The Way A Brahman Should Look

August 11, 2022

By Keaton Dodd

Seasoned Brahman breeders talk a lot about breed character. But, if you’re new in the breed, you probably have no idea what this means. What should a Brahman look like? Should the hump be big or small? What’s the best color for a Brahman? Does the heat shape matter? Ear shape matter? These are all common questions.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the traits that are important in determining what a Brahman should look like.

It Starts With the Standard Of Excellence

When discussing what makes a Brahman special and the features that set them apart, a good place to start is the American Brahman Breeders Association Standard of Excellence. This is a scoresheet / checklist that the founding fathers’ of the breed deemed as important traits for evaluating for exceptional breed character. Listed below is the Brahman Standard of Excellence as noted by the American Brahman Breeders Association.

  1. General Appearance
  • Size and Weight (10 Points) – Well-developed according to age. Bulls 1,600 to 2,200 lb. at maturity in good flesh. Cows 1,000 to 1,400 lb. Body frame should have ample depth, width and length regardless of condition. Here is a photo of a Brahman cow that fits that criteria. Here is a bull that fits that weight and size requirement.
  • Form (8 Points) – Massive, long, broad, moderate depth, balanced, straight back with a slightly rounding rump. Any appreciable dropping off from hips to region of crops or hump is undesirable. Bottom line straight except for sheath in bull and navel in cow.
  • Quality (4 Points) – Hide soft and pliable, of medium thickness, hair of medium texture and soft. Bone ample in substance, clean cut and strong. Muscling long, well defined.
  1. Body Confirmation
  • Shoulders and Chest (8 points) – Moderately oblique, smooth, broad on top and covered by hump. Brisket not prominent. Chest wide and deep, good width on floor.
  • Body (17 points) – Ribs well sprung from backbone, arched, with ample length to give moderate depth to body. Symmetrically joined to loin and crops. Excessive depression behind shoulders objectionable. Short middle and excessive depth of rib not desirable. Back and loin uniformly wide and gently sloping to the sides when viewed from rear. Well covered with thick natural muscling. A sharp angle of back between and extending above hooks objectionable.
  • Rump (8 points) – Long, wide at pins and slightly rounding toward tail head. Smoothly joined to loin (steep slope serious discrimination). Tailhead smooth.
  • Hooks (1 point for females only) – Slightly below level of back, medium in width, well laid in.
  • Round (8 points) – Broad, thick, full, and deep, extending well down to hock.
  • Feet and Legs (7 points) – Moderate length, straight and squarely placed. Bone with ample substance, strong and clean, tapering into well-formed, dense joints. Hind legs perpendicular when viewed from rear but slightly inclined forward below hocks; muscular above hocks. Strong moderately sloping pasterns. Toes uniform, ample in size and straight heel deep. Walk straight, strong and active.
  • Muscling (7 points) – Animal should show indications of superior muscling: front legs set wide, shoulder thick, forearm and stifle well-muscled. Rounding over top. Rounds thick and full with widest point halfway between rump and hock when viewed from rear. Animal should stand square, walk with hind legs set well apart while traveling true. Good length from hook to hock and from pin to stifle. Bone relatively heavy.

Here are some animals that fit those descriptions very well:

Brahman Bull with excellent body conformation
Brahman Female with excellent body conformation

  1. Breed and Sex Characteristics
  • Head (4 Points) – Sex should be expressed by the head. Bulls masculine and females feminine. Face moderate in length, muzzle full, nostrils wide and open, lips dark. Eyes mild and full with good width between them. Horns set wide at base, thick and medium in length. Horns of cows should be thinner than those of bulls. Example of an excellent head: Boombox and Boom Shaka Laka
  • Neck and Throat (2 Points) – Neck moderately short, muscular in bull; neat in cow, blending smoothly into shoulders. Throat clean on sides, but with moderate development of dewlap.
  • Hump (2 points) – Bulls should possess hump of ample size, located directly on top of shoulders, moderate in thickness, somewhat resembling a bean in shape and extending backwards. Females should show hump of moderate development, more oval in shape and located on top of shoulders. Example of an excellent hump in a bull: Dutton and a female: 100/7
  • Sheath and Navel (3 points for male, 2 points for female) – Sheath should be a medium size and closely attached, not pendulous. Excessive development of sheath or navel objectionable. Example of a bull with a great sheath: 259 and Dutton
  • Tail (3 points) – Set above pins and neatly attached to body on a level with top line or slightly below. Moderately long. Example of a great tail: Sweetie
  • Sex Character (4 points) – Bulls should possess pronounced masculinity. The scrotum should contain two testicles, well developed, of equal size. Abnormal testicles serious discrimination. Females should show characteristics of refinement and femininity. Udder should be ample in capacity, extending well forward in line with belly and well up behind; not fleshly. Teats moderate in size and squarely placed under each quarter. Example of a bull with great masculinity: Boombox and Dutton
  • Environment Adaption Traits (2 points) – Hide densely covered with hair of medium texture, oily to the touch and capable of movement along sides. Well-developed dewlap with soft, pliable skin arranged in folds extending from lower jaw to chest floor. Moderate development of loose skin under belly. Example of a loose hided animal: Captain
  • Color – Grey or red of varying shades predominate. Brindle, gruella and true white (albino) are disqualifications. Muzzle, hoofs and switch black. Horns dark. Example of a grey Brahman Example of a Red Brahman
  1. Temperament (6 points) – Alert but docile.

All together, this adds up to a perfect animal receiving a full 100 points.

Now we have all heard the old saying, there has never been a perfect one, which is most likely true. Do judges print this and have a clipboard to check off while they’re judging shows? No.

But, this Standard of Excellence has been around for nearly 100 years, and though trends and fads come and go, this document is a good starting point for what makes a great Brahman.

And, even though people say “there’s never been a perfect one,” we’ve bred a few that come really close in our opinion. And, we should always strive for perfection.

Here at BRC we are constantly trying to make the next generation better than the one before and hope to one day make an animal that scores 100 on the standard of excellence and backs that with true performance, and genetic strength. 

To see modern cattle bred with a purpose, who have real performance measures, genomic enhanced data, and industry leading breed characteristics all while maintaining longevity and functionality, visit or call 979-532-9141 to set up a ranch tour or learn more about our program. 

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