Do cheetahs experience anxiety? 

This blog answers: Do cheetahs experience anxiety? How are cheetahs helped to manage their anxiety?

Do cheetahs experience anxiety?

Cheetahs are one such animal that many individuals fear in close distance however not many might know that cheetahs are shy and sensitive animals who become easily anxious and experience anxiety.

When cheetahs become anxious, they experience high levels of stress that become difficult for them to breed leading to the extinction of the breed gradually. To prevent the breed from extinctions many zookeepers and the Columbus Zoo have taken up a new approach.

In this new approach, they provide cheetahs with an emotional support dog with the goal of having the dogs make the cheetah more relaxed and reduce their feelings of anxiety.

How are cheetahs helped to manage their anxiety?

Researchers and zookeepers have come up with a new approach to help cheetahs who experience anxiety. In this approach, they provide the cheetahs with emotional support from other companion animals particularly dogs.

Dogs are being used more frequently to help in the preservations of the cheetah species. According to the San Diego Zoo, cheetah cubs are assigned to companion dogs when they are around three to four months old.

Initially, the cheetahs are introduced to their dog companions from opposite sides of the fence where the dogs are on a leash and are handled by an individual.

After exposure between the two animals when the zookeeper feels that there is potential pairing between the two animals, they let the animals play and bond in order to familiarize themselves with each other.

This is considered to be a slow process as the cheetahs might initially feel uneasy upon meeting a new companion. Zookeepers report that when the initial meetings go well between the two animals they decide on when the dogs can be unleashed.

Do cheetahs experience anxiety? 

Once the cheetah and the companion dog are comfortable with each other they are given a space to spend a lot of time together. Once this happens the emotional support dogs are only separated at mealtimes while all the other activities are done together.

The use of emotional support animals with cheetahs has been reported to be very beneficial over the period. Zookeepers and researchers indicate that many cubs have shown significant improvement with their anxiousness and also mimic their canine companion’s confidence and playful nature.

This approach has provided a sense of hope for saving the species of cheetah by making them more relaxed and increasing the possibilities of breeding in the future.

The working principle behind this approach is that when a dominant dog pairs along with a shy cheetah, they help to improve their confidence and their playful nature which helps to decrease their anxiousness.

This mainly happens by cheetahs looking out for cues and modeling the behavior of their companion dogs. Many cheetahs might be shy and nervous because they lack the opportunity to socialize with other cheetahs once they were abandoned by their mothers.

The primary goal of the companion dogs is to help these cheetahs be comfortable in a captive environment to feel more confident to breed with other cheetahs

These companion dogs at San Diego Zoo who are paired with cheetahs are rescued from many shelter homes.


About a century ago it was believed that 100,000 cheetahs were living in the wild however it is estimated that today there are less than 12,000 of these species moving towards extinction in 13 countries.

Considering the seriousness of the decreasing number of these species it is important to help the cheetahs feel calmer so that breeding becomes easier, and the species can persist. The approach of providing a canine companion to cheetahs has helped in increasing the number of the species within the captive environment itself.

Frequently asked questions: Do cheetahs experience anxiety? 

Are cheetahs nervous in the wild?

Cheetahs usually run wild in their natural habitat however this isn’t possible when they are raised in the zoo in a captive environment. Not many are aware that cheetahs are extremely nervous and anxious animals. Cheetah anxieties might reach levels that make them antisocial and inhabit their ability to mate.

Why are cheetahs skittish?

Cheetahs are considered to be scared of many animals which are larger than them or animals which do not run away. This is mainly because cheetahs hold an incredibly refined body that is meant for speed and aerodynamics rather than for strength or fighting.

Do cheetahs feel emotional?

Cheetahs do not express their emotions outwardly. They only show some amount of emotions towards their mate and cubs.

Do cheetahs get lonely?

Male Cheetahs can be very territorial and solitary, but they are often seen in groups with other males for support.

What do cheetahs fear?

Cheetahs are scared of hyenas as they are aware of how strong their bites are. Hyenas are capable of easily crushing the bones of other animals including cheetahs. Hence cheetahs do not pick up any fights against hyenas and rely on their speed to get away from them.

Can cheetahs be friends with dogs?

Captive cheetahs do form great bonds with their companion dogs gradually. They pick up on the easygoing behavior of their companion dogs and gain confidence through modeling.


Zoo Gave Shy Cheetah Cubs Their Own “Emotional Support” Dogs To Overcome Anxiety