The Ultimate Cowhide Rug Buying Guide!

The Ultimate Cowhide Rug Buying Guide!

A rug is a fabulous accessory for any space, from the living room to the bedroom and everywhere in between. The right print can either give an impression of a cool, open area or of a cozy, snug room just waiting to welcome you in.

We wholeheartedly believe that a cowhide rug is the perfect choice for any room. Whether you’ve had your heart set on one for a while, or you’ve only just considered purchasing one, you’ve come to the right place. Even if you’ve never even heard of a cowhide rug, don’t worry! As the title suggests, this is the Ultimate Cowhide Rug Buying Guide.

We’ve done all the work for you, so sit back, relax, and come with us on a cowhide journey.

Table of Contents

What’s a Cowhide Rug?

This is probably the first question to answer, of course! And even if you know what a cowhide rug is, you may still be surprised to learn one or two new things.

A cowhide is, quite simply, the hide of a cow. It’s the complete skin and hair removed from a cow and then expertly treated in order to preserve it in the finest condition.

Cowhides are the oldest interior design item in the world! They adorned the walls and floors of cavemen’s homes thousands of years ago, and they didn’t just look fabulous on a caveman’s bed but kept him and his family warm, too!

Why Should You Consider a Cowhide Rug?

They’re Unique

Cowhide rugs come in a variety of colors and the beauty of them is that every single rug is a one-of-a-kind piece. No two cows in the world have ever been born with identical markings, so no two hides will show identical patterns.

By purchasing a cowhide rug, you’re guaranteed to own a one-off piece nobody can replicate.

They’re Hypoallergenic

Because cowhide rugs are 100% natural and contain no synthetic materials, they’re less likely to contain pesticides or flame-retardant chemicals that can irritate both your skin and your nose.

Not only that, but cowhide rugs don’t trap dust like a synthetic rug does. They don’t attract pollen or cat dander, two common culprits for causing allergic reactions.

They’re Durable

Your cowhide rug will last much longer than other rugs made from synthetic materials because a cowhide rug is made from leather, which is unbelievably durable.

Think of your comfiest, most durable pair of leather boots. Leather has been used for centuries because it’s hard-wearing, tough, and can cope with plenty of use.

In the same way that a well-made pair of leather boots can withstand many miles of walking on all kinds of terrain, your cowhide rug can withstand plenty of foot traffic, without losing any of its luster.

They’re Easy to Clean

Put it this way: have you ever seen a stained cow?

Natural hide repels stains as both the skin and the hair of a cow are designed to keep the animal healthy and clean. Be sure to mop up any accidents that may occur on the rug as soon as possible, and there’ll be no long-lasting effects to your cowhide rug.

A simple vacuuming will rid your rug of regularly-occurring dust and dirt, or take it out occasionally and give it a beating or a good shake and it’ll look like new once more.

They Lie Flat

We all know what it’s like to have to often move a rug back to its original position. The under siding of synthetic rugs often means they don’t grip the floor properly, but your cowhide rug won’t have that problem.

The leather underneath will grip almost any floor surface it’s placed on, and a good-quality cowhide won’t curl at the edges.

They’re a Timeless Accessory

We’ve all looked back at pictures of our parents’ living room from years ago, and even our own from the not-too-distant past. We wonder why on earth we chose that carpet, or those drapes, or that couch.

Cowhide rugs won’t cause you any nostalgia-induced shame! They’re timeless pieces, complementing rooms for years even when other items of furniture are replaced. They never go out of style. After all, as we said earlier, they’ve been around for thousands of years and yet still add luxury to any room they’re placed in.

Debunking Some Common Cowhide Myths

Now you know a little bit more about what a great choice a cowhide rug is, you might have a few questions of your own. You may have heard negative things about cowhides and you’re not sure if they’re true. So, let us put your mind at rest with a little debunking.

Here are some common misconceptions about cowhide rugs, and why they’re not accurate:

  • 'The cowhide rug industry is cruel'

Cowhides aren’t produced to order. A cowhide is only available because the cow has arrived at a slaughterhouse as part of the dairy and meat industry. Tanners, the name given to the professionals who source the hides, visit slaughterhouses and pick up the hides as part of a by-product of farming food production.

If the hides weren’t picked up and turned into a usable item, they’d be a waste product and disposed of.

Of course, if you’re vegan or vegetarian you’ll want to avoid animal hides altogether, but if you eat beef or wear leather, there’s no reason to avoid owning a cowhide rug.

At we bring you only the best, responsibly sourced cowhides from Brazil and Europe and pride ourselves on our A-grade quality hides.

  • 'I don’t want the smell of cows in my home'

We wouldn’t want that, either! That’s why all our rugs are thoroughly cleaned with odor-erasing treatments. Of course, any animal hide will retain a scent of its own, but a cowhide rug will only smell as much as would a high-quality leather jacket.

Once it’s adorning your floor, you won’t be able to smell anything, but if you were to crouch down and smell it, you’d smell the familiar scent of leather.

  • 'I can’t have a cowhide rug because my dog will chew it'

If your dog likes to eat rawhide bones, it doesn’t mean he’ll want to chew on your new rug. Rawhide is tough, but cowhide rugs are soft. If anything, they’ll love to sit on the rug, so be sure they’re fully toilet trained but as for eating it, you’ll have no problems unless you’ve noticed they like to eat the other rugs in the house, too.

Now we have those all cleared up, let’s get down to finding you the best cowhide rug!

How to Select a Good-Quality Cowhide

The consensus of experts is that the best quality hides come from Brazil and Europe. You’re in luck, because at this is exactly where we source our hides.

Of course, you don’t just want to take our word for it. It helps to know exactly what it is you’re looking for when the time comes to select your rug. Here, we’ll help you to know exactly what to be on the lookout for.

The Bunch Test

Bunch the rug up in your hand. If it’s a good quality rug, any wrinkles you make when bunching will immediately disappear. If the rug remains crinkled after you’ve let go, avoid both the rug and the store. Low-quality materials don’t behave like good, authentic leather.

The Smell Test

Take a good deep sniff of a rug you’re thinking of buying. You’ll know if it’s a genuine cowhide rug as the smell of good leather is unmistakable. A genuine rug won’t smell of chemicals or have the plasticky odor of synthetic materials.

Trust Your Senses

Cowhide sourced from healthy cattle make the best rugs. Look under the rug to see the condition of the leather, and check that there are no holes. Look at the edges of the rug and avoid those that curl up at the edges.

While you’re lifting up your rug, look for a manufacturer’s stamp on the backside. This will tell you who’s made the rug. At all our cowhide rugs carry the Saddlemark stamp, and we only sell Saddlemark products because they’re guaranteed to be of a higher standard of quality. Nothing but the best is good enough for you, or for us.

Check that the coat of the rug is shiny and healthy. Run your hand over the hair and feel its softness.

Trust your senses and if in doubt, ask questions about where your rug has been sourced.

Of course, if you’re making an online purchase it’s much more difficult to know exactly what kind of quality you’re paying for. So, only choose from reputable sites and check their returns policy.

Here at we want you to love your cowhide rug and be 100% satisfied. That’s why we have a 30 day return or exchange period because if you’re not happy, then we’re not happy!

What’s the Right Color Cowhide Rug?

That’s like asking which is the best color paint or the best color wallpaper! When it comes to selecting the right color for your cowhide rug, there’s a lot to consider, and while it’s all down to your personal preference, we’re here to help you with that, too.

First, you’re going to want to think about where the rug is going to be placed. For example, what looks fabulous in a living room might not look quite so at home in the kitchen, and vice versa.

Different colors can give off different vibes. It’s not just about whether your rug will match your furniture or existing color scheme, but whether it’ll match the energy of the room.

Let’s look at some examples.

Solid Color

Whether it’s black, brown, white or gray, a solid color is easy to place in a room. They’re a way to add some texture or shape without being so much of a feature piece. They’re more subtle than those of varied colors but the striking block of a single color can also be impactful, particularly if there’s a contrast with the surrounding shades.


Brindle hides are extremely popular because of the rich patterns naturally occurring across the hide. The colors, usually stripes, overlay each other, with tones on top of tones. The colors can be dark or light, with stripes blending into one another across the whole piece.

They give off warm, cozy vibes, perfect for a study or cozy reading space. They blend in well with different surroundings because of the variety of colors adorning the hide, so you can choose to accentuate a warm gold or copper tone, or even a cooler beige, all in the same hide.

Black and White

The iconic black and white is a classic hide guaranteed for immediate impact in any room. The bright, clean white of the hide contrasts perfectly with the deep, shiny black markings for maximum effect.

You can place a black and white rug anywhere in the house but they’re particularly popular for nurseries and children’s playrooms because of the playful, whimsical effect they have.

They’re also great for the kitchen because not only are the colors perfect for that rustic, farmhouse look but a cowhide rug, being naturally stain-repellent, means it’s easy to keep clean.

Brown and White

Also known as Hereford rugs, these are the quintessential cowhide rugs. They’re timelessly chic and can transform a room into either a warm or cool space.

This is because of the contrast between the brown and the white parts of the rug. More color in your rug, with its reddish-brown tones, will give off a warmer feeling, but if you pick this style of rug that features more white, it can give off a cooler effect and make a room seem larger.

Brown and white cowhide rugs are a perfect example of how it’s not just the colors on the rug, but their distribution that can make all the difference. And if you explain just what effect you’re trying to create, we’ll do everything we can to find you the perfect rug.

Speckled and Salt and Pepper

These two colors are essentially the opposite of each other.

A speckled cowhide is usually mostly white, with spots of black or brown over it. They can help to lighten a darker space. Conversely, a salt and pepper cowhide is mostly dark, with lighter spotting, which can add some contrasting color to a more open, lighter space.


Also known as exotic cowhides, tricolor rugs usually have, as is pretty self-explanatory, three or more colors in their shading. Often the color mix involves white, black and brown, meaning it’s possible to choose one as the focal color and draw that out with the surrounding scheme.

Stencilled Hides

What may look like a zebra or tiger hide is more often than not going to be a stencilled hide. These are cowhides that have been specially stencilled with colored dyes in order to produce an exotic pattern.

These can be a great addition to your room if you’re looking for something a little more on the wild side, and yet don’t want to compromise on the authentic cowhide quality by buying a synthetic rug.

Metallic Cowhide

For the ultimate modern twist to the timeless classic, a metallic or frosted cowhide gives you all the quality of a genuine cowhide rug with a touch of sparkle. Metallic effects such as gold and silver are carefully added by hand to the hide, making for a truly eye-catching piece.

Dyed Cowhide

Leather dyes very well, and cowhide rugs are no exception. If you want to keep the quality of genuine leather but prefer to go for bolder, less ‘natural’ colors, such as blue or red, or even hot pink, then a dyed rug’s the way to go.

They’re particularly sought after for those who are creating a specific color scheme and want a piece that will tie the room together without compromising on the soft, durable properties of a cowhide rug.

As you can see, the choices are endless!

… and whether you’re after a classic black and white, or a light brindle, or even a tricolor, we have every color you could possibly think of and everything in between.

What Size Should You Go For?

Now you’ve got an idea of the color that you want, the next thing to think about is the size of the rug.

In the same way that adult cows come in all different sizes, the hides they produce will naturally vary in size and shape, too.

Measuring a Cowhide

At one time, a cowhide would be measured carefully by hand, but modern technology means that when a hide is removed from the cow, it’s scanned by a machine that will take into account all its measurements and accurately measure the amount of leather, in square feet, of each rug.

The hind legs of the rug are measured at their widest point, from left to right, and then the head to tail measurement is taken off center, so the measurement doesn’t go down the middle of the hide but from the widest measurement from top to bottom.

All cowhides come in a vaguely triangular shape because this is the shape of the cow itself when its hide is laid out: the hind and rump of the cow are the widest section, narrowing down toward the front legs and shoulders.

We’ve separated our hides into three simple categories: Medium, Large, and Extra Large.

Let’s take a look at the size that each category encompasses.

  • Medium - Approximately 6x6, or 36-44 square feet
  • Large – Approximately 6x7.5 or 45-48 square feet
  • Extra Large – Approximately 6.5x7.5+ or 49+ square feet

Remember that these aren’t exact sizes, but one of the joys of a cowhide rug is its uniqueness, every single time.

The larger the hide, the more leather will be used in its production, so the more expensive the hide will be. Bear this in mind when choosing your cowhide. The difference in price isn’t huge, but it’s something to remember if you have a fixed budget in mind.

Of course, you can get smaller hides, but that’s when you’ll need a smaller cow. So, we also have a fabulous range of calf skin and even goatskin hides, too, particularly if you’re looking to cover a smaller floor space.

Placement in the Room

It’s not just how large the intended space is, but how well it will accommodate your cowhide rug. You’ll have carefully chosen the style, size, and color, and its placement in your room is just as important a factor to consider.

A popular place for any rug to lie is in the living room, often underneath a coffee table. It stands to reason that a cowhide rug would also fit well in this spot and it will, but a cowhide rug is a unique accessory, so it needs to be given a unique kind of placement

Most rugs today come in a square or rectangular shape, so they often sit at right angles to a couch or chair. But a cowhide rug defies convention. It likes to do things a little differently.

Place your rug at a 45-degree angle to your couch to make it a focal point in your living room. This way it will anchor the furniture of the room, drawing occupants and guests in. Your coffee table can sit on top of the rug but be careful not to cover it up completely. Your cowhide rug is a feature piece that shouldn’t be hidden under furniture.

If space isn’t a problem, consider placing your rug on the floor as a feature all on its own, with nothing at all sitting on it. The one-of-a-kind design and naturally bright, vivid colors of a cowhide rug make it perfectly adept at carrying itself all on its own in a room, with no help from other furniture necessary!

Another option is to place a glass table on top of the rug. This way, the whole rug is on view and none of its beauty is hidden but you can still enjoy the practicalities of a coffee table in front of you.

Of course, if space is restricted, then you’ll want to reconsider the placement of your rug. Cowhide rugs will always look more striking in a larger room, but they can also serve to bring a smaller room together, creating a cozy and welcoming haven.

It’s not a problem to cover up the edges of a cowhide rug with a sofa or the legs of a table, particularly if space is restricted. If you’re placing the rug on top of a carpet, too, it can help to keep the rug in position by positioning furniture on the edges, particularly the legs.

Given its durability, versatility, and all-round ability to make any room look fabulous, you’ll have an abundance of options when it comes to placing your rug. It’ll look wonderful adorning your kitchen floor. It’ll caress your feet when you get out of bed in the morning. It’ll impress a client who comes to your office for an appointment.

Some people even choose to put a cowhide rug in their hallway. It serves as an immediately eye-catching component, and its hard-wearing features mean that it can deal with plenty of family traffic throughout the day.

Can You Layer Your Cowhides?


We already know how easily cowhide rugs can command a room all by themselves, but when paired with another rug in just the right way, it can add a whole new dimension to your room.

The trick here is to remember that less is more. Your cowhide rug has far too much personality to be paired with another rug that will drown out its uniqueness, so play to your cowhide’s strengths.

A dark brindle would pair well with a lighter colored rug, for instance. Placing the cowhide at an angle along the edge of the rug will allow for it to stand alone while at the same time giving a warmer, deeper texture to the room.

Conversely, a palomino or beige cowhide rug will sit perfectly with a luxurious, ornately patterned Persian or Turkish rug. The ‘less is more’ theory still applies, but in this example the cowhide is toning down the louder, more gregarious colors of its pairing rug.

If you want to be brave or have a particularly good eye for color, a tricolor cowhide rug paired with a rug displaying one of the cowhide’s colors will match very well. The matching colors in both rugs, while displayed in completely different textures, will complement one another without losing their own individual properties.

With an endless variety of cowhide rugs on offer, we’re sure that you’ll find the perfect combination if layering your rugs will give you the desired effect. Once again, our staff are on hand to give you all manner of suggestions and advice, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Other Uses for a Cowhide Rug

Whoever said that a rug’s only place was on the floor? Not us!

We’re firm believers in showing off your beautiful, one-of-a-kind rug in all its glory, wherever it will be most appreciated. For most people that means it’ll adorn their floor, but it doesn’t have to.

Think Outside the Floor!

More and more of our customers are taking a leaf out of the caveman’s book and displaying their beautiful cowhide rugs on the wall, or even the ceiling.

A cowhide rug can be nailed, stapled, Velcroed, or even taped to the wall, as long as the tape’s strong enough!

One of the best features of a cowhide is its durability. When affixed to the wall correctly, you’ll cause minimal damage to your rug. Small-headed nails will nestle into the hair of the rug, leaving no trace behind.

But if you’re not keen on the idea of putting holes in your rug’s beautiful leather, or if your wall won’t take kindly to the nails then you can try mounting your rug first, either on wood, or by using a casing. Either way, you’re sure to find the perfect method of hanging your cowhide rug on the wall or the ceiling.

As Snug as a Bug in a Rug

Cowhides make fabulous bed covers, too. The larger sizes in particular are big enough for a double or even a king-size bed. They’re mainly decorative, but there’s another reason our caveman friend loved to sleep under a cowhide at night. They retain heat very well, are extremely comfortable, and will keep you snug and warm all through the night, particular in the colder winter months.

Spoil Man’s Best Friend

You might find that your dog takes very little time to realize just how luxurious and comfortable your new cowhide rug is. So much so, that he’d love one of his own.

A smaller cowhide rug, or even a small calf hide, will fit into a dog’s bed and provide him with untold warmth and comfort. In fact, if you’d rather he kept off the furniture and your bed, getting him a cowhide rug could be an excellent way of luring him into his own space. Once he spends a little time with his own personal cowhide rug, he’ll be sure to return there night after night.

Of course, you might find it a true extravagance to treat your puppy with to such finery, but we promise you should you wish to splash out on your pup, our lips are firmly sealed.

Breathe New Life into Old Furniture

Small rugs draped over bureaus, or even tabletops can give them a whole new look without you having to do anything at all. They can also be put on the back of chairs and look particularly cozy draped onto reading window nooks for those wintery nights in, curled up with a good book.

Nursing moms have found that a cowhide rug on the back of a rocking chair in their baby’s room can make those night feeds that little more comforting, too, as well as adding a splash of style to the nursery.

Tips to Narrow Down Your Selection

We never said that choosing a cowhide rug was easy. In fact, the more time you spend perusing our huge selection, the more difficult you’ll find the task of narrowing it down to a final winning choice.

So, to recap, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which room is my rug intended for?

This is the first question to consider, because it will immediately put you in the frame of mind for a particular kind of rug. You’ll be able to picture the kind of furniture already in the room, from its shape, its room placement, and its color.

This will help you to decide on the right shade of cowhide rug to go for, and you’ll be able to picture exactly how you want it to lie. Don’t forget to carefully measure the space you want the rug to be placed in, in order to get the maximum impact possible in your room.

  • What sort of style am I looking for?

You might have always had your heart set on the deepest, snuggest brindle pattern you’ve ever seen, or you may believe that no other rug than the reddish-brown of a Hereford cowhide could ever grace your floor. Maybe you’re looking for the pop of the family favorite: the black and white.

Whatever the dream, you’ll be able to find exactly what it is you’re looking for at and if you’re in any doubt at all, don’t hesitate to ask! After all, this is what we do. There’s no question too strange, no request too odd. Your cowhide rug is going to be with you for a long, long time, so we know how important it is to make the right choice.

  • Does this rug feel like the right choice?

It sounds like an odd statement, but your rug has to make you feel happy. You don’t want to opt for a cowhide rug that just doesn’t speak to you in the right way. If something’s not right for you, then you’ll be able to find another similar design that fits more perfectly.

  • This One, or That One?

Keep eliminating as you go. If you’re stuck in a quandary over a few rugs at once, pick two and put them side by side. Trust your instincts, look at them both, and pick the one that feels more correct to you.

Don’t forget, though, that with our easy 30-day exchange or refund service, even if you get your rug home and decide something’s just not quite right, you’ll be able to fix it! If something’s a little ‘off’ and you’re not sure what, reach out to one of our team and we’ll be happy to advise you on the best course of action.

How to Take Care of Your Cowhide Rug

Once you’ve picked the perfect rug and it’s on its way to your house, you’ll be itching to unpack it and place it in its new home.

When you first remove it from its packaging, you may find that your brand new cowhide rug has wrinkled in transit. This is perfectly normal, and nothing to be worried about. By laying it out flat on the floor, it will soon straighten out and any wrinkles will disappear. This is also the case if you should choose to hang the rug on the wall.

If the wrinkles don’t disappear quickly, turn the rug over, so it’s lying hair-side down, and run a damp (not wet) cloth along the leather. Turn back over and weigh down with heavy, flat items such as books.

You can run a cool iron over the rug, hair side up, to iron out any wrinkles but take extra care not to have the iron on too hot, otherwise you will singe the hairs and damage your rug. If in doubt, avoid ironing altogether. Your rug will flatten out in time with use.

They’re so durable and easy to look after that you’ll wonder why on earth you waited so long to get a cowhide rug. Now lying pride of place in your favorite room, it will continue to look as good as new longer than you could even dream of and requires very little upkeep.

A regular going-over with a vacuum cleaner will prevent any dust and dirt from building up between the hairs, and make sure to push the vacuum in the direction of the rug’s grain. This will ensure that it keeps its shine and doesn’t tug out any of the hairs or look untidy. Occasionally shaking or beating the rug outside will also remove excess dirt and dust.

Be sure to mop up any spills quickly and there’s no need to worry about stains, as natural leather is extremely stain-repellent. Excess liquid should be soaked up and if you find that you’ve spilled grease onto the rug, a little washing up liquid, shampoo or even a dab of eucalyptus oil will soon return your rug to its former glory.

Occasionally you may want to give your cowhide rug a deeper clean, and a steam clean is a perfect way to do this. One thing to remember is never to soak your rug in water. Too much water can irreparably damage your rug so be sure never to leave it outside in case of rain. Always keep your rug out of direct sunlight, so as not to cause any damage to its coloring.

Now, Let's Get Looking!

With this Ultimate Cowhide Rug Buying Guide as your reference, you're sure to have everything you need to make the right choice and select the perfect cowhide rug for you.

And once you've made your selection, why not check out our matching cowhide pillows? Imagine the softness and luxury of your beautiful cowhide rug, but right next to you on your bed or couch.

Whenever you're ready, we're here to help you, as we have been for the last 25 years. We look forward to helping you choose an incredible, authentic cowhide rug. And remember, we ship all over the world, so wherever you are, we'd be proud to help furnish your home with our beautiful products.


  • Rick Young

    I like the look of your products although worry about wrinkles and not lying flat. I will use on hardwood floor

  • Clay Soil

    I have read this article with great information and tips, thanks for sharing.

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