Why Can’t Camel Outrun A Horse? (Important Facts)

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 11/09/22 •  8 min read

Human civilization has always been dependent on animals for multiple purposes. Whether for food, traveling, or carrying loads, we cannot help but rely on some particular animals. Even in today’s modern society, horses and camels are widely used, especially for transportation and racing. 

But which one is faster? Are horses faster than camels? Or is it the other way around? Typically it may seem like horses are faster. However, when it comes to the arid climate, the camel has the upper hand. 

Today we will compare these two animals, their speed, use to humans, etc. If you want to know more about them, join us on the journey.


Camels and horses are undoubtedly two fast animals with fantastic speed. They both dominate in different climates when it comes to speed. However, who has got more speed? Is it the camel? Or are horses faster than camels?

Horses and camels both have different body structures. Camels are enormous, with an average of 6 feet of height. Indeed, they have got more body weight. At the same time, the humps on which they preserve water add more to their body weight, making them sturdier. 

As a result, a camel has an average 20-25 mph speed. The maximum speed of a camel recorded till now is 21.8 mph. But yes, it can vary depending on where they are. In the dry, sandy desert area, camels can run at full speed at 35-40 mph. 

On the other hand, horses have an average of 5 feet of body build. They have got muscles but are not too sturdy. It is one of the most practical reasons for horses to be faster than camels. Also, horses have short legs, full of strong muscle tendons, which gives their leg the necessary strength to start for quick, speedy running. 

A typical horse can run at 30-35 mph on average. But if trained for professional racing, they can gain a maximum speed of 50-55 mph. Till now, the fastest pace for a horse recorded is 55 mph. However, this is not an official record. The Guinness Book Of World still recognizes 43.97 mph as the fastest horse speed. 

So, yes, horses and camels both have impressive speeds. Horses are slightly faster than camels. However, camels are perfect for long-distance running, traveling, and transportation.

horse vs camels

Can camels outrun horses?

Are horses faster than camels? If you ask that, I will answer you positively. However, if you change it into ‘are camels or horses faster on the sand,’ I will have to choose the camels. So, yes, a camel can successfully outrun a horse. But it is possible only if they are competing in a desert. 

We have already mentioned why a horse is faster than a camel. Their different body structures decide their speed for them. However, things can change if you place them in a different environment. For instance, camels are especially suitable in arid climates. They have evolved through time and made their body compatible to survive in the harsh, dry, sandy desert.

We all know the temperature in the desert is too high during the day. But it is heavily chilling during the night. As camels have adapted to that change, temperature fluctuation doesn’t significantly affect their speed. 

On the other hand, if you place a horse in a too-hot or too-cold atmosphere, its performance and running capacity will keep decreasing. They can even drop dead after some time. 

Camels have wider feet compared to horses. It helps them to spread their body’s pressure on more surfaces when they place their feet on the sand. So it doesn’t sink much. On the other hand, horse hooves have a smaller surface area, making them prone to sinking in the sand. That’s why they can’t outrun camels in the desert. 

Now, how fast are camels compared to horses in the sand? There’s no definite answer to that. It depends on the horse’s breed, capability, tolerance, and adaptability.

Why is a horse fast, but a camel is not?

Horses are incredibly fast when it comes to running. That’s why horse running has become quite famous among people. Even an untrained horse can run at 25-30 mph speed. That’s amazing.

But what makes a horse faster? Well, their body build. Horses have less body weight than camels. They don’t have any humps that add extra weight to their body. Also, they have short legs with stronger muscle tendons. Thanks to that, they can sprint pretty fast. 

Camels are larger, heavier animals. With wider hooves, they are perfect for a desert area. Even though they are comparatively slower than horses, in the sand, things can change.

Why can’t a horse outrun a camel?

Horses cannot defeat camels in the sand, no matter how hard they try. Camels rule that particular climate. In fact, camels are considered the fastest animal in the sand. No wonder they are called “the ship of the desert.” 

But why? What makes camels have the upper hand in the sand? Why can’t a horse outrun a camel in the desert? Let’s take a glance at that, shall we?

1. Unsuitable temperature 

In the desert, the temperature fluctuation is rapid. Camels are used to that change. However, horses can not face that extreme heat and cold. It has a significant effect on their performances and speed level. It can even be proved harmful to their life. 

2. Thinner hooves

Camels have 20% more speed in the sand than in traditional lands/ fields. But why is that? It is because camels have wider hooves. That’s why they spread their body weight to a comparatively large area when they walk or run. That’s why their feet don’t sink much in the sand. And they can run quickly. 

But horses have thinner hooves which are suitable for running in fields. But in the sand, it sinks more profoundly, making it harder for them to run. 

3. Absence of humps

As the temperature is sky-high in the desert, it is natural to get thirsty. However, finding water is a challenge there. Camels have their personal source of water, their humps. They are renowned for saving up water in their humps. So, even without getting water for a long time, they can go on. 

On the other hand, horses don’t get a regular supply of water. And without water, it gets hard for them to run. 

4. Eyelashes 

As we have said earlier, Camels have evolved certain body parts to cope with the ‘not-so-friendly’ arid climate. They have pretty long eyelashes that can remove sand on their own. So, during running, the flying sand doesn’t cause any change for camels. 

However, for horses, the scenario is different. Sand and other dusty particles make it difficult to run in the desert.

5. Not-so-continuous stamina

Camels have a sturdy body build capable of going on even when fully loaded with hundreds of pounds. That’s why they are people’s top choice when they need to move long distances. Not just that, when it comes to running, the camel has a steady speed. They can run at that same speed for quite a long time. 

Horses are perfect for short-distance traveling and short-duration running. They lose their stamina pretty quickly; hence, their speed keeps decreasing in the long run.

Can you ride a camel?

Camels are one of the very few animals which allow humans to ride on them. Since early civilizations, they have been used as a carriage for humans and other goods.

They are a great companion for traveling. You can comfortably ride them. And if it becomes habituated and comfortable with you, your riding experience will surely be pleasant.

Purpose of the horse over camel

Horses excel in speed compared to camels. Even though they are not fit for long, daylong walks or activities, they are pretty fit for short traveling. You can go camping, take a short walk or ride with your horse as a matter of recreation. 

Horses are amazing racers. They can be as fast as 55 mph speed range if appropriately trained. And thus, horse racing has become a popular sport.

Even though not as much as camels, horses can still carry a decent amount of loads. They are pretty sturdy and capable of withstanding heavy workloads.


Can camels run faster than horses in the desert?

Yes, camels are faster than horses in the desert. In fact, with 20% more running speed on the sand, camels are the fastest-running animal in the desert. 

Are camels stronger than horses?

Camels are larger and have a sturdier body build. They are certainly stronger than horses. They can carry up to 200 pounds without affecting their other performances. 

Can a human outrun a horse?

No, on average, a horse can run much faster than a human. The world’s fastest human, Usain Bolt, has a top speed of around 35 miles per hour, while horses can run at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour.

Final thoughts

Are horses faster than camels? Yes, they are. However, the tables can turn in the desert and arid climates. In their own territory, camels can easily outrun horses. 

Both animals are known for their usefulness to humans. They have different builds and hence perform differently in the given situation. Both are trusted traveling companions for humans. So, it is wise to use their strength and speed in practical cases without comparing. 

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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