Difference Between Jaguar and Puma

Jaguar vs Puma

These are two new world cats of the Family: Felidae. They are large-bodied carnivores with different body colours, sizes, and some other characteristics. Therefore, it is important to explore the differences between jaguars and pumas in detail.


Jaguar, Panthera onca, is the native big cat of the two American continents. Their natural distribution ranges in mainly South America and continues through Mexico up to Southern parts of the United States. There are nine subspecies of jaguars, and those vary with the inhabited location. Jaguar is the third largest big cat (only lion and tiger are bigger) with a weight between 60 and 120 kilograms. They are taller than one metre and the length between nose and base of tail is almost two metres. Their characteristic black spot inside each rosette on the golden-yellow background of coat is the most used identification feature of jaguars. The size of a jaguar rosette is larger than that of a leopard. Therefore, the number of rosettes is lower in a jaguar than in a leopard. Colour mutant jaguar panthers are also present in Americas. Certain studies on jaguars have revealed that the mating frequency could increase with more prey items and good quality food. The average lifespan of a jaguar is about 12 – 15 years in wild and more in captivity with an attended staff and intense veterinary care.


Puma, Puma concolor, aka cougar is another new world cat species with a large body. They live in mountainous habitats of North and South America and there are six subspecies varying according to the location. Puma is the fourth largest among all the felids, and they are speedy creatures with a slender body. A healthy adult male measures about 75 centimetres of height and grows a body that averages around 2.75 metres of between nose and base of tail. Puma’s body weight ranges from 50 to 100 kilograms. Studies have confirmed that their size increases towards the higher latitudes, and smaller bodies around equator. Pumas have a uniformly distributed yellowish-brown colour coat with a whiter belly consisting slightly darker patches. However, the coat could sometimes be either silvery-greyish or reddish without complex stripes. Puma cubs and adolescents have darker spots on the coat. There are no documented records regarding black pumas, but people believe that black pumas are there. Pumas are not true big cats, as they cannot roar due to the absence of a larynx and hyoid structure. However, they produce low-pitched hisses, purrs, growls, whistles, and chirps like small cats. Interestingly, their hind paw is the largest among all the felids. Pumas live about 12 – 15 years in wild and almost twice as that in captivity.

What is the difference between Jaguar and Puma?

• Jaguar has nine subspecies, while puma has only six subspecies.

• Jaguar is larger and heavier than puma.

• Jaguar’s coat has characteristic rosettes with a central patch on the golden-yellow background. However, puma has a simple and uniformly coloured coat without rosettes.

• Jaguars are big cats and they can roar, whereas pumas cannot roar and not big cats.

• Pumas do not have panthers, whereas jaguars do.

• Hind paw of puma is larger than that of jaguar.