One of the most distinguishing features of this species is the bold dark bars draped across the dorsal surface. Additional dark spots are found along the lateral surfaces of the species. In adult specimens, the pectoral fins are broadly triangular. The anterior edge of the first dorsal fin appears behind the pectoral fins posterior edge. The caudal fin is elongate, and lacks a lower lobe altogether. This species is an active, strong swimming shark, often observed moving with an undulating motion. They are known to form large schools, occasionally aggregating with gray or brown smooth-hound sharks (Mustelus californicus and M. henlei) and piked dogfish (Squalus acanthias).
The leopard shark is an opportunistic feeder, primarily preying upon benthic organisms along with the occasional littoral prey item. Invertebrates tend to dominate its diet. Diet includes crabs, shrimp, clams, octopus, bony fish (i.e. anchovies, herring), and cartilaginous fish (i.e. brown smooth-hound sharks