Kleinmann's tortoise is the smallest tortoise in the Northern Hemisphere. Female tortoises are larger than the males; males are more slender and have a longer tail.
Their shells have high domes, and range in color from ivory to pale gold to dark brown to pink or dull yellow. This colouring strongly follows Gloger's rule, as it helps to regulate the impact of sunlight. This allows the paler tortoise to stay in the desert heat for longer. It is also an effective camouflage in the desert. The bottom of the shell is light yellow, often with two dark triangles on each abdominal scute. The tortoise's scutes have dark sidings that fade with age.
The head and limbs are a very pale ivory-yellow to yellowish-brown colour.