What are the fastest land animals? Like all the “biggest”, “fastest”, “largest”, etc. animals lists on the Internet, there is a tendency to overestimate also their top speeds. Even the speed of the world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah’s top speed is usually highly overestimated. In fact, measuring an animal’s speed is a very hard task, and very few of them were properly authenticated. Some of them are really fast, that’s true, but what is the exact number? This information is usually not measured correctly.

Another point is, the species vary in size, power, weight, and speed. Some individuals can be extremely faster than others. Think about humans: there’s Usain Bolt, the fastest human ever recorded, set the 100-meter world record at 9.58 seconds. He topped 47.52 km/h (29.55 mph) between strides during the 50 meters to 70 meters intervals. So, there can be “Usain Bolt”s of animals’ world which remained undetected.

Here is a list of the World’s fastest land animals below. Note that most of the top speeds are just estimate, only a few were properly measured. The list is also far from being complete, there may be other record-breakers. If you find such records that have reliable sources, please tell me in the comments section below.

25-30 mph (40-48.3 km/h)

  • Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), Bearded dragon (Pogona), Perentie (Varanus giganteus), Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Dingo (Canis lupus dingo): 25 mph (40 km/h)
  • Llama (Lama glama): 28 mph (45 km/h)
  • Human: 29.55 mph (47.52 km/h)
Fastest land animals (human): Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt set the 100 m world record at 9.58 seconds. His absolute fastest recorded speeds (between individual strides) during that sprint were 13.2 meters/second (29.55 mph/47.52 km/h) between strides during the 50 m to 70 m intervals. Average overall maximum speeds over this 20 m section of the race (where max speed is reached during approx. the middle) to 75 m were 44–45 km/h (28 mph) before tapering from 75 m onwards.
  • Domestic Cat (Egyptian Mau) (Felis catus), Common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), White rhinoceros or square-lipped rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Impala (Aepyceros melampus), American black bear (Ursus americanus), Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus), Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos ssp., see notes 1), Tapir (Tapirus), Bobcat (Lynx rufus), Lynx (Lynx lynx), Moose (Alces alces), Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Jackal, White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus): 30 mph (48.3 km/h).
Fastest land animals: Egyptian Mau
A bronze-colored Egyptian Mau. They come in five colors. From most to least common these colors are silver, bronze, smoke, black, and blue/pewter. All Maus must have green eyes, but an amber cast is acceptable in kittens and young adults up to eighteen months old. Egyptian Mau is one of the fastest land animals. Photo by Liz West from Boxborough, MA – Egyptian Mau, CC BY 2.0, Link

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “the fastest breed of the domestic cat is the Egyptian Mau, which can attain speeds of up to 30 mph (48 km/h) and has been referred to as a feline greyhound.”

Egyptian Mau is a small- to medium-sized short-haired cat breed. They are slender and muscular and they are thought to be one of the progenitor breeds of the modern domestic cat. Egyptian Maus are relatively rare: As of 2007, fewer than 200 kittens are registered with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy each year; and as of 2006, a total of 6,742 Maus were registered with the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

30.1-35 mph (48.4-56.3 km/h)

  • African wild dog (Lycaon pictus, see notes 2), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Snow leopard (Panthera uncia), American bison (Bison bison), Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), European rabbit or common rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), Hare (Lepus timidus), Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox): 35 mph (56.3 km/h)

35.1-40 mph (56.4-64.4 km/h)

  • Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta): 37 mph/59.5 km/h
  • Ocelot aka dwarf leopard (Leopardus pardalis), Wolf (canis lupus): 38 mph/61.1 km/h
  • Lion (Panthera leo) (see notes 3), Tiger (Panthera tigris), Cougar aka mountain lion (Puma concolor, see notes 4), Jaguar (Panthera onca) (see notes 5), Zebra (Equus), Coyote (Canis latrans): 40 mph/64.3 km/h

40.1-45 mph (64.5-72.4 km/h)

  • Dog (Greyhound) (Canis lupus familiaris or Canis familiaris), Onager (Equus hemionus), Kangaroo (see notes 6): 43 mph (69.2 km/h).
  • Horse (Equus ferus caballus, see notes 7): 43.97 mph (70.76 km/h).
Fastest land animals: Greyhound running in a race
The fastest land animals: The fastest dog on Earth is Greyhound. Photo: Wikipedia

The fastest dog on Earth is Greyhound, which has been bred for coursing game and Greyhound racing. Since the rise in large-scale adoption of retired racing Greyhounds, it has seen a resurgence in popularity as a family pet. The Greyhound can reach a full speed of 70 kilometers per hour (43 mph) within 30 meters (98 ft) or six strides from the boxes, traveling at almost 20 meters per second (66 ft/s) for the first 250 meters (820 ft) of a race.

45.1-50 mph (72.5-80.5 km/h)

  • Thomson’s gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii, see notes 8), Blackbuck or Indian antelope (Antilope cervicapra, see notes 9): 50 mph (80.5 km/h).

50.1-55 mph (80.6-88.5 km/h)

  • Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis), Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana): 55 mph (88.5 km/h).

The fastest land animal on Earth – Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus): 61 mph (98.1 km/h)

Fastest land animals: Sarah the cheetah, running
The fastest land animals: A captured image of Sarah from a high-speed video clip.

The cheetah is the fastest land animal on Earth. The cheetah’s body is specialized for speed. Yes, it is the fastest land animal in the world, but how fast actually it is? Different sources cite different speeds; estimates include 96–120 km/h (60-75 mph). But the fastest properly authenticated cheetah was a female South African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) named Sarah that lived in the Cincinnati Zoo.

She was known as the world’s fastest land mammal according to National Geographic magazine. She ran 100 meters in 5.95 seconds in 2012 when she was 11 years old and was radar-timed at up to 61 mph (98.1 km/h). She died (put to sleep because of her diminished quality of life) on 22 January 2016 at the age of 15.

11 years is quite old for a feline, it is the equivalent of approx. 60 human years. Maybe she was even faster when she was younger? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

The fastest land animals: Sarah the Cheetah Breaks World Speed Record – Cincinnati Zoo. Sarah, a cheetah at the Cincinnati Zoo, recently earned the title of world’s fastest land animal when she covered 100 meters in 5.95 seconds, beating her previous world record of 6.13 seconds set in 2009. By comparison, Sarah ran almost 4 seconds faster than the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, with a top speed clocked at 61 mph. Her run was photographed for a November 2012 National Geographic magazine article that will include never-before-seen high-speed photographs and video of the cheetah movement.


  1. Some sources claim that the Grizzly bear can run at 35 mph which is about 56.3 km/h.
  2. Some sources, including Wikipedia, claim that the African wild dog can run at 44 mph which is about 71 km/h.
  3. Some sources, including Wikipedia, claim that the Lion can run at 50 mph (80.5 km/h) which is very unlikely.
  4. According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, the cougar can reach 50 mph (80.5 km).
  5. Some sources claim that the Jaguar has a top speed of 50 mph (80.5 km/h).
  6. Penny, Malcolm (2002). The Secret World of Kangaroos. Austin TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn. ISBN 0-7398-4986-7.
  7. The fastest horse speed was achieved by an American Quarter Horse.
  8. According to Wikipedia, the Thomson’s gazelle is the second fastest land animal on Earth (after Cheetah). According to the African Wildlife Foundation, the Thomson’s gazelle can run at 60 mph (96.6 km/h), which makes it as fast as a cheetah, which is unlikely. When running a Thomson’s gazelle can run at a sustained speed of around 30-35 mph which is about 48.3-56.3 km/h. They are long-distance runners, can escape cheetahs by sheer endurance.
  9. Burton, Maurice; Burton, Robert (1 January 2002). International Wildlife Encyclopedia Set. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 226, 2499. ISBN 9780761472667.


M. Özgür Nevres
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