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cowhide vs horsehide leather

When you’re browsing for a new leather jacket, there are a few important decisions you’ll need to make, such as which brand you buy from and selecting a jacket style. However, another decision you’ll need to make is deciding what kind of leather you want for your new jacket.

Two of the most popular types of leather used for jackets are horsehide and cowhide. Unless you work with leather, it’s unlikely that you know the ins and outs of these different leather types off the top of your head.

If you’re looking for a little more information about these two types of leather, we’ve put together this guide to help you better understand the key features of horsehide and cowhide leather, so you can decide which is right for you.



There are a wide range of different leathers that come from cattle, and you might be surprised to learn just how different these leathers can be. It’s important to note that cowhide isn’t a catch-all term for all cattle hides. Here is a quick overview of some of the different hides you can get from cattle:

  • Bullhide: From non-castrated male cows, usually used for breeding. Bullhides tend to be larger, heavier hides with wrinkled shoulders.

  • Steerhide: From castrated male cows, typically used for beef/meat production.

Cowhide is the hide that comes from female cows that have been used for breeding or milk production. For that reason, cowhide tends to be more flexible, lighter in weight, and have more natural blemishes than other cattlehides.

As you can see, leather from cattle tends to be very versatile in terms of consistency and weight. Cowhide is much more widely available than horsehide, so it’s more common to come across cowhide leather jackets.



Horsehide has a long history and dates back to when horses were used for transportation, combat, farming, and a wide range of other uses. Horses are used for such purposes significantly less in modern times, and for that reason horsehide leather is much less common these days.

Although horsehide leather is much harder to come by in modern days, it is still held in high regard for its strength, durability, and abrasion resistance. Horsehide comes in much fewer variations than the various cattlehides, but the physical variations and unusual grain patterns across a single horsehide can be significant. Horses are raised in a very different way to cattle, and since they are not primarily used for milk or meat, the physical varieties and differences in horsehides tend to be much less.


Horsehide vs Cowhide

Horsehide and cowhide are both durable, heavyweight leathers, but they are not without their differences.

Horsehide has a coarser grain and tends to have massive variations in thickness, whereas cowhide is more consistent in terms of weight. Although both hides are typically classed as heavyweight, horsehide tends to be slightly lighter with more natural markings across the hide. Since horses typically live longer than cows, it’s more common to see blemishes from scars and bug bites.

Horsehide has a denser fibre structure than cowhide, is generally more abrasion resistant, and is known for taking longer to break in.

In terms of leather aesthetic, you can achieve similar results with horsehide and cowhide depending on the processing and finish used by the leather manufacturer. Finish can affect things like the sheen and the colour of the jacket.


Which is better, cowhide or horsehide?

We are often asked what is better – Horsehide or Steerhide? While some people will swear by one or the other, the truth is that both result in stunning, high-quality leathers. Each has slightly different properties which may or may not be important in making your decision but there are also many other factors that account for the properties of any given leather.

Due to its wide availability, cowhide is a more common choice for leather jackets. For this reason, some assume that cowhide must be ‘better’, but that isn’t the case.

Horsehide used to be more available than it is now, so if you’re looking for a vintage style garment and are aiming for true authenticity/historical accuracy, you might be inclined to go for horsehide. If it’s your first ever leather jacket, due to it being easier to break in and versatile, you might be inclined to go for a cowhide jacket. 

All in all, the answer to which hide is better for leather jackets truly depends on your personal preferences and what you want to get out of your leather jacket. Although one hide is not necessarily better than the other, observing the differences between the two can help you make a decision in deciding which is best for you.

Here at Aero Leathers, we specialise in producing made to order leather jackets, meaning you can choose the leather for your jacket that is best suited to your tastes. In the 1980’s, we led the way in reviving the use of Horsehide for leather jackets – a material scarcely used since the early-mid 20th century. Over the years, Horsehide jackets and Aero have become synonymous, and it’s still accounts for the majority of jackets we make. But our classic styles are also available in a wide range of heavyweight steerhides if that’s more to your preference. Browse the wide range of jacket styles we offer below.

Browse Leather Jackets


If you’re still not sure which type of leather is best for you, what style of jacket you want, or have any other questions about leather jackets, reach out and contact us today. One of our expert team members will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, and help you find the perfect leather jacket for you.

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READ MORE: Why We Use Chromexcel Leather