What Is the Difference Between a Cheetah and a Leopard?

Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

Some differences between a cheetah and a leopard include their sizes, shapes and spots. Although the leopard and the cheetah are about the same height, the leopard can weigh nearly 30 pounds more than the cheetah.

The cheetah is about 4 inches taller at the shoulder than the leopard, measuring 32 inches to the leopard’s 28 inches. The cheetah is also longer than the leopard. It reaches up to 86 inches long from head to tail, while the leopard reaches up to 75 inches long. The cheetah has a tall, slender build with long legs and a broad chest, which gives this big cat the power to reach speeds up to 70 mph. The leopard is more heavily muscled, making it a strong swimmer and climber. It hunts in the water or drags its food up into trees in order to feed.

The cheetah and the leopard are both spotted, but their spots are different. The cheetah has black spots and tear stripes that run from the inside corner of its eyes all the way down to its mouth. The leopard has spots that are grouped together in rosettes, which are groups of five spots with the center spot a lighter color, in order to help it blend in with its environment.