Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animal; their powerful hind legs give them incredible launching power and their stretchy spines provide a massive advantage in that they can cover more land between footsteps. But given what we know about cheetahs, just how do these zippy cats compare to the greyhound, also known as the world’s fastest dog?
With a top speed of 73 miles per hour, it can be inferred right off the bat that the cheetah is inherently faster. But with a sprinting speed in excess of 43 miles per hour, perhaps the more important question here is how the running technique of the world’s fastest dog differs from that of the world’s fastest cat.
In this video, which puts slow-motion footage of the cheetah against the greyhound, we can clearly see some key differences in how the animals run. Cheetahs launch themselves and gradually build speed with the help of their springy spines, but greyhounds have more of a near-instantaneous top speed with very little speed buildup over time.
The footage depicts the greyhound launching dirt from the ground on takeoff, and as it moves, its legs lift from the ground similarly to that of the cheetah. One difference, however, is in how the greyhound’s feet touch the ground, apparently in a circular motion. First, the left front foot, second, the right front foot, third, the right back foot, and last, the left back foot – rinse and repeat.
Notably, the greyhound achieves a massive gap between each footstep, much like the cheetah, but the spine doesn’t appear to have nearly as much give as the large cat’s does, and this could be another key difference that sets the animals apart in speed.