Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

Leopard vs Cheetah

It is always interesting to talk about these graceful and photogenic animals, but people more commonly commit the error of mistakenly referring them due to the similarities in their general appearances. Leopard and cheetah are two of those commonly misidentified animals as with confusion about who is who. Being carnivores their presence in any ecosystem shows the ecological richness of the particular environment. This article intends to discuss the characteristics and present some notable differences between leopard and cheetah.


Leopard, Panthera pardus, is one of the very important carnivores in the forest patches of Asia and Africa. There are nine subspecies of leopards according to the results of studies on DNA analyses. All the subspecies are different according to the locality, but those variations do not provide enough evidence to categorize them in separate species. Leopards are the smallest members among all the big cats in terms of the body sizes. Their skull is large, and the body is long more than 150 centimetres. In addition, their weight ranges from 40 to 90 kilograms. According to some of the studies, there is a valid scientific reasoning for the wide range of bodyweights; the number and quality of the prey species found in the inhabited area have a significant, positive effect on the body size. They have characteristic rosettes and those are smaller compared to jaguars, plus there is no black spot in the middle. Additionally, the rosettes are circular in African populations, whereas Asian populations have little square-shaped rings. Leopards can sexually meet their partners all around the year except for the ones live in cold climates. The usual lifetime of a leopard in the wild is between 12 and 17 years while it could go more than 20 years in captivity.


Cheetah, Asinonyx jubatus, is a large size feline predominantly distributed in Africa. However, they have had a former natural range that has extended up to India and Bangladesh through the Middle-east region. Cheetah is a slender-bodied tall animal with a longer tail compared to many other related felines. An adult would weigh from 35 to 72 kilograms, and the body length varies from 110 to 150 centimetres. Their average height at the shoulders could vary from 66 to 94 centimetres. They have a deep chest and a narrow waist; those collectively give them their unique appearance. It is a coarse and short yellow coloured coat of fur with black spots throughout the body other than on the belly. Their tail starts with small black spots but ends with large black colour rings. Cheetah has a small head, high-set eyes, and the black colour tear marks starts from the corner of the eyes. Those tear marks run through the sides of nose towards the mouth which aids to keep the sunlight out of their eyes while hunting for a proper vision. The most important fact about the cheetahs is that they are the fastest land animal of the Earth and the speed could go as high as 120 kilometres per hour, and they have large nostrils to inhale more oxygen during running.

What is the difference between Leopard and Cheetah?

• Leopard is a big cat but cheetah is not.

• Leopard has a present day natural distribution in the forests of both Asia and Africa, but cheetah is predominantly an African carnivore according to their present distribution.

• Leopard is heavier and larger than cheetah.

• Cheetah runs faster than leopard; indeed, it is the fastest animal on land.

• Leopard has rosettes on their coat, while cheetah has black spots.

• Distinct waist is noticeable in cheetahs but not in leopards.