Camels vs Horses: What’s The Difference Between?

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 11/04/22 •  9 min read

When I was young, I used to go for horse rides frequently. As both horses and camels seemed similar to me, I used to wonder – which one is smarter? Camels vs Horses: which one will be in the race? I bet you are also curious like me.

Camels are averagely larger and taller than horses. A camel is usually 6-½ feet tall, whereas a horse is barely 5 feet. If you compare the speed, horses are always the winner. However, they are pretty sensitive as well. So, if you plan to train your own horse, be very careful and aware.

In our article below, we have compared horses and camels in – strength, speed, Intelligence, food & sleeping habits, and many more. If you are curious, hang on with us till the end!

What are their basic differences? 

Before the advancement of fighter jets, horses were the main source of military power. After all, they are living figures of power, speed, and pride. 

In contrast, camels are not as sensitive as horses. They can easily survive in the harsh weather of the Middle East and Africa. 

So, there are indeed significant differences in their nature and living habits. Let’s check it out!

Camel vs Horse

Endurance To harsh weather

In terms of endurance to weather, camels always have the upper hand. They have large feet and long eyelashes to be balanced & stable even in the sand storm. They can survive even if they are dehydrated at around 30% of their body weight. So, they can pass several days without food & water. Their padded knees and chests help them to rest on hot sand.

In contrast, horses are a bit choosy. Wild horses prefer to live near freshwater sources. They are comfortable in temperatures around 18°F to 59°F. However, if they are in a shelter, they can survive extreme cold (- 40°F). 

However, like camels, they can’t tolerate dehydration. If horses are dehydrated for two days, it develops colic and other life-threatening symptoms.


Are camels faster than horses? Let digging deep…

As you already know – camels and horses are compatible with different terrains. A horse will definitely win in an open-field race. But they are not as steady as camels. In a rough desert, camels will definitely have the upper hand.

According to an estimation, horses can run at a speed of 55 mph. In contrast, camels prefer walking slowly at a pace of 25 mph. However, due to their high tolerance level, they can obviously beat horses in the desert. Moreover, if you train them, they can maintain a speed of around 40 mph.

So, if you are up for a sprint, go for your favorite horse. But camels are indeed the best companions if you need a sustained speed in a desert.


Camels are huge and strong. It can bear more than 40% of its own weight without a hitch. They also have some unique features to live in the harsh weather of the deserts. On the contrary, Horses can barely take 20% of their own weight. So, in terms of strength, camels are a sure winner.


In terms of IQ, camels are sharper than horses. Even though both of them have near-perfect memories, camels are fast learners. They are also more emotional and thoughtful. They can even hold grudges for a long. In fact, they might even go for revenge if they are angry. 

Eating habits

As both the camel & horse are herbivores, they usually live on – grains, wheat, oats &  grass.

Like camels, horses are not ruminating animals. They have a small stomach and 70 ft long digestive tract. So, they have to eat in small quantities from time to time. Their diet must contain a large amount of fiber for easy bowel movement.

In fact, too concentrated feeding might result in constipation. Just provide around 1% to 3% dry matter of its body weight. Remember, this dry matter must contain at least 50% of fibers (grass & hay).

Camel is a pseudo-ruminating animal with a three-chambered stomach. Apart from grass, bushes, vines & wheat, they can eat thorny plants due to their thick tongue. Read more about horse feed:

Drinking habits

Both of these animals are huge. So, they require a lot of water for proper hydration. It can also save them from heat stroke. Horses will need a minimum of 10 gallons of water per day for complete hydration. 

Camels have more drinking capacity than horses. Usually, they need around 50 gallons of water per day. It’s totally normal for them. After all, they have to live in the dry & waterless desert. Camels ferment food in their stomach and release gases through their mouth. 

Sleeping habits

Camels can sleep while sitting or standing. Like camels, horses can’t sleep while sitting. Either they have to stand up or lie down.

Life span

Compared to horses, camels generally become sexually mature at a later age. So, naturally, they have a longer life span (around 40 to 50 years). However, horses just live around 25 to 30 years.


Maintaining a horse is relatively pricier than a camel. You have to invest around $2500 to $3800 per year for a horse. On the other hand, just $2000 annually might be enough for the camels.

camels & horses 

Do camels & horses have anything in common? 

In Spite of such differences, camels and horses have some significant similarities. 

Firstly, both of them are herbivorous mammals. So, both of them look alike. They have hairy bodies and extraordinarily long necks & legs. 

Camels and horses had strongly related ancestors even in the Mesozoic era. But, yeah, their families are somewhat different now. 

Due to their biological characteristics, camels are predominant in Africa and the Middle East. You will come across most camels in Asia & Europe.

Camels and horses have been a means of transportation since the ancient era. Both of them are strong enough to carry loads and cover long distances.

In some cultures, people slaughter them to live on their meat. Horse meat provides around 21g of protein which is a bit more than camel meat.

ProteinFat Overall Calorie
Horse24 g/100g5g/100g108 Cal/100g.
Camel19.9 g/100g7.7g/100g149 Cal/100g.

Many civilizations also prefer to use them in sports. Camels are legally or illegally used for races in UAE, Sudan, and the Middle East. India also arranges camel shows every year.

Horse racing events are pretty popular worldwide. The most popular games involving horses are –

  1. Races.
  2. Polo.
  3. Tent pegging
  4. Coleo.
  5. Doma Vaquera.

Which one is smarter? 

As you already know, in terms of IQ, camels have the upper hand. But that doesn’t mean – camels are the smartest ones. Why so?

In this context, you have to consider emotional quotient along with Intelligence. 

As camels are extraordinarily intelligent, they are too aware of their surroundings. So, even the smallest change tends to upset them. In contrast, horses have a good temper and are relatively stable.

You can also calm down a horse really quickly, even if it behaves aggressively. So, yeah, a journey with a horse in a non-desert terrain is indeed peaceful.

Who will win in the battle between a camel & a horse? 

As horses prefer to avoid camels, I really doubt they will engage themselves in a battle. 

Wild horses are naturally violent and dominant. Compared to them, camels are pretty calm. So, a wild horse probably will win in the battle due to its experience and aggression.

Horses have sturdy and muscular hooves and hindquarters. But they can kick only back & forth. Even though camels can kick sideways, knocking them off is easier. Why? Their heavy body and long neck can easily interrupt their balance.

However, camels can disorient horses by their pungent smell. So, yeah, the result of the battle is pretty unpredictable.

Related articles you should read:

Why will you choose horses over camels? 

Choosing a horse over a camel is natural for its majestic looks, friendly behavior, and speed. 

Whether you choose a horse or a camel is totally dependent on your requirements. Horses are indeed fast in a sprint. But you can’t expect them to show the same performance in the desert. After all, they have a very low endurance in a rough climate. 

In contrast, camels can’t win a sprint with a horse. After all, shot charges and speed is the key in battles. But due to their steady pace and high tolerance, they can easily thrive in the desert.

Beginners also love camels for their slow and steady pace. But if the camel is not trained properly, it might react dangerously around roads and cars.



Are camels stronger than horses?

Camels are relatively larger and stronger. Camels can bear 40% of their own body weight for a prolonged period. In contrast, horses will be tired with just 20% of their body weight. So, yeah, in terms of strength, camels are really hard to beat.

Are camels afraid of horses?

Not really. Horses don’t like to be around camels for their pungent odor. However, camels don’t really care about the presence of horses in their surroundings.

Why do people prefer camels over horses for traveling?

Camels can maintain a stable pace for a prolonged period. Yeah, horses can be your favorite companion in a race. But they will be tired after some hours. They will also be dehydrated easily. On the other hand, camels can even pass climates without any food or water.

Are camels smarter than horses?

Both camels and horses have unique adaptations and abilities that make them well-suited to their respective environments.

Are camels taller than horses?

Yes, camels are generally taller than horses.

Final verdict

Both camels and horses are pretty useful and friendly. As an animal enthusiast, it’s natural to wonder about their differences. But, camel vs Horse, which one will you choose? 

It’s not easy to determine as both of them are best in their own terrains and climate. Camels can’t really win a sprint against a horse. But if it’s a desert, camels can definitely turn the table. 

I’m confident that our content has helped you enough by now. So, be wise and choose the best one now!

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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