What are the Major Types of Leather?

What are the Major Types of Leather?

Leather is any type of tanned animal skin. The different types of skin are characterized both by the type of animal skin used, the tanning of skins and the manufacturing methods used. The most common type of leather in the manufacture of leather goods is cow hide, but also the skin of other animals such as buffalo, pig, sheep, goat, kangaroos, ostriches or exotic animals such as reptiles or fish are used.

Cowhide is the skin most used by the leather industry because of its thickness, strength, durability and flexibility, as well as its easy availability. The buffalo skin has characteristics very similar to that of the cow, although somewhat more resistant with lower cost.

Furs from sheep, such as sheep and goats, are much thinner and have a less uniform grain than cow skins. Its main characteristics are flexibility, lightness and softness.

Pig skin is also very versatile in terms of uses. It is a soft leather with hard and mottled appearance.

The leather used for the manufacture of handbags and leather goods in general is usually full grain leather. This is the top layer of the skin, the outer layer, which is in contact with the outside. This is the best of the best when it comes to skin, and is the most expensive being totally natural skin. The easiest way to determine if the leather is full grain is by finding scars and small imperfections such as scratches or insect bites. These natural imperfections are the hallmark of a great leather. It is the part of the skin of higher quality, and with the passage of time, will develop a natural patina that will increase the beauty of the piece. Full-grain leather can be presented with two finishes as aniline or semi-aniline;


It is the natural skin that has not received any type of coating. It is very sensitive to moisture or stains.


The skin is dyed or pigmented, and this thin film makes sure that the dirt does not penetrate easily.

To distinguish a piece made of aniline and semi-aniline, it would suffice to leave a drop of water on both surfaces. If absorbed by the skin, this would be aniline, if it remains on the surface without penetrating, it would be semi-aniline.

Corrected Grain Leather

It is full grain leather, which shows an excessive amount of scratches or scars which are polished or sanded, as a result, you get impeccable leather without natural scars with a virtually smooth relief. To avoid this for certain uses, a false grain is stamped or engraved. The finishes can be semi-aniline or pigmented.


It is the second layer or lower layer of the skin remaining after the extraction of the whole grain. It is sanded to obtain a very soft leather which is less resistant and very delicate against stains.


It is the part of the skin that is in direct contact with the animal’s flesh. It has been sanded to give it a velvety texture. It is also very sensitive to dirt or stains.


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