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Takin (Budorcas spp.) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Physical Characteristics

Body measurements — species combined

Attribute Males Females
Body Weight 300-350 kg (600-770 lb) 240-280 kg (530-620 lb)
Body Length 210-220 cm (6.0-7.2 ft) 170 cm (5.6 ft)
Tail Length 15-20 cm (5.9-8 in)

General Appearance


  •  A stocky, large-bodied, cow-like ungulate with eyes high on the large head near crescent-shaped horns; nasal area is broad and naked, shoulders higher than hips, limbs strong and stout. (Neas & Hoffmann 1987)


  • Long and shaggy
  • Color varies by species from whitish yellow to golden yellow to red-brown
    • Sichuan takin - straw-colored with gray patches on legs, back and rump
    • Golden takin - yellowish with black muzzle
  • Strong smelling oily substance over all hair smells like butyric acid or a goat. (Walther 1990)
  • Mane-like fringe on side of body (not along spine) and under throat
  • Juveniles (1-4.5 years for females, 1-5.5 years for males) have a dark dorsal stripe running down spine

Sexual Dimorphism

  • Males larger than females in most reports (Walther 1990)
  • Face dark in bulls; only nose dark in cows and calves
  • Females usually more darkly pigmented than males (Neas & Hoffmann 1987)
  • Female horns less massive (Zeng et al 2002)
  • Male golden takin (B. t. bedfordi) has golden neck and fore-chest hairs
    • Females body hairs are white or off-white

Other Physical and Physiological Characteristics

(Neas & Hoffmann 1987)

  • Four teats with two nipples
  • Vision better to the side than forward and binocular
  • Horns, hooves, naked areas of nostrils - shiny black
  • Ears short, narrow and pointed
  • Tail short, triangular, naked on underside
  • Dew claws strong (help negotiate rough terrain) (Walther 1990)
  • Both sexes have horns
    • A knob grows near the base, then curves "up, out, and finally back"(Schaller 1986)
    • Horns striated lengthwise with cross-cutting ridges.

No Small Step

Takin calf climbs rock

Native to the Sichuan Province in China, takins are excellent climbers due to their unique split hooves, an adaption that helps them move around easily in a rocky habitat.

Takin calf Linshuh practices his climbing skills at the San Diego Zoo.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Neas & Hoffmann (1987)
Walther (1990)

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