a result of that, they have a comparatively lower muscle mass and overall strength.

So a superior muscle mass and strengh in coyotes give them an edge over Labs, and are more likely to subdue a Lab in an unfortunate altercation. 

Check also: Will A Labrador Kill A Cat? (All You Need To Know)

3) Teeth & Claws 

In a confrontation between a coyote and a Labrador, the coyote’s sharper teeth and claws would likely give them a distinct edge over the domesticated Lab. 

This is because coyotes have a set of sharper claws and teeth than that of Labradors — which are essential for their survival as predators. 

Coyotes have 42 teeth with long, sharp canines designed for grabbing, puncturing, and tearing flesh. In addition, their carnassial teeth (the premolars and molars) are adapted for shearing and cutting through the meat and bones of their prey. 

Labradors, while also possessing 42 teeth, have a different dental structure that is more suited for their retrieving function. Their canines are not as long or sharp and their carnassial teeth are not as well-adapted for shearing through meat and bone.

This gives coyotes an advantage in terms of their ability to subdue a Lab and potentially kill it with its lethal bite. 

On top of that, coyotes have sharp, curved and semi-retractable claws that are designed for gripping and tearing. These claws provide them with better traction when running and enable them to hold onto their prey more effectively. 

Labradors, on the other hand, have blunter, non-retractable claws that are not suited for gripping and tearing. In a confrontation, a coyote’s sharper claws would give them an edge over Labs in terms of their ability to cause damage and maintain a grip on their opponent.

Unfortunately, Labradors may not be as well-equipped to defend themselves against a coyote due to their less sharp teeth and blunter claws.

Read also: Can A Labrador Kill A Wolf? (A Detailed and Complete Analysis)

4) Limb Structure 

As for the limbs, coyotes have far superior leg adaptations compared to Labradors in several aspects which gives them an advantage in the event of an altercation or confrontation.

Coyotes have longer and more slender legs compared to Labradors. This elongated limb structure allows for a greater stride length which then enables coyotes to cover more ground with each step.

This anatomical difference is one of the factors contributing to their higher top speed which can reach up to 40 miles per hour as compared to around 20 miles per hour for Labradors.

Coyotes’ leg muscles are also packed with more fast-twitch fibers which are great for quick and powerful movements, especially in a confrontation. 

Labradors, however, have a mix of fast and slow-twitch fibers, so they may not be able to match the explosive power and speed of a coyote. Plus, their legs are more adapted to high endurance activities such as swimming and retrieving which doesn’t require the same level of strength as chasing down prey or escaping threats in the wild as coyotes do. 

Furthermore, the slender legs of coyotes contribute to their agility and maneuverability. Their lightweight limbs allow them to make rapid turns and sudden changes in direction which helps them evade predators and navigate through diverse terrains with ease.

In comparison, Labradors are agile dogs but their heavier and shorter legs may limit their ability to make quick and sharp turns like coyotes.

You might also be interested in: Can Labradors Kill A Fox (A Detailed Analysis)

Bite Force Comparison

The greater bite force, sharper teeth, and narrower snout of a coyote can lead to more severe fatal damage in an altercation with a Labrador. 

According to a study from ResearchGate, the bite force of a coyote, at approximately 306.4 PSI, is greater than the bite force of a Labrador Retriever which is around 230 PSI.

The main reason behind this can be attributed to coyotes having evolved as opportunistic predators that need to hunt and kill their prey to survive while Labradors have been bred for retrieving and domesticated purposes which includes assisting fishermen, water hunting and serving as family pets. 

The stronger bite force of a coyote is essential for its survival in the wild (predation pressure) as it needs to be able to efficiently subdue and kill its prey. 

The other reason why coyotes have a much bigger bite force is due to a relatively smaller and more elongated snout compared to Labradors which allows for a more focused application of bite force.

In an altercation, this narrower snout enables the coyote to target specific areas of the Labrador’s body such as the neck or limbs with greater precision, potentially resulting in more significant damage and incapacitation.

In contrast, Labradors possess a broader and more robust snout which results in a more dispersed application of bite force across a larger area. Hence why Labs have a lesser likelihood of causing severe injuries as compared to coyotes. 

Coyotes have also evolved to have larger and more powerful jaw muscles with a larger surface area for muscle attachment which allows them to generate more force when biting down.

Additionally, coyotes have evolved to have more durable teeth and jaws that are better adapted to withstand the stresses of hunting and scavenging.

So in a confrontation with a Labrador, a coyote’s sharp teeth can cause deep, penetrating wounds that could lead to significant blood loss, tissue damage and potential infection if not promptly treated.

Labradors, on the other hand, have teeth that are designed more for gripping and holding rather than tearing. Their primary purpose was initially to retrieve game during hunting expeditions without causing damage due to the nature of their soft mouths.

While a Labrador’s teeth can still cause harm, especially if it bites a sensitive area or maintains pressure for an extended period, the overall damage inflicted is likely to be less severe than that of a coyote’s bite due to the differences in teeth structure, teeth sharpness and bite force. 

Check also: Do Labradors Attack Humans? (Statistics, Factors and Reasons Explained) 

Prey Drive & Predatory Instincts Comparison

A coyote’s greater prey drive and predatory instinct can potentially decimate a Labrador in a confrontation due to its heightened alertness, responsiveness and aggression. 

Coyotes in general have a much greater prey drive or predatory instinct than Labradors. This is because coyotes are opportunistic predators that have evolved in the wild in which they rely on their hunting skills to capture, kill and consume a diverse range of prey.

Their survival depends on their ability to effectively hunt and kill which has resulted in the development of a stronger prey drive in coyotes over time and generations.

This strong prey drive enables coyotes to be highly alert, responsive and aggressive when pursuing potential prey or a perceived threat. 

Apart from that, a coyote’s greater prey drive is also a result of a natural resource competition in the wild. Coyotes often face competition from other predators which can result in limited food availability.

In order to survive, coyotes must be highly adaptable, efficient and aggressive hunters. This necessity has driven the evolution of heightened prey drive in coyotes, as individuals with a stronger prey drive are more likely to secure food resources and successfully reproduce.

In a confrontation with a Labrador, a coyote’s greater prey drive could translate into quicker and more decisive actions — making it more likely to attack or defend itself with lethal force.

On the other hand, Labradors’ prey drive tend to be more subdued and controlled compared to that of a coyote. This is because Labradors have been selectively bred for traits such as trainability, intelligence and a gentle temperament which are more compatible with their roles as domesticated animals.

Their prey drive is often channeled into retrieving objects or game during hunting expeditions rather than the pursuit and capture of live prey for survival. 

Also, Labs that excel in hunting are typically line-bred as hunters for generations as opposed to the regular sporting Labradors today. It’s not in their nature to be generally confrontational and aggressive with other animals, even smaller ones.

So, it will most likely be a one-sided altercation with a more aggressive and driven coyote.

Even though a hunting-trained Labrador may have improved skills, the coyote’s superior predatory instincts could still give it an edge in an altercation.

Read Also: Do Labradors Kill Snakes? (All You Should Know)

How To Protect Your Labrador From Coyotes.

It’s extremely crucial to keep an eye out for coyotes – especially during springtime when female coyotes are often more protective and aggressive when raising their offspring by April or May. In order to protect your pooch from a potential coyote attack during walks, it’s important to:

1) Avoid known den locations

Familiarize yourself with any known coyote den locations in your area and avoid walking your dog near these areas. Coyotes are more likely to act aggressively when they feel their pups are threatened.

2) Keep your Lab on a short leash if there are known coyotes around

When walking your Labrador, especially during springtime, keep them on a short leash. This will give you better control over your dog and prevent them from inadvertently approaching a coyote den or protective mother.

It is also crucial to keep your Labrador on a sturdy leash when walking in areas where coyotes are known to be active. In the event of an encounter with a pack of coyotes, a leash will prevent your dog from running towards or away from the coyotes, both of which could escalate the situation.

3) Be aware of coyote warning signs

Pay attention to signs that a coyote may be in the area or feel threatened, such as vocalizations (yipping, barking, or howling), agitated behavior, or visible dens or tracks.

If you notice any of these signs, calmly and slowly leave the area while keeping your dog close and maintaining control.

If you ever encounter a coyote during your walks, it’s best to:

  • Stay calm, assertive and slowly back away: Do not under any circumstances approch the coyote in an attempt to scare it away. Do not display fear or panic can make the situation worse. Maintain a firm grip on your Lab’s leash and avoid making sudden movements that may provoke the coyotes and never ever turn your back against the coyote. 
  • Make yourself appear larger: To deter the pack of coyotes from approaching, try to make yourself appear larger and more intimidating. Stand tall, raise your arms, and open your jacket or shirt to create a larger silhouette. This display of confidence can help to discourage the coyotes from coming closer.
  • Make loud noises: Loud noises can be effective in scaring off a pack of coyotes. Shout, clap your hands, stomp your feet, or use a loud whistle or air horn (Amazon) to create a disturbance. The loud noises may startle the coyotes and cause them to retreat.
  • Use deterrents: Carry deterrents, such as pepper spray (Amazon) or a citronella spray (Amazon) when walking in areas where coyotes are known to be active. While these deterrents can be helpful in warding off a single coyote, their effectiveness against a pack may be limited.

However, using deterrents in combination with other tactics, such as making loud noises and appearing larger, can help to increase their effectiveness in warding off a coyote without provoking it or inadvertently encouraging unwanted behaviors

Avoid throwing sticks at coyotes as it may not cause enough pain or discomfort to scare the animal away. Coyotes are resilient creatures, and a stick might not provide sufficient force to deter an aggressive or persistent individual.

Also, the action of bending down to pick up a stick and then throwing it can also be perceived as weakness or vulnerability by the coyote, potentially emboldening it to approach further.

You should also take steps to secure your property as a precaution. Ensuring that your property is secure can help to deter coyotes from entering your yard and coming into contact with your Labrador.

You can do this by installing a fence that is at least 6 feet tall, with a buried extension or coyote rollers to prevent coyotes from digging under or climbing over the fence.

Additionally, remove potential food sources such as pet food, bird feeders and fallen fruit to make your property less attractive to coyotes.

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