Cowboyway Home Page

Cowboyway Home Page

DISCLOSURE: This page might contain affiliate links. / Photo Of The Day

How To Tell A Horse Skull From A Cow Skull

Telling a horse skull from a cow skull is easy once you recognize a couple of key differences.

Before we dive in, we'd like to say:

For the purposes of this article when we say "cow" skull we're referring to:

There are numerous differences between a horse skull and a cow skull. However, we're only going to focus on two easily noticeable distinctions: The teeth, and a bony ridge on the forehead.

So lets get started......

Below: A horse skull on the left, a cow skull on the right.

A horse skull and cow skull side by side

Horse Skull Vs. Cow Skull: The Teeth Tell A Tale

If there is one, super easy way to tell the difference between a horse skull and a cow skull it would probably be the teeth.

First, A Look At Horse Teeth

The photo below shows a close-up look of a horse's upper jaw. Notice the incisor teeth.

Below: The top incisor teeth on a horse skull.

A close look at the incisor teeth on a horse skull


Even if a horse skull is missing some, most, or all of its upper incisor teeth you can see the sockets where the teeth used to be.

Below: You can see this horse skull has some of its upper incisor teeth, but others have fallen out. Even so, you can clearly see where the missing teeth used to be.

Missing incisor teeth on a horse skull

Next, A Look At A Cow's Dental Pad

The photo below shows a close-up look of a cow's upper jaw. Instead of upper incisor teeth, you can see there is a "dental pad" (also called a "browsing pad").

Below: The dental pad on a cow skull. Cows have dental pads on the upper jaw instead of incisor teeth.

The dental pad on a cow skull


Below: A cow's dental pad viewed from the side. Not only are there not any teeth, there aren't any sockets where teeth would have been.

The upper jaw of a cow skull showing the dental pad

Note: While cattle don't have upper incisor teeth, they do have lower incisor teeth.

Cattle's lower incisor teeth are frequently used to estimate their age.

Horse Skull Vs. Cow Skull: The Forehead

The forehead of a horse skull and cow skull look very different.

First, A Look At A Horse's Forehead

A horse's forehead is narrower than a cow's, and the sides slope downward from a bony ridge in the middle that looks like an upside down "Y."

Below: A horse skull showing the bony ridge on the forehead that looks like an upside down "Y." Each side of the forehead slopes downward from there.

The bony ridge on a horse skull


Below: The same horse skull as above, only with yellow highlighting.

Yellow highlights on a horse skull to show the bony ridge


Next, A Look At A Cow's Forehead

A cow's forehead is broader and flatter than a horse's without a bony ridge.

Below: A cow skull. Compared to a horse it is broader, flatter, and doesn't have a bony ridge.

The broad, flat forehead of a cow skull

One More Horse Skull / Cow Skull Comparison

Here are a couple of more horse skull / cow skull photos. This time, the photos show the full length of the skulls instead of being close-ups.

Below: A horse skull. Notice the bony ridge on the forehead and the upper incisor teeth.

A horse skull lying in the grass


Below: A cow skull. The forehead is broader, wider, and flatter than a horse skull, and does not have a bony ridge. Also, the upper jaw has a dental pad instead of incisor teeth.

A cow skull lying in short grass

Horse and Cow Skulls: A Few Pieces Of Trivia

Like we mentioned at the beginning of this article there are numerous differences between horse and cow skulls. Yet, we've only mentioned two of them. That's because we decided to focus on two obvious differences that are easy to recognize at a glance.

However, there are several pieces of related trivia that we think are interesting and we'd like to mention them:


How To...

Attach A Leather Rope Strap

Bridle A Horse

Buy Cowboy Stuff On eBay

Care For A Silk Wild Rag

Care For Your Felt Cowboy Hat

Care For Your Saddle Pad Or Blanket

Clean Silver Conchos

Close A Gate With A Chain Latch

Estimate Cattle Age By Their Teeth

Estimate A Horse's Weight

Estimate Western Cinch Size

Fishtail Braid Your Horse's Tail

Flatten Cow Horn

How Smart Are Horses?

Hydro Dip A Cow Skull

Make A Bridle Rack Out Of Tin Cans

Make A Collapsible Wood Saddle Rack

Make A Flag Boot Out Of A Horn

Make Homemade Hoof Conditioner

Make Homemade Horse Fly Spray

Measure A Horse's Girth

Measure A Horse's Height

Measure A Western Saddle Seat

Organize Your Wild Rags

Put A Horn Knot On Your Rope

Put A Speed Burner On A Honda

Recognize Common Horse Colors

Recognize Common Horse Face Markings

Saddle A Horse

Stop A Saddle From Squeaking

Take Horse Pictures

Tell A Boy Cow From A Girl Cow

Tell A Horse Skull From A Cow Skull

Tie A Honda

Tie A Horse

Tie A Quick Release Knot

Tie A Stopper Knot
Tie a stopper knot for the end of a rope, or a metal, rawhide, or plastic honda

Tie A Stopper Knot For A Honda
Tie a stopper knot for a tied honda

Tie A Wild Rag Knot

Trim A Bridle Path

Turn Blevins Buckles Over

Turn Western Stirrups

Understand Leather / Hide Thickness

Weigh A Horse and Optimize Rider Weight

Whiten Bone

Wrap A Saddle Horn With Rubber

You Might Also Like...

What Is / Are

Horse Tips

Who Was


Molly's Custom Silver uses and recommends Molly's Custom Silver!

FREE Newsletter!
Receive tips, how-to's, and other good stuff. Subscribe now!

Some images and/or other content on this website are copyright © their respective owners.
All other material copyright © 1999 - 2024 by - All Rights Reserved

Menu    About / Contact    Newsletter

Disclosures    Privacy Policy