What’s the difference between Cheetah, Leopard and Jaguar

Of all animals, on planet earth, Big cats are something special due to their power and speed big cat family rule the jungles. As we all know lions are king of the jungles and they are a member of the Big Cat family. Lions are easy to recognise due to their different body structure from other big catsBut cheetah, leopard and Jaguars are quite similar to each other and to differentiate between them one needs some knowledge.

In this post, I will tell you all the difference between these three big cats and then you will be able to easily recognise them when you see them in zoos, videos or real jungle.

Cheetah vs Leopard vs Jaguar

Physical look

Let’s start with skin colour and pattern first.

Cheetahs have black dots on their whole body these dots get little bit bigger on their back legs. Their colour is more evenly distributed and they have two sharp tear shape black lines on their face, from eyes to their mouth. They are different from leopard and Jaguars as they have dotted body while other two have rosette type marks on their body.

Leopards have a rosette type pattern on their whole body with darker colours in between the rosette pattern. Their marks are hollow as compare to cheetah as cheetahs have completely filled black dots.

Jaguars also have a rosette pattern on their whole body, but their marks are bigger and have small black dots in between them. Their skin colour is same in between the pattern and outside the patterns.

Beautiful Cheetah



Beautiful leopard



Beautiful Jaguar


Size and weight 



Height= 70-90 cm

Length= 3.5-4.9 ft


Weight=40-90 kg

Height= 60-70 cm

Length= 3-6 ft


Weight=55-90 kg

Height= 65-75 cm

Length= 3.8-6 ft

Cheetah is significantly taller than both leopard and jaguar. On average jaguars are bigger and heavier than leopards.


When it comes to speed cheetah is king here. With a speed of up to 110 km/h, no other land animal on planet earth can match cheetah. The cheetah is designed for speed with its smaller head to its sleeker body every organ is designed for speed. Although cheetah is the fastest land animal, but it can sustain its speed only for a few seconds, after that its head temperature reaches a limit and cheetah has to stop to cool down its head.

Leopard average speed is 55 km/h while jaguar’s is  70-80 km/h. Both leopard and jaguar can sustain their speed for a longer period of time as compared to the cheetah.

One interesting thing about cheetah is its acceleration. On earth, a cheetah can go from zero to 60 miles/h in just 3 seconds. Most of the sports cars can only dream of this unmatchable acceleration.


Jaguar is more powerful than both leopard and cheetah. But lucky for both, they are not found together as jaguar habitat is different from them. After Jaguar Leopard is more powerful than a cheetah, leopards are powerful enough that they can easily kill cheetah. Leopards and cheetahs are found in the same areas but, as cheetah’s speed is far more superior than leopard usually cheetah can leave the leopard to dust in the run chase.


Interestingly cheetahs can’t roar rather they make a very strange sound it’s more like a bird sound rather than an animal sound. Leopard and Jaguar both can roar, but their roar is not as dashing as lions.

Listen to cheetahs sound on YouTube and if you haven’t heard it before you will be amazed.

Hunting Skills

For cheetahs, their main weapon is their acceleration. They observe their prey and then stealthily move towards it and try to get as close as possible. After that they use their acceleration, boom no one can match their instant speed. Cheetahs are not powerful they can’t fight other predators, they only know how to run. It’s one of the reasons why their cub’s mortality rate is more than 90%.

Leopards are stealth and well-camouflaged animals they slowly creep towards their prey and then attract at once. Leopards are very good climbers, they take their prey to the trees for saving it from other animals. The Leopards main weapon is its stealthiness and ability to climb on the trees usually they hunt at night to compensate for their low speed.

Leopard climes on tree

Leopard sitting on tree

Jaguar strength is in its powerful jaws and stealth body shape. It can grab its prey real strong. Jaguar can also hunt in water, crocodiles are their favourite prey. They watch them stealthily and then jump into the water, grab them and pull them out of the water.

Geographical distribution and conservation status

Most of the Cheetahs are found in Africa. In IUCN they are classified as Vulnerable.

Leopards are also found in Africa with few species are found in some Asian countries. They are also listed as Vulnerable by IUCN.

Jaguars are different than cheetahs and leopards as they are native to America. Jaguars are classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) as their population is rapidly decaying.

Now can you recognise between these three? Which one is which?

leopard,jaguar,cheetah three big cats


Thumbs up for those who still can’t recognise.


1= Leopard

2= Jaguar

3= Cheetah


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