Difference Between American Bison and Buffalo

American Bison vs Buffalo

American bison and buffalo are two different animals of the Bovid family members. As it is always beneficial to be aware of the facts around our world, a comparison between these two animals would only benefit. American bison has a characteristic appearance and the buffalos are unique among others, as well. This article discusses the main differences between them. Although these two animals sound obvious, this article would provide some more unheard information; therefore, following the presented facts would be interesting.

American Bison

American bison is commonly referred as American buffalo, and it is a special type of cattle commonly found in the grasslands of North America. There are two distinct subspecies of them known as the plains bison and the wood bison. The scientific description of the American bison has been based on the plains bison. Moreover, the plains bison is smaller than the wood bison. They have a varying coat according to the climatic seasons. It is a long and shaggy dark brown winter coat, and it becomes a light brown and lightweight coat in the summer. Usually, their males are slightly larger than females in body size. American bison has a prominent hump. Their most important and noticeable feature is the large and prominent forequarter with the massive head and neck. During the winter season when cold winds are blowing across their inhabited grasslands, they face the winds from the prominent forequarters equipped with their shaggy and dense coat. Therefore, the winds do not harm the hairless rest of the body. That is one of their unique features and behaviours. Both their males and females have small and curved horns. These herbivorous grazers can live up to 15 years in wild and 25 years, in captivity. American bison is hugely popular for their exceptional fighting ability, and they have been used in bullfights. In North America, it is illegal to kill bison for meat purpose.


Buffalo is an important member among the bovines with a black color cattle-like appearance. Usually, the term buffalo refers to the domestic buffalo or the water buffalo, despite there are few other referred species as well (e.g. Cape buffalo, Eurasian buffalo). However, there are different types of water buffalos raised for milk, meat, and work purposes. Usually, all types are black in colour and larger in physique compared to other cattle species. There are distinct types of coats according to the climatic conditions that they live; a long coat in temperate climates and thick-skinny buffalos in tropical climates. Usually, most of the buffalos have horns, but shapes and sizes vary according to the species. One noteworthy observation about them is the absence of the sweat glands in their skin, which makes them have more heat inside their bodies. Therefore, they prefer water during the daytime. Usually, the swamp buffalos are raised for both meat and work purposes, as they are very strong, whereas the river buffalos are raised for milk purposes. Their dung has a tremendous value as an organic fertilizer.

What is the difference between American Bison and Buffalo?

• Bison is mainly of two types or subspecies, whereas there are many or species of buffalos.

• American bison is native to North America only but not the buffalos.

• Bison has a very prominent hump with a wide and short neck. However, the typical buffalo does not have such prominent hump as in bison.

• Bison grows different types of coats according to the climatic season, but it is not common among buffalos.

• Thick hairs (coat of fur) in bison cover the head, neck, and the forelimbs but no such covering is present in buffalos.

• Buffalos are often raised for meat, dairy, and other working purposes, whereas bison is never used as meat but much used in bullfights.