15 Most Common Cattle Breeds in the US (Pictures Included)

Published: December 12, 2022

Three cows that are white, black, and brown grazing in a green pasture
Credit: Daniel Quiceno M

With around 80 cattle breeds in the United States, it can be challenging to decide which is the best cattle to raise for your ranch.

This article will list the most common cattle breeds in America. We will also provide pictures of each breed so you can quickly identify them.

If you want to add the best breed of cattle to your farm, look no further!

What is the Most Common Type of Cattle in the US?

Black Angus is the most common type of cattle in the United States. Black Angus cattle are known for their superior marbling, tenderness, and flavor due to their high levels of intramuscular fat.

Additionally, Black Angus has evolved to withstand harsh weather conditions, making them a preferred choice for ranchers and farmers. Black Angus is polled, meaning they do not grow horns and require less maintenance than breeds with horns, increasing their appeal among cattle owners.

Black Angus cattle have strong genetics, which ensures hardy and healthy offspring that display consistent growth across generations which adds further to their popularity among those in the cattle industry.

What are the Most Common Cattle Breeds in the United States?

Here are the most common cattle breeds in the United States, what makes them popular, and how you can differentiate between them:

  1. Black Angus - Highest Grade Beef

  2. Holstein - Most Milk Production

  3. Red Angus - Best Maternal Instinct

  4. Hereford - Most Adaptive

  5. Jersey - Highest Quality Milk

  6. Charolais - Best for Crossbreeding

  7. Limousin - Highest Yield of Meat

  8. Shorthorn - Most Fertile

  9. Simmental - Most Versatile

  10. Texas Longhorn - Most Intelligent

  11. Gelbvieh - High Weight Gain

  12. Salers - Best for Calving

  13. Highland - Best Quality Meat

  14. Belted Galloway - Most Resilient

  15. Dexter - Best for Smaller Ranches

1) Black Angus - Highest Grade Beef

Two black Angus cows next to a wire fence in a foggy green pasture
Credit: Kelly Sikkema

Originating from Scotland, Black Angus Cattle are the most common cattle breed in the United States because of the high quality of beef they produce. These beef cattle have great fat marbling qualities resulting in very flavorful primer cuts of meat.

This breed is a common choice for large and small ranchers who want reliable production and high-grade beef. These cattle can be identified by their solid black color and are known for their mild temperament.

2) Holstein - High Milk Production

A Holstein cow next to a metal fence in a green pasture
Credit: Sunnie-Lee Davison

Hailing from the Netherlands, the Holstein breed are dairy cows, making them an excellent choice for dairy farmers since they produce the most milk compared to other common breeds. These black and white cattle are known for their good nature.

3) Red Angus - Best Maternal Instinct

The side profile of a Red Angus cow standing in the middle of a field
Credit: Schuler Red Angus

Along with Black Angus Cattle, Red Angus Cattle are among the most common breeds in the United States. This breed is a popular choice for beef producers since they are known to produce high-grade meat.

Female Red Angus Cattle are known to have a strong maternal instinct and excellent milk production. Red Angus cows are gentle and easygoing and can be identified by their solid red color.

4) Hereford - Most Adaptive

A brown and white Hereford cow standing in a field surrounded by other cattle
Credit: James Coleman

Originating from England, the Hereford breed is known for their robust characteristics withstanding both cold climates and dry heat. This breed is popular for beef production and tends to have high libidos with extraordinary mothering abilities.

You can tell them apart from other cattle breeds by their white faces and bellies, and brown backs.

5) Jersey - Highest Quality Milk

The side of a light brown Jersey cow standing on the grass next to a bush
Credit: Britannica

The Jersey cattle originate from Jersey in the British Channel Islands. This breed is popular in the US because of its ability to produce high-quality milk and beef. They have a unique ability to eat less food to produce the same amount of milk as other breeds of cattle.

Jersey Cattle are known for their curiosity and friendliness and can be easily identified by their golden brown coat with white markings.

6) Charolais - Best for Crossbreeding

Two white Charolais cattle standing on a field as the sun sets
Credit: unsplash.com / Peo Hedin

The Charolais Breed originated from France and is a common choice among American ranchers due to its high-grade beef production. The unique thing about these white cattle is that they are great cross-breeders. Crossbred calves with Charolais cattle are known for being strong and healthy.

This calm breed is easily identified by its solid white coat.

7) Limousin - Highest Yield of Meat

Two Limousin cattle grazing grass with trees in the background
Credit: Wikipedia

The Limousin Breed originated from France and is another common cattle breed in the United States. They are known for their high production of lean meat with a low proportion of bone and fat.

Limousin cattle are very obedient to their owners. They produce high-grade meat and are easily identified by their broad stature and red-tinted coat.

8) Shorthorn - Most Fertile

The side of a Shorthorn cow standing in a field outside
Credit: Wikipedia

The Shorthorn Breed is a typical cattle breed in the U.S. and is mostly known for its high fertility and extraordinary mothering abilities. They are also very easygoing and obedient and are dual-purpose, meaning they can be used for producing both milk and quality meat.

This breed is easily identified by its reddish-brown coat with white patches.

9) Simmental - Most Versatile

Three Simmental cattle standing in a row on a field outside
Credit: agriland.ie

The Simmental Breed originates from Switzerland and is common in the US for its dual-purpose nature. This breed produces high-quality beef, making it an excellent choice for ranchers. They are adaptable, have extraordinary weight-gaining abilities, and can produce outstanding milk, butter, and cheese.

Simmental cattle are very calm and relaxed and can be identified by their brown coat and white patches.

10) Texas Longhorn - Most Intelligent

The side of a Texas Longhorn cattle standing outside on a field with a fence in the background
Credit: howstuffworks.com

The Texas Longhorn Breed is a common beef cattle in the US because of their beef-producing abilities. Texas Longhorn cattle have an interesting past being introduced by the Spanish who arrived in America in the 1400s.

This intelligent beef breed is easily identified by its distinctive long horns and red or black coats.

11) Gelbvieh - High Weight Gain

The side of a Gelbvieh cow standing on some green grass outside
Credit: Wikipedia

The Gelbvieh Breed comes from Bavaria in Germany and is common in the US because it is dual-purpose production of both high-grade beef and milk.

They are muscular but quiet and are easily identified by their golden brown coat with white markings.

12) Salers - Best for Calving

The side of a Salers cow in a field next to other Saler cattle
Credit: Wikipedia

The Salers Breed originates from France and is most known for producing high-quality lean beef. They have a sizable pelvic area, making them exceptional for breeding and calving.

Salers are typically horned animals and can be identified by their dark red color.

13) Highland - Best Quality Meat

A Highland cattle standing on a hill with a body of water in the background
Credit: unsplash.com / George Hiles

The Highland Breed originates from the Scottish Highlands, and they are most known for the high-quality meat they produce without the need for expensive high-quality feeds. This is great for ranchers who want to produce great meat but don't have as much disposable income.

Scottish Highland cattle are known to be very friendly and can be easily identified by their long rust-colored coat and horns.

14) Belted Galloway - Most Resilient

The side of a Belted Galloway cow standing in a field 
Credit: Wikipedia

The Belted Galloway Breed originates from the Galloway region in Scotland. This breed of cattle is known for its ease of calving and ability to adapt to a variety of climates. They also have impressive foraging abilities making them resilient.

This quiet and calm breed is easily identified by its distinctive black and white "belted" pattern.

15) Dexter - Best for Smaller Ranches

The side of a black Dexter cow on a field among other Dexter cattle grazing
Credit: Wikipedia

Hailing from Ireland, Dexter cattle are a popular breed for ranchers who have smaller size ranches. This is because Dexters are small themselves (although not as small as mini cows), meaning they need less pasture. They are used for milk production and for beef, and they can withstand challenging conditions.

Dexter cattle are calm and gentle and can have black, red, or brown coats.


There are many options when selecting the best cattle breed for your ranch. Hopefully, this list of the most common cattle breeds in the US helped you decide which is best for you!

Now that you know the difference between the most popular cattle breeds in America, which one will you choose?