A cow can climb up stairs...

But it can’t come down. I read that little factoid and am wondering if it is actually true, and if it is true then–why can it climb up but not down?

I’ve seen bulls go up and down stairs.

There are variants of bull-fighting where the bulls are merely [del]tortured[/del] teased into walking on and off various obstacles.
But of course cows have a somewhat different body shape so it could still be true.

Yes, it’s true. It has to do with they way their legs work. Here is one explanation…

“This is actually correct stating that a cow can be led upstairs but not down. The ankle and knee joints are mis-aligned for supporting the cows weight when traveling down stairs. Its not that they physically can’t, its just that it is a lot of trouble for them. Imagine walking upstairs normally, but then when you come back down the stairs you have to wear a pair of ballet shoes and walk down on your tiptoes and you also have to bend forward at the waist the whole way down. you not only feel unstable, but you also feel like you might fall forward. This is probably similar to how the cow feels when trying to walk down stairs. Therefore, the animal is going to resist because of the fear of falling. Also a cows brain has trouble determining just how large a drop each step actually is, and the animal doesn’t like uncertainty. That is why anti-cattle crossing lines work for keeping them contained.”

I found it here

I thought it was camels and minarets. IIRC, the problem was that it couldn’t turn around at the top, and couldn’t walk downstairs backwards. Possibly an apocryphal story.

Here is a video of a cow walking down a few stairs, but not a long flight. I guess it depends on how steep the flight is. I’d be surprised to see one going down a ladder.

It happened at least once on film:

In the TV series “Adam-12,” in episode 7.16, title “Ladies’ Night,” originally airing on Feb 8, 1975, one of the adventures that the two cops run into is some cattle that are loose (in LA!).

Somehow one of them gets inside a building, and there is a scene in which one of the officers is very casually walking behind the cow down the stairs.

Yes that could be it. When I saw a bull go down stairs it was a two sided staircase – it went up one side and down the other side. It wasn’t exactly graceful coming down, and I doubt it could have turned around on the stairs.

Bit of cow humor…

On Hollywood squares Paul Linde was asked, “You can’t get a cow to go down a set of stairs, but can you get one to go up?”

(In your Paul Linde voice) “Sure, after three martinis.”

As a senior prank, get a cow up to the school’s roof. It usually takes a crane to get it down.


In 1979 MIT students stole a fiberglas cow from the Hilltop Steakhouse on Route 1 in Saugus and put it atop the Great Dome (complete with a mortarboard), but there was a story that many years ago they actually lead a live cow up to the top of the dome. I don’t know if it’s true.

“Cows got no Down Genes” – supposedly said by Howard Hesseman’s character on WKRP. One of Pepper Mill’s favorite quotes.
I don’t think it’s completely true in the sense of not being able to get down – cows demonstrably can go down downward ramps. So, if the stairs are shallow enough, cows can get down. I just don’t know how shallow that is.

There was an episode of Hill Street Blues in which a truck carrying cattle had an accident in a poor area of town and the cows got out. One elderly black gentleman had taken the cow up to his apartment (a few flights up) and was about to butcher him when the cops showed up. He’s laughing as the cops are trying to get the cow to go back down the stairs. He’s laughing his ass off and the frustrated cops finally ask him, “What the hell is so funny?” He replies, you can’t get no cow to go down no stairs. Cows got no down genes." The delivery was hilarious.

Cut to the cops outside looking up a helicopter is lifting the cow off the roof (because cows do have “up” genes. The camera stays on the two cops as, evidently the harness broke and the cow got dropped back on the street.

I know it was definitely said on Hill Street Blues. I wonder who used it first.

I just googled it and found a SD thread from 2006. See Post 15. Evidently the names of the HSB episode was Domestic Beef.

[Found it.](Found it.) Go to 21:45.

Another video.

I suspect I was misinformed about the source, or misremembered what I’d been told. i didn’t see it myself.

Nothing to answer the question, but I am dog sitting a Staffordshire bull terrier that is like this with one set of my stairs. He’ll gladly go up them, but absolutely refuses to go down. Just one set of stairs, though. He’ll navigate the other ones fine. I assume it has to do with his center of gravity and perception of whether he can make it down the stairs without tumbling down them. It certainly looks a lot more precarious going down the stairs, and I can imagine a cow being much the same.

Well, I don’t know that I would put much faith in the guy that responded in the linked thread, so it would have been easy to forget.

BTW, the “Black vagrant” that that chuckle-head referred to was played by Arnold Johnson. He played “Hutch” in a couple of “Sanford & Son” eps. In one exchange:

Hutch: But I gotta play it straight with you–I’m an ex-con and I just got out of jail.

Fred: Well I’m gonna play it straight with you Hutton–I’m your ex-landlord and get out of my house!

Johnson also played the lead role in 1969’s “Putnew Swope,” and all his lines were dubbed. . . by Robert Downey Sr.

For some reason, that doesn’t sound quite right. Wouldn’t it make more sense like this? :dubious:
“You can’t get a cow to go up a set of stairs, but can you get one to go down?” “Sure, after three martinis.” :wink:

I think Paul Lynde’s joke was that, once you’d got the cow drunk enough, she was willing to go upstairs with you, for …

Shows like this, from the 1970’s, for example Hollywood Squares, or Match Game PM, had one or two seasoned, well-beloved, old school comedians who could get away with double-entendres. People just waited for their joke and went, “Oh, that guy”

Now, everybody on a TV show has to have their fair share of funny lines, so the effect is diluted. When Charles Nelson Reilly or Paul Lynde talked, you had to be ready for the subtle dirty joke. When Stewie Griffin comes on, you kinda expect an obvious one.

(bolding mine)

That makes perfect sense. :smack:

My sleazy little mind was going in a different direction. :smiley:

If you’ve all finished with your bovine blowjobs, how the fuck do I get my camel down from my minaret?

If they’re anything like cows, your best bet is to disassemble it at the top and carry the pieces down. Then you can re-assemble it as best you can at the bottom.

Or push it off the top.

If you want a live camel at the bottom, I think you’ll have to get a crane.