- The Animal Encyclopedia for Kids

Jaguar, Leopard or Panther - What’s the Difference?

Jaguars and leopards look very similar. They're large predatory cats. And they all have spots. How can you tell these big cats apart? It’s not easy! This article will tell you!

We’ll show you in simple steps and with large images how to tell jaguar, leopard, panther and clouded panther apart. They all have a unique appearance, behavior and their own habitats.

There is also a little aside about smaller predatory cats like ocelots, cheetahs and servals. They also have spots and aren’t that easy to tell apart. Finally, there’ll be a clear summary with pictures of all the spotted cats.

Leopard Photo: Foto: Maggy Meyer/Shutterstock

Mnemonic Trick

The best way to remember: the leOparD doesn’t have any dots in its flower-shaped markings. The two letters and D for "0" and "dots" (= no dots) are in its name!

Unique Characteristics:

Here you can see all the characteristics in which the animals differ. On the following pages we'll explain them. Also, we show you large pictures for each feature, on which we have marked the differences.


  • coat patterns, spots, rosettes
  • tail tip


  • size
  • weight
  • head
  • tail


  • climbing
  • swimming

Habitat and distribution

  • vegetation zone
  • geography

Jaguar, leopard or panther? Find out here:

LeopardLeopard - Photo: Eduard Kyslynskyy/Shutterstock

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