19 Common Black Cow Breeds (The Ultimate Guide) 

True black is one of the rarest colors in cattle. Yet, there are a few cow breeds that sport entirely black coats. Others are mostly black with a few splashes of white or red.

Whether you want to learn more about cows or find a black breed for your farm, here are 19 black cow breeds from around the world*:

Species nameCountry of originBred for
Aberdeen AngusScotlandBeef
Andalusian BlackSpainBeef
Black IberianSpainBeef
Welsh BlackWalesBeef and milk
Anatolian BlackTurkeyMultipurpose
Black BaldyScotland/EnglandBeef
CamargueFranceSports, vegetation management, beef
Hérens CattleSwitzerlandMilk and beef
Spanish Fighting BullSpainSports and beef
Riggit GallowayScotlandBeef
Kerry CattleIrelandMilk
German AngusGermanyBeef

*This list is not exhaustive. Cattle breeds above are not ranked in any particular order.

Table of Contents

1. Aberdeen Angus

  • Origin: Scotland
  • Bred for: Beef

Originating in northeast Scotland, the Aberdeen Angus is a small breed of polled beef cattle now famous throughout the world. Its origins are obscure, but the flavorful meat has conquered chefs and beef lovers on all continents.

Apparently related to the curly-coated Galloway, the Aberdeen Angus is often believed to be the oldest black cattle breed in the UK.

Aberdeen Angus is a pure black cow with a compact, low-set body and well-defined muscles. This breed was introduced to the US in 1873 where cross-breeding with the Brahman gave birth to the Brangus type.

2. Andalusian Black

  • Origin: Spain
  • Bred for: Beef

Found in western Andalucía in Spain, the Andalusian Black is an endangered breed of cattle typically raised for meat.

As the name suggests, these cows are typically black. However, dark brown or brown-black colorations are also common and accepted by the standards.

Like the Aberdeen Angus, Andalusian Black are mid-sized cattle with robust bodies. The hardy breed is known to adapt beautifully to adverse weather conditions. Moreover, these cows have a calm, docile temperament.

A characteristic trait is the presence of short but sturdy horns in both males and females; this makes the Andalusian Black one of the breeds of black cows with horns.

3. Black Iberian

  • Origin: Spain
  • Bred for: Beef

Traditionally located in the center of Spain, the Black Iberian cattle are a beef breed characterized by a marked sexual dimorphism. Males are up to two times larger than females, reaching weights over 2,200 pounds.

For this reason, Black Iberian bulls have also been used as work cattle in the past, mainly for transport and agricultural labor.

Today, these cows are mainly bred for their tender and flavorful meat. Milk production is negligible from an industrial standpoint, but it is a known secondary use for family consumption.

Like most Spanish black cow breeds, the Black Iberian cows are rarely bred outside of Spain. But even if they are relatively rare compared to other breeds, the population is stable.

4. Welsh Black

  • Origin: Wales
  • Bred for: Beef and milk

A type of dual-purpose black cow breed native to Wales, the Welsh Black cattle have historically been raised for both meat and milk.

Similar to the Aberdeen Angus, this is one of the oldest breeds in Britain. In fact, these cows were already inhabiting their native region before Roman times.

Originally, Welsh black cows were divided into a stockier beef type in the north and a leaner dairy type in the south of Wales. Modern Welsh Black cows are a combination of these two types.

These animals are completely black and have a longer, slightly curly coat. Color intensity can vary from rusty to jet black, and some white markings are accepted on the underline.

5. Anatolian Black

  • Origin: Turkey
  • Bred for: Multipurpose

Bred for milk, meat, and drought work, the Anatolian Black is one of the most popular black breeds of cattle in Turkey.

They are part of a cattle group aptly named “Anatolian native;” however, the other two breeds in the group are red rather than black in color.

An interesting thing about this multipurpose breed is its appearance. The cows are on the smaller side, lean, and with relatively slim bones. Overall, they look more like dairy cattle than meat or work – even though they are commonly raised for all three purposes.

Like the Andalusian Black, both males and females have short horns. Some animals may also exhibit a more typical beef build, especially in herds in which breeding selection is made for meat.

6. Pajuna

  • Origin: Spain
  • Bred for: Beef

One of the rarest black cow breeds, the Pajuna cattle are native to the Spanish region of Granada. Typically grown for meat, these cows resemble the now extinct aurochs, which are the ancestors of domestic cattle.

Hence, they have stocky bodies and a well-defined musculature. Nevertheless, they are relatively small in size, with bulls averaging 1,300 pounds in weight.

The horns are rather long and pointed forward, a trait often seen in wild animals that have to defend themselves – or their young – from predators. The horns also aid in thermostatic regulation and cooling.

Unlike other black cow breeds, the Pajuna cattle aren’t all black. Shades of brown and black are all accepted colors, but the most characteristic individuals are almost entirely black except for a brown patch on the back.

7. Wagyu

  • Origin: Japan
  • Bred for: Beef

The Wagyu is probably the most famous black cow breed – alongside the Angus – due to its incredibly delicious yet expensive meat it produces.

However, what few people know is that wagyu in Japanese is a term used to refer to all beef cattle.

The black strains of Wagyu cows are commonly bred in the Tajima region and were originally selected for their forequarters, as these cattle were used for pulling carts.

Due to this original use, the black Wagyu cows are smaller in size than the cattle bred in the Tottori region, but they are muscular.

Another famous breed of black Wagyu cattle is raised in the Kobe region of Japan. These cows are adapted to rough terrains and harsh weather. They produce a beautifully marbled meat that is now the world standard in terms of beef flavor and tenderness.

A black cattle breed related to the Wagyu is the Wangus. This type of beef cattle resulted from the cross-breeding of Wagyu and Angus, the meat combining the distinctive flavor characteristics of both beef types.

8. Black Baldy

  • Origin: Scotland/England
  • Bred for: Beef

Essentially a black and white cow breed, the Black Baldy is a hybrid type of cattle resulting from the cross-breeding of Aberdeen Angus and Herefords.

These cows maintain the white face characteristic to red Hereford, but the rest of their bodies are the characteristic Angus jet black.

As one would expect, these animals are bred for meat, which has a subtler flavor compared to Aberdeen Angus.

Black Baldy cows are also appreciated for their vigor, expected with a crossbreed, and the black skin that reduces the risk of sunburn in cattle raised in sunny areas. Due to these characteristics, Black Baldies are becoming increasingly common in the US.

9. Shetland

  • Origin: Scotland
  • Bred for: Milk

One of the best black cow breeds for easy calving, Shetlands originated in the Scottish Shetland Islands. They are now bred in other parts of Scotland and England as well, but are not widespread around the world.

In fact, this is one of the rarest breeds registered in the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST).

While milk production has always been one of the primary roles of Shetland cows, this breed was originally raised to fulfill all of its crofter’s needs. As its role in crofting declined, so has the number of purebred animals, reaching the lowest point of fewer than 40 purebred Shetlands in the 1950s.

With its inclusion in the RBST, the breed has increased in numbers and became popular once again.

Today, Shetland cows are typically raised for milk. The yields aren’t very high, but the milk is rich in butterfat and excellent for the production of butter, cheese, and other dairy products.

10. Camargue

  • Origin: France
  • Bred for: Sports, vegetation management, beef

Peculiar-looking Camargue is a type of black cow native to the Camargue marshlands on the river Rhone. It is generally raised semi-wild and mostly used for vegetation management in the marshlands and delta area as well as course camarguaise, a type of bull fighting.

Individuals that are not suitable for bull fighting nor breeding can be slaughtered for their meat.

These cows are relatively small in size. They have slender bodies and slim bones. Despite this, however, they have very large horns turned upwards. They are also very strong despite the small stature.

Camargue cattle are uniformly black in color and adapted to living in a wet habitat. Guardians typically tend the herd and also look after Camargue horses that share the same territory.

11. Hérens Cattle

  • Origin: Switzerland
  • Bred for: Milk and beef

An iconic breed of Swiss black cattle, the Hérens were developed in the mountainous canton of Valais, in the heart of the Alps.

Traditionally bred for their rich milk, these cows are the origin of the famous raclette cheese that is popular across the country.

They are also known for their flavorful meat, but both milk and beef production are very limited due to the low numbers of pure bred cows.

Like the Camargue, these cows are also used for sports – but they aren’t raised specifically for the purpose.

Hérens are instinctive fighters and will challenge each other to establish a hierarchy whenever they are left to their own devices.

In the periods of the year when these cows naturally challenge each other, herders organize cow fights held throughout the Valais and near the border with Italy in the Aosta Valley region.

12. Umblachery

  • Origin: India
  • Bred for: Draft

An Indian black cow breed, the Umblachery are excellent draft cattle noted for their strength and sturdiness.

Calves are usually a light buff or brown in color, which turns into various shades of grey and black in adults. However, not all adults are black, the vast majority sporting a grey coat with whiter patches and white undersides.

Like the Camargue cattle, the Umblachery are adapted to living in a warm and humid environment where they are used as work cattle in the rice production industry.

As a secondary use, these cows are also raised for their fat-rich milk, which is usually consumed by families.

13. Żubroń

  • Origin: Poland
  • Bred for: Multipurpose

Originated in Poland, the Żubroń is a hybrid type of cattle resulting from the crossbreeding between local cattle and the European bison.

These animals are usually black in color, even though brown or black-brown Żubrońs also occur, depending on the color of the parents.

Breed selection occurred after World War I, when scientists considered hybrid calves as a replacement for domestic cattle.

In fact, Żubrońs are hardy animals that can live in harsh conditions. They are also less susceptible to disease.

As a hybrid species, Żubroń cattle can be obtained by pairing any cow or bull with a wisent male or female. First-cross calves must be born through C-section and first-generation males are infertile.

However, first-generation hybrid females are fertile and can be paired with either a bull or bison male; males resulting from these backcrosses are fertile.

14. Tudanca

  • Origin: Spain
  • Bred for: Beef

Native to the western Cantabria region, Tudanca is a type of black cattle originally raised for work. However, with industrial progress, the use of cattle in agricultural fields declined, and so has the number of pure bred cows.

This rare breed is now raised locally for its superb meat. These cows are usually raised in semi-feral conditions, a practice that guarantees a much more flavorful meat compared to industrial beef.

Tudanca coat colors vary depending on the animal’s sex and age.

All calves are born red, but they change the fur color into adulthood. All males are black, while females can be either black, grey, or a combination of black and grey with whitish undertones.

15. Spanish Fighting Bull

  • Origin: Spain
  • Bred for: Sports and beef

One of the potentially dangerous types of black cows, the Spanish Fighting Bull is a breed selected for aggressiveness and vigor.

As the breed’s name suggests, these cows – and bulls – are bred and raised in Spain but also in France, Portugal, and parts of Latin America where bull fights are organized.

These cattle are exclusively raised free-range and are easy to recognize thanks to their athletic bodies. Most individuals are black or very dark brown in color, even though other colorations are normal.

Both males and females reach maturity slower than cattle types bred for meat. When solitary or unable to flee, bulls especially tend to become very aggressive. This makes them the perfect choice for Spanish-style corrida fights.

Since only bulls are used for fighting, females are typically kept for reproduction (if fit) or slaughtered.

16. Sayaguesa

  • Origin: Spain
  • Bred for: Beef

Similar to the Pajuna, the Sayaguesa is another ancient type of black cattle from Spain. This breed, too, is believed to have originated in the aurochs, to which it resembles.

Native to the autonomous community of Castile and Léon, Sayaguesas are large, hardy animals adapted to living in harsh conditions. Thus, they are raised semi-feral and need no shelter throughout the year.

Originally, this breed was used for draft work. However, the rare breed is now mostly raised for its exquisite meat.

17. Riggit Galloway

  • Origin: Scotland
  • Bred for: Beef

An archaic type of black cow with a white dorsal stripe, the Riggit Galloway is easily identifiable not only by the white stripe but also by the curly hair.

Black is not the only possible color either, these cows also being common in brown colorations.

Regardless of their coat color, Riggit Galloway cattle are known to thrive on poor pastures. These are good mothering cows with a docile nature. While the breed is rare, these cows are known for their tender and flavorful meat.

18. Kerry Cattle

  • Origin: Ireland
  • Bred for: Milk

A rare type of dairy cattle, the Kerry cows are believed to be one of the oldest types in Europe – with experts claiming they were around during the Neolithic age.

According to these theories, they were the first cattle bred mainly for milk production. In fact, most ancient breeds were mainly developed for meat and draft purposes.

These small, fine-boned cows weigh between 780 and 1,000 pounds and produce around 8,000 pounds of butterfat-rich milk per year.

Despite being listed as a rare breed, Kerrys are now bred in Ireland, United States, and Canada. These cows are mostly black in color and have white horns with black or dark grey tips.

19. German Angus

  • Origin: Germany
  • Bred for: Beef

While not all black cows are Angus, the German Angus is another type of dark-colored cows popular for their meat.

As one can imagine, this is a rather modern breed of cattle developed from Aberdeen Angus and various German cattle breeds, including German Black Pied. The cows are mainly raised for their meat.

German Angus cows are entirely black but usually bigger and heavier than the original breed. They are naturally polled and docile by nature.

The breed was consolidated in Germany in the 1990s and is now also grown in other parts of the world, including the US. In various regions, they are also used for vegetation management aside from beef production.

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