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How To Care For Exotic Cowboy Boots? 9 Types of Leather

How To Care For Exotic Cowboy Boots? 9 Types of Leather

Snakeskin, ostrich leather, lizard, caiman, stingray, and more – all of them are exotic leathers, and it’s definitely not unfamiliar to cowboy boots lovers.

Any cowboy boot collectors have at least one boot made from exotic leather in their home!

But not every cowboy boot lover knows how to care for specific exotic leather.

In fact, each type of exotic leather has a different caring method.

For instance, lizard cowboy boots are easy to dry and crack quicker than cowhide, so you need to condition them more often.

If you wear them regularly, lizard cowboy boots need to be moisturized at least every 3 months. But if you don’t wear them too much, you should moisturize at least every 6 months.

Sounds complicated? Don’t worry, that’s why we have today’s topic, we will show you how to care for exotic cowboy boots.

How To Care For Exotic Cowboy Boots?

Each type of exotic cowboy boot has its own charisma that conquers the cowboy boot lover.

Lizard cowboy boots have a delicate and soft look, hippo cowboy boots have a rugged and strong appearance, and caiman ones have a wild yet gentlemanly look.

But, all types of exotic cowboy boots have one thing in common: they have the best state if properly cared for based on their special characteristics.

To get this straight, I will give comparisons between each type of exotic leather and cowhide leather.

Let’s take a look at know-how!

1. Snakeskin cowboy boots

Snakeskin is one of the most popular materials used for cowboy boots. Its charisma is the unique texture patterns.

Most types of snakeskin cowboy boots are made from python or rattlesnake!

And you know what? This type of leather is very susceptible to drying, cracking and especially very sensitive. So besides regularly moisturizing, you need to know how to take care of this sensitive skin.

You should condition snakeskin cowboy boots at least every 3 or 4 months.

The nature of snakeskin leather is that it can absorb and release moisture very quickly. Therefore, you need to condition snakeskin cowboy boots more frequently than cowhide.

Besides, don’t leave your cowboy boots in a hot place, like near radiators, your boots will absorb heat, get dry and crack quickly too.

Also, a wet environment is not favored either, it will make your snakeskin cowboy boots too damp and moist.

A woman wears ankle snakeskin cowboy boots with blazer (or trench coat), dress pants

Therefore, you should store cowboy boots in a dry but breathable place. Not too hot nor too wet!

In addition, you should use a specialized product to care for snakeskin cowboy boots (Reptan Reptile Beauty Milk Cleaner & Conditioner is recommended). That will make them last longer than using a regular leather conditioner.

You can polish snakeskin cowboy boots, but don’t choose the polish with artificial colors, go for one with natural colors.

But, you don’t need to polish rattlesnake leather cowboy boots! Rattlesnake leather already has a shiny look and it can retain that look very well, that’s its natural feature. So, it is redundant to polish them.

What tool to clean snakeskin cowboy boots? Just like you treat cowhide cowboy boots, use a horsehair brush or soft cloth.

Combine these tools with a specific cleaner and gently rub the surface of snakeskin cowboy boots, and you are done!

2. Ostrich cowboy boots

Along with snakeskin leather, ostrich is also a common type of exotic leather used for making cowboy boots.

Ostrich leather is popular in the cowboy boots community due to its impressive softness! You are definitely comfortable when wearing ostrich cowboy boots.

Moreover, ostrich cowboy boots are also very durable and breathable, you can wear them all day long without feeling hot.

In addition to outstanding features, ostrich leather has a big weakness: they need conditioning very often.

You should condition ostrich cowboy boots every 1 to 2 months –  more frequently than snakeskin leather and cowhide.

To retain the color of ostrich cowboy boots, 1 to 2 months will be a great period of time.

You should also take time to polish your ostrich boots to keep them sharp and attractive. Most of these boots do not have stitches so they are easy to polish.

Yes, ostrich leather may be very soft and durable, but it will fade quicker than other leathers.

If you wear ostrich cowboy boots in the hot sunlight or the ranch & farm without conditioning them often, their color will fade real quickly.

Ostrich leather contains more natural oil than other leather, so it rarely appears cracked or dry.

But ostrich leather does not stretch too much. Therefore, be careful when choosing the size of this type of exotic cowboy boot!

Pointed toe ostrich cowboy boots and saddle stirrup

The method to clean and store ostrich cowboy boots is quite familiar to cowhide cowboy boots.

Just use a horsehair brush or soft rag combined with a specific cleaner to clean ostrich cowboy boots.

Apply cleaner to brush and rub gently on the surface of ostrich leather. And my recommended product is Bickmore Exotic. I used them and was really satisfied with the result.

Besides, storing ostrich boots in a dry and cool place is the basic thing everyone must know! Not too hot nor too wet!

3. Caiman cowboy boots

Caiman is the most premium material used to make cowboy boots, and if you take a look around the most expensive cowboy boots in the world, you will see that many of them are made from caiman.

To care for caiman cowboy boots, the first thing to note is the space between the scales.

As you can see, the caiman scales are uneven. This is a unique feature that separates caiman cowboy boots from the rest. But it is difficult for you to clean, condition and polish.

A horsehair brush is recommended, its bristles can get into every nook and cranny of the caiman leather.

Besides, you should condition caiman cowboy boots quite often to retain their moisture and color.

Why? Because caiman leather is drier and gets cracking quicker than other leathers such as cowhide. 

Caiman cowboy boots with a rugged appearance will make you fall in love in no time. But they are not as flexible as cowhide, ostrich, or lizard.

So, if you wear them regularly, you should condition them every 1 to 2 months. If you seldom wear them, you still need to condition them every 3 to 4 months.

The Cole grain caiman boots from Tecovas

The Cole from Tecovas | Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned

In addition to making them more supple, conditioning caiman cowboy boots constantly will help the leather retain the color, making your boots always new without polishing them.

Polishing caiman cowboy boots will be more difficult than cowhide or ostrich. But you should use cream or wax – it is much easier to spread and penetrate every nook and cranny of cowboy boots.

For me, I like using a conditioner that can darken caiman leather a bit, which makes it always have a fantastic look without the need for polishing.

And just like snakeskin, you should choose specific products for reptile leathers!

4. Stingray cowboy boots

Stingray cowboy boots are very very durable and water-resistant. Along with their unique texture, they are the best choice for every cowboy boot collector.

If you see stingrays with shiny leather and you think they are very soft, you are wrong!

In fact, when brought ashore and dried, the stingray leather is rough and very supple. The bootmaker must spend a lot of effort processing this type of exotic leather.

With millions of tiny pearls creating unique stingray leather, it takes you a considerable amount of time to care for this leather.

Try not to rub too hard when you are cleaning stingray cowboy boots. Millions of tiny pearls contain different colors, and they are easier to lose their color than cowhide grain leather boots.

In fact, stingray cowboy boots can withstand flame and water very well, so you don’t have to care for them too much.

I often condition my stingray cowboy boots every 3 to 6 months of frequent use. But if you don’t use them too much, just condition them every 6 to 12 months.

It takes you less time to condition stingray cowboy boots than caiman or snakeskin. It’s somehow the same with cowhide.

I’m really not sure whether you should polish stingray cowboy boots or not! But I like the unique texture of stingray cowboy boots, so I will not polish them!

Anyways, cowboy boots with an old appearance always look interesting and attractive, right?

5. Goat cowboy boots

When you are on a budget but still want to own luxury cowboy boots, goat leather cowboy boots are definitely the right option to go for!

The special characteristic of this leather is its porous structure! Therefore, they are very very breathable and ventilated.

Well, it’s not exaggerated to say that goat cowboy boots are the perfect choice for summer or hot weather.

Another feature of goat leather is that this material easily absorbs everything around it including… dirt, debris, stains, etc.

Don’t give dirt, debris or stains a chance to leave on goat leather for too long, the goat leather will absorb them all! Over time, this will affect the quality and appearance of goat cowboy boots.

The Earl goat leather boots of Tecovas

The Earl Goat Boots | Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned

You should clean goat cowboy boots more often than other types of leather. Clean them right away whenever you carry them home!

Using a leather cleaner and horsehair brush to clean goat leather is the basic method.

But many goat cowboy boots are suede cowboy boots. If so, you should use a suede brush and suede cleaner to clean suede goat cowboy boots.

I don’t condition goat leather cowboy boots too many times, it’s usually about 2 or 3 times a year, just like treating cowhide leather.

But, one thing you should note about how to care for goat leather is to store it in a cool and well-ventilated place.

Yes, with porous and easy-to-absorb-anything construction, goat leather needs to breathe. Don’t store goat cowboy boots in plastic boxes.

6. Lizard cowboy boots

Why are lizard cowboy boots my first choice to wear with a suit? Because they have such a perfect luxurious and elegant appearance.

Besides, I really love the rich and deep color of lizards! You can’t claim yourself a true fan of cowboy boots without having a pair of lizard cowboy boots.

Here, we have a thorough guide on how to care for lizard cowboy boots for true fans!

The vital thing you should keep in mind when caring for lizard cowboy boots is that they need to be conditioned quite often.

Lizard leather is exceptionally durable and flexible. However, to keep the lizard cowboy boots always shiny and flexible, they need the right moisture. If not, lizard leather will get cracked and lose this flexibility soon.

You should condition them every 2 to 3 months (of regular use). Even when you do not wear them too much, you should still need to condition them at least 1 time a year.

This way, lizard cowboy boots will always retain their shiny look, durability, and flexibility.

A woman wears lizard cowboy boots with pleated dress

How about cleaning lizard cowboy boots? Hmmm, not much work, just a horsehair brush or soft cloth combined with a leather cleaner. That’s it!

But like snakeskin or caiman, you should choose a suitable product for reptile leather, which will bring a better result and eliminate some risks.

Besides, you don’t have to waste too much time polishing lizard boots, because they are already smooth.

Just apply polish on the soft cloth or horsehair brush, then evenly rub the surface of cowboy boots (circulation motion). Buff until they are shiny! That’s it!

7. Kangaroo cowboy boots

Kangaroo leather is very very tough! Trust me, if you need one type of cowboy boots that can follow your whole life, a pair of kangaroo cowboy boots is the best choice!

But, the biggest weakness of exotic leather is that it is very easy to get creases.

Therefore, it will get cracked if you don’t treat it properly.

What should you notice about this type of exotic leather? Don’t let them get creases and treat new wrinkles as soon as possible.

How to treat creases on the leather? You can use leather oil, alcohol, iron, clothes steamer, etc. to remove wrinkles on leather and make it stretched and straight!

And you know what? We have a detailed tutorial on how to make creases disappear here!

In fact, you don’t have to spend too much time caring for this type of leather. It is super durable and won’t lose its shape easily, even when getting wet.

For that reason, you just need to condition kangaroo cowboy boots about 1 to 2 times a year. But, keeping them clean is always necessary.

Besides, polish kangaroo cowboy boots to prevent creases are also essential. I like shoe polish because it can prevent the wrinkles of leather.

As for me, the most crucial technique when caring for kangaroo leather is storing them. Keep your kangaroo cowboy boots in shape (straight) and they will not get creases.

8. Elephant leather cowboy boots

Elephant cowboy boots will bring you an elegant look! That’s the point of this type of exotic cowboy boots.

Every time I mention elephant cowboy boots, I always recommend readers wear them with black jeans to complete their perfect look.

Notably, this exotic leather is really really tough. Its scuff-proof feature is what I like the most.

However, it is challenging to find elephant cowboy boots, as this animal is in need of conservation, and bootmakers can only use the skin of dead elephants. So, if you want this leather, please still obey the law and preserve nature.

This exotic leather doesn’t need to be polished! Its beauty comes from the natural finish, polishing elephant leather will make it lose this unique feature.

You should use elephant cowboy boots indoors rather than outdoors. These types of leather will degrade quite quickly if exposed to too much heat from the sunlight.

And, don’t let them get wet! If heat can cause loss of color for elephant cowboy boots, then wet will cause watermarks on their surface.

Besides, like other types of leather, water is still a big enemy for them.

How about cleaning them? You should clean them with a soft cloth or horsehair brush to prevent elephant leather from scratching or losing a natural finish.

In addition, conditioning them 3 to 4 times a year will be a good idea!

This type of leather is really sensitive, so using a conditioner and cleaner for reptile leather is a wise choice.

I prefer using this sensitive leather indoors rather than outdoors, as indoor places have low humidity. The office is the best choice for this type of elegant cowboy boots.

And like above, store them in a dry, cool and breathable place, not wet, low humidity, too hot, etc.

9. Shark leather cowboy boots

Shark leather has many similar features to stingray leather (it may be because both of them come from the sea).

Shark leather is also very tough and water-resistant. If you owned a pair of shark leather cowboy boots, you are such a lucky person! The chance to find this exotic leather is rare.

So, what do we need to pay attention to when caring for shark leather?

Shark leather is sensitive, that’s for sure! And somehow they are treated similarly to snakeskin. Wax polish seems not a good idea for them.

Usually, cowboy boots made from shark leather need to be conditioned about 2 times a year.

But if you wear them very often, you may need to give them more care.

You can use reptile leather conditioners to condition shark leather, and they are effective.

But, as I said above, they are sensitive. You should test before applying too much conditioner to this type of exotic leather.

A man wears The Quintin cowboy boots and is standing

Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | The Quintin Boots

Shark leather can be water-resistant very well, your feet will always dry and warm, but don’t let them get wet for too long.

Yes, it sounds weird! But, if shark leather gets wet for too long, it will be degraded very quickly.

I guess that after a long time of living in the sea, it has run out of love for the water. 😀

So, whenever you want to clean the shark leather, use a soft cloth with good absorption.

This cloth will absorb water and prevent the water from penetrating deep inside the shark leather.

The last thing is you should store them in a dry, ventilated, cool, and clean place!

Why a clean and cool place? Because shark leather can absorb dust, heat, or moisture very easily.

For that reason, many people prefer to use shark cowboy boots indoors rather than outdoors.

Before you leave

Did I miss any types of exotic leather? If so, let me know in the comment below.

Or if you don’t agree with me on anything, just tell me, I like who proves me wrong!

Exotic cowboy boots are one of the best types of footwear in the world, and maybe the most expensive ones.

Therefore, taking good care of them is necessary. Hope this information is helpful to you!

Good luck.


Friday 20th of August 2021

I was looking to darken my lucchese sharkskin boots a little bit from a lighter brown to a cognac. Can this be done with bickmore conditioner or colored boot cream? Thanks!


Friday 20th of August 2021

Hi Marc,

Yes, Bickmore can darken your cowboy boots but not much, and I'm pretty sure of that since Bickmore's strong point is not darkening leather. However, it can improve the look of cowboy boots, giving them a newer look.

Colored boot cream is also not a good choice for shark skin, because shark leather "doesn't like to be polished".

A friend of mine recommends using Lexol conditioner, it can darken your cowboy boots.

However, I would recommend applying only a little in advance, observe the results before actually applying a large (but enough) amount to darken your boots.

If you are not successful when using 2 methods, Bickmore and Lexol. Colored boot cream will be the last resort. On the market, there are many types of Boot cream with the right color for your need.