The Balrogs and the dragons were both in the service of Sauron, which means that they were allies, although they were bitter rivals when it came to who was the most feared “race” in Middle-earth.
Both extremely powerful, Balrogs are, still, significantly stronger than dragons due to their divine nature, a wider array of powers and abilities, as well as the fact that dragons have an obvious weak spot (their underbelly), which the Balrogs don’t have. The same is when comparing Durin’s Bane and Smaug.
If we’re looking at the individual battle between Durin’s Bane and Smaug, Durin’s Bane would have been able to exploit Smaug’s weakness and defeat the dragon, despite Smaug being an experienced representative of the great dragons.
Speaking of Balrogs and dragons, there’s still a lot to be said. Throughout the rest of this article, we will look at how strong they are in more detail and see how the fight between Balrogs and dragons would play out.
Balrogs (Durin’s Bane) vs Dragons (Smaug): Strength Comparison
Now, comparing their powers and abilities is far from easy, but we are going to do our best to give you at least a rough outline of their powers.
The fact is, Tolkien never precisely listed their powers in the manners that comic book authors do for their characters, so all of the facts you are about to read are taken from different stories written by Tolkien and actually present a summary of the events that happened in the history of Middle-earth.
The Balrogs were immensely powerful creatures. Only seven Balrogs were needed to hunt down the dreaded, a large spider-like monster powerful enough to devour the fruits of Telperion, which created light for billions of stars.
The above mentioned Durin’s Bane succeeded – singlehandedly – in driving the mining dwarves of Moria out of their highly fortified former nation-state, which at the time was the largest dwarf kingdom that ever existed.
He also fought with Gandalf and smashed the side of a mountain with only his physical strength, and that happened while he was dying.
The Balrogs were physically very agile, so their death was once called the “firestorm.” Gothmog fought and defeated Fëanor, an elf powerful enough to control the light on both trees.
He also wreaked havoc on the town of Gondolin, filled with Elves of the same caliber, albeit far inferior. It was even thought that he was at least somewhat comparable to Sauron at an early age.
As an adult dragon, Smaug was both massive and powerful and possessed a physical strength that made it easy for it to crush stones, as evidenced by his attack on the Lonely Mountain. Its large wings enabled it to fly and breathe streams of burning flames and vapors from its mouth and nostrils.
Some comments in The Hobbit suggest that his entire body was imbued with fire, as he glowed in the darkness of the depths of Lonely Mountain, and that his usual ways were “smoothed and stripped” (i.e., melted down) by its passage.
Like many dragons in Middle-earth, Smaug’s monstrous appearance hid his acute senses and a dangerously sharp mind. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of his treasure and immediately recorded the theft of a single cup after Bilbo made his first visit to his hiding place.
When the hobbit came back a second time, Smaug was already pretending to be asleep waiting for him and immediately declared that he could smell the thief even if he couldn’t see him.
Although Bilbo was smart enough not to fall for Smaug’s attempts to get him to reveal his exact location, the dragon used the resulting conversation to raise doubts in Bilbo’s mind and rightly suspect that “the intruder was dealing with the dwarves and men of Laketown and whether Bilbo had ever considered the logistical difficulties of bringing his share of Smaug’s treasure home.
Despite his size, Smaug is agile and quick, can easily jump over objects, and dive at very high speeds with little effort. Defensively, Smaug’s red and golden scales made him impervious to almost any weapon, but his lower abdomen was relatively soft and vulnerable.
To make up for this, Smaug slept on the collected treasure from the Lonely Mountain and had gold coins and jewelry embedded in his body.
This “diamond vest” was meant to cover his only physical weak spot, but when Bilbo Baggins confronted the dragon in his hiding place, he discovered a bare stain on the left side of his chest.
Bard learned this from an ancient thrush who overheard Bilbo associate this information with the dwarves, which allowed him to defeat Smaug by shooting his black arrow into the bare spot.
Balrogs vs Dragons: Who Would Win?
Out analysis has shown that both the Balrogs and the dragons are exceptionally powerful beings and are among the most powerful ones in Middle-earth.
As you could have read, the Balrogs and the dragons achieved extraordinary victories, defeating monsters, armies and even whole kingdoms during their reign of horror in Middle-earth. Both of them also heavily rely on fire, which is yet another similarity between these two groups. So, are they equally powerful? Well, not exactly.
The Balrogs are Maiar, actually divine creatures that have been corrupted by Morgoth, which further increased their powers. The corruption made them shells of their former selves, but it increased their powers and it gave them new ones, ones they did not have as regular Maiar.
Gothmog, the most powerful among the Balrogs, was often compared to an early Sauron, while Durin’s Bane was, as we have seen, able to send away a whole dwarf kingdom, and the largest one at that. Several Balrogs were able to kill the monstrous Ungoliant, which was also an amazing feat.
Their destructive powers knew no bounds, as Durin’s Bane was able to destroy a piece of a mountain just by falling on it. The Balrogs didn’t have a weak spot, as far as we know, and although they were killable, it took exceptional power to do it.
Gandalf managed to kill Durin’s Bane after more than 10 days of chasing and fighting, and we all know how powerful Gandalf actually was.
As for the Dragons, their powers varied between each individual dragon. The great dragons, who were also the biggest, were exceptionally powerful and destructive, but the smaller ones weren’t that dangerous. Those dragons that could fly were an even greater threat and they were likewise able to wipe out armies and even whole cities.
Dragons were also extremely intelligent and knowledgeable – probably more than the Balrogs – and while they might have had the upper hand there, the dragons, with all their might, had a weak spot on their underbelly which could be easily exploited.
This is why we think that the Balrogs are much stronger than dragons. The dragons have a weakness that every single Balrog could easily exploit, seeing how powerful they were. Also, the Balrogs are creatures of divine origin that rely on magic, while dragons were bred to be war machines in the service of Morgoth.
If we’re looking at the individual battle between Durin’s Bane and Smaug, we still think that Durin’s Bane would have been able to exploit Smaug’s weakness (we mean, Bard was able to, and he would be smashed into bits by Durin’s Bane) and defeat the dragon, despite Smaug being an experienced representative of the great dragons.