Question: What is bullhide, and why is it attractive/desirable? What are its qualities?
Answer (according to @DWFII , a bespoke shoemaker): I guess that attractive is in the eye of the beholder.
In fact "bullhide" or "bullhide shoulder"...AKA "shrunken shoulder"... is a poor cut of leather. And it is seldom, if ever, actually bullhide. It can come from any older bovine animal. [There's nowhere near the number of actual bulls in the domesticated cattle herds being harvested for leather as there are cows. Not enough to meet even the marginal demand of the western boot industry. This is an instance where truth in advertising has triumphed and the term "shrunken shoulder" is now used in preference to the misleading "bullhide".]
It is leather that in better times would not be considered premium under any circumstances. Hides that, in a more knowledgeable era, would simply not have been used for anything but industrial purposes.
When the industry found out that if they subjected the longer fibered, less dense hides to a chemical and mechanical process which "shrinks" and compresses the fiber mat, they could market hitherto worthless hides and, "bullhide" was created. Nevermind the fact that the shrinking is artificial and hence fundamentally temporary and/or unstable.
Or that the "texture" is also artificial and imposed. The raw hides are as smooth as calf or ordinarily marketed cowhide.
And "bullhide" is, by every objective standard, a corrected grain leather.
This question and answer was first posted in our Leather Quality and Properties Thread
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