Abstract Cashmere is a high-priced commodity in the world market. For financial gains, various interested parties often adulterate cashmere with cheap sheep wool. Here, we describe a method that can quickly extract mitochondrial DNA from natural or processed animal hair. We further designed two sets of TaqMan polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers and probes that can react specifically to goat and sheep mitochondrial 12S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes. Using TaqMan PCR, we can not only distinguish between cashmere and wool but also quantify their contents in a cashmere/wool mixture. The method can be applied directly to examine the quality of cashmere products in the world markets.