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Cheetah vs. Leopard: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Cheetahs are known for their speed and spotted coat, while leopards are recognized for their strength and rosette-patterned fur.
Cheetah vs. Leopard

Key Differences

Cheetahs have a slender, aerodynamic build for speed, with distinctive black "tear marks" on their face and a spotted coat. Leopards, in contrast, are stockier and muscular, known for their rosette-patterned fur, lacking the tear marks.
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Cheetahs are mainly found in open grasslands and rely on their speed for hunting, making them diurnal to avoid competition. Leopards are more adaptable, inhabiting various environments from forests to mountains, and are nocturnal, often hunting at night.
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The cheetah's hunting strategy involves high-speed chases, while leopards rely on stealth and strength, often dragging their prey up trees. Both are carnivorous, but their hunting techniques and prey choices differ significantly.
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Cheetahs are more social among big cats, often seen in groups, especially females with cubs. Leopards are solitary creatures, fiercely territorial and less likely to be seen in groups.
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Cheetahs face threats from habitat loss and low genetic diversity, making them vulnerable to extinction. Leopards, while also facing habitat loss, are more adaptable but still suffer from poaching and human-wildlife conflict.
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Comparison Chart

Body Shape

Slim, built for speed
Stocky and muscular
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Coat Pattern

Spots with "tear marks"
Rosettes without tears
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Hunting Method

High-speed chases
Stealth and strength
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Activity Pattern

Diurnal (daytime active)
Nocturnal (night active)
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Social Behavior

More social, group-oriented
Solitary, territorial
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Cheetah and Leopard Definitions

Cheetah

A fast-running, spotted wild cat native to Africa and parts of Iran.
The cheetah sprinted across the savanna at incredible speeds.
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Leopard

Noted for its strength, able to drag prey larger than itself up trees.
The leopard hauled its catch up the tree to eat in peace.
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Cheetah

Cheetahs have a slender, streamlined body that aids in their acceleration.
The cheetah's slender form was a blur as it chased the antelope.
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Leopard

Primarily nocturnal, leopards are skilled climbers and swimmers.
At night, the leopard climbed the tree effortlessly for a better view.
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Cheetah

Known for distinctive black "tear marks" that run from the corner of the eyes to the mouth.
The cheetah's tear marks help to reduce glare from the sun.
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Leopard

Known for being elusive and adaptable in various habitats.
The leopard adapts easily, from rainforests to mountain terrains.
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Cheetah

The fastest land animal, capable of speeds up to 70 mph.
The cheetah outpaced its prey effortlessly.
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Leopard

A large, rosette-patterned cat found in various regions from Africa to Asia.
The leopard stealthily moved through the underbrush.
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Cheetah

A vulnerable species due to habitat loss and low genetic diversity.
Conservation efforts are crucial for the cheetah's survival.
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Leopard

Threatened by habitat loss and poaching, with several subspecies endangered.
Protecting the leopard's habitat is key to its conservation.
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Cheetah

A long-legged, swift-running wild cat (Acinonyx jubatus) of Africa and southwest Asia, having tawny, black-spotted fur and nonretractile claws. The cheetah, the fastest animal on land, can run for short distances at about 96 kilometers (60 miles) per hour.
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Leopard

A large wild cat (Panthera pardus) of Africa and southern Asia, having either tawny fur with dark rosettelike markings or black fur.
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Cheetah

A distinctive member (Acinonyx jubatus) of the cat family, slightly smaller than the leopard, but with proportionately longer limbs and a smaller head; native to Africa and southeast Asia (where it is nearly extinct) and also credited with being the fastest terrestrial animal.
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Leopard

Any of several similar felines, such as the cheetah or the snow leopard.
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Cheetah

A species of leopard (Cynælurus jubatus) tamed and used for hunting in India. The woolly cheetah of South Africa is Cynælurus laneus. It runs very fast in short spurts while hunting.
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Leopard

(Heraldry) A lion in side view, having one forepaw raised and the head facing the observer.
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Cheetah

Long-legged spotted cat of Africa and southwestern Asia having nonretractile claws; the swiftest mammal; can be trained to run down game
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Leopard

Panthera pardus, a large wild cat with a spotted coat native to Africa and Asia, especially the male of the species (in contrast to leopardess).
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Leopard

(inexact) A similar-looking, large wild cat named after the leopard.
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Leopard

The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), a large wild cat native to Asia.
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Leopard

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia), a large wild cat native to Asia.
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Leopard

(heraldry) A lion passant guardant.
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Leopard

Any of various nymphalid butterflies of the genus Phalanta, having black markings on an orange base.
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Leopard

A large, savage, carnivorous mammal (Felis leopardus). It is of a yellow or fawn color, with rings or roselike clusters of black spots along the back and sides. It is found in Southern Asia and Africa. By some the panther (Felis pardus) is regarded as a variety of leopard.
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Leopard

The pelt of a leopard
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Leopard

Large feline of African and Asian forests usually having a tawny coat with black spots
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a leopard?

A leopard is a large, versatile wild cat known for its strength and climbing ability, found in various regions across Africa and Asia.
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What is the habitat of a cheetah?

Cheetahs are typically found in open and partially open savannas.
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Can leopards climb trees?

Yes, leopards are excellent climbers and often haul their prey into trees.
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What is a cheetah?

A cheetah is a large wild cat known for its incredible speed, native to Africa and parts of Iran.
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What is a leopard's diet?

Leopards are opportunistic hunters, eating a variety of prey including deer, warthogs, and smaller animals.
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How fast can a cheetah run?

A cheetah can reach speeds up to 70-75 miles per hour (112-120 kilometers per hour) in short bursts.
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Where do leopards live?

Leopards inhabit a wide range of environments, including forests, mountains, grasslands, and deserts.
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Are cheetahs endangered?

Yes, cheetahs are considered vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss and other factors.
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How long do cheetahs live?

In the wild, cheetahs live for about 10-12 years.
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How do cheetahs hunt?

Cheetahs rely on their speed and agility to chase down prey in short, fast bursts.
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Is the leopard endangered?

Leopard populations vary by region; some are stable, but others, like the Amur leopard, are critically endangered.
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Do cheetahs live in groups?

Cheetahs are mostly solitary, except for mothers with cubs or temporary coalitions of males.
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Can cheetahs roar?

No, cheetahs cannot roar; they make a variety of other sounds like purring and chirping.
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What do cheetahs eat?

Cheetahs primarily feed on small to medium-sized ungulates, like gazelles and impalas.
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How do leopards hunt?

Leopards use stealth and strength, often ambushing their prey and then dragging it into a tree.
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Do leopards roar?

Yes, leopards can roar, and they use this ability for communication over long distances.
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What is the lifespan of a leopard?

Leopards typically live for 12-15 years in the wild.
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What are the distinct features of a cheetah?

Cheetahs have a slender body, long legs, a deep chest, and a unique "tear stripe" running from the corner of the eye to the mouth.
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What are the unique characteristics of a leopard?

Leopards have a stocky, muscular build, rosette-patterned fur, and a long, powerful tail.
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Are leopards solitary?

Yes, leopards are predominantly solitary animals, coming together only for mating.
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Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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