Difference Between Panther and Leopard

Panther vs Leopard

Panthers and leopards are both eye catching animals with carnivorous food habits. They are fascinating creatures with many similarities shared between them while some features could be used to differentiate them. In addition to their fascination, it is possible for a panther to be more different from another wild cat species while, it could also be possible for not to be so.


Panthers are interesting group of animals among all the carnivores in the world. A panther could be any of the big cats; a jaguar, a leopard, a puma…etc. Panthers are usually black, which is due to a transferable mutation in their chromosomes. Thus, a colour mutated big cat is called a panther. Usually, according to the place a panther could be different; puma in most of the North America, jaguar in South America, leopard in all other places. Therefore, generally a panther could be a leopard but, it is possible to be either a jaguar or a puma. White panthers are also present, known as albino panthers. The white panther is a result of either albinism, or reduced pigmentation, or chinchilla mutation (a genetically caused event that erases striping and colour spots). The panther’s skin does not have visible spots but a uniformly distributed colour (mostly black). However, if there is a slightest of the chances to observe them very closely, the black panther’s faded spots could be observed. However, this interesting carnivore possesses almost the same biological features as in all others viz. extra large canines and padded paws with long nails to adapt well for their predatory lifestyle.


Leopards are the smallest members among all the big cats in terms of the body sizes and they are naturally distributed in Africa and Asia. They have a bigger head and a longer body that could be longer than 1.5 metres. The tail could measure more than one metre. According to the prey species found in the inhabited area, the body size varies, hence, the weight could be between 40 and 90 kilograms. The rosette patterns are different in the populations of Africa (more circular) than the ones in Asia (squarer). Also the background coat colour among the rosettes, slightly vary with the habitat; golden in rainforests, pale yellow in deserts, greyish in colder climates. Additionally, there are eye-like spots at the back of the ears, resembling others animals eyes to attract prey species. Usually a leopard lives about 12 – 17 years.

Panther vs Leopard

In the case of panthers in Asia and Africa, the colour and the abundance are the only differing features those could be accounted to compare with the leopards. But the other big cats’ panthers differ more from the leopards, with respect to some other characteristics also. Most obviously, being only one species, the leopard differs from a panther who could be any of the big cat species. It is one of the dreams of a nature photographer to capture a leopard or a panther because, it is not a common chance to sight them even in the wild. These photogenic big cats play an extremely important role in the ecology and also in the human culture.

  • B S Rawat

    Thanks for educating me !

  • Ethan Bailey

    I always had this confusion….

  • Vishal

    So this far, i came to know- Panther is North & South America popular as Puma & Jaguar whereas rest of world it is popular as leopard.
    Panthers are usually spotless & black in color whereas leopard has rosette pattern which vary from one place to another.