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Cowhide Rug – Keys to Choosing a Rustic and Unique Style

There are décor and rug options for every room one can imagine, but if you haven’t considered cowhide, check this out. I researched and learned that from small to large, single color to tricolor, cowhide rugs are a luxurious and rustic way to add personality and a splash of color to any room. 

A cowhide rug is a beautiful, durable leather rug made of cow skin with hair or faux leather. They come in many shapes, sizes, and colors to fit any style. Used for floor cover or décor, these ageless rugs range from $22–$8,800 depending on their size and quality.

Are you looking for a floor covering that is unique and rustic, but you’re not sure what to purchase? Is there a space in your home that needs something added, but you’re unsure what might fit? Let’s check out the key criteria for choosing a cowhide rug to add just the right touch.

What Is a Cowhide Rug?

A cowhide rug is a leather floor covering that includes the hair and skin of a cow. It is tanned just like leather material to be durable and flexible. A cowhide rug retains the cow’s natural markings and is durable and soft for a unique and rustic look in any room. 

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • The History of Cowhide Rugs
  • Why You Might Like a Cowhide Rug
  • Cowhide Rug Overview Table
  • Popular Types and Styles of Cowhide Rugs
  • Common Cowhide Rug Characteristics
  • Cowhide Rug Costs
  • Pros of Cowhide Rugs
  • Cons of Cowhide Rugs
  • Cowhide Rug Manufacturing Process – How They’re Made
  • Experienced Tips for Choosing a Cowhide Rug
  • My Personal Research with Cowhide Rugs
  • Cowhide Rug Care and Maintenance
  • Helpful Insights on Cowhide Rugs
  • Key Takeaways
Various Cowhide Rugs in a Shop - Cowhide Rug - Liberty Leather Goods
Various Cowhide Rugs in a Shop

Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

One misconception about cowhide rugs is they are the sole purpose for cows. This is untrue because cowhide rugs are a by-product of the meat industry.

Another misconception is cowhide rugs are difficult to clean, which is not true because they are very durable and can be brushed, cleaned, and vacuumed much like any other rug.

Then there’s the misconception that cowhide rugs contain toxic chemicals and smell bad. This is also untrue because although they are tanned for preservation, no toxic chemicals are left behind, only the smell of leather.

The History of Cowhide Rugs

Cowhide and leather have been utilized since the Ice Age for protection from cold as body and foot coverings. Preservation processes came about around 5,000 BC, with tanning introduced in 400 BC in Egypt. Cowhide rugs originated with Native Americans who used them as shelter coverings and clothing.

This can also be said about the people of Zulu in Southern Africa, who would also use cowhides for shields, belts, headdresses, and decorations for the body. Cowhides have had increased production and use since the Industrial Age with the creation of manufacturing machines.  According to researchers Huang, Song, Gou, and Zou, cowhides are used for creating:

  1. Clothing
  2. Shoes
  3. Rugs
  4. Pillows
  5. Cardiac electrodes

Why You Might Like a Cowhide Rug

Cowhide rugs are an excellent accent to rooms of any style. They’re beautiful with unique markings and soft hair that feels good under the feet. Cowhide rugs are available in many shapes, sizes, and colors even beyond the natural leather colors, thanks to specialized dyeing processes.

They’re even available in faux but with a similar look and feel. Cowhide rugs can be pricey, but it’s a gorgeous investment that can last 20 years or more.

Cowhide Rug Overview Table

Cowhide Rug CharacteristicDetails
ItemCowhide Rug
UsesDecoration, floor cover
Common MaterialsLeather, faux leather
Popular ColorsBrown, white, black, tricolor, brindle, metallic, patchwork, others
Sizes6’x6’–8’x7’ original shape, 4’x6’–11.5’x14.5’ rectangle, 5’–8’ diameter round
Popular StylesOriginal shape, patchwork star, rectangle
Cost Range ($)$22–$8,800
How Long it Lasts (on average)20+ years
Cowhide Rug Characteristics

Popular Types and Styles of Cowhide Rugs

Many types of cowhide rugs are available to choose from, including those with natural cowhide colors to metallic dyes. There are even round and rectangle-shaped rugs with patchwork designs from cut cowhides.

Popular styles of cowhide rugs include the natural or original shape, rectangle with intricate repeating designs, and patchwork stars, to name a few. One can even design and have a custom cowhide rug made to fit individual tastes and styles.

Common Cowhide Rug Characteristics


Cowhide rugs are made from the skin of cows and other bovine animals with hair or faux leather. Natural cowhide is processed into a strong, durable, and warm material that is not only used for rugs, but also furniture, shoes, clothing, purses, and more.


Sizes range from 5’x6’–8’x7’ in the original shape, 4’x6’–11.5’x14.5’ in a rectangle shape, and 5’–8’ diameter round shapes.


Cowhide rugs are available in the original or natural shapes of the animal and geometric shapes like circles, squares, and rectangles. Color variations include:

  1. Shades of brown
  2. White
  3. Black
  4. Brindle 
  5. Tricolor
  6. Metallic
  7. Custom color dyes like blue and pink.

Key Uses

Cowhide rugs can be used for floor coverings or as decoration. Some choose to drape a cowhide rug over the back of a couch or a bed.

Cowhide Rug Costs

Cowhide rugs vary in price from $22 for faux leather or smaller pieces to $8,800 for high-end and larger rugs. The price depends on size, additional dyes or stencils, and special cuts for patchwork patterns.

A Desk on a Brown Cowhide Rug - Cowhide Rug - Liberty Leather Goods
A Desk on a Brown Cowhide Rug

Pros of Cowhide Rugs

Cowhide rugs offer a unique, rustic style that cannot be matched by any other type of rug or material. There are endless color variations, and no two cowhide rugs are the same. Their patterns are beautiful, the fur is soft, and cowhide rugs can last 20 years or more.

Cowhide rugs are a durable and luxurious way to add style and a rustic feel to any room.

Cons of Cowhide Rugs

Over time, the edges of a cowhide rug can fray, but they can easily be trimmed with a razor blade. Some cowhide rugs are expensive but durable and never go out of style. 

Cowhide Rug Manufacturing Process – How They’re Made

Cowhides are soaked in water and then a brine solution to keep the hide soft and prevent hair loss. This soaking also rids the material of bacteria. The cowhide is then tanned with chromium salts using the hair-on-hide method.

This keeps the hair on the rug soft and prevents odor and hair loss. After tanning, the cowhide is dried naturally and treated with dyes and fats to maintain its original natural colors. Afterward, some cowhide rugs have stencils, acid wash, or different colored dyes applied for a custom rug.

Experienced Tips for Choosing a Cowhide Rug

Frequency of Use

When choosing a cowhide rug, the frequency of use is important. For high-traffic areas, pick a cowhide rug with summer or shorter hair. For the best quality, look, and feel, be sure to select a cowhide rug from the following countries: 

  1. France
  2. Columbia
  3. Brazil
  4. Argentina

Environment/Conditions of Use

A cowhide rug needs to fit the space it will be placed in, not overpowering or underpowering a room. Short hair is best for vacuuming the floor, especially if there are pets in the home.


Cowhide rugs are available at several price points, and the cheapest is not always the best. Budget for a higher quality cowhide rug that suits the space and is the appropriate size for the intended use. Another option on the more affordable side is a faux cowhide rug, which offers a similar look and feel for a lower price.


There has been many trends when it comes to cowhide rugs, primarily associated with colors and placement. Choose a cowhide rug, not for the trend but for the look and the space it will be in.

Personal Preference

The most important thing when choosing a cowhide rug is your preference. Opt for colors, patterns, and shapes that match the space or the feel of the room.

My Personal Research with Cowhide Rugs

Cowhide rugs come in various colors, shapes, and sizes, with unique options for patchwork, metallic dyes, and more. Faux leather is also an option for those who prefer animal-friendly or want to save money, but how much do these different cowhide rugs cost? I researched cowhide rugs and have compiled a list of some of the most common and popular options and their cost.

Type of Cowhide RugCost
Natural shape and colors, 6’x6’$144–$168
Natural shape and colors, 6’x7’$199–$249
Natural shape with animal print stencil, 6’x6’$178–$226
Natural shape with animal print stencil, 6’x7’$246–$283
Natural shape with metallic animal print stencil, 6’x6’$199–$223
Natural shape with metallic animal print stencil, 6’x7’$254–$304
Rectangle with cowhide patchwork, 5’x8’$2,099
Rectangle with cowhide patchwork, 8’x10’$3,199
Rectangle with cowhide patchwork, 11.5’x14.5’$8,800
Round cowhide patchwork star, 40”$89–$150
Round cowhide patchwork star, 4’$175–$279
Round cowhide patchwork star, 6’$409–$545
Faux cowhide natural shape and colors, 5’x6’$22–$88
Faux cowhide natural shape and colors, 6’x8’$99–$379
Cowhide Rug Prices

Cowhide Rug Care and Maintenance

How to Clean a Cowhide Rug

Cowhide rugs are easy to care for with routine vacuuming. Any spills should be cleaned immediately with a dry cloth or washed with mild soap and water and wiped following the direction of the hair. A cowhide rug can even be taken outside and shaken, just like any other rug.

How to Maintain a Cowhide Rug

Cowhide rug maintenance includes regular cleaning and prevention of moisture exposure. As it is a leather-based product, it should not be soaked in water. Edges that get ragged over time can be trimmed off with a razor blade. Curling edges should be trimmed off or tacked down with two-sided carpet tape.

How to Store a Cowhide Rug

A cowhide rug not currently in use should be stored someplace cool, dark, dry, and well-ventilated. It can be rolled up around a cardboard tube and covered with a sheet to keep it clean.

For more tips on how to care for a cowhide rug, check out this helpful video from Big Bend Saddlery.

Helpful Insights on Cowhide Rugs

Are cowhide rugs worth it?

Cowhide rugs are worth the cost because they never go out of style, last for 20 years or more, and come in many different shapes, colors, sizes, and patterns. There are cowhide rugs to fit every room and every style.

Can you vacuum a cowhide rug?

Yes, a cowhide rug can be vacuumed just like any other rug but without a rotating brush. It can even be taken outside and shaken to remove dirt and debris. Small spots can be cleaned with mild soap and water but don’t soak a cowhide rug in water.

Why do cowhide rugs smell?

Cowhide rugs smell like leather because they are tanned and processed similarly to leather material. They may have that leather smell if you put your nose to them, but on the floor, in the middle of the room, there is not a noticeable smell.

How do I know if my cowhide rug is real?

A cowhide rug can be tested to see if it is real by using the bunch test. Simply bunch up the cowhide rug and let it unroll slowly. A natural cowhide rug of high quality will not hold any wrinkles with the bunch test.

Are cowhide rugs out of style in 2022?

Cowhide rugs are absolutely not out of style. They have been popular and stylish for decades, thanks partly to the vast array of colors and styles available.

Is Ikea cowhide real?

Ikea uses real cowhide from Turkey. They offer cowhide rugs in white, grey, brown, and black in a natural or original shape.

How do you clean a cowhide rug?

A cowhide rug can be cleaned by shaking out debris outside or vacuuming without the rotating brush. Spot cleaning can be done with mild soap and water.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cowhide rugs are a durable and luxurious way to add style and a rustic feel to any room.
  2. Cowhide rugs are easy to care for and last for 20+ years.
  3. Cowhide rugs come in numerous colors, shapes, and styles.

In Closing

A cowhide rug is a great addition to any room, whether on the floor or draped across the furniture. There are many colors, shapes, styles, and options to fit any space and personality. With so many price points and fun colors, which one will you choose?

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