Do Female Reindeer Have Antlers?

Reindeer are the only species of deer in which both males and females have antlers. These animals are known to have the largest and heaviest antlers among the deer species. A male’s antlers can measure up to 51 inches, while a female’s antlers grow to 21 inches.

In the deer family, only males have antlers which they use to fight for females. But reindeer are an exception. This article investigates why females have antlers and more. So, let’s get started! 

What Gender Reindeer Has Horns?

Both male and female reindeer have horns, unlike the rest of the deer family. Male and female reindeer keep their antlers for varying lengths of time.

This is another biological characteristic unique to the reindeer family because of their close relationship with the bovids, which was explained later in this article.

Do Female Reindeer Have Antlers? Do They Have It In The Winter?

Also read: Do Reindeer Shed Their Antlers?

Yes. Female reindeer also have antlers. They are one of the exceptions of the deer family, in which both males and females possess antlers.

reindeer in north pole

Though both male and female Reindeer have antlers, female antlers are smaller than males. Generally, a male reindeer’s antler can be 51 inches in length. But, female’s antlers can only reach up to 21 inches.

Did you know? Reindeer antlers are the heaviest and the largest in size compared to all deer species. ~

Antler Cycle of Female Reindeer

Horns are permanent, but antlers fall off and regrow annually. Male and female reindeer shed their antlers at different times of the year.

See also  Are Reindeer Dangerous or Friendly?

Female reindeer don’t drop their antlers throughout the winter season until they give birth to calves in May. On the other hand, male reindeer shed their antlers in November and stay antler-less during winter.

Note: Although both genders shed their antlers at different times of the year, they finish growing their antlers at the same time.

Why Do Female Reindeer Have Antlers?

One possible explanation for female reindeer having antlers can be their close link with bovids. The family of bovids includes goats, sheep, and antelopes.

In the bovids family, females use horns to keep other females out of their territory and defend their food.

reindeer antlers

Like the bovids, female reindeer require antlers to defend food in empty patches of snow. Females with the largest antlers are socially dominating in the herd. They also have the best overall physical condition.

How Do Reindeer Use Their Antlers?

Reindeer antlers are made of bone and serve various functions in their survival in the wild. Here are some ways reindeer use their antlers:

1. To Find food

Since reindeer live in the Arctic tundra, finding food becomes challenging because of the heavy snowfall, especially during the winter. Antlers serve as snow and soil scrapers to find food.

2. To Defend Themselves

Reindeer use their antlers to fight off intruders and to defend their food, territory, and herd.

It is unlikely for them to use their antlers to combat predators. Most reindeer resort to running away instead of fighting their intruders.

Because female reindeer don’t shed their antlers during the Winter, they use them to find and defend food which is vital during their Winter pregnancy.

See also  How Does a Reindeer Adapt to Its Environment?

3. Establishing Dominance

Because reindeer antlers grow bigger yearly, they are considered a sign of age-related dominance.

This has been observed in the behavior of white-tailed reindeer. Males use their antlers to establish hierarchies and threaten other males during the breeding season.

4. Body Temperature Regulation

Antlers help regulate the body temperature of reindeer. While they are growing, they provide ample surface to help control the temperature of reindeer.

During the growth phase, antlers are covered in the skin with an extensive capillary network that helps provide oxygen-rich blood.

5. To Attract Females

Primarily, antlers advertise to female reindeer that their male counterpart is ready for reproduction. They show male status to females and help attract them.

Did you know? Males with bigger antlers have a greater chance of attracting a mate. ~ Mississippi State University

Do Female Reindeer Lose Their Antlers?

Just like male reindeer, females also lose their antlers. However, the times of shedding are different for both sexes.

Males lose their antlers during the Winter, while females don’t lose them until May, when they give birth.


What is a female reindeer called?

A female reindeer is called a cow, while the baby is called a calf.

What is a male reindeer called?

Unlike the other deer family, male reindeer are not called fawns, bucks, or does. Instead, they are known as bulls.


Reindeer have attracted many because of their association with Santa’s sleigh and gift deliveries. However, this fame has cost the lives of many reindeer. As a result of hunting and captivating, reindeer numbers are on the decline.

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I hope this article clarifies whether female reindeer have antlers or not.

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