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Important Tips for Choosing Cowhide Rugs

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Cowhide rugs can be a great choice for any room of the home, either to add some rustic charm or to tone down a more modern look. They can also be used as wall art, as cowhide rugs are usually very lightweight and easy to hang. Consider a few important tips for choosing a cowhide rug so you know you get one that you'll love for years to come.

Synthetic versus genuine cowhide

A synthetic cowhide may be made of leather that is dyed a particular pattern or it may have an acrylic yarn weave to give it a soft texture. An advantage of synthetic is that you can choose a particular pattern, as real cowhide rugs are always unique. You might also like the look of a cowhide rug but be uncomfortable with an actual animal skin in the home, and a synthetic choice can be better. However, synthetic may not be as soft or as durable as genuine cowhide.


If you do choose a genuine cowhide, look for a skin with a slight gloss. This will indicate that it's been cared for properly during its processing and is less likely to get dry and brittle over time. If a rug seems dry already when you're ready to purchase, it's likely to get drier over time and feel more uncomfortable and perhaps even show cracks and other such damage.


Avoid cowhide rugs with scars or branding marks of any sort. These reduce the value of the rug and are unnecessarily unsightly. A quality rug will be free of any such marks, as a quality rug maker can cut around them or will only purchase skins that are free of these blemishes. Scars may also indicate that an animal was abused and it's not good to support any rug maker that would buy skins from a cattle rancher that would abuse animals.


You might think that a rectangle or square cowhide rug is going to look better in your home, but this type of perfect shape often means that the rug was stitched together from other, smaller pieces, including remnants. If you do prefer a geometric shape rather than the natural cut of cowhide, be sure to examine the underside of the rug for seams. If the rug has been stitched together from other pieces, they may eventually start to pull away from the seams as they shrink differently. Choose a square or rectangle that has been cut from one larger piece and is without seams instead.