Cheetah Vs. Leopard – What’s The Difference Between Cheetah And Leopard Print?

Do you love leopard print? Are you sure? Sounds like a strange question, but it turns out that many people aren’t aware that there’s a distinct difference between cheetah and leopard patterns.

Animal print décor and fashion are admired by many people these days.  Safari print furnishings and accessories create a wild and fun environment in our homes, and add eye-catching highlights to our outfits. And leopard and cheetah are currently two of the most sought after animal patterns.

Some people use the terms leopard print and cheetah print interchangeably. But if you are specifically looking for a particular look, it may be important to know how to identify cheetah print or leopard print bedding, for example.


Key Differences

There is an easy way to tell these two animal prints apart. We usually think of them both as being spots, but these spots are different on each animal.

Leopard and Cheetah Print

Leopard print is made of more than just simple spots. Look closely and you’ll see that spots are actually ring-like shapes, or open rosettes. Those rosettes on a leopard are typically a dark shade, with a lighter color inside. This creates a two-toned look in the spots. The background fur is lighter still, so leopards print can actually have three distinct hues. The rosettes are interspersed with smaller solid spots on parts of the animal.

On the other hand, cheetah pattern is made of all solid spots. The spots are a single color that is darker than the surrounding fur.



In nature, the actual animals are typically brownish orange. The common leopard is the color scheme that you’re probably most used to seeing. Its back has an orange-brownish background that comes in various shades. Its belly fur is a much lighter than that on its back. Then it has dark brown or black rosettes with a dab of a darker brown inside.

This is also the color of cheetahs – an orange brown fur with black spots.

There are also snow leopards, with dark gray or black rosettes against a background of white or fur.

In the fashion and furnishings world, however, anything goes in color scheme. Brown or orange with black, and cream with orange and black are most common. But for added fun and style, pink, purple, red and teal are all popular background colors to show off the darker rosettes or spots.


Does It Matter?

Well, of course it’s good to know the difference between cheetah and leopard.  Knowledge is always useful.  And if you’re a nature buff, it may be important to recognize one large cat from another.

But with interior decorating or clothing, it really comes down to what you like the look of. It won’t really matter if you pick out a cheetah bedding set and mix it with a leopard print rug or curtains.

So when you search online, you’ll find that manufacturers will advertise their items interchangeably, and in fact usually have both the words “leopard” and “cheetah” in the description so that both show up when you search for them. This way, they’re sure to catch your attention just in case their product is just what you’re looking for.