Are Camels Faster Than Horses?

Humans have been dependent on animals as a form of transport for millennia, and two good examples of this are horses and camels. Their ability to carry heavy loads made them the perfect form of transportation, and today many people still rely on these animals to get them from A to B. 

But which of these animals are the fastest? 

What Are Camels?

Camels are members of the ungulate family, which are large hooved animals. They have long legs, large snouts and humped backs. These humps are made up of stored fat, which camels can metabolize when food and water are scarce. 

There are two types of camels: Dromedary camels – which only have one hump, and Bactrian camels – which have two humps. 

In addition to their humps, camels also have a third clear eyelid and two rows of eyelashes which protect their eyes from blowing sand. They also have the ability to shut their nostrils during sandstorms.

They’re often domesticated for their milk, meat, dung and leather, but they’re also used for transportation. The worldwide population of camels is around 14 million, with most of them residing in Asia, Australia, North Africa and the Middle East. They’re name comes from the Arabic language, and can be translated as meaning “beauty”. 

On average, camels can carry anywhere between 375 to 600 lbs (170 to 270 kg) on their backs. 

These majestic creatures are sometimes used for camel wrestling in countries like Turkey, but many animal rights organizations constantly fight to eliminate the sport. 

How Fast Can Horses And Camels Go?

Horses have a top speed of 88 km/h – or 55 mph. In comparison, camels have a top speed of 65 km/h – or 40 mph. This makes camels slower than horses, but there are some cases in which camels will be significantly faster. 

By nature, camels are powerful runners. They may not be able to run as fast as horses, but trained camels can reach some impressive speeds. On average, domesticated camels are a lot slower than trained camels.

Why Are Horses Faster Than Camels?

There are several reasons why horses are naturally faster animals than camels, but there are a few which are more significant:  

  • Horses Do Not Have Humps: As mentioned earlier, a camel’s hump is a fat store, and they’re usually pretty heavy. Without the added weight/pressure from a hump, horses are able to run faster. 
  • Camels Are Thick And Heavy: As well as their humps, camels are pretty thick and heavy creatures which can slow them down. One of the reasons why race horses are successful is because of their body weight. 
  • Horses Have Muscular Tendons: These help to maintain their balance, and helps them run faster.

Why Are Horses Better To Race?

They’re Tame 

Camels have a reputation for being moody animals, who will often refuse to stand up if they don’t feel like moving. Horses are much tamer and will often do what they’re told. 

They’re Safer

It’s generally a lot safer to ride a horse than a camel, as camels usually spit and jerk which can injure whoever is on their back. Horses are a lot calmer than camels, and tend to connect with their rider more easily. 

Can Camels Run Faster Than Camels In The Desert?

When it comes to running through the desert terrain, camels are faster than horses. There are a few reasons why, but one of the main reasons is the size of their hoofs. Camels have much wider hoofs than horses, and this helps reduce the pressure on their feet which helps them run faster in sand. 

Another reason why camels are faster than horses in the desert, is that camels have a third eyelid, and a row of eyelashes to protect their eyes against blowing sand.

As horses don’t have this, sand will blow in their eyes and cause them to become disorientated and visually impaired. Horses also tend to get nervous when they are unfamiliar with the ground they are running on.

Does The Terrain Affect The Speed Of Camels And Horses?

As mentioned previously, if racing in the desert, a camel is much more likely to win. Not only will horses become uncomfortable from the sand getting in their eyes, they are far more likely to sink into the sand. 

If camels and horses race on hard ground, horses will most definitely come out on top as the fastest. 

Are Camels Better Long Distance Runners? 

During a short race, a horse will blow a camel out of the water, but when it comes to long distance running, camels will come out on top. This is because horses are easily tired. 

Camels are built to run longer distances at a slower pace. On average, camels will consistently run at 25 mph for a sustained period of time. 

Do Camels Run Wildly?

If you’ve ever walked past a field of horses, it’s not unusual to see them running around. Camels, on the other hand, prefer to walk, and most domesticated camels will most likely never run unless commanded by their owner. 

Can A Camel Be Trained To Run?

Camels can be trained to run. If done properly they will reach a top speed of 40 mph. During professional camel races, the camel will be accompanied by a rider, however, a lot of people don’t agree with camel races as a lot of camels are injured or die during races. 

Are Camels Bred For Racing?

Just like horses, some camels are bred specifically for racing. In countries like Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, Dubai and India, it’s not uncommon for camels to be bred for professional races.

Racing camels are specifically bred, have nutritious diets and are trained so that they can reach the top speeds. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Camels Run?

Despite their weight and odd body structure, camels can run. They’re not the fastest of animals, and often don’t like running. They do, however, walk pretty quickly, and people sometimes class it as a camel running. 

Can Camels Gallop?

Just like they can run, camels can also gallop. The large, flat, leathery pads on their feet allow them to gallop at a speed of around 25 km/h, which is around 15.5 mph. 

Do Camels Like To Run?

Typically, camels don’t enjoy running as the stored fat on their backs are too heavy and they become easily exhausted. As a lot of camels are domesticated, they don’t often run unless told to do so by their owner, even then they are quite reluctant. 

Young, baby camels, however, do get a lot of fun and joy out of running around. 

Are Camels Stronger Than Horses?

Camels are stronger than horses, and have the ability to carry heavier loads on their backs. But their increased strength doesn’t make them faster than horses. 

How Far Can Camels Run Without Stopping?

Camels are considered long distance runners, and younger camels can run for around 2.5 miles (4 km) before they need a break. Older camels can run for about 6 miles (10 km) nonstop. 

Which Camel Breed Is Typically Used For Racing? 

Camel racing breeders will usually use the dromedary breed of camels for professional racing. This is because Bactrian camels are the breed which has two humps, and as these are heavy, they slow down the camels.

Why Is Camel Racing Considered Cruel?

Like a lot of animal racing events, camel racing is considered cruel by a number of animal rights organisations.  

Camels bred for racing are often taken away from their mothers whilst they are still quite young. Racing camels are also subject to nose pegging.

This is where a hole is cut through their nose so a wooden peg can be fed through. Rope is then attached to the peg, which allows riders to control the camel’s movements, which causes them distress and injury in the process. 

Camel racing has also come under fire for violating human rights. Several years ago, human-rights investigators found evidence of young South Asian boys being kept in slavelike conditions, where they were given small amounts of food to keep them as light as possible for upcoming races and tournaments.

As camels are quite temperamental creatures at the best of times, most of them don’t like being whipped, and numerous child jockeys died during camel races after being thrown off their backs. 

There are still reports of jockeys dying during camel races from falling off their camels and being trampled on. 

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