Antelope Vs Deer: What Are the Differences?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: February 16, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Jose_Gonzalez_Jr
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Antelope and deer are two umbrella terms that refer to a great number of different animals. Many types of antelope share a resemblance with deer. They are both quadrupedal mammals that can have antlers and horns on their heads. They’re herd animals, and they’re all known for being speedy and skittish. So, what are the differences between an antelope vs deer? Take a closer look at these animal families and see what sets them apart from one another.

Comparing an Antelope and a Deer

Antelope vs Deer

A-Z-Animals.com

AntelopeDeer
SizeWeight: 110lbs to 2,000lbs
Height: 3ft to 5ft at the shoulder, capable of reaching up to 9ft.                                   
Weight: 22lbs-900lbs
Height: 2ft-4ft at the shoulder
FamilyBovidaeCervidae
Speed55 mph40 mph
Antler Morphology– Horns that do not branch but usually curve backward
– Horns range in length up to 28 inches.
– Long, branching antlers with many points
Keeps Antlers All YearYes, they have horns that continuously growShed their antlers each year
Number of Species91 species43 species
RangeAfrica and parts of EurasiaRoam the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa

The 7 Key Differences Between an Antelope vs Deer

Largest deer - Barasingha
Deer and antelope differ in their sizes, antlers, and range.

PhotocechCZ/Shutterstock.com

The major differences between an antelope and deer include their size, antler morphology, and range. The largest antelope species are larger than the biggest deer species, capable of reaching heights of 9ft in height and 2,000lbs in length. Deer are smaller than antelope, standing about 4ft tall and weighing a maximum of 900lbs.

The antlers of a deer are more intricate than those of an antelope since they branch and have many points. Antelope actually have horns instead of antlers, but they do not branch out so they usually only have two points on their entire head.

Deer have a larger range than antelope, too. Deer can be found on every continent except Antarctica. However, true antelope cannot be found in the Americas, and they do not roam Australia or large portions of Europe.

These key factors represent the greatest differences between antelope and deer.

Antelope vs Deer: Size

Antelope are larger than deer. These animals range in weight from 110lbs to 2,000lbs, and their height can be as diminutive as 3ft tall at the shoulder to 9ft tall. Deer also have many species, so their sizes vary quite a bit. Deer can weigh as little as 22lbs or as much as 900lbs. However, their height usually reaches between 2ft and 4ft at the shoulder. All in all, the average deer is smaller than the average antelope.

Antelope vs Deer: Family

Deer and antelope are not from the same family of animals. Deer come from the family Cervidae, a group that includes elk, moose, reindeer, and the roe deer. However, antelope come from the family Bovidae, and that means they are more closely related to cattle, bison, and buffalo than they are to deer.

One of the main differences between these families is their antlers, and we’ll cover that difference shortly.

Antelope vs Deer: Speed

Springbok antelope (Antidorcas marsupialis) jumping, South Africa
The springbok antelope is capable of running at 55 mph.

Antelopes are faster than deer. Of course, it depends on species, but the fastest antelope is faster than the fastest deer. The top speed of an antelope is 55 mph, but the fastest deer will reach about 40mph when sprinting.

Interestingly, it’s not just the speed of the antelope that is so impressive. They have incredible stamina that is designed to help them outrun and outlast predators such as cheetahs and lions. Although cheetahs are certainly faster than antelopes, if an antelope can start running first, a cheetah won’t waste its closing speed to bring it down.

Antelope vs Deer: Antler Morphology

Antelopes have horns and deer have antlers. Although these structures may seem the same, they’re very different. An antelope’s horns do not branch off or have multiple points. Instead, the horns grow several inches long or a few feet long throughout the course of the antelope’s life. Often, they’ll grow straight up from the antelope’s head, or they may curve backward.

Deer antlers are far more complex-looking. They can branch off into several different points and rapidly grow throughout the year. These are used to fight other deer and fend off predators. The deer’s antlers aren’t likely to grow as long as an antelope’s horns, but they’re still beautiful and ornate.

Antelope vs Deer: Keeps Antlers All Year

white-tailed deer buck looking at camera
Deer antlers are branch off unlike antelope horns.

iStock.com/Harry Collins

Antelope keep their horns throughout the year, but deer lose their antlers every year for the most part. The horns of an antelope grow continuously, becoming larger throughout their lives. However, deer grow their antlers from the spring until the fall, and they shed them in the winter when their bodies must conserve energy. In the spring, deer begin to regrow their antlers.

Antelope vs Deer: Number of Species

More species of antelope exist than species of deer. Roughly 91 species of antelope have been recognized, and many of them come from Africa. About 43 species of deer exist, and they originate from many places around the world.

Antelope vs Deer: Range

Wild saiga antelope, Saiga tatarica tatarica visiting a waterhole at the Stepnoi Sanctuary, Astrakhan Oblast, Russia
Antelope are from Africa, and many species of these creatures live there.

The range of deer is larger than the range of antelope. Deer live throughout the world, and they can be found on every continent in some form except for Antarctica. However, antelope have a somewhat limited range that includes Africa and parts of Eurasia. They’re not present in Europe or the Americas.

Although the pronghorn may bear a resemblance to antelope, the fact remains that this “American antelope” is not an antelope at all. Pronghorns come from a completely different family called the Antilocapridae. Thus, no true antelopes live in the Americas.

Antelope and deer are very different animals when you start to look at their differences. From the horns and antlers on the top of their heads to the number of species each animal has in its family, both creatures are unique.

Telling them apart at a distance can be a challenge. If you saw two females of the species or a deer that had recently shed its antlers, you might be hard-pressed to decide which animal you were looking at.

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.