durable and flexible material created by the tanning of animal rawhide and skin

Leather is the skin of an animal made into a durable material by tanning. The skins of cows, pigs, and goats are often used to make leather. Skins of snakes, alligators or crocodiles, and ostriches are sometimes used to make fancier leather. Shoes, bags, clothes, and balls are often made of leather. Sometimes people make leather out of whales, ducks, giraffes, and African elephants. All of these ways of making leather are very simple but some are rare.

Shoes made of crocodile leather

How leather is made


The way leather is made is divided into three processes. They are preparing the leather, tanning it, and crusting.

In preparing the leather, many things are done to make it ready for tanning. They include soaking it, removing the hair, liming, deliming, bating, bleaching, and pickling.

Tanning is a process that makes the proteins, especially collagen, in the raw hide stable. It increases the thermal and chemical stability of the animal skins. The difference between fresh and tanned animal skin is that fresh animal skin dries to make it hard and stiff. When water is added to it, it becomes bad. But, animal skin that is tanned dries to make it flexible. It does not become bad when water is added to it.[1]

Crusting is a process that makes the leather thin and lubricates it. Chemicals added when crusting must be set in place. Crusting ends with drying and making the leather soft. It may include splitting, shaving, dyeing, whitening or other methods.

From other animals


Today, most leather is made from the skin of cattle, which makes up about 67% of all the leather made. Other animals that are used include sheep (about 12%), pigs (about 11%), and goats (about 10%).[2]

Horse skin is used to make strong leather. Lamb and deerskin are used for soft leather. It is used in work gloves and indoor shoes.

Kangaroo leather is used to make things that must be strong and flexible. It is used in bullwhips.

In Thailand, stingray leather is used in wallets and belts. Stingray leather is tough and durable.


  1. Kite, Marion (2006). Conservation of leather and related materials. Roy Thomson. Oxford: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann. pp. 1–3. ISBN 0-08-045466-6. OCLC 76788460.
  2. "Statistics & Sources of Information | ICT Leather". leather-council.org. Archived from the original on 7 October 2022. Retrieved 6 December 2022.