You can classify the differences between cowhide and deerskin into three categories: comfort, durability and maintenance. Deerskin is softer and more comfortable than cowhide, but cleaning and maintenance are more complicated. Cowhide is durable and economical, but not as soft or long-lasting as deerskin.
Deerskin is more comfortable than cowhide because its natural fibers trap air inside, making the leather feel lighter and softer. In addition, deerskin gets softer as it ages. Cowhide can be tough and stiff, and although its texture improves over time with more wear, its comfort level is never comparable to deerskin.
Cowhide is by far the tougher of the two leathers, and it's the preferred leather by the military, law enforcement and motorcyclists. Deerskin, although surprisingly durable considering its softness, is not as resistant to wear and tear. For example, cowhide is often used to make jackets and chaps, while deerskin is ideal for indoor footwear.
Although you must take any leather item to your dry cleaners to ensure proper laundering, deerskin is the more delicate of the two and needs to be cleaned using a special process to prevent shrinkage. Cowhide is more resistant to dirt and moisture than deerhide. With both leathers, practice preventative care to ensure longevity and beauty; for example, do not keep them in plastic bags and avoid extreme temperatures.