Here at Billy Tannery we consider ourselves to be experts in goat leather.

After discovering that thousands of goat hides leftover from the food industry were being thrown away each year, we found a sustainable solution. And today we’re the UK’s only tannery that specialises in producing premium goat leather.

A Fresh Approach to Leather Billy TanneryBut what’s so great about goatskins? We get asked many questions about our beloved leather, from how long it lasts to whether or not it smells (it doesn’t by the way).

So whether you’re a leather connoisseur or simply want to know more about your goat leather goods, here’s our ultimate guide to goat leather.

Goat Leather Best Leather

Goat leather = good quality

Goat leather is an extremely versatile material made from tanned goat hides. Its natural strength and softness make it an ideal leather for bags, boots, gloves and other products that benefit from flexibility. You may think this would mean it comes with a hefty price tag but goat leathers are inexpensive compared to other alternatives. 

For the highest quality leather, always choose full-grain. This type of material is much more unique than mass-produced leathers that are often sanded down and printed for a more uniform look.

Our signature goat leather has an especially pronounced grain that results in a long-lasting, one of a kind material with a beautiful texture. By vegetable tanning our leather, we’re able to best celebrate the natural marks and variations of each hide. Therefore each piece of our leather - and therefore our products - is completely individual.

How does goatskin compare to other leathers?

Goatskin is lighter weight than other leathers yet still boasts unparalleled strength. 

  • Goat vs cow / calf leather: goatskin matches cow hide’s tensile strength yet is lighter, softer and more breathable
  • Goat vs sheep leather: sheepskin is the softest type of leather yet goat hides are much more durable
  • Goat vs lamb leather: goat leather and lambskins are equally flexible yet goat hides are much thicker and stronger

  • Want to know more about the different types of animal hide? Check out our guide to goatskin vs other types of leather.

    Is goat leather durable?

    Goatskin is one of the most durable forms of leather and can last for many decades when well looked after. Some of the oldest known leather artefacts are made from goat leather, including a thousand year old bible. It’s unsurprising when you consider that goats are hardy mammals that survive in dramatic climates around the world - therefore their hides are naturally tough and hard-wearing.

    Is goat leather soft?

    Goat hide is a particularly soft and supple leather with unmatched flexibility. This is due to the natural oils (known as lanolin) found in the skin. Its lightweight nature is also complemented with lasting strength, which makes it perfect for on the go leather accessories, bags and home decor.

    For these reasons, we designed our one of a kind Roll Top Backpack, a large goat leather rucksack with 26 litres of volume. Any other kind of leather would be too heavy for long-term use but our signature goatskin ensures it remains comfortable to carry for hours on end.

    Goat Leather Roll Top Backpack

    Does goat leather stretch?

    Yes, goat leather, like many other types of leather, can stretch to some extent. Leather is a flexible material that can conform to the shape of the wearer's body or the object it covers. However, the amount of stretch can depend on various factors, including the type of tanning process used, the thickness of the leather, and how the leather is treated and cared for.

    Compared to other types of leather such as cow, goat leather is considered stretchy and flexible. This is because it is softer, and the hide of a goat is thinner than larger animals.

    What does goatskin leather feel like?

    Authentic goat leather has a striking grainy texture, with distinctive ridges that resemble pebbles. This is caused by the goat’s coarse coat of hair which leaves clearly defined markings on the skin.

    Goatskin has a completely unique look and feel to any other type of leather - one of many reasons why we’re advocates of this beautiful material.

    Does goat leather smell?

    Like any natural material, goat leather can have a distinct smell, often described as earthy or musky and slightly sweet. The smell of leather is influenced by many things, including the type of tanning process used, the age of the leather, and the conditions in which it has been stored.

    Leather is typically tanned to preserve it and make it more resistant to decay. The tanning process can involve the use of different products, and the type of tanning can affect the smell of the leather. Vegetable-tanned leather like ours, for example, will often have a different scent compared to chrome-tanned leather.

    New leather items might have a stronger smell initially, which tends to dissipate over time as the leather ages and is exposed to air.

    How to get rid of goat leather smell

    The scent of leather is one of its most unique characteristics but if you find the smell of goat leather unpleasant and want to reduce or eliminate it, there are some things you can try:

    • Air it out: Place the leather item in a well-ventilated area for a period of time. Fresh air can help dissipate the natural odours.
    • Sunlight exposure: If possible, expose the leather item to sunlight for a short period. Be cautious not to leave it in direct sunlight for too long, as excessive exposure may lead to fading.
    • Baking soda: Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the leather item and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. The baking soda can help absorb odours. Gently brush off or vacuum the baking soda the next day.
    • Activated charcoal: Place activated charcoal near the leather item. Charcoal is known for its odour-absorbing properties. Leave it in the vicinity for a day or two to help neutralise the smell.
    • Leather conditioner: Apply a leather conditioner to the item. This not only helps to moisturise and protect the leather but can also contribute a pleasant scent that may mask any undesirable smells.

    Is goat leather waterproof?

    Like all other types of leather, goat leather isn’t naturally waterproof - despite what many people think. If not protected, water can cause damage and cause the material to become stiff.

    But that doesn’t mean you can’t take your bag out in the British weather. Leather is somewhat water resistant so don’t fret if you get caught in a light drizzle.

    So, can goatskin leather get wet? The benefits of goat leather is its high levels of durability and water resistance - which makes it a fine choice for outdoor products such as bags, shoes and wallets. Just make sure to regularly treat your leather goods to keep them in tip top condition (find out how to waterproof your goat leather).

    How to clean goat leather

    Regular cleaning not only makes goat leather more waterproof - it also means it can last for generations to come.

    To wash your goat leather bags or accessories, first you need to check for other materials that may require special treatment such as suede or artificial leather. If your product is 100% full-grain goat leather, then you can carefully clean your product with water before leaving it to dry naturally away from direct heat.

    The next step is to condition and polish your goat leather with a suitable protection product, such as Collonil’s Leather Care Kit (our go-to brand for all our goat leather here at Billy Tannery). Check out our step-by-step instructions on how to clean a goat leather bag for more details.

    Find out more about how we source, tan and make goat leather here in the UK at Billy Tannery.


    Stephen Laycock said:

    Hi. I have recently found your website as I was looking for Goat Hide to make a bag but although you look to Tan hides you don’t sell them. Can you advise if you do sell and if so through what outlet.

    Stephen Laycock

    Roy said:

    I play an instrument called a Bodhran. It is an Irish goatskin drum. Is lanolin cream or coconut oil good to treat the skin with.

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