Bos taurus

Last updated: October 26, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© iStock.com/vbacarin

Ox Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Bos taurus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Ox Conservation Status

Ox Facts

They are hernivores
Name Of Young
Group Behavior
  • Herd
Biggest Threat
Wolves and bears
Most Distinctive Feature
Large horns
Other Name(s)
Human sheltering
Bears and wolves
Common Name
Number Of Species
North America, India, Asia, Australia, Africa

Ox Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Black
  • White
Skin Type
Top Speed
16 mph
18–22 years
Between 1,500 and 3,000 pounds

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View all of the Ox images!

“The ox is the heavy-duty machinery of the animal world.”

This ox animal, for the most part, is a domesticated animal. As huge mammals, these creatures once moved in herds. Considered cattle, they transverses North America, India, Asia, Australia, and Africa. While there is the rare wild bull animal, in most of their habitats, oxen are purely bred for work.

Also called bullock, the ox is a male bovine trained to be a draft animal. That’s an animal that’s also a worker. The bullock is in the same category as service animals, transporters, and even animals that provide companionship and entertainment.

Wherever you find them, oxen plow, transport, thresh, and power operations that grind grain or produce irrigation. They are usually put to work in pairs. Pairs are added as needed based on the job. Teams of oxen might go over ten pairs.

Lastly, the term “ox” also refers to a variety of bovids of a large size, including bison and buffalo. Also considered cattle, these are all domesticated creatures, usually horned, and used for heavy labor. The work teams comprise mostly of males because of their larger size compared to females.

5 Incredible Ox Facts!

Here are five great things you should know about these industrious ox animals.

  • They have an intimidating look but they are not predators. They’re bred to be around humans. The bull animals are herbivores that only diet on plants, grains, and grass found around the farm.
  • Like horses, oxen wear shoes. The bullock footwear’s smaller than the equine shoe because the ox has two hooves. So, it requires two shoes on each foot.
  • The musk ox is only a cousin of the domestic ox. The musk ox is a wild bull animal found only in the Arctic. The bullock identification includes hefty fur that lets them cope with freezing temps.
  • In many Asian communities, this animal is historically revered as a loyal, honorable creature that’s served its human masters for over 6,000 centuries.
  • Each pair gets fitted with a yoke to pull cargo. The yoke gets fastened over the animal’s neck. Certain older civilizations used the yoke to punish and ridicule town residents.

Scientific Name

The Bos taurus, B. taurus, or B. taurus primigenius is a domesticated horned mammal of large size. They fall under the category of cattle with a higher classification of Bovini.

The ox animal are hoofed ungulates and have two horns. There are four subgenera in this family. They are Bos, Bibos, Poephagus, and Novibos.

What is an Ox? Appearance and Behavior

What is an ox and how does it behave? Bullocks are draft animals and have a history as laborers dating back to 4000 B.C. They are powerful creatures of great size, making them perfect for pulling carts and wagons, plowing, and powering millstones for grinding grain.

The bull animal is a quiet, peaceful bull animal. Unlike their cousin the bull, they are rarely aggressive. That has more to do with their castration than anything, which greatly impacts impulse and temperament. They pose no threat to humans in any way.

The term “dumb as an ox” is a misnomer, likely attributed to the ox’s quiet, slow nature. Some say the bull animals may be as smart as dogs. Oxen show signs of remembering places and people. They are adaptable and easily trained. They also perform chores without much supervision.

In many eastern communities, the ox is a comforting creature, a source of reliability, strength, conscientiousness, and loyalty, inspiring confidence. Other attributes include a sense of peace with oneself, trust, and patience. It’s believed they’re bull-headed (pun intended!) and opinionated.

These animals are methodical and don’t lose their temper but can become explosive. The facts are they appear dull due to their seriousness and their hate to fail.

In that world, these identifications are attributed to anyone born in the Year of the Ox animal, a celebration in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Oxen, with their massive horns, are quiet and slow-moving.

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What is the Difference Between an Ox and a Buffalo?

The most obvious difference between the buffalo and ox is easily spotted. When it comes to size, the buffalo is noticeably larger. It also has a thicker coat than the ox. And while you can find the ox in different regions of the world, over 95 percent of the buffalo populace resides in Asia.

The two animals are both laborers. Buffalos are dairy animals and are used as pack animals, carrying heavy loads. Oxen, of course, use their strength for threshing and powering machines. The male bovines are also deployed for irrigation tasks. The ox animal also skid logs in dense forests.

Buffalos work in teams, while oxen work in pairs. Of the two mammals, oxen do lighter work compared to buffalo.

Oxen are the more social of the two animals. Not so friendly, buffalos are livestock and a portion of the population is wild.

The average weight of the ox is a mighty 1,500 to 3,000 pounds! On the other side of the table, we have the buffalo. While larger compared to the ox, the buffalo taps out at around a ton or 2,000 pounds.

The buffalo’s hair is grey, but the colors of their skin give them anywhere from greyish- to bluish-black. There’s also a band of light hair colors below the neck. They come in colors of black, grey, brown, or white.


While there are wild oxen, the majority of the populace live in human-built habitats. The structures are usually sheds, stables, and open fields where they graze and walk freely. Here, the animals get fed, cleaned, rest, and congregate in small groups and herds.

Predators & Threats

To demonstrate their smarts, threatened oxen will form a circle, especially around the young. They then use their horns to defend the herd.

What Eats Oxen?

Bears and wolves are the bull animal’s only predators.

What Does the Ox Animal Eat?

The species consists of herbivores and only graze on a diet of grass, grain, and other vegetation.

Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Oxen do not reproduce as the male bovines are castrated early. For reproduction, a lot of female cattle are artificially inseminated. Newborn calves repeat the lifecycle of human-bred cattle.

The lifespan of this animal is a little over 20 years. At the end of that time, the animal may be used for food.

Population and Conservation Status

The bull animals are considered healthy species and are not endangered. While it is adaptable, that probably has less to do with survival and more to do with man’s need for the ox and a massive portion of the bull animals maintaining close and protected proximity to humankind.

Organizations that monitor the risk of species endangerment haven’t seen much reason to keep an eye on oxen. The IUCN categorizes the species as of “Least Concern.” A clear indicator the ox is plentiful and going nowhere any time soon.

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Ox FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are the differences between an ox and a bison?

The primary difference between an ox and bison is that the term “ox” generally refers to castrated male cattle while bison are distinct species that live in North America and Europe.

What Is an Ox?

For the American farmer, these bull animals are members of its domestic cattle family. Like draft horses, they’re trained to work and used as meat at the end of its life. In many parts of the world, people call the ox “bullock.”

How is Any Animal Categorized as Cattle?

To start, members of the cattle grouping usually have horns and cloven hoofs. They are usually farm or work animals, drafted for unique purposes.

Is an Ox a Cow?

There is the belief the iconic highland cattle of Scotland. The species is a descendant of wild oxen going back thousands of years. But the ox is not a cow. They are both categorized as cattle though.

Are Oxen and Bulls the Same?

Both are livestock and are scientifically seen as a sub-genus of cattle. They share bovine genes but have a genetic code that separates the two animals. Oxen are typically larger than bulls.

Is Beef Cow or Ox?

While considered a tasty treat in some societies, the ox is primarily a work animal. They are bred and trained to plow, pull and drag. As everyone knows, cows are not laborers and are bred by a man specifically for dairy and their flesh. Cows are a main source of food all over the world.

What is a Female Ox Called?

Females do not appear to have a definitive name that separates the sexes.

What is the difference between an ox and a bull?

A difference between these two lies in their respective sizes and strengths. For example, oxen are usually both larger and stronger than bulls are, given that they have been bred for work and transportation purposes. Bulls, while still large, have only been bred for further breeding.

Ox Vs Cow: What are the differences?

The greatest differences between an ox and a cow lie in their sex, purpose, and age. Oxen are males in the vast majority of cases, but female oxen can exist if the owner needs a work animal but does not have a male available. Cows are female by definition, and there is no wiggle room on that terminology. Oxen are trained from a very young age to be draft animals, and they are solely raised to do work. Cows are raised to birth calves, produce milk, and be slaughtered for meat.

What is the difference between a yak and an ox?

The main difference between a yak and an ox is that the yak is a domesticated bovine from the Himilayas, while the ox is a castrated male cattle bred for use as a draft animal. Additionally, yaks are covered in dense, thick fur and are cold-adapted, while most oxen have short fur. Yaks are used for milk, fiber, meat, and as beasts of burden, while oxen are generally used exclusively for draft work.

Check the other differences here!

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  12. DifferenceBetween.net, Available here: http://www.differencebetween.net/science/nature/difference-between-ox-and-buffalo/
  13. wmuk, Available here: https://www.wmuk.org/arts-more/2015-06-23/dumb-as-an-ox-think-again
  14. Beef2Live, Available here: https://beef2live.com/story-artificial-insemination-beef-cattle-85-105585
  15. petsonmom.com, Available here: https://animals.mom.com/size-oxen-3433.html

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