Difference Between Cheetah and Leopard (With Table)

Both cheetah and leopard belong to the wild cat family. Cheetah and leopard are among the 37 cat species of the feline family. They both have body coats covered with a dotted pattern. They have similar body shapes and features but are quite different when closely. Each of them has special features and in-built natural qualities.

Cheetah vs Leopard

The difference between cheetah and leopard is that cheetah is the fastest running animal present on earth while the leopard is not as fast as cheetah; it is an excellent swimmer and climber. Cheetah’s body coat is covered with solid black circles and ovals, whereas that of the leopard has dots that are further outlined with flat petals-like structures.

Cheetah is a part of the big cat family. It is a very fast animal that can run at a speed of almost 120 km per hour. Cheetahs are tall, have slim, light-bodied, and long thin legs, which help them in their fast pace run. They have an average life span of 10-12 years. Cheetahs have a very competitive adult life. A male cheetah in the wild has to compete with the rest of the male cheetahs for its survival.

Leopard is the shortest animal in the wild cat family. They are carnivores and hunt deer, antelope, and pigs for their survival. They have a long body with short legs. Their weight ranges from 65-180 pounds. They are famous for the rosettes spots in their body. They easily climb on trees with the help of their long claw nails and are good swimmers.

Comparison Table Between Cheetah and Leopard

Parameters of ComparisonCheetahLeopard
SpotsCheetah has round solid oval spots.Leopard has rosettes spots.
Running SpeedCheetah can run at a speed of 120 km/hr.Leopard can run at a speed of 60 km/hr.
Swimming SkillsThe cheetah can swim, but it does not prefer to swim.Leopard is an excellent swimmer.
Climbing SkillsIt does not have climbing skills.It can easily climb.
Body FeaturesIt has a slim body with long legs.It has a light body with short legs.

What is Cheetah?

The word “cheetah” has been derived from the Hindi word “Chita, “which means “spotted one.” The cheetah is a carnivore animal that prays on small to medium-sized animals for food.

Cheetahs are found in the eastern and southern parts of Africa. Namibia is the country with the largest population of cheetah. Cheetahs live in habitats like hilly regions, mountains, and savannahs, etc. Cheetahs have a round head, slim and light body design, and long legs, making them the fastest animal on earth.

Cheetahs have a long tail which helps them in the running fast. Cheetahs have big lungs and strong hearts, which helps them maintain sufficient oxygen in their lungs while running. Cheetahs are very vulnerable to diseases and poaching. When a cheetah is born, it has its spots that are dark grey in color with time. It turns into dark solid black ones. A young cheetah is called a cub.

Female Cheetahs, also knows as she-cheetahs are responsible for their cubs. While the males move away from their families, female cheetahs take care of the cubs until the little ones learn hunting and are ready for their own survival. Whereas male cheetahs live with their other male brothers so as to bring larger prays for the group.

What is Leopard?

A leopard is also a carnivore animal and a part of the big cat family. Leopards are native to Northern Africa and central Asia. Zambia is the country with the maximum population of leopards. They are one among the five species of the Panthera genus.

They have been listed in the vulnerable category by IUCN Red List. Leopards have gone through several factors that have led to their extinction in many countries, including Singapore, South Korea, UAE, Hong Kong, etc. Leopard has short legs and a long body. It has a light and slim body, a body pattern known as rosettes.

Leopards have stealthy and hence are the fastest hunters. They easily carry their prey after killing them and hide their food very safely. Leopards are very wise animals and can even notice the slightest movement around them. They easily adjust to different types of habitats.

Leopards have very excellent vision and hearing senses, even better compared to humans. They are strong and powerful. They are very strong swimmers and tree climbers. The Egyptians consider leopards as a symbol of dignity. Its body coat pattern is very famous as an animal print in clothes and accessories.

Main Differences Between Cheetah and Leopard

  1. Cheetahs are the fastest running animals. They can run at a speed of 120 km per hour. Whereas the leopard is not as fast as the cheetah. They can run at a speed of about 60 km per hour.
  2. Cheetahs have solid round circles or oval spots over its body, whereas leopards have rosettes patterns over their body.
  3. Cheetahs cannot climb trees easily as they are not natural climbers. However, leopards are excellent in tree climbing as they use their sharp nails as grip on trunks and branches.
  4. Cheetahs can swim on average, but they are not so fond of swimming, whereas leopards swim pros and have fantastic swimming skills.
  5. Cheetahs are found in eastern and southern Africa. Leopards are found in Africa and Central Asia.


Cheetahs and leopards are both spotted, carnivores and a member of the wild cat family. They may look similar from a large distance but have different patterns of spots when taken a closer look. Cheetahs are very famous for their extraordinary running speed, but leopards are also very skilled when it comes to hunting preys, climbing and swimming. Both of these animals symbolize power, speed, and strength. These animals equally work hard for their survival. Both these animal prints are famous for clothing and accessioning. Overall these animals are very different in both their looks and the skills they naturally possess.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24989019
  2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/227/4693/1428.abstract

2D vs 3D