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Article: Buffalo Leather Vs. Cowhide Leather: Which is Better?

Buffalo Leather Vs. Cowhide Leather: Which is Better?

Buffalo Leather Vs. Cowhide Leather: Which is Better?

Are you an interior designer confused about whether buffalo leather or cowhide leather is better for a sofa? Or someone trying to figure out which leather bag to purchase? Or just a curious individual wanting to know a better option out of the two? It can be difficult to find a clear-cut answer but, worry no more, because by the end of this read, you will have an insight into both the types of leather and an unbiased answer.

Starting from absolute scratch, what exactly is buffalo leather? It is the hide of a buffalo. Just as cowhide is the hide of a cow. Both the animals have been a significant part of domestic farming for thousands of years, and hence trading their skins is a traditional practice that has benefitted the leather industry tremendously. Even though both of them belong to the same Bovine species, choosing between the two puts one in a quandary. To make a fair conclusion, we must distinguish between the two types of leather based on their key features.

Key Differences

So, let’s know them more in depth. Here we will discuss some of their features that set them apart.

1. Appearance

Looking from a far, it is hard to spot a difference in their appearances. Zooming in, buffalo leather has pronounced and coarse grain which makes its appearance kind of thick. Also, its dark brown shades make it further distinctive.

On the other hand, the cowhide leather is less grainy comparatively with smaller pores. It has a hairy texture and a lighter tone. Cows are smaller in size but the stretchability of cowhide leather allows them to appear bigger than buffalo leather.

2. Durability

Leather is naturally durable item and can last for decades. So, the strength of the two types is almost similar but elasticity and durability differ. Buffalo leather is not stretched during its processing. It is rigid and tough and therefore can survive for more than a century.

Cowhide leather can stretch excessively but that doesn’t necessarily make it less strong, so it can survive many years as well. However, full-grain grants the advantage to buffalo leather to survive longer than cowhide leather.

3. Usage

Because of its strong nature, buffalo leather is preferred for the materials exposed to greater wear and tear. They are widely used in furniture as they are flexible and contain fibers that don’t get dusty easily. For example, coverings for sofas, chairs, and mattresses etc. The most widespread use is undoubtedly, in the handbag industry. Buffalo leather is ideal for items such as purses, backpacks, briefcases, and wallets, giving them a dazzling look. Mountaineer's first choice is buffalo leather when it comes to purchasing jackets, gloves, and boots.

Cowhide leather with hair is never out of fashion as they look classy and trendy. They are usually found in home décor like in carpets, pillow coverings, rugs, etc. Jackets, boots, and belts that are made from cowhide leather are usually more in demand because of their elegant appearance. This leather is sometimes dyed with patterns and displayed as decorative hangings.

5. Quality

The quality of buffalo leather is exemplary with its extra strong collagen fibers. Hence it can easily repel dust or any sort of impurities. It is highly adapted to temperature changes and can acclimatize to any environment ranging from mountains to deserts. You’ll find them really comfortable and cozy as well.

Cowhide leather is one of the most practical leathers found in the market. Being incredibly versatile and stretchable, it can conform to any desired product. It is generally soft in nature and water resistant. They offer great strength and insulation too.

6. Processing

The processing of the both types is bit different. The buffalo leather involves the initial cleaning of the hides with disinfectants. A process called de-liming is carried out to remove any alkaline substances present. Following this, tanning and organic processing is done which utilizes vegetable oils and waxes to give it a striking appearance. Any sort of staining or stretching is prevented as it can affect the elasticity, making the product rigid.

 For cowhide leather, the hide is first tanned to add to its firmness. The next step is re-tanning and dyeing. Different patterns are dyed on the hides and polished to give them a ravishing appearance. It is often stretched and fattened, according to the industry it is being sent to.

Why is Buffalo Leather Better?

Buffalo leather is appraised to be one of the most popular leathers and rightly so. Its thicker dermis maintains its stiffness and keep its shape intact for years. It protects the product from damage more effectively than cowhide leather. The presence of grain makes it much more durable.

As compared to other types, it is eco-friendly too as its tanning requires fewer chemicals resulting in fewer emissions. Similarly, you won’t feel any unpleasant odour of typical leather goods that makes it ideal for outwear. Finally, its different rich shades of brown are enough for a royal look and feel.

Why is Cowhide Leather Better?

Cowhide leather has always been a catch on, considered to be the most genuine leather. Other than the attractive features, it is also inexpensive and thus more affordable compared to buffalo leather.

However, unlike buffalo leather, it neither fades over time nor catches any stains, maintaining its natural tone. People usually prefer its lush patina and soft nature over buffalo leather. Furthermore, it is bigger in size and far more flexible.


Are cowhides smelly?

Ans. Cowhides do have a natural odor as it isn’t excessively processed to preserve its genuine texture. However, the smell isn’t unpleasant and is almost bearable.

Are cowhides and Buffalo leather waterproof?

Ans. Both of them can resist water to some extent, though they aren’t completely waterproof. They can soak in excessive water due to the presence of pores.

How to clean Buffalo leather?

Ans. Buffalo leather doesn’t require regular cleaning. Occasionally, use a soft brush or damp cloth to wipe. A vacuum cleaner can also be used as well.


In a nutshell, while both types have their pros and cons, buffalo leather seems to be a better choice considering its durability, stiffness, and grainy vintage texture. Do you like stiff or soft leather? Which one of the two do you prefer? Let us know in the comment section below

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