When all is said and done, buy the tortoise you like, that appeals to you, maybe based on the breeding adults that produced it.

From at question “Is there any pure pardalis pardalis leopard tortoise still exist in US!?” seen on-line.

I responded at first …

This links to the paper that indicates there is but one species of Leopard Tortoise.

These authors reference (Bell 1828), but that is not in their Bib, I learned that is a NoNo, but maybe it is okay.

So, to Loveridge 1935 and Loveridge and Williams 1957 (as referenced in Frits et al.), to see what criteria they used to separate out the one from the other (Stigmochelys pardalis pardalis from Stigmochelys padalis babcocki). If the breeders meet that criteria, then they are what is S.p.p. by those authors.

https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/2829062#page/5/mode/1uphttps://archive.org/details/biostor-871/page/n19

Clade is a word used to describe one group from another. http://www.iucn-tftsg.org/wp-content/uploads/file/Articles/Fritz_etal_2010a.pdf     “Clade” has become jargon, in that it is used for different reasons at different scales of size with taxonomy. It is for inclusion or exclusion based on the trait of interest.

The follow-up to my first response is a cut and paste of the pivotal texts. . .

This image from Sowerby and Lear is said by Loveridge and Williams to be THE type specimen that Bell used to suggest these are S.p.p. and the other are S.p.b. .

Read the diagnosis.

Now you know what is a true S.p.p. from an S.p.b. based on that taxonomic use of the time.

But as Fritz has pointed out shape and size are not uniform per genetic haplotype.

So what you all are calling True Sp.p. are just a group selected-for by traits you like. That is great, and a rarer set of traits or traits that are more desirable are worth seeking if you like them. However that makes them a breed like a dog breed.
vive la différence