Jaguar vs. Leopard vs. Cheetah: Who Would Win a Fight?

Written by Heather Ross
Updated: March 4, 2023
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Jaguars are the biggest competitor in this fight and the third biggest cat in the world. They can reach top speeds of 50 mph, but that’s nothing for the speedster cheetah. And while leopards might not be the fastest of the competitors, they have incredible strength and razor-sharp claws.

Follow along for the ultimate big cat showdown! Read on to find out who would win in a fight between a jaguar, leopard, and cheetah.

Comparing a Jaguar vs. Leopard vs. Cheetah

Animal Battle FactorsJaguarLeopardCheetah
Size5 to 8 feet long
2 to 2.5 feet at shoulder height
150 to 300 pounds
3 to 5 feet long
1.5 to 2-foot shoulder height
51 to 68 pounds

3 to 5 feet long
2.5 to 3 feet at the shoulder
46 to 160 pounds
Speed50 mph36 mph80 mph
Attack AbilitiesSharp retractable claws
Powerful bite
Extraordinary strength
Can carry huge prey
Ambush predator
Explosive charge
Retractable sharp claws
Incredible strength
Ambush predator
High-speed chaser
Trips prey with claws
Stranglehold neck bite
Defense AbilitiesLeaps 10 feet
Tree climbingSpeed
IntelligenceHighly intelligentHighly intelligentHighly intelligent
Survival SkillsExcellent swimmers
Excellent climbers
Good swimmer
Eats in trees
Thick winter coat

Competitor #1: Jaguar

A jaguar is the third largest wild cat in the world.

©Pedro Helder Pinheiro/

Introducing competitor number one, the jaguar. This wild cat species is the third largest in the world. Jaguars have a reputation for eating almost anything and being able to kill prey with one mighty bite. These big cats have even taken out crocodiles! Defeating a leopard or cheetah isn’t out of the question!

Competitor #2: Leopard

Leopards are smaller than both jaguars and cheetahs. In fact, out of the entire large cat family, leopards are the smallest.


Introducing competitor number two, the leopard. Leopards are smaller than both jaguars and cheetahs. In fact, out of the entire large cat family, leopards are the smallest. However, their size gives them the perfect advantage when stalking prey. If the leopard can sneak up on the cheetah or jaguar, it can launch an attack before they know what’s coming.

Competitor #3: Cheetah

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal and can reach speeds of 80 mph!


Introducing competitor number three, the cheetah. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal and can reach speeds of 80 mph! When face to face with major threats, cheetahs usually flee the scene. This behavior is known as predator avoidance. But will its speed help it when it’s forced to fight a leopard and jaguar at the same time?

Animal Showdown: Key Factors in a Jaguar vs. Leopard vs. Cheetah Battle

All three wild cats are ready to fight! The jaguar, leopard, and cheetah are all fierce competitors. However, only one can be named the champion of this cat on cat (on cat) battle.

To decide which cat gets the trophy, we’ll compare several factors, including their size, speed, attack strategies, defense methods, intelligence, and survival skills. There are only three rounds to decide who will be the winner!

Round 1: Size and Speed

The jaguar beats the leopard thanks to its large size and muscular physique.

©Brian Mckay / Flickr

Round one is all about size and speed. As the leopard leaps forward, the cheetah stands its ground. Side by side, it looks like the cheetah has an advantage; it’s much bigger than the leopard. But even though leopards are smaller than cheetahs, they have more muscle mass and are stronger. This strength advantage is enough to best the cheetah.

Now, the leopard turns towards the jaguar. The smaller cat realizes it’s outmatched and very unlikely to win this fight. However, it can’t get away. The jaguar can run up to 50 mph, while the poor leopard can only reach top speeds of 36 mph.

The jaguar beats the leopard thanks to its large size and fast speed. Cheetahs are faster, but their slim build is no match for either competitor. The Jaguar takes round one!

Round 2: Attack and Defense

The jaguar wins round 2 with its incredible ability to leap multiple feet off the ground.

©Sergey Uryadnikov/

The cheetah uses its lithe form to silently approach the unsuspecting jaguar. As the jaguar spots the cheetah, he jolts forward, but the cheetah trips the larger cat with this hooked thumb claw.

The jaguar stumbles and the cheetah begins suffocating it with its trademark neck-grabbing stranglehold. But before the jaguar passes out, the leopard jumps in.

Because the leopard uses its explosive charge and the element of surprise, he’s able to slice the cheetah with his claws. Once again, the leopard has eliminated the cheetah from the fight. But the jaguar is more muscular by far, and still poses a threat.

The jaguar jumps several feet away from the leopard. Once it’s in a safe position, the mighty jaguar pounces on the other cat, successfully biting its neck. Jaguars have extremely strongest jaw muscles; their bite force is around 1,500 pounds per square inch.

It’s a close call, but the jaguar wins round 2 with its incredible strength, bite force, and ability to leap multiple feet off the ground.

Round 3: Intelligence and Survival Skills

All three cats are highly intelligent and have expert survival skills, but the leopard is the best at maneuvering in trees.


All three competitors are highly intelligent. However, they have very different ways of surviving. For instance, leopards and jaguars are excellent tree climbers, but cheetahs don’t share this skill. Additionally, all three wild cats can swim, but leopards are the most at home in the water.

The round begins with the cheetah attempting to make a comeback. However, the leopard and jaguar evade the attack by climbing up a tree. The cheetah is unable to follow.

The cat battle continues in the treetops, while the cheetah watches from the ground, regaining its strength. Just as it looks as though the jaguar may pull ahead, the leopard leaps into the river below, using its excellent swimming skills to get away.

Round three is a tie; all three cats are highly intelligent and have expert survival skills.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Jaguar vs. Leopard vs. Cheetah?

The jaguar wins! Jaguars are bigger and stronger than both the leopard and the cheetah. They’re also comfortable taking down large prey. However, the jaguar would not win a fight against these two with ease.

The cheetah’s speed and ability to trip prey would spice things up. And when you add in the leopard’s ambush techniques and sharp needle claws, it’s easy to picture how messy things could get. This would be the ultimate kitty-cat battle, but in the end, the jaguar would be the champion!

What Animal Can Defeat a Jaguar in a Battle?

The jaguar is one of the jungle’s greatest hunters, but believe it or not, there are other critters around that would not only give one a run for its money but also potentially kill one in a fight! One such beast is a fully-grown crocodile.

We know that a crocodile lives and hunts mostly in and around water, but even in open land a croc could most likely kill a jaguar or at least drive one away. The jaguar would not be strong enough to land a critical bite on the croc, especially with their necks being so low to the ground. They would use their speed to bite and claw but not enough damage to prevent the reptile from landing a bone-crushing bite from its great maw.

If the fight took place near water, it would not even be close. All the croc would have to do is clamp on the leg of the swift cat and then slip into the water, ultimately pulling the big cat into a death roll. Game over!

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About the Author

Heather Ross is a secondary English teacher and mother of 2 humans, 2 tuxedo cats, and a golden doodle. In between taking the kids to soccer practice and grading papers, she enjoys reading and writing about all the animals!

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