Are Lions Or Tigers Bigger?

Male tigers typically outweigh and outlength male lions, yet lions stand taller at the shoulder. A male lion’s length averages up to 2.1 meters and weight 190 kg, while a male tiger can reach 3.9 meters in length and weigh up to 310 kg.

Things to Know:

  • Male tigers are heavier and longer than male lions, with some weighing up to 310 kg and measuring 3.9 meters.
  • Male lions average a shoulder height taller than tigers, with a maximum length of 2.1 meters and weight of 190 kg.
  • Tiger cubs grow quickly, reaching up to 45 kg at six months, and full size by 2-3 years.
  • Lion cubs grow slower, with males reaching full size by 3-4 years and weighing up to 190 kg.
  • Male tigers and lions both outgrow females, gaining an edge in survival and mating.
  • Tigers have strong muscles, dense fur for warmth, and stripes for camouflage; lions have protective manes and shorter tails.
  • Tigers’ larger skull and jaw contribute to their overall larger size compared to lions.

However, this is only the average size difference. Some individual lions are bigger than some tigers and vice versa. In addition, despite the size difference between them, lions and tigers are very similar in other ways.

Growth Stages: Cubs to Adults

When comparing lions and tigers, it’s fascinating to look at how these big cats grow from tiny cubs into the colossal adults that have sparked the “who’s bigger” debate.

Tiger Cubs

Tiger cubs are born blind and weigh a mere 1 to 1.5 kilograms. These little ones grow rapidly, gaining almost a kilo per week thanks to the rich milk from their mother.

By the time they’re six months old, they can weigh up to 45 kilograms. It takes a tiger cub around 2-3 years to reach full adult size, at which point males can weigh over 300 kilograms and measure up to 3.9 meters in length, outgrowing their lion counterparts.

Lion Cubs

On the other side, lion cubs start off slightly larger at birth, weighing around 1.5 kilograms. They grow steadily but not as fast as tiger cubs. At six months, they’ll typically weigh less than tiger cubs of the same age.

Male lions reach their full size by the age of 3-4 years. Though they stand taller at the shoulder compared to tigers, their overall length and weight fall short, with a full-grown male lion weighing up to 190 kilograms and measuring up to 2.1 meters long.

In both species, the males outgrow the females significantly, a common trait in big cats. This size advantage plays a crucial role in their survival, as the larger males tend to be more successful in territorial fights and in attracting mates.

Biological Differences Between Lions and Tigers

Lions and tigers have unique bodies that suit their lifestyles. Here’s how they’re built differently:

  • Size and Strength: Tigers tend to be longer and heavier than lions. This is because they’ve got strong muscles for catching and holding prey on their own.
  • Skin and Stripes: Tigers have thick fur to keep warm in cool forests, and their stripes help them hide while hunting. Lions don’t have stripes, and their mane isn’t just for show — it protects their neck during fights.
  • Manes: Lions have manes, and tigers don’t. The mane makes a lion look bigger, which can scare off other animals.
  • Tails: Tigers have long tails that help them balance when they’re running and jumping. Lions have tails too, but they’re not as long.
  • Head Shape: Tigers have round heads and big skulls with strong jaws and long teeth. Lions’ heads are a bit smaller, even if their manes make them look bigger.

So, even though lions have taller shoulders, tigers beat them in the heavyweight category because they’re built for solitary life in the wild. They need to be big and strong to hunt alone, which explains why they’re generally larger than lions.