They have thick, gray skin, and are covered with matted, brown or white fur-like hair. They have very sharp teeth and sometimes use them as a weapon. They are immensely strong (to the point of overpowering armored stormtroopers in hand to hand combat, at least in raw strength) and fight hand-to-hand if they ever lose their weapon. Traditionally, Jiralhanae do not use energy shielding, as they are strong enough to withstand massive amounts of damage.
The Jiralhanae have a primitive cultural structure, and are split into tribes called "packs", all led by a single "Chieftain". The way a Jiralhanae moves up in rank or stature is unknown.
In general, Jiralhanae have a pronounced dislike of the Sanghelli. They believe that they can protect the officers of the Galactic Covenant better than them.
Known ranks in the Galactic Covenant include:
- Brute Minors have no armor, wield basic weapons, and are the lowest rank of Jiralhanae. After the species became the primary command race of the Covenant, they all started wearing armor, and "naked" Jiralhanae in combat were looked down upon.
- Brute Majors wear blue armor, and have only been seen to wield grenade launchers.
- Jiralhanae Ship Masters are signified by the flag mounted on their shoulder, and tend to wield blasters more often than other weapons. Ship Masters wear purple dark red or green armor and wear a more pronounced headdress.
- Honor Guardss took the place of the Sanghelli as the protectors of the Covenant officials. Since the job was formerly held by Sangelli, most of the ceremonial combat armor does not fit. Thus, they only wear the helmets, greaves and pauldrons.
- Alpha Jiralhanae are hightest in the Jiralhanae hierarchy. They are stated to wear very elaborate gold or red armor, breast-plates, and an even more intricate headdress. They appear to wield gravity hammers of some kind. They have also been seen using the Blaster Rifle.
Unlike Sanghelli, who are skillful tactitions, a Jiralhanae pack relies of firepower and force to kill opposition. A Jiralhanae pack will often be see defending or patrolling an area and will spring into action when an enemy is spotted. Once this happens, the Jiralhanae crouch into a more apelike stance and begin firing upon their targets.
Jiralhanae often drop their weapons and charge their enemy in a last attempt to destroy him. This often results when the rest of a Jiralhanae's pack has been killed, or the enemy engages the Jiralhanae in hand to hand combat. The Jiralhanae's charge overpowers most opponents.