Wagyu Beef – What You Need to Know: Cattle Breeds

Last updated: January 15, 2021

What is Wagyu beef and is it healthy? You’ve seen the signs at the grocery store and you’ve heard mentions of it by foodies, but what makes Wagyu beef, well, Wagyu? Today, we’re going to dive in and talk about where Wagyu beef comes from and what makes it so special.

What is Wagyu Beef?

One of the most common questions is where does Wagyu beef come from and how do you pronounce Wagyu? The correct pronunciation of Wagyu is “wah-gyoo”.  The story of Wagyu beef starts over 100 years ago during the Meiji restoration in Japan. As Japan tried to introduce more European food products into its market, Japanese cattle breeders ecstatically set to work breeding European and Asian cattle together. It’s a classic love story starring two Cattle from wildly different areas finding love in the strangest of places. With a little finesse and a Cupid’s arrow, modern Wagyu was born. The results of the breeding spawned a few new breeds of cattle over the next few years until crossbreeding died in 1910. So, while Wagyu beef literally translates to Japanese cattle β€” Wagyu breeds are actually a combination of Asian cattle and European cattle.

Katana wagyu beef blend



In total, there are 8 primary variations of Wagyu beef.

There are four main variations of black Wagyu beef:

  • Tottori
  • Tajima
  • Shimane
  • and Okayama

There are also two variations of red Wagyu beef:

  • Kochi
  • and Kumamoto

Additionally, there is also Japanese Shorthorn which is only raised in Japan along with the Japanese Polled breed. You will not find the Japanese Shorthorn or the Japanese Polled anywhere else other than Japan.

Each of these breeds has a different build, taste, and each comes from a different region of Japan.

Is Wagyu Beef From Japan?

There’s a common misconception that all Wagyu beef is from Japan β€” it’s not. The United States started raising Wagyu beef regularly in the late 1980s due to lowered Japanese tariffs, and, today, most of the Wagyu that you’ll find at the butcher is raised right here in the United States.

There isn’t a difference in the breed of cattle used in Japan and in the United States. So, you could say that Wagyu really refers to these six breeds of cattle β€” instead of narrowing the word down to a geographic area.

What Makes Wagyu So Coveted?

Most people have heard of this beef as a luxury product, and we’ve all seen burger shops with the words Wagyu plastered on the side. But, why is that? Why is a type of beef such a big deal?

Wagyu beef breeds don’t make your average beef product. Both the cattle’s natural breed qualities and the way that Wagyu beef is raised (diet, exercise, etc.) have given Wagyu meat incredibly rich and deep fat marbling that melts-in-your-mouth. Not only does Wagyu beef have superior marbling to other breeds of cattle, Wagyu fat actually tastes better. Highly marbled Wagyu beef has fat that melts at lower temperatures (lower than your body temperature) than your run-of-the-mill beef fat, which makes it an excellent pick for those that love their steaks on the rare side. The fat will quite literally melt in your mouth.

One thing you’ll immediately notice about Wagyu beef is that it’s more pink than red or white. That’s because the fat is dispersed evenly throughout the beef instead of clumping up in giant white patches.

In Japan, they serve Wagyu in oz. slices in order to maximize its flavor. The rich, robust, and fatty taste that Wagyu beef has is often compared to Foie Gras.

For example, our Katana Blend Wagyu beef patties have incredibly deep marbling and a tender, robust beef flavor. It’s hard for us to keep on the shelves, partially due to the taste and partially due to the incredible demand for Wagyu beef in the United States.

Is Wagyu Beef Kobe Beef?

No! This is an incredibly common misconception. All Kobe beef is Wagyu beef, but not all Wagyu is Kobe beef. Kobe refers to specific Wagyu beef from the highly coveted Tajima breed of cattle that is raised only in the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan.

There is no such thing as the U.S. raised Kobe beef. Kobe costs around $110 a pound, and some of the highest graded cattle go for $50 per ounce!

Here’s the thing about Kobe beef. You won’t ever find it in the supermarket. Ever! In fact, there are only eight restaurants in the entire United States that have earned the honor of selling real Kobe beef. Don’t be fooled by the “Kobe” beef claim that everyone seems to use. It’s a gimmick, and it’s not real Kobe beef.


Are you interested in giving Wagyu a try? Do you want to see if it lives up to the hype? Check out our Katana Blend 100% Wagyu beef patties. They are rich, tender, robust, and have a high-fat content. These patties will make some of the best burgers that you will ever try. We’re talking juice-dripping melt-in-your-mouth patties of pure deliciousness.

Find your favorite Schweid & Sons Burger near you by using our store locator link here. Turn your everyday burger into The Very Best Burger.

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