What Is The Difference Between An Ox And A Cow

When it comes to domesticated animals, ox and cow are two common terms that often get confused. While the two animals share many similarities, they differ in some significant ways. In this article, we will define an ox and a cow, explain their differences, and highlight some essential points to help you understand these animals better.

What is an Ox?
An ox is a domesticated bovine animal that is commonly used for agricultural purposes. Oxen are typically male, and they are commonly castrated to make them more docile and easier to control. They are often bigger and stronger than cows, with a height ranging from 4.5 to 6 feet and can weigh between 1,000 to 1,800 pounds. Oxen are trained to pull heavy loads, such as plows or wagons, and can endure long hours of hard work.

Oxen have a docile temperament and can develop close relationships with their handlers. They are trained by patient and skilled teamsters, who guide them in a specific direction or teach them to accept new tasks. Oxen can live for many years, and they are low maintenance animals as long as they are well-fed and the yoke fits properly.

What is a Cow?
A cow is a domesticated female bovine animal that is wider and more robust in build than the male. They range in size and weight depending on their breeds, with the average height being between 4.5 to 5 feet and a weight of 1,100 to 1,200 pounds. Cows are kept mainly for their milk, meat, leather, and their ability as pack-animals in some cultures.

Cows have a gestation period of about nine months and give birth to a calf. They can be milked two to three times a day, producing an average of 6-7 gallons of milk per day. Cows are generally less aggressive than other domesticated animals, but they can become defensive if they feel threatened or encounter a dangerous situation. They are social animals and form strong bonds with other cows and their calves.

The Differences Between Ox and Cow

1. Gender
The most significant difference between an ox and a cow is their gender. Cows are female cattle, while oxen are usually castrated male cattle. Bulls are male cattle that have not been castrated (it is worth mentioning this here to understand the life cycle of cow).

2. Size and Weight
Oxen are generally bigger and weigh more than cows, with a weight range of 1,000 to 1,800 pounds. Female cows typically weigh between 1,100 to 1,200 pounds, and their height ranges from 4.5 to 5 feet.

3. Work
Oxen are trained to pull heavy loads, such as plows or wagons, while cows are primarily used for milk, meat, or to carry pack in some cultures.

4. Temperament
Oxen tend to be more docile than cows, and they form close relationships with their handlers. In contrast, cows can become defensive when they feel threatened or encounter dangerous situations.

5. Horns
Oxen are usually dehorned for safety reasons, while cows typically have horns that are used for self-defense and communicating with other cows.


In summary, while cows and oxen might look similar, they differ significantly in terms of gender, size, work, temperament, and horns. Oxen are mostly used for agricultural purposes, while cows are often kept for their milk, meat, and leather. Understanding the differences between these animals is essential, especially if you plan to work with them. Always ensure to seek advice from specialists in the field before engaging in any handling or training.