Types of leather

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There are many types of leather. Leather types differ according to the type of animal, the intended use (e.g. for vehicles, furniture, shoes or clothing), the tanning method and type of finish and colouring.

The most common animal species for leather are cows, sheep, goats and pigs. This is because leather is almost exclusively processed from animals which are bred for meat production. Cow leather is most commonly used for upholstery leather (cars, furniture), but also for shoes, handbags and protective clothing. Sheep leather and goatskin are most commonly used for lighter leisure jackets and bags and pigskin for cheap leather clothing.

Leather made from deer (traditional clothing), horses (jackets, shoes), crocodiles and snakes (bags, shoes), ostrich (bags, hats), kangaroo (shoes, leather clothing, hats) or stingray (wallets, accessories) exist but are rare in comparison to the ones mentioned above.


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In principle, the following common leather types can be described, regardless of the specific animal species from which a leather is derived:


In addition, synthetic leather has to be added, but it cannot be called "leather".


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Within this typology, there are further sub-terms and variations which are listed in the category leather types. For more information on a specific leather type please follow the corresponding cross-references within the list.


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Abbreviations for types of leather

Sometimes abbreviations are used to describe leather types:

  • DDDM = Drum dyed, dry milled leather.
  • DDDN = Drum dyed, dry Napa.
  • NDM = Natural dry milled leather ("natural" is undetermined, dry milled).
  • PDM = Printed dry milled leather (embossed, dry milled).


The abbreviations don`t ensure a special leather quality. Only leather types or processing steps are described, but they can be carried out at any quality level.


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Additional information


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