Difference between Cheetah and Leopard

Difference between cheetah and leopard

Cheetah and Leopard are often confused together, but both are different species and have variant features. The difference between these two is of multiple aspects. If you see the Cheetah and Leopard, you can differentiate between these two as the majority of the differences are visual from the appearance and body language. Following are the few major differences that make both unique from each other:

Cheetah VS Leopard

Fur Coat

The major difference between these two species is a fur coat. The fur coat pattern for Cheetah is of spots while rosettes for Leopards. The Cheetah has round dark black spots on their skin that are not mixed and have an individual identity. On Leopards, the pattern of rosettes is irregular. 


The eyes of the Cheetah and Leopard are different. You can observe this through YouTube videos, wildlife photography, or documentaries. The Cheetah has beautiful black tear lines with amber-colored eyes. In comparison, the Leopard has greenish-blue eyes with dark spots on the muzzle. 

Facial Features and Head Shape

The Cheetah’s face has clear and vibrant tear marks that are more prominent from the inner side of the eyes. In contrast, no tear marks can be seen on Leopard’s face. The Black tear marks on Cheetah’s face provide a shiny and glare look in the daytime when sunlight reflects. The head shape of the Cheetah is small and round, while Leopard has a distinct elongated head shape. 

Both Cheetah and Leopard have strong teeth and jaws, but the purpose of this varies. Cheetahs have strong jaws which correspond with the nasal cavity to allow faster breathing with convenience in the speed of running while hunting. On the other hand, the Leopard has strong teeth and jaws to catch prey and eat it by breaking bones easily. 

Feet and Claws: Difference between cheetah and leopard

The main difference between Cheetah and Leopard’s feet is that the former has bigger back feet while the Leopards have a big front big feet portion. The Cheetah claws are non-retractable that helps them to take turns swiftly while running and hunting prey. The Leopard’s claws are retractable and are beneficial in climbing and catching prey. 

Life Cycle: Difference between cheetah and leopard

The Leopards live longer than the Cheetahs. The average life of Leopards is twelve to seventeen years while eight to ten years for Cheetahs. The Leopard does not have a specific mating season like the Cheetah. They mate throughout the year while the Cheetah’s mating season is usually dry. The Leopard’s gestational time is 90 to 105 days and gives birth to two to three baby leopards at one time. In comparison, Cheetah’s gestational time is 90 to 95 days, with four to six baby Cheetahs delivered. 


The Cheetah and Leopard also have variations in the tail pattern and shape. The tails of the Cheetah are flatter in shape than Leopard. It helps the Cheetah in balancing the body position during high-speed running. Leopard has a fuller and round-shaped tail that balances the body while climbing the trees. 

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