Where Does Leather Come From?

There appears to be a widespread notion about leather's origin. Many people are aware that it is made from animal skin that has been treated and tanned to resist repeated usage and last longer. Although deer, pigs, and sheep are all used to produce leather, cattle are the most prevalent source of this material. 

However, because cultural standards range all around the world, cattle might vary. Crocodile, alligator, and snake leather are used to create fashionable accessories throughout Asia. In nations like China and India, you could also come across leather made from ostriches and kangaroos.

Cowhide is the most common type of animal skin used to make real leather, but goat, buffalo, and exotic leathers like alligator and snake are also available. Cow leather is frequently referred to as a byproduct of the meat and dairy sectors, accounting for just 5% of the animal's total worth. Early man would utilize the skins from animals they hunted for meals before technical improvements made growing large cattle practicable.

The early eras of leather

Primitive man used to hunt wild animals for sustenance; he would then take the hides and skins off the deceased animal and use them to make rudimentary tents, clothes, and shoes. The first evidence of leather used comes from the Paleolithic era when leather attire was depicted in cave paintings found close to Lerida, Spain. Bone tools used for hair removal from hides and skins have been discovered in paleolithic sites that have been excavated.

A technique of preservation was required since the skins were quickly putrefied and were unusable. The first technique involved stretching the hides and skins out on the ground to dry while rubbing them with animal brains and fats. This just slightly softened and preserved things.

Primitive man also learned that tannin-containing barks, leaves, twigs, and fruits of specific trees and plants, as well as the smoke from wood fires, could preserve hides and skins. It is likely that man first learned how to create leather when he saw that animal hides left on a damp forest floor spontaneously turned brown thanks to chemicals generated by decomposing leaves and flora.

Which countries produce leather?

The main six producers of tanned leather at the moment are China, Italy, India, Brazil, Korea, and Russia. In these nations, hides are frequently purchased from animals and sent to other nations where they are processed. For instance, a business in the UK would purchase the leather from China and transport it in a refrigerated container to a country with a reputation for its tanning techniques, like Italy. The company would then re-import the completed leather to the UK before selling it. Even though some other nations are more recognized for their leather production, 80 percent of the leather items in the world are currently created in China.

It ranks among the first human-made crafts. Our hominid ancestors utilized animal skins 170,000 years ago to shelter themselves from the elements, as totems or amulets, for crude musical instruments, and even to transport their possessions while they traveled the earth. By tanning them, they discovered a way to keep them from decaying, and through the years, the usage of tanned skins and hides has developed into a well-respected business. Tanneries play a crucial role in this recycling process because they transform a byproduct of the meat industry into a substance that is valuable and creates money, especially for local economies. 

The tanning business is more harmful to the environment than fossil fuel goods like synthetic materials since it contaminates the atmosphere and waterways. It's untrue. Sustainability and environmental preservation were not considered to be top corporate priorities in the past, as they are now in the majority of businesses. The world has changed! Fortunately, more people are becoming aware of the value of environmental sustainability, and it is now a major priority for most countries. Although there is always space for improvement in every industry, technological advancements, knowledge exchange, investments in R&D, and stringent environmental regulations have helped tanneries in the EU become global leaders in sustainability and eco-friendliness.

Cow Leather

This kind of leather is by far the most widely used in the entire globe and has been for many, many centuries. There are currently more than 1.4 billion herds of cattle in the world, and while the majority of these animals are used to produce meat and other goods, leather manufacturing has steadily increased over the past ten years.

Deerskin Leather

Most hunters would shoot and skin the tens of thousands of deer that studded the countryside before humans had access to cattle ranches. Although it is thin and flexible, it is not quite as durable as calf leather, making it ideal for accessories like globes and clothes.

Fish Leather

Surprisingly, some of the most artistically distinctive leather on the market is made from fish skin. Salmon is a very popular option, and the leather made from it may be any color, from brilliant red to silver. Where the scales formerly were, the leather now displays a distinctive pattern. They are frequently glazed to make the finished product look lustrous.

Crocodile Leather

Because it was difficult to hunt alligators and crocodiles in the past, their leather wasn't used as frequently as other types of leather. However, contemporary crocodile farms have made it much simpler to obtain the leathers they create, albeit they are still sometimes more expensive than those produced by more widespread sources. 

Where Does Leather Come From

Leather primarily comes from animal hides, with cows contributing to 65% of the global leather supply. Sheep, pigs, and goats are also significant sources, providing 25%, 11%, and 9% of leather respectively. While these are the most common, less than 0.2% of leather comes from other animals, including unique and exotic hides used for distinctive leather goods.

  • One of the most widely used leathers today is unquestionably cowhide. It is easily accessible since it is a byproduct of the livestock and dairy industries, yet it is also regarded as one of the most dependable and desired leathers. Since cowhide weighs between 1 and 12 ounces, it is significantly heavier than other types of leather.

  • Sheepskin, the second-most popular leather after cowhide, is frequently tanned with the fleece still present, allowing it to drape smoothly and be used for coats and other articles of apparel. Its fleece is frequently used to create carpets and slippers.

  • Animals other than pigs produce leather that is substantially less thick. Due to its excellent comfort and water resistance, gloves, shoes, and sportswear are made from it.

  • Typically, carpets, purses, and gloves are made of goat skin. Unlike cowhide, it is often thinner and much softer, and flexible to work with.

  • Despite being commonly available in Asia, exotic leather like snake, alligator, and crocodile skin is usually seen as immoral because it is not a byproduct and in certain situations, the creatures are endangered. Due to its distinctive texture and popularity among luxury brands, ostrich skin is frequently imported from Africa, where the birds are also raised for their meat, eggs, and feathers.

Tanning Processes 

Animal skins are tanned using a variety of tanning techniques for leather goods. Vegetable tanning and chrome tanning are the two most popular. The leather is dyed using chemicals, acids, and salts in chrome tanning, which often yields less costly leather items. Products made of leather that have been colored in this method are often much more expensive since vegetable-tanned leather requires a bit more effort and time to process. This process uses tannin and tree bark to create more pricey leather goods.

Preservation and treatment

Being a natural substance, leather must be preserved and maintained. You may purchase a variety of items to extend the life of the leather. Those that have had acid treatment are more vulnerable to red rot, which alters the texture of the leather.


Due to its durability and distinctive polish, leather is used in a variety of products, including car seats, footballs, saddles for horses, and purses. Given that leather is frequently a byproduct of the livestock and dairy industries, many people are pleased to purchase leather goods. Vegans and vegetarians, however, might choose to stay away from leather items and choose vegan leather as an alternative.

Are cows killed for leather?

No, cows are primarily slaughtered for their meat, which is the main source of their value. The hides and skins used for leather production typically account for less than 4% of the total value. Consequently, it is a common misconception that livestock are raised and killed specifically for leather; in reality, leather is a byproduct of the meat industry.

Is leather a byproduct of the meat industry?

Yes, leather is predominantly a by-product of the meat industry. Around 99% of the leather produced globally comes from the hides and skins of cows, sheep, goats, and pigs. Exotic leathers, like those from crocodiles or snakes, make up a smaller fraction. Annually, the leather industry repurposes over 7.3 million tonnes of hides that would otherwise be waste, making it a sustainable choice for utilizing by-products of livestock farming. Leather's versatility sees it used in numerous products, including durable furniture, vehicle seats, fashionable apparel, soft gloves, and comfortable footwear.

What materials make up traditional leather?

So what exactly is traditional leather composed of? Pigs, cows, goats, kangaroos, alligators, and many other creatures' skins are used to make leather. While the variety of animals used to make leather may surprise you, animal activists and lovers throughout the world find the techniques used to produce it virtually incomprehensible. Did you know that occasionally even the skins of domesticated animals like cats and dogs are used to make leather goods? Due to purposeful mislabeling or lack of labeling, consumers of leather products may unintentionally be purchasing these products. Since the leather business is so well-hidden, customers essentially must act on faith.

The use of animals to produce leather

Animals grown in industrial farms for leather are frequently subjected to brutal, inhumane treatment before being killed for their skins in ways that are practically unimaginable. The substantial global demand for leather allows these abuses to persist. According to PETA, just a small number of nations have rigorous rules governing the production of leather, and those that do are seldom enforced. As a result, these creatures are frequently reared in small areas with minimal attention. These animals are unlawfully carried in vehicles that are significantly overloaded since the leather business is so in demand all over the world. 

The new leather is vegan

So, if you enjoy the feel and appearance of leather, think about switching to vegan leather items. No animals were harmed in the making of our dog collars, and no hazardous or severely poisonous materials were released into the atmosphere or the ocean. We will have more power to effect change when more individuals start to criticize the practices of the leather business. Given how lucrative the leather business is, producers are primarily concerned with their bottom line and have little regard for the effects that the trade has on helpless animals, unaware employees, or the environment. 

More customers who start to voice their concerns and ask questions will increase our prospects of persuading governments to impose tough regulations on leather producers. Additionally, these businesses will be obliged to reduce output if the market for leather declines. We are pleased to be your source for vegan dog collars since the popularity of vegan leather will have many significant advantages.


Now significantly more energy is needed for the actual production of leather. The majority of people are unaware of how leather is made from animal skin. Again, there is a solid reason why the leather business is more than willing to keep the public in the dark about the practices they employ. It not only harms humans but also harms animals and the environment. These abhorrent methods are kept a secret from the general population to maintain the enormous enterprise.

Animal skins are used to make leather, and a lot of chemicals are used to treat the skins during the process. Formaldehyde and other cyanide-based compounds are among these hazardous substances. The U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency views the trash produced by chrome-tanned leather as extremely harmful.

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