What is Cowhide Leather? And Its Advantage

Ever run your hand along the buttery-soft leather of a favorite jacket, or admired the rich patina of a vintage briefcase? Chances are, you've encountered the magic of cowhide leather. But this remarkable material is more than just good looks – it's a testament to human ingenuity and a symbol of timeless style.

Here's the thing. Leather isn't all created equal. And while that fancy new backpack might boast a leather label, understanding the different types of leather, especially cowhide, can be the difference between a treasured companion and a fleeting trend.

What is Cowhide Leather

Cowhide leather is a durable and versatile material made from the skin of bovine animals, predominantly cows. Characterized by its uncut form that preserves its original shape, cowhide undergoes chrome tanning, a process that ensures its durability and suitability for various applications. This type of leather is most commonly found in upholstery, furniture, and car interiors due to its robust nature, but it also serves as a popular choice for crafting leather goods such as bags, shoes, and jackets.

As the most produced type of leather worldwide, cowhide stands out for its accessibility and affordability. Yet, the market offers a range of cowhide leather, including more luxurious versions distinguished by superior raw material quality, advanced tanning processes, and enhanced finishes. These high-end variants command higher prices due to their refined characteristics and aesthetic appeal.

The term "hide" is generally used to describe the whole skin of animals other than cows, underscoring the specific designation of "cowhide" for cow-derived leather. Additionally, when cowhide is processed with the hair left intact, the resulting product is known as a "cowhide rug," prized for its natural beauty and texture in home decor.

Buy a cowhide leather journal

Does Leather from Cows Dry Out and Crack?

Cowhide leather can crack over time, but it depends on its grade. Top-notch full-grain leather is naturally resistant due to its tight fibers and oils, but all leather benefits from care. Lower grades like genuine leather have less natural protection and are more prone to drying out. Regularly cleaning and conditioning your leather goods, like caring for your favorite shoes, helps maintain their suppleness and prevent cracks.

Advantages of Cowhide

Here's a closer look at its benefits:

1. Durability and Longevity - Cowhide leather is renowned for its exceptional durability. It's resistant to tearing and wear, making it an excellent material for items that require longevity. This resilience is why cowhide is often used for high-quality outerwear, footwear, and furniture, promising years of use without significant deterioration.

2. Comfort and Flexibility - Despite its strength, cowhide leather is remarkably comfortable. It naturally stretches and molds to the wearer's body over time, providing a custom fit. This adaptability makes cowhide ideal for clothing, gloves, and accessories that benefit from a personalized fit.

3. Resistance to Elements - Cowhide leather stands up well against heat, sunlight, and moisture. Its natural properties provide a level of protection against environmental factors, making it suitable for outdoor wear and gear. Cowhide leather maintains its integrity and appearance even when exposed to harsh conditions.

4. Maintenance of Shape - Items made from cowhide leather tend to keep their shape for a longer period, thanks to the material's structural stability. This quality is particularly appreciated in handbags, wallets, and belts, where retaining form is essential for aesthetic and functional purposes.

5. Vegetable-Tanned Excellence - Vegetable-tanned cowhide leather is celebrated for its durability and eco-friendliness. This traditional tanning method enhances the leather's natural characteristics, resulting in products that can last decades. Many users report their vegetable-tanned cowhide items remain in excellent condition even after 40 years.

6. Aesthetic Appeal - Cowhide leather is available in various weights and thicknesses, which contributes to its aesthetic versatility. It can be finished in numerous ways, offering a wide range of textures, colors, and finishes. This diversity allows for unique and personalized leather goods that stand out for their beauty and craftsmanship.

Is Cowhide Leather Real Leather?

Cowhide leather is absolutely real leather. The term "leather" itself refers to the material made by tanning animal hides, and cowhide simply specifies the source of the hide – a cow. So, cowhide leather is like saying "golden retriever dog" – it clarifies the breed but doesn't change the fact that it's a real dog (or, in this case, real leather).

Which is Better Cowhide Leather or Genuine Leather?

Cowhide leather isn't inherently better than "genuine leather." Cowhide simply specifies the animal source (a cow), while genuine leather is a broad term for any animal hide. High-quality cowhide is fantastic, but "genuine leather" can also include lower grades.

Here's a key takeaway: Don't be fooled by the term "genuine leather." It just means it's real animal hide leather, but it doesn't guarantee quality. Look for additional information about the leather type (full-grain, top-grain, etc.) to get a better sense of its durability and characteristics.

What is Cowhide Leather Made out of? 

Cowhide leather is simply leather made from the hide of a cow. Just like any leather, it undergoes a tanning process to transform the raw hide into the beautiful, durable material we know. This process can vary, but the result is often a leather known for its strength, comfort, and classic style.

Can Cowhide Leather Get Wet?

Yes, it is watertight, but too much water will cause the leather to become wet (because of the porous nature of the material), and when the leather dries, it has the potential to grow stiff and hard, losing its lovely delicate texture. Because as the water dries, it can pull out the leather's natural oils, leaving it stiff and losing its nice, supple feel.

Remember that too much of anything is wrong, so while it will be fine in a bit of rain, make sure to leave it out. If it is too much, nobody will be safe. It can withstand moisture, but you should still strive to avoid submerging it.

Unique Characteristics of Cowhide

Cowhide is noteworthy for several qualities, but its toughness and longevity stand out. That's why it may be used for various goods, apparel, and accessories, such as bags. For instance, the softness of the leather used to make coats and vests make it a valuable material for furniture upholstery; the same is valid for cowhide leather, which is used to make garments.

Bovines are large animals. Thus their hides should be able to yield a substantial amount of leather. This can be anywhere from 40 to 60 feet in length, with a thickness of up to an inch. Printed or pigmented cowhide leather finishes nicely on the surface. Aniline and semi-aniline are two additional surface finishes that can be applied for more customization.

The Durability of Cowhide Leather

Cowhide leather is renowned for its incredible longevity. Unlike some materials that crumble with age, a well-cared-for cowhide piece can become a cherished companion for years, even decades, to come.

But here's the thing: just like a marathon requires training, a cowhide product's lifespan depends on a few factors:

  • Tanning Techniques - Vegetable-tanned leather, tanned with natural materials, can develop a beautiful patina over time and often boasts a longer lifespan compared to its chrome- tanned counterpart.
  • Finishing Touches - Think of finishes like pigments and prints as a suit of armor for your leather. They add a layer of protection, making the leather more resistant to wear and tear. Aniline and semi-aniline finishes, while offering a more natural look, may require more delicate care.
  • The Final Application - A rugged backpack will naturally experience more wear and tear than a pair of dress shoes. So, how you use your cowhide item will also influence its longevity.

The Act of Getting a Tan

While the tanning process isn't directly related to the leather itself, it is crucial to understanding cowhide leather. Among the several methods for transforming raw cowhide into finished leather, chrome tanning is by far the most widespread.

Chrome tanning is not only the most effective method but also the most cost-effective. Natural leather has some resistance to water due to its thickness, but this property can be significantly enhanced through the chrome tanning process. Consequently, chrome-tanned cowhide leather is ideal for uses in which the leather is subjected to high heat and humidity levels.

The practice of vegetable tanning, sometimes known as veg tanning, dates back thousands of years. If the leather is soaked in vegetable tannins for up to two months, it will take longer to be ready for use; nevertheless, the leather will be thicker and better able to withstand the wear and tear of daily usage and rough conditions.

If you live in an area where rain is frequent and you want to make a bag out of cowhide leather, chrome-tanned leather may be your best bet. Vegetable-tanned leather, on the other hand, is thicker and can withstand more stress and strain, making it a better option for leather boots.

Cow Leather is Easily Accessible

Leather from cows is easily obtainable due to the widespread presence of cattle farms. Cowhide leather is readily available, simple to acquire, and inexpensive, making it an ideal material for beginning leatherworkers. Mistakes will be significantly less stressful or detrimental to your wallet when new leather can readily be obtained without breaking the bank.

Since chrome tanning is regular, veg-tanned cowhide leather may be more difficult or expensive to get your hands on due to scarcity. Further, elements such as finishes should also be addressed when choosing cowhide leather because they can significantly raise the price.

Confirming the Origin of Cowhide

It might be challenging to distinguish between genuine cowhides and fake while shopping for leather goods. The popularity of synthetic cowhides has skyrocketed in recent years. Natural cowhide lasts for years, whereas imitations produced from various polymers quickly wear out.

You'll have to continually replace the fake leather because it usually falls apart after a few years. Genuine cowhide, on the other hand, will last for many years. A natural cowhide will, of course, be more expensive. Everyone here understands now that originals are more costly than knockoffs.

You can trust that the goods you buy from a supplier that takes good care of its inventory are of excellent quality because it has been. The genuine cowhide has a higher standard of quality. One can tell the difference between real and fake cowhides by touching them.

When you get your hands on a genuine cowhide, you'll immediately feel at ease thanks to its luxurious fur. Although the bristly sensation of natural hair isn't always pleasant, it's a sign of the product's genuineness.

Fake cowhide, on the other hand, may seem very plush initially, but it will eventually become irritating to the touch. No two cows are the same, just as no two people are the same.

While there may be some visual similarities between cows of the same hue and pattern, each cow's design is as distinct as a fingerprint. For this reason, if you spend your money on a natural rug, you can be guaranteed that no one else will have the same one.

However, since the counterfeits are typically machine-printed, they look identical to every cowhide the company has ever sold. Authentic cowhides have a more authentic look than their synthetic counterparts. Genuine cowhides are of a higher grade than their imitation counterparts. It will have a higher-quality polish, finer fur, and a more sumptuous feel.

To What Extent Does Cow Leather Cost?

The production costs and the quality of the leather used to make the product are two main factors affecting the final pricing. Most people consider full-grain leather to be of the finest quality, whereas genuine leather and bonded leather are considered to be of the lowest. Due to its widespread demand, cowhide leather fetches a higher price than its competitors.

Cowhide leather is one of the most prevalent types of leather on the market, and this affects its pricing because the cow is also frequently employed in the food and dairy industries.

Cowhide Rug: Can You Vacuum it?

Cowhides may be kept in good condition with minimal upkeep because they are water- and stain-resistant. To prevent hair loss, vacuum your cowhide rug using the brush attachment and sweep in the direction of the hair. You may also take your carpet outside and give it a good shake to eliminate dust and other debris. Doing this may provide your rug with a new lease on life.

How Strong is Cowhide Leather?

The strength of cowhide is unmatched. In terms of day-to-day usability, it ranks among the finest leathers available today. It is durable and sturdy, so you can rest assured that it will be with you for many years. Its power is unparalleled and unrivalled. Authentic leather, like all leathers, is exceptionally durable. The production method and materials used will also play a role.

Do you think cowhide makes a decent leather?

Cowhide is the sort of leather that is known for being the most durable and versatile. Since the 1920s, this thick and strong fabric has produced the conventional motorcycle jacket. Cowhide is resistant not just to the elements but also to muck and moisture when properly treated.

Do cows even have hides?

Because the term merely refers to a substance resulting from the processing and tanning of raw cow skin, the answer is yes, cowhide leather is "true" or "genuine" leather, just like other names that can be used to identify the leather.

Is there a Big Difference between Cowhide Leather and Other Types of Leather?

Each type of leather, just like every other material, possesses characteristics that set it apart from the others. Cowhide may be superior to goatskin in some respects, while goatskin may have advantages over cowhide in others.

In the following section, we will highlight the critical differences between cowhide and other types of leather, including sheepskin, goatskin, and Lambskin, mainly because these are the kind of leather used most frequently. Reading this page can also help you differentiate between genuine leather and leather produced from cowhides, both of which are types of leather.

Goatskin vs Cowhide

Grain cowhide may be more long-lasting than goatskin due to its sturdiness, yet, grain cowhide does not possess the same flexibility and elasticity as goatskin. Cowhide, in its completed condition, is typically heavier than goatskin when compared to its counterpart.

If you need to keep warm, use cowhide leather instead of goatskin leather because cowhide leather has superior insulating characteristics. The same line of reasoning can be applied to touch as well. Leather from goats is far more soft and smooth than leather made from cowhide.

Sheepskin vs Cowhide

Compared to sheepskin leather, cowhide leather is superior in several ways, the most notable of which is its strength and durability. Sheepskin leather is considerably more pliable and adaptable than cowhide leather. Compare and contrast. Compared to cowhide, the weight of sheepskin or goatskin is noticeably lower.

Insulation provided by cowhide is superior to that offered by sheepskin. On the other hand, when compared to cowhide, sheepskin possesses a level of suppleness and softness that is unmatched by the latter.

Cowhide vs Lambskin

Compared to Lambskin, cowhide is far more durable and long-lasting than its counterpart. However, compared to cowhide, Lambskin has a much greater capacity for stretchiness, which may not come as much of a surprise.

Very similar in appearance to sheepskin. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Lambskin is lighter than cow leather, but cow leather also provides a higher level of insulation. On the other hand, Lambskin is considerably more malleable and delicate compared to cowhide.


Even if there are a lot of factors to consider, cowhide leather continues to be one of the materials that are easiest to acquire, least expensive, and most commonly used. The use of cowhide leather is recommended for all leatherworkers, regardless of whether they are just beginning their careers, have some level of experience, or are seasoned professionals. Because of its longevity, suppleness, and adaptability, cowhide leather continues to be utilized in a diverse range of apparel, accessories, and upholstery.

You may learn more about the various types of cowhide leather they stock. Because we are leather professionals, we are ready to assist you in locating the proper supplies for your endeavours and assuring you that the final product will be of the greatest possible quality.

After reading this, we hope you understand the unique characteristics of natural cowhide and why it remains a stalwart in leatherworking, even though cowhide leather may appear more prevalent than leather made from other hides.

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