Despite considerable effort over the last four decades, research has failed to translate into consistently effective treatment options for spinal cord injury (SCI). This is partly attributed to differences between the injury response of humans and rodent models. Some of this difference could be because the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) layer of the human spine is relatively large, while that of the rodents is extremely thin. We sought to characterize the fluid impulse induced in the CSF by experimental SCIs of moderate and high human-like severity, and to compare this with previous studies in which fluid impulse has been associated with neural tissue injury. We used a new in vivo pig model (n = 6 per injury group, mean age 124.5 days, 20.9 kg) incorporating four miniature pressure transducers that were implanted in pairs in the subarachnoid space, cranial, and caudal to the injury at 30 mm and 100 mm. Tissue sparing was assessed with Eriochrome Cyanine and Neutral Red staining. The median peak pressures near the injury were 522.5 and 868.8 mmHg (range 96.7–1430.0) and far from the injury were 7.6 and 36.3 mmHg (range 3.8–83.7), for the moderate and high injury severities, respectively. Pressure impulse (mmHg.ms), apparent wave speed, and apparent attenuation factor were also evaluated. The data indicates that the fluid pressure wave may be sufficient to affect the severity and extent of primary tissue damage close to the injury site. However, the CSF pressure was close to normal physiologic values at 100 mm from the injury. The high injury severity animals had less tissue sparing than the moderate injury severity animals; this difference was statistically significant only within 1.6 mm of the epicenter. These results indicate that future research seeking to elucidate the mechanical origins of primary tissue damage in SCI should consider the effects of CSF. This pig model provides advantages for basic and preclinical SCI research due to its similarities to human scale, including the existence of a human-like CSF fluid layer.