What is Bovine Leather? – All You Need to Know

“How do I differentiate bovine from other leather types?” That was my friend asking. It’s funny how many people are conversant with the term bovine. Still, it is worth explaining what makes it unique or different from other leather types.

And since there are rising environmental concerns, now is the best time to explain bovine leather better so you keep your leather fashion sense yet support the motion for a greener world.

Bovine leather is made from cattle hide and sewn into bags, jackets, belts, etc. It’s sustainable and environment-friendly. Plus, the leather is pretty solid and durable. After five years, my leather bag is still in great shape.

If you are curious or want to update your knowledge, stay with me as I dive deeper into what bovine leather is and what makes it unique from other leather types.

is bovine leather good quality

Bovine leather Overview

If you’ve owned a leather jacket or a pair of leather shoes, chances are you’ve heard the term “bovine leather.” But what is bovine leather made of? In simple terms, bovine leather is leather that comes from the skin of cows and bulls. Although in scientific classification, bovine means cows, it also includes other animals like buffaloes, bulls, and calves.

Bovines are famous for their milk and meat because of their value. Their skin is a byproduct that can be removed, tanned for treatment, and converted into jackets, shoes, belts, bags, etc.

One thing to know is that all bovine leather isn’t created equal. The quality differs on the cow’s age, the breed, and the tanning process. That said, here are some categories to familiarize yourself with:

  • Full-grain leather: Top-notch quality and durable; it is usually untreated and has a natural texture, giving it a beautiful look.
  • Top-grain leather: Next in quality is the top grain made from the upper part of the hide but has been sanded to remove any imperfections. Compared to full-grain, top-grain leather is thinner and more flexible.
  • Split leather: When the hide is split into layers, the bottom layer is used to make split leather, which accounts for its low quality and affordability.
  • Corrected-grain leather: Although not as durable as full-grain or top-grain leather, corrected-grain leather is more durable and sanded to remove imperfections.
  • Embossed leather: This leather type is stamped with a design to give it a texture and patterns such as alligator or ostrich.

What is bovine leather made of?

Bovine leather comes from cattle skin or cowhide. The skins are gotten from the slaughterhouse and sold to tanneries as rawhides. It goes through cleaning, soaking, de-haring, fleshing, tanning, dyeing, and finishing.

The tanneries then remove the hair by mechanically scraping it off. Once the cowhide is in shape to be tanned, treating it and using chemicals to prevent it from rotting can take several days or even weeks. The leather is then dyed and treated to withstand harsh conditions before production.

Commonly Used Product of Bovine Leather

Bovine leather can be made into footwear, bags, and other accessories. Most times, the products are in the natural leather form, and you can also dye them in fashionable colors.

Leather clothes are also a popular bovine leather product. It is mainly used for the outside of a jacket and works for weekend vibes or casual wear. Because of its thickness and versatility, bovine leather is also common as soles and uppers of shoes, belts, straps, saddles, furniture, and car.

is bovine leather real leather

Pros of Bovine Leather

Leather never goes out of style and complements any style or design, making it a popular fashion choice. Also, cowhide is easier to maintain. My bovine leather has remained strong even after years of use without any cracks or tears.

Another advantage of bovine leather is its availability and versatility. It’s accessible in the market or in leather stores. You can dye it in different colors, emboss it with textures, and treat it to your desire. Leather in its natural form allows air inflow, and bovine leather affords you breathability in products that involve direct skin contact.

Cons of Bovine Leather

Dryness can be an issue. And while leather is known for being durable, it is prone to cracking from dryness. Also, there’s a tendency to that stretch and lose shape over time if care is not taken.

If you care about animal welfare, wearing leather could be an issue. Since the industry relies on animal hides, cows are raised and slaughtered specifically for their leather. Also, using chemicals like chromium and other pollutants for tanning poses an environmental threat.

Furthermore, bovine leather is available mainly in its natural color. Rarely would you see it available in fashionable colors. In fact, you should be careful of dyed bovine leather because they are mostly lower grades.

How do you care for bovine leather?

Although strong and durable, bovine, like any leather, needs regular care to maintain its quality. That said, here are some tips on caring for bovine leather:

  • Keep it clean: always use a soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth to dust from your leather surface. Ensure to avoid using soap or harsh chemicals that could damage the leather.
  • Condition of the leather: The leather may get dry and stiff over time. Use a leather conditioner or a mix of vinegar and water to keep it supple and prevent cracks. Apply the conditioner to a clean cloth, rub it around the leather, and leave it to dry.
  • Protect from moisture: moisture can damage leather, so avoid wearing it in rainy or wet conditions. And if the leather item gets wet, allow it to air dry in a well-ventilated area.
  • Store properly: When you aren’t wearing, keep your bovine leather in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Also, avoid wrapping them in plastic or storing them in a humid environment because it can allow mold or mildew to build.

What is the difference between bovine and genuine leather?

Bovine leather comes from the hide of cattle like cows, buffaloes, bulls, and calves. You can further grade it according to the quality and thickness. Genuine leather, conversely, is a broad term for any leather type made from animals’ hide, not just cattle. This includes pigskin, goatskin, sheepskin, and other types of coats.

Sometimes, the term describes lower-quality leather processed and treated to look like higher-quality leather. So next time, when comparing bovine leather vs. genuine leather, remember that the first is narrow to cattle and the other broad.


Is bovine leather real leather?

You can safely consider bovine leather as real leather in its pure and natural form. This is because bovine is made from animal hide and doesn’t have artificial ingredients.

Generally, animal hide undergoes tanning, a treatment process with chemicals to prevent it from decomposing or rotting before being converted into fashion products. The chemicals used in the treatment may cause the leather to become heat and water-resistant to some extent.

Is bovine leather better than calf leather?

Bovine leather is usually thicker and less expensive than calf leather. Because of the cow’s age and size, the hide is stronger. It works for heavy-duty materials like boots, belts, and furniture upholstery.

In comparison, calf leather which is the hide of a young cow or calf is softer, supple, and more prone to wrinkles, scars, and other imperfections. Even so, the quality is higher and is commonly used for luxury products such as shoes, handbags, and clothes.

Is bovine leather expensive?

Bovine leather is famous and one of the most affordable leather for furniture or fashion. However, certain factors drive the price. What’s the leather quality? Is it a calf or a bovine? What region was it produced? These factors decide the price range from high to low.

For example, leather from high-quality cattle, such as European or Japanese breeds, may be pricier than low-quality breeds. Moreover, leather tanned with traditional methods or treated with special finishes are more expensive.

What is meant by bovine leather?

Bovine leather refers to cattle hides (cows and bulls). It is popular in manufacturing and fashion because of its strength and ruggedness.

Also, since bovine leather is processed to create multiple finishes and textures, it is versatile for leather shoes, belts, jackets, and bags. However, the leather quality and grade of bovine depend on the animal’s age, breed, and the tanning process.

Is bovine cow or pig?

Scientifically, bovines are cattle. They are the animals of the Bovidae family, which covers cows, bulls, and oxen, excluding pigs. Pigs belong to the Suidae family and are far from being bovine animals.

Is bovine leather cheap?

Bovine leather is quite affordable. I’ll place it somewhere between expensive and cheap. If you go for low quality, you’ll pay less; the same goes for higher quality bovine. Other factors influencing the price are the processing methods, production region, market demand, availability, and tanning method.

Final Words

Bovine comes from cattle hides and has been valuable in manufacturing and fashion. It stays in style and is environmentally friendly.

However, there are rising concerns about animal treatment in the leather industry, with efforts underway to improve the cow’s welfare and lower the impact of leather production on the environment.

Now that you know what bovine leather is, as consumers, you can make a difference by opting for products made from responsibly sourced bovine leather and using the materials well.

Titi Taiwo

Titi Taiwo is a passionate writer who's all about tech and giving expert leather advice. With experience writing for both online and print publications, Titi has collaborated with leading companies such as Pactnuel and Groomlog where she contributed her knowledge and expertise. Titi is always on the hunt for new and innovative ways to inspire and educate her readers. So if you're looking for some fresh tech insights or just want to up your fashion game, Titi's writing is your sure bet.

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