The cheetah has a slender, long-legged body with blunt semi-retractable claws. Its chest is deep and its waist is narrow.
The coarse, short fur of the cheetah is tan with round black spots measuring from 2 to 3 cm across, giving it some camouflage while hunting. There are no spots on its white underside, but the tail has spots, which merge to form four to six dark rings at the end. The tail usually ends in a bushy white tuft. The cheetah has a small head with high-set eyes. Black "tear marks" run from the corner of its eyes down the sides of the nose to its mouth to keep sunlight out of its eyes and to aid in hunting and seeing long distances.
Cheetahs weigh from 40 - 65 kg. Its total body length is from 115 to 135 cm , while the tail can measure up to 84 cm in length. Males tend to be slightly larger than females and have slightly bigger heads, but there is not a great variation in cheetah sizes. Compared to a similarly-sized tiger, the cheetah is generally shorter-bodied, but is longer tailed and taller (it is about 90 cm tall) and so it appears more streamlined.