Since 2016


June 24, 2023 3 min read

by Monique Youzwa

Monique has been a full-time freelance writer for over 5 years, plus has a few fiction credits under her belt and is currently working on a novel. When not writing, she spends her time reading, playing video games, hiking, and camping with her husband and daughter.


Leather doesn’t actually become leather until after the tanning stage. Before this, it is referred to as either hide or skin. These terms are often used interchangeably by laymen, but they aren’t necessarily the same. In fact, each one has distinctive features that set them apart. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between hide and skin.

What Is Hide?

The hide of an animal is the outer layer of the body. It protects the internal workings while also sensing pain, heat, cold, and touch. A hide has three layers, the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. The dermis is the area that is removed and processed to create leather.

Where Hide Comes From

Hides come from larger animals with a shoulder height of a meter or more. These include cattle, bison, deer, antelope, or horse. Usually, the term hide is used for unprocessed materials, but large pieces of tanned, uncut leather can also go by this name.


Hide Characteristics

As well as the size of the animal it comes from, hide has a few distinctive characteristics. When compared to skin, hide is thicker and heavier, with a rougher texture and higher durability.

Due to the massive size and ruggedness of hides, they are usually used for large items, including furniture, bags, and outdoor clothing.


Pros Of Hide

Hides are heavy, tough, and durable, so they are fantastic for large products, or those required for rugged use. It is also inexpensive, particularly for cow hides, since an abundance of the material comes from a single animal.


Cons of Hide

Hides aren’t all identical and can vary in look and feel. The quality of the hide depends on several factors, including the region and climate the animal comes from and its treatment, age, and nutrition. Hides are also quite thick and heavy, so they aren’t the best choice for smaller pieces.

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PHYSICAL - The Technical Bomber

What is Skin?

Skin is identical to hide since it is the protective outer layer of an animal. After removal, it is cleaned and prepared for the tanning process that turns the skin into leather. Like hides, skins have three layers, the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. The middle layer is retained to make leather.


Where Skin Comes From

When sourcing skin, manufacturers focus on smaller animals that are less than a meter high. These include goats, sheep, pigs, and ostriches. Though cattle fall into the hide category,calvesare considered skins due to the animal’s size, finer grain, and softer texture.


Skin Characteristics

Skins are lighter and thinner than hides. They usually have a soft, supple texture that gives the finished product a more luxurious feel. The size of the skin makes them a fantastic choice for smaller pieces, including wallets and purses, though they can be used for larger luxury pieces.


Pros Of Skin

Those looking for lighter materials with a velvety texture will likely prefer garments and accessories made of skins rather than hides. In fact, lambskin is the most luxurious, with goatskin and calfskin following close behind, so these are all favored by those looking for high-quality leather pieces. Skins are also durable, so they can last for years with proper care.


Cons Of Skin

Like hides, skin quality can vary, depending on where the animal comes from, its age, treatment, and nutrition. Products made of skins are more expensive since smaller animals provide a limited supply of material, increasing demand.

The difference between hide and skin

Final Word

Though hides and skins are the outer layer of the animal and are both used to create leather, there are a few ways to differentiate the two. Hides come from animals that stand a meter high or more and are thick, heavy, and rugged. They are used for larger pieces and are usually quite affordable. Shorter animals produce skins that are light, thin, and soft. Skins are mainly used for smaller pieces and come at a higher cost.

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