Are Hippos Faster Than Horses? (Yes or No)

Hippopotamuses will attack everything that stands in their way of the goal, which is always water. These animals run in a manner similar to a gallop, but they do not raise all four legs at once. 

Horses are one of the fastest animals in the animal kingdom. That’s why they have been used by humans as a means of transportation throughout history and are even used in races nowadays.

Hippos can run quite quickly and accelerate within seconds, catching people off guard if the animal is racing at them despite the animals’ hefty weight.

However, our question for today is whether hippos are faster than horses or not. Keep reading to find out all about hippos and whether they can run faster than horses or not from our thorough research!


Are Hippos Faster Than Horses?

The highest recorded speed for a horse is 89 km/h which in itself is a feat. Horses on average can run up to 55 km/h making them pretty faster than a lot of animals. Hippos, on the other hand, can move up to 30 mph at best on land, so horses are faster than hippos on land.

However, hippos are not to be underestimated. With their aggressiveness and territorial nature, they can be pretty dangerous. Humans will probably have a difficult time outrunning hippos so it’s best to not just encounter one and if you do encounter one, try to run uphill as hippos struggle with that.

The hippo can move easily in the water and it takes horses a lot of strain to stay in the water afloat, hence why a hippo would be far faster than a horse when in water. 

How Fast Can a Hippo Run?

Hippos look fat and slow but that doesn’t mean they can not run fast. An average hippo weighs about 3500 lbs and can run at the top speed of 30 mph. Despite their ability to move quickly, their weight affects their speed. Usually, they can only maintain a speed of 30 mph for about 30 seconds.

Therefore, even if they might not be able to outrun a horse, they can outrun humans! Though hippos move swiftly, their weight does affect their speed.

Which animal is faster varies depending on the situation on land. Hippos can move approximately as quickly as some horses, but usually, a horse would outrun them. However, there’s a significant chance that hippos will win the medal if it’s a water race.

How Fast Can a Horse Run?

A horse can run at a gallop at an average speed of 55 km/h. The top recorded gallop speed is 89 km/h. Running at high speeds uses a lot of energy, so a horse can only sustain it for a short time. 

This time depends considerably on the horse’s degree of fitness. To give the horse a chance to regain its strength and energy, such runs are typically only considered once a day or with lengthy breaks in between runs.

There are four unique gaits for horses. The three running gaits are galloping, cantering, and trotting; galloping is the quickest while trotting is the slowest of the four. In the end, walking is the gait. The distance a horse can travel and its speed are directly correlated. 

It goes without saying that a horse can cover less ground the quicker it runs due to the high energy required. A horse can cover large distances while walking and by taking periodic water breaks.

Can a Hippo Run Faster Than Humans?

Hippos are surely faster than humans. Hippopotamuses can run quite quickly and accelerate within seconds, which might catch people off guard if the animal is racing at them despite the animals’ hefty weight. 

For short distances, a hippo just needs a few seconds. You may believe that if you flee, the chubby wild creature cannot catch you, but you would be wrong since a hippo would quickly catch up to you.

A hippo’s underwater walking speed is 5 mph (8 kph). Hippos, on the other hand, are unable to breathe underwater and must periodically emerge to take in air. Hippos stay submerged and do not even float so that they can protect themselves from the sun.


How Fast Can a Hippo Run at Its Top Speed?

As one of the largest terrestrial animals alive, hippopotamuses can run at rates of up to 30 mph, which is the fastest rate that a hippo can run, which is quicker than an Olympic sprinter.

Although hippopotamuses can travel at a top speed of 30 mph, they rarely do so for extended periods. Hippos can only maintain their maximum pace for a short period of time—about 30 seconds. It could even be less.

A hippopotamus may appear slow due to its enormous size, yet it is actually considerably faster on land and in its aquatic habitat. A hippopotamus can’t jump either, and the animal is slower when it is moving uphill or on a slope. If a hippo is chasing you and you want to get out of a perilous situation, attempt to flee uphill.

How Fast Can Hippos Swim?

Hippos can swim underwater at a speed of 5 mph (8 kph). However, they cannot swim extremely quickly. They usually just tend to walk underwater. They occasionally prefer to stroll underwater because they have trouble swimming underwater due to their enormous weight.

A hippopotamus uses its legs to go across the water because it is unable to swim. Instead of swimming, they take a walk in the river. The African hippopotamus prefers to walk in the river over swimming. These African wild animals may move at a speed of 5 mph (8 kph) while submerged. 

Hippos have a method for remaining submerged. How they survive underwater is by holding their body weight at gravitational force, lifting their legs, which continue to sink, and finally rising to the surface of the water for breathing. They can’t swim faster than people, but they can move quicker on land.

How Fast Can Horses Swim?

In the water, a horse’s top speeds typically range from three to five miles per hour. However, given that they are not suited for living in water, this is understandable. A horse’s top swimming speed in the water is just approximately 4 km/h, which is nowhere near as fast as it is on land. 

Swimming is a major task of energy for horses, as they exert a lot of energy doing that. In fact, swimming for 10 minutes can be as physically taxing as cantering many miles.

When trying to determine how long a horse can swim in open water, there are a number of factors to take into account. Additionally, it varies based on the specific horse. Due to their large-sized lungs, horses can stay afloat, so they don’t have to expend a lot of energy attempting to maintain their body above the water.

Instead, they use that energy to move forward. In comparison to a horse swimming against the stream, a horse swimming slowly in calm water may swim for longer. Horses differ in terms of their levels of fitness and their talents, so it’s vital to watch out for indicators of exhaustion in your horse.

Who’s Faster: Horse or Hippo?

When it comes to speed on land, horses take the win on that one. They are naturally built to be fast on land and trained horses are even faster. However, if there were to be a horse and a hippo, racing in water, the hippo would surely take the cake as they are far better at moving in the water than horses.

The fastest a hippopotamus can run on land is 30mph which is already lesser than the average speed a horse can run which is 55 km/h. The highest recorded speed at which a horse has run is up to 89 km/h, this concludes that, on land, horses are far faster than hippos.

What Animals Run Faster Than a Horse?

The top fastest animals on land that exist on earth are cheetahs, pronghorns, and springboks, and then the horses follow shortly after the springbok in terms of speed.

The cheetah can reach speeds of nearly 95 km/h in 3 seconds from a standing start. It can also run at a maximal speed of about 120 km/h, making it the world’s fastest land animal and miles ahead of all other wild cats. 

The pronghorn, which may be found from Canada to California, is the second-fastest land animal and has the endurance to maintain its speed over long distances. It can run at a top speed of 56 km/h for 6 km.

Lastly, the springbok is a little gazelle found in southern Africa in herds. In addition to their exceptional speed, which they can only sustain over short distances, they are also capable of making sharp bends while sprinting and jumping three meters in the air to evade pursuing predators.

Are Hippos Afraid of Horses?

Although there is no scientific evidence to support it, several sources claim that crocodiles and sharks are the principal things that hippopotamuses fear. However, there is no evidence to prove that hippos might be scared of horses, and they probably won’t see how territorial and aggressive these big creatures are.

Hippos live in groups of up to 40, so they can be fiercely protective of their territory and hostile toward other hippos nearby. Males frequently wrestle for control of the group, and the winner takes the victorious female(s) to mate with. 

They are known for their aggressive nature and unpredictable personalities so it’s hard to say that they are afraid of any other predators.


In conclusion, we have found out that horses are faster than hippos on land as they are naturally built to sustain such a strain on their bodies, however, we also know that horses will struggle to keep up with hippos when in water, a habitat in which hippos thrive in. 

We hope that this article helped you gain some information about the nature of hippos.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.