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Cheetah vs. Giraffe: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 22, 2023
A cheetah is a fast-running, slender big cat known for its speed, while a giraffe is the tallest mammal, known for its long neck and legs.

Key Differences

Cheetahs are large felines, recognizable by their slender build and distinctive black spots on golden fur. Giraffes are the tallest land animals, known for their extremely long necks and legs, and patterned coats.
The cheetah is famous for being the fastest land animal, capable of speeds up to 75 mph in short bursts. In contrast, giraffes are not known for speed but for their height, which allows them to browse foliage other animals can't reach.
Cheetahs use their speed to hunt prey in the African savannas, primarily during the day. Giraffes, herbivores, feed on the leaves of trees, using their long necks to reach high branches.
The social structure of cheetahs is generally solitary or in small family groups. Giraffes are more social, often found in loose, fluid herds that can vary greatly in size.
In terms of conservation, cheetahs face challenges due to habitat loss and are classified as vulnerable. Giraffes also face similar threats, with some subspecies being critically endangered.

Comparison Chart

Physical Build

Slender, agile body
Tall, long neck and legs


Fastest land animal
Not known for speed


African savannas
African savannas, woodlands


Carnivorous, hunts prey
Herbivorous, eats leaves

Social Structure

Solitary or small groups
Loose, fluid herds

Cheetah and Giraffe Definitions


A vulnerable species due to habitat loss.
Conservation efforts are crucial for protecting the cheetah population.


Facing conservation challenges, some subspecies are critically endangered.
Conservationists are working to protect the endangered giraffe subspecies.


The fastest land animal.
In a burst of speed, the cheetah outran all other animals.


The tallest land mammal with a long neck.
The giraffe reached the highest leaves with its long neck.


A large, spotted cat known for its speed.
The cheetah chased down its prey with incredible swiftness.


An animal with a unique gait due to its long legs.
The giraffe's walk was graceful, despite its towering height.


A carnivorous feline from Africa.
The cheetah is a skilled hunter in the African savannas.


A herbivore native to African savannas.
The giraffe browsed on the leaves of trees unavailable to other animals.


A big cat with a slender, agile body.
The cheetah's slender build is adapted for running at high speeds.


Known for its distinctive coat patterns.
Each giraffe has a unique pattern of spots on its coat.


A long-legged, swift-running wild cat (Acinonyx jubatus) of Africa and southwest Asia, having tawny, black-spotted fur and nonretractile claws. The cheetah, the fastest animal on land, can run for short distances at about 96 kilometers (60 miles) per hour.


An African ruminant mammal (Giraffa camelopardalis) having a very long neck and legs, a tan coat with orange-brown to black blotches, and short horns. It is the tallest land animal, often reaching a height of 5 meters (16 feet).


A distinctive member (Acinonyx jubatus) of the cat family, slightly smaller than the leopard, but with proportionately longer limbs and a smaller head; native to Africa and southeast Asia (where it is nearly extinct) and also credited with being the fastest terrestrial animal.


A ruminant, of the genus Giraffa, of the African savannah with long legs and highly elongated neck, which make it the tallest living animal; yellow fur patterned with dark spots, often in the form of a network; and two or more short, skin-covered horns, so-called; strictly speaking the horn-like projections are ossicones.


A species of leopard (Cynælurus jubatus) tamed and used for hunting in India. The woolly cheetah of South Africa is Cynælurus laneus. It runs very fast in short spurts while hunting.


A giraffe unicycle.


Long-legged spotted cat of Africa and southwestern Asia having nonretractile claws; the swiftest mammal; can be trained to run down game


(Cockney rhyming slang) A laugh.
Are you having a giraffe?!


A very tall individual.


An African ruminant (Giraffa camelopardalis formerly Camelopardalis giraffa) related to the deers and antelopes, but placed in a family (Giraffidae) by itself; the camelopard. It is the tallest of quadriped animals, being sometimes twenty feet from the hoofs to the top of the head. Its neck is very long, and its fore legs are much longer than its hind legs. There are three types, having different patterns of spots on the pelt and different territories: the Reticulated Giraffe, the Masai Giraffe, and the Uganda Giraffe. Intermediate crosses are also observed.


Tallest living quadruped; having a spotted coat and small horns and very long neck and legs; of savannahs of tropical Africa


Why do giraffes have long necks?

Giraffes' long necks allow them to reach leaves high in trees, their primary food source.

What do cheetahs eat?

Cheetahs are carnivores that mainly eat smaller antelopes and mammals.

How fast can a cheetah run?

A cheetah can reach speeds of up to 75 mph in short bursts.

How tall can a giraffe get?

Giraffes can reach heights of up to 18 feet.

What is the social structure of giraffes?

Giraffes typically live in loose herds that are not highly structured.

Can cheetahs climb trees?

Cheetahs are not typically tree climbers, unlike some other big cats.

How do giraffes communicate?

Giraffes communicate through various sounds like moans, snorts, and grunts, and also through body language.

Are cheetahs endangered?

Cheetahs are classified as vulnerable due to habitat loss and other factors.

What distinguishes a giraffe's coat?

A giraffe's coat is known for its unique pattern of spots.

What is the habitat of a cheetah?

Cheetahs primarily live in the African savannas.

How do cheetahs hunt?

Cheetahs use their speed and stealth to ambush prey.

Can giraffes swim?

Giraffes are not natural swimmers due to their body structure.

What are the major threats to cheetahs?

Major threats include habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and illegal wildlife trade.

How many subspecies of giraffes are there?

There are several giraffe subspecies, each with distinct coat patterns and distributions.

Do giraffes sleep standing up?

Giraffes can sleep both standing up and lying down, but they usually sleep standing.

Do giraffes have horns?

Giraffes have horn-like structures called ossicones on their heads.

How long do cheetahs live?

In the wild, cheetahs live for about 10 to 12 years.

What is a group of cheetahs called?

A group of cheetahs is often called a "coalition," especially for males.

Do giraffes have any natural predators?

Lions and hyenas can prey on young or sick giraffes.

How many species of cheetahs are there?

There is only one species of cheetah, with several subspecies.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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