Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

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Generally, cheetahs have a more slender build as they chase and kill their prey. Being the fastest land animal on earth, the cheetah needs to have a slender build to be streamlined and more efficient at running. A leopard, on the other hand, has a more muscular build. They ambush predators, meaning they stalk their prey and pounce on them when they are within attacking range.

The tail of the cheetah is quite flat, and it acts as a rudder on an aeroplane. They help in cornering and changing directions at speeds of over 80 km/h. The Leopard’s tail is more stocky and tubular. It acts like a counterweight and helps the animal climb trees and to drag their kill up a tree.

The other obvious difference is in their coats. Cheetahs have clear black spots all over its body and a leopard has irregular, rose-shaped spots called rosettes on its body.

Cheetahs have black, tear-like streaks that run from the corner of their eyes all the way down to their cheeks. These are theorized to help absorb blinding sunlight and reduce glare in the intense heat of Saharan Africa. These spots are completely absent on the leopard’s face.

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

The animal kingdom has innumerable organisms under its massive tree. And many organisms share the same features as other organisms. Sometimes, this leads to confusion between the different species.

Similarly, the difference between Leopard and Cheetah is quite inconspicuous because they possess the same body layout and similar markings on their body.

Let us have a look at the difference between cheetahs and leopards based on their structural characteristics:

Difference Between Cheetah and Leopard
Cheetah Leopard

It has a thinner, streamlined body

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

It has a stocky and muscular build

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

Flat, rudder-like tail

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

Tubular tail

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

Clear black, spots on the coat

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

Rosette-like markings on the coat

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

Black, tear-like facial marking

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

No such marking

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

       Claws don’t retract. It gives grip at high speeds

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

Claws retract into paws

Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

Pursuit predators Ambush predators

These major differences can easily help us distinguish between leopards and cheetah.

Also Read: Diversity in Living Organisms

Other Differences Between Cheetah and Leopard

Following are some other differences between cheetahs and leopards:

Cheetah Leopard
Black “tear” line, which acts as reflection absorbers while hunting during sunny days. No “tear” line.
Lighter and taller. Bulky and strong.
Lankier than the cat shape. Familiar cat shape.
Hunt during the day. Hunt at night.
Prey on grassy plains. Drags prey up the tree.
Rely on speed over short distances. Rely on stealth.
Smaller teeth and jaws. Larger teeth and jaws.
Cannot crunch through bones. Can crunch through bones.
Live a social life. Live a solitary life.
Can’t climb trees. Climb trees through retractile claws.
Run at a speed of 113km/h. Run at a speed of 60km/h.

Some interesting facts about Leopard and Cheetah

Fact- 1

Both Cheetahs and Leopards are members of the Felidae family. Cheetah is mainly found in Africa, savannah grasslands and only a few parts of Iran.

Leopards are the most widespread wildlife found in most habitats from dense woodlands, mountains and desert regions.

Fact- 2

Animal welfare organizations have introduced cheetah projects into different Wildlife Sanctuaries to reintroduce cheetahs back into our country.

Fact- 3

Leopards hunt at night and live solitary lives, while Cheetahs hunt during the daytime and are very social. Cheetahs are fast runners and can run at a speed of 110-115 km/h, while leopards can run at a speed of 50- 60 km/h.

Fact- 4

Compared to Cheetahs, Leopards are very good tree climbers, as they can easily climb up with the help of their retractile claws while cheetahs cannot.

Fact- 5

Leopards have powerful teeth and jaws that can crunch thick bones. Cheetahs have smaller jaws and teeth with a larger nasal cavity for rapid breathing.

Also Read: Nomenclature and Biodiversity

To know more about the difference between leopard and cheetah and other interesting topics, keep visiting BYJU’S Biology.

Frequently Asked Questions


Which is faster between a leopard and the cheetah?

The cheetah is the fastest animal on earth. It runs at a speed of 113 km/h. Leopards are not as fast as cheetahs. They run at a speed of 60 km/h.


How is a cheetah different from a jaguar?

The cheetah and jaguar differ based on the type of spots present on their body. The shape of the body of both animals is different. Also, a cheetah runs faster than a jaguar.


Where can a cheetah be found in the world?

A cheetah is found in Africa, savannah grasslands, and parts of Iran. This animal is believed to have become extinct in India.


How can you differentiate between a leopard and a cheetah based on their living habits?

A cheetah lives in groups, whereas a leopard is found in solitude. Leopards can climb trees with the help of their retractile claws, whereas cheetahs cannot.


Which family do cheetahs and leopards belong to?

Cheetahs and leopards belong to the Felidae family.

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