Cow Skull Tattoo Designs

Updated on March 14, 2020
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Tom has been an online writer for over seven years. He is enamored with everything related to cowboys, rodeos, and Western history.

One of the more memorial objects in the minds of people envisioning the old west is that of cow skulls scattered among the plains or deserts. Many of these were the result of droughts where cattle had trouble finding water, or of tough cattle drives over hundreds of miles.

During those times there were no fenced-in areas to manage the water issue, so many cattle didn't survive the search for water. Whatever the reason, the image of cattle skulls dotting the landscape has left an indelible picture in our minds, making for the backdrop for great stories and art. That has resulted in cattle or cow skulls being used as a design for tattoos for those who like the theme.

And for those that know the difference, I understand that most of the skulls we envision aren't those of cows but bulls, as technically, cows are those that have had two or more calves. But, because most people don't know the difference, I just called them cow skulls for identification purposes.

Cow Skull Tattoo Designs

Like all tattoo themes, cattle or cow skull tattoos incorporate a variety of designs, expanding beyond the image of a skull laying on the desert sand.

Some people choose to have a Native American theme, while others choose to include a tribal art design with it. And of course, there are those who decide to go with the realistic look, believing that's compelling in and of itself.

Traditional Cow Skull

We'll start off this look at cow or bull skull tattoo designs with the quintessential idea that usually inhabits our minds when thinking of a skull of a cow lying in the desert or on the plains.

For those wanting a traditional idea of a cow skull lying on the ground, this one has just about everything you would want.

  • You have a nice backdrop with the hard ground, with the skull lying upright for all to see, reminding them of the challenges and dangers of the land they are traveling on.
  • The skull is done nicely, with the shadow and light complementing one another well to give the sunken eye look, which is usually the centerpiece of a tattoo design like this.

traditional cow skull tattoo
traditional cow skull tattoo | Source

Cow Skull Tattoo on Back

Below we have another realistic cow skull tattoo design, this time displayed on the top of the back. It appears to have just been completed, as evidenced by the red color of the skin and the dark residue on the back surrounding the tattoo. (I say that in case you were wondering what that was about).

This is a very good looking skull, with those eye sockets almost looking like they're staring right at you. The horns and forehead are also nicely done to create a good design.

traditional cow skull tattoo design
traditional cow skull tattoo design | Source

Cow Skull Tattoo With Indian Feathers and Confederate Flag

Below is a pretty awesome cow skull tattoo design, with a lot of elements included in the finished work.

The most obvious is the skull itself and the hanging Indian feathers on the bottom of what appears to be a dream catcher. Then you have the confederate flag wrapped around the top of the horns of the skull and seemingly stretched across the dream catcher. More subtle and harder to see is the barbed wire stretching from the cheekbone of the skull up to wrap around the horn on the right side. Pretty cool looking.

Whoever designed this evidently had a lot on his mind which he wanted to express in the tattoo. It does provide some interesting ideas on various elements that could be included in a cow skull tattoo.

cow skull tattoo with Indian feathers and confederate flag
cow skull tattoo with Indian feathers and confederate flag | Source

Cow Skull Tattoo With Wings and Feathers

With this cow skull tattoo design it goes a little beyond my understanding as to what the wings represent. It could be a personal thing to the individual who had the tattoo inked on them, or it could be representative of the spirit of the animal flying off.

Whatever it represents, it's a very cool wing design, with the feathers on the wings looking fantastic. I also like that touch of red on the feathers to add a little color to the darker ink of the cow skull and the rest of the design.

cow skull tattoo with wings and feathers
cow skull tattoo with wings and feathers

Cow Skull Tribal Tattoo Design

The tribal design theme goes with almost anything, and in the case of this cow skull tattoo design, works very well with it. It looks good how the tattoo artist put some of the tribal elements in front of the cow skull, as well as in the back. That's something I haven't seen too much of.

There's also a hint of evil with this cow skull, as seen by the subtle light emitting from the eye sockets and mouth area of the skull. The base of the horns was also done very well, with a pretty realistic look of what horns actually look like.

cow skull tribal tattoo design
cow skull tribal tattoo design | Source

Cow skulls offer a reminder of a historical time where cattle roamed around the country, without restraints or barriers to managing them. These cattle skull tattoos remind us of that era and the danger associated with the hard life that existed at that time.

There is also the Native American influence here, where the spirit of the dead cattle appears to be flying off. Whatever the beliefs and reasons behind choosing a cow skull as the tattoo design of choice, they do present a great image and have a variety of ways they can be designed to give you the types of options that result in the great cow skull tattoo you want.


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