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Interspecies Conflict/big cats vs big dogs

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Hello, I recently read about Kangal dogs being used to save Cheetahs lives in the wild, because the Cheetahs will run from the dogs and not get shot as a result.  I always thought though that big cats were stronger than dogs.  Than I heard about the Rhodesian Ridgeback being used to hunt big cats, so this is my questions, are t here any dog breeds that could kill the big cats?  If not why do big cats run from them?
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Hello Valerie.


Your question was sent to the question pool; hope you don't mind if I answer it for you.


Q: I recently read about Kangal dogs being used to save Cheetahs lives in the wild, because the Cheetahs will run from the dogs and not get shot as a result.  I always thought though that big cats were stronger than dogs.  Than I heard about the Rhodesian Ridgeback being used to hunt big cats, so this is my questions, are t here any dog breeds that could kill the big cats?  If not why do big cats run from them?
A: Many of the large cats in the wild (cheetahs, leopards, pumas, etc.) will avoid dangerous conflicts or situations that are intimidating to them because they do not want to risk injury.  It's not about who's stronger, it's about what is at stake.  Many cat species in the wild are solitary hunters, and an injury can mean its ability to hunt might be compromised (and starvation may occur).  When these cheetahs detect the presence of these Kangal dogs, they flee to avoid what they preceive to be a potentially dangerous situation.  In addition, cheetahs aren't combative animals unless their lives depend upon it.  Cheetahs are built for speed and acceleration, and their lithe builds aren't suited for serious combat with another animal.  Animals that are much smaller than a cheetah (a baboon, for example) can easily drive one from a kill because the cat simply can't afford to get hurt.  Leopards have more powerful builds than cheetahs (more muscular, larger heads, stronger jaws, sharper claws), and are much better fighters.  But, being solitary hunters just like the cheetah, they can't afford an injury that might impede their ability to hunt.  A leopard will engage another animal more readily than the cheetah will, but it will still back away if the risk of injury is greater than the reward that presents itself.  A leopard outweighs the spotted hyena on many occasions and is certainly capable of killing one, but most realistic confrontations between the 2 end with the leopard backing away (because it can't afford an injury that will keep it from hunting).  Big cats that are being hunted or driven away by the use of dogs don't run because they don't think they can't win a physical confrontation.....they usually run because they associate dogs with humans.  There are several dogs that are strong enough to kill a cheetah one-on-one (the Kangal being one of them), but none will be favored against a leopard or a puma one-on-one.  In South Africa, the Boerboel (a mastiff that is just as imposing as the Kangal) is used to protect livestock from predators like the leopard.  The leopard will run from these dogs primarily to avoid injury and to avoid interaction with humans.  Some dogs (Kangal, Boerboel, American Bulldog, Presa Canario & others) are strong enough to potentially kill a leopard or a puma, it's just that no single dog will have a good chance to do so without help.  The Rhodesian Ridgeback is typically a good-natured dog, but it was used to hunt lions.  Lions are strong, agile, and well-armed (sharp claws & teeth) predators that routinely engage a variety of dangerous adversaries (Cape buffalo, spotted hyenas, zebra, etc.).  An African lion averages about 400lb, and one would easily kill a pack of 85lb Rhodesian Ridgebacks.  However, the lion will likely run if it associates the presense of the dogs with the presense of humans.  The dogs (in this scenario and others) may be used to chase, tree, or corner a big cat, but not necessarily to actually attempt a kill themselves.  There are some dogs in large groups that are capable of killing a big cat, but they are usually used to aid the hunter only.


Best regards.

Interspecies Conflict

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Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.

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From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

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Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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