brown stained cowhide

Decoding the Symbols: Understanding Leather Marks and Blemishes

Leather products have gained significant popularity in recent times. Today, most people avoid choosing imitation leather because of its lack of durability and a less minimalistic look. As a result, authentic leather continues to be the number one choice among people who like to purchase leather bags, leather accessories, leather furniture, and cowhide rugs. Since 95% of leather comes from cowhide, it's important to know how the marks and blemishes on cowhide products contribute to their authenticity and elegance.

When you look for products made out of natural leather, it's always good to expect leather in its most genuine form. This is where it becomes crucial to be mindful of the marks and blemishes on cowhide products. It's because animal skin undergoes a wide range of stages in its lifetime, which includes injuries, body changes, and healing that can start showing signs in the form of marks and blemishes.

These marks also depend on the outdoor elements and other similar factors the animal skin is subject to. Fortunately, your ability to identify these marks can help you get your hands on some of the most authentic leather and cowhide products on the market.

If you're interested in investing in natural leather products, here are some common marks and blemishes on cowhide products that you should know about.

Fat Wrinkles

Sometimes the leather products we own come with unexplainable wrinkles that can't necessarily be created with imitation leather. Most manufacturers refer to such marks and blemishes on cowhide products as fat wrinkles. The fat deposits inside a cow's body often lead to the visibility of large and small-sized wrinkles on the leather grain.

This is highly common among cows that often experience dietary changes, after which their abdomen and neck consistently contract and stretch due to the changes in their fat deposits. The higher amount of fat deposits, the stronger the grain pattern will be.

You can find such marks and blemishes on cowhide products from the leather obtained from a 2-year-old cow or an older cow too.

Insect Bites

Among the many other marks and blemishes on cowhide products, you may also find something strange enough to be identifiable. This includes insect bite marks that stay on the leather skin permanently and can't be removed at any cost. The intensity of a bite mark on a cow's skin also depends on the region where the animal itself is from.

For instance, if a cowhide product is made out of cow skin obtained from Europe, you might notice little to no insect bite marks on its leather. It's because these regions offer grains with more smooth and flawless leather. The same is the case with the cowhide obtained from South America and Australia.

However, the leather grain extracted from cows in the African or Asian regions may come with larger and more intense insect bite marks than usual.

a dark brown rug

Healed Scratches & Scars

When you're mindful about marks and blemishes on cowhide products, one of the first things you'll be told about is the scars and healed scratches found on leather. There are various reasons you may find scars of all shapes and sizes on cowhide products. For instance, when cow skin is frequently brushed up against sharp surfaces, thorns, and wire fencing, it can lead to long-term scars on different areas of the skin.

Unlike other animals, the scar tissue worsens over time and becomes darker and more prominent after the skin heals from the damage. These factors never make the leather quality imperfect or damaged. In fact, the high number of scars on leather is what makes it more resistant, durable, and strong.

Brand Marks

Branding is one of the oldest techniques among cattle owners, who use it as a way of identifying the animals they own. If you have antique leather products, there's a high chance you may find brand marks on them. These are usually achieved through hot and freeze branding. Unlike other marks and blemishes on cowhide products, brand marks aren't natural and are created on purpose for better identification of cattle.

Today, older leather materials can be found with leather marks. However, branding has become a significantly outdated technique that most people avoid engaging in today. It's because branding animal skin can cause severe pain to animals and even contribute to animal cruelty if the cow is weak or extremely young.

Therefore, most cattle owners now opt for less intrusive methods like microchips and ear tags to simplify cattle management.

cowhide rug with black blemishes

Shade Differentiation

A significant amount of marks and blemishes on cowhide products are associated with a difference in shades of skin. Similar to humans, cows come with various skin tones. Not all leather sources have the same shade of skin. As a result, many manufacturers use animal hides of different shades to create products like cowhide rugs and bags.

Shade differentiation can be caused by various factors that a cow is subject to. This includes the animal's age, size, region of birth, weight, and other elements that can contribute to skin discoloration.

However, quality control measures by leather companies limit the amount of impact on leather skin color and overall shades.

Skin Disease

Cows are living beings. Therefore, many of the marks and blemishes on cowhide products are a direct cause of skin diseases that cows may experience in their lifetime. Some diseases and ailments can leave an impact on the skin.

Two of the most common skin diseases in cows include eczema and psoriasis, which can lead to severe itching and marks on the leather grain. As a result, you may notice inconsistent and non-uniform marks and blemishes on cowhide products triggered by their health conditions. Similarly, many cows get bitten by insects or infected by parasites that start showing signs on their skin.

Many leather grains come with marks and blemishes that can be a direct consequence of ringworm or tapeworm infection among cowhides.

a brown cowhide rug

Stretch Marks

Like humans and other living beings, animals also grow significantly over time. As a result, they also get stretch marks on different parts of their body due to rapid skin contraction and expansion. Some of the most common marks and blemishes on cowhide products you'll find are most likely to be stretch marks in one form or another.

In fact, there's a high chance you'll find such marks and blemishes on cowhide products that are made out of leather grain obtained from female cow skins and hides. It's because most female cows develop a high number of stretch marks due to a wide range of factors, including different fat deposits in their bodies and childbirth.


Leather products like rugs, household furniture, and duffel bags often come with vein-like designs. These aren't artificial designs and can be regarded as actual veins of an animal imprinted on the leather skin. Such veins are similar to what we see on our skins as humans.

These marks and blemishes on cowhide products often reveal themselves when the animal skin gets infected by bacteria with nutrient-rich blood. These bacteria often stay inside the animal's blood vessels during the time of leather manufacturing. As a result, the final product is developed in the pattern of the bacterial pathways, giving a vein-like design to the product.

black cowhide rugs with scars

Neck Grains

As we all know that a significant amount of leather is obtained from cows. Most such animals graze on grass and often bend their necks to do it. As a result, their skin gets permanent neck grains from repetitively grazing the grass. This often leads to the neck grains turning into marks and blemishes on cowhide products.

These marks may be easier for you to identify on smaller leather products like wallets, purses, backpacks, and cowhide duffel bags.

Hump Holes

Many cows have a small hump on their backs that can result in hump holes on cowhides. These marks and blemishes on cowhide products can often be found on leather of up to 15 inches. However, they're incredibly rare and are primarily found in premium leather products and accessories.

a large cowhide rug

The marks and blemishes on cowhide products aren't necessarily signs of defect or imperfection. In fact, most people today look to purchase leather items, including cowhide rugs and cowhide backpack bags, that come with some of these marks and blemishes because of how luxurious, elegant, and sophisticated they look. It's safe to say that the marks and blemishes on cowhide products play a significant role in helping people make a statement with the leather products they own.

If you're a fan of marks and blemishes on cowhide products, make sure you check out our premium cowhide rugs for sale and other collections at Cowhide Gallery. Our dedication to providing nothing but authentic cow skin rugs, cowhide backpacks, and cowhide duffel bags makes us the ideal choice for customers who like all-things leather. Make your investment in the leather count by checking out our products here or contact us to learn more today!


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