What’s faster: greyhound or cheetah?

The question asks if the top speed of the greyhound is faster than that of the cheetah or vice versa. Therefore, I’m not going to go into a long discussion about the endurance and acceleration of these two animals (but see below). I’m simply going to set down for the record what I think is the fastest of these two animals over any distance. Update April 30th, 2023: I have added a second section about the fastest of these two when they’ve raced each other.

Cheetah versus greyhound speed
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Cheetah versus greyhound speed. Image: MikeB

The first point to make is that you will see quite a lot of variation on the top speed of the cheetah. About 10 years ago I did a lot of work on this and in my assessment this cat’s top speed is around 64 mph. We frequently read 70 miles an hour but this is a rounded-up number and probably incorrect.

Interestingly, captive cheetahs tend to lose some of their speed. In a test at Whipsnade Zoo in London captive cheetahs had a top speed of 64 km/h compared with greyhounds at 68 km/h. 64 km/h is about 40 mph. This is well below the top speed of a fit, wild cheetah chasing prey over 400 m. In this study the greyhound won the race but the conditions were unsatisfactory as the cheetahs appear to have lost motivation or conditioning.

A researcher, Mr Wilson, from the Royal Veterinary College in London, states that greyhounds are approximately 32 km/h slower than cheetahs. He also states that cheetahs have been recorded running at 104 km/h in the wild which is 64 mph, the figure that I state above.

My research on the Internet indicates that greyhounds have enormously quick exhilaration, perhaps better than that of cheetahs, but their top speed is around 45 mph. This concurs with the numbers produced by Mr Wilson mentioned above. Lions and tigers can run at this speed over short distances; shorter than that of greyhounds.

Okay, then, in conclusion, the cheetah, as expected, is quite a lot faster than the greyhound. The cheetah is the fastest land animal and the greyhound is the fastest dog on the planet.

RELATED: Rare perfect video of the cheetah running flat out at around 70 mph

Greyhound versus cheetah on a racetrack

I’m told that because there was a lot of discussion about which animal was faster either the greyhound or the cheetah, a group of people got together and decided to race one against the other. Cheetahs were brought to London in 1937 to race against cheetahs on a dog racetrack.

This was inherently biased towards greyhounds because they were used to running on a tight oval whereas cheetahs are used to running in the wild open spaces of Africa. Clearly if they were captive cheetahs, they were probably lacking in conditioning anyway.

Cheetah speed

Cheetah speed. Picture in public domain.

Clearly it is difficult to arrange a fair match but nonetheless it went ahead. The dog owners were confident of victory.

When the race was done, they were happy that their dogs had averaged nearly 37 mph. When they timed the best of the cheetahs, they were amazed to find that they were much faster and had clocked up just over 43 mph.

The world’s fastest dogs were beaten by the fastest cats.

There is nothing on the planet faster than a cheetah on land and no other animal on four legs can match them.

The reason why the cheetah is so fast

The reason is straightforward. The cheetah evolved to live in open plains. Accordingly, whereas all other members of the cat family prefer to stalk their prey hiding from them until the very last moment, the cheetah has to employ a different hunting technique which means lying in wait quietly for a prey to arrive being camouflaged by their spotted coat but when they break cover to chase a prey animal, they do so from an average of about 200 yards away.

They have therefore to cover the initial ground before they start chasing the prey animal which is often an antelope, a very fast animal. The cheetah hunts through speed rather than stealth and stalking. In order to cope with the twisting and turning of the prey animals to evade them, the cheetah’s claws are non-retractable like a dog’s so they can grip the ground. They have a long tail as well to aid them in balance during these twisting movements.

RELATED: 10 facts about the hunting success rate of the cheetah


There is an interesting comparison between these two species on inbreeding. Normally the purebred dogs are inbred, some badly so. But it is said that the greyhound is not inbred perhaps because it is a racing dog and not solely a companion. The cheetah being a wild cat should not be inbred but it is inbred due to an anomaly during its evolution. The species lack genetic biodiversity. Cheetahs have famously low levels of genetic variation. This can probably be attributed to a population bottleneck they experienced around 10,000 years ago.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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4 Responses

  1. Adrian Paul says:

    Cheetahs always win. That’s why they’re called cheetas!

  2. Cecil says:

    Well if I had too a make a choice I’d rather be chased by a the greyhound eh thank you

  3. Irish Cornaire says:

    Cheeta’s are the fastest land animal clocked at 75 mile’s per hour and a Greyhound is clocked at 42 mile’s per hour.

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