Dalesbred ram
Dalesbred Ram
Image Source:
National Sheep Association

Damara ram

Damara ram and ewe

Images courtesy of
Dawie Du Toit Damara Stud

Damara ewe

Image courtesy of American
Sheep Industry Association

Merino ewes
Merino ewes

Derbyshire Gritstone ram
Derbyshire Gritstone ram
Image courtesy of
EAAP-Animal Genetic Bank

Devonshire Closewool sheep
Devonshire Closewool
Image courtesy of The Devon
Closewool Breeders' Society

Devon and Cornwall Longwool
Image courtesy of
EAAP-Animal Genetic Bank

Dohne Merinos
Images courtesy of Dohne Merino
Breed Society of South Africa

Dohne Merino ram
Images courtesy of Dohne Merino
Breed Society of South Africa

Dormer ram

Dormer sheep
Images Source:
Dormer Sheep Breeders' Society

Dormer ewe with lambs

Blackheaded Dorper ewes
Blackheaded Dorper ewes

White Dorper ram
White Dorper ram

Polled Dorsets
Polled Dorsets
Image courtesy of K Bar K Farm

Horned Dorsets
Horned Dorsets
Image courtesy of
Graham Meadows Ltd.

Dorset Down ram
Dorset Down ram
Image courtesy of
Graham Meadows Ltd.

Drysdale ram

Drysdale sheep

Images courtesy of
Graham Meadows Ltd.

Drysdale lambs

Dutch Spotted
Dutch Spotted ewe

East Friesian ewes
East Friesian ewes
Image courtesy of Crane Creek

East Friesian ram
New Zealand East Friesian ram
Image courtesy of
Graham Meadows Ltd.

Easy Care rams

Easy Care sheep
Images courtesy of The
Easy Care Sheep Society

Easy Care ewes

East a Laine Merino ram
Est à Laine Merino
Image source: French Livestock Breeds

Exmoor Horn
Exmoor Horn ram
Image courtesy of Lawrence Wright

Faeroes ram

Faeroes Sheep

Images courtesy of
Erik Christensen, Porkeri

Faeroes sheep

Finn ewe with quads
Finn ewe with quads
Image courtesy of Australian
Finnsheep Breeders Association

Finn ewes
Finnsheep in Poland
Image source: Sheep Breeds in Poland


    Sheep Breeds D - F

  • Dalesbred

    The Dalesbred is found in Upper Wharfdale and Central Pennines in England. The breed originated from the Swaledale and Scottish Blackface breeds. The breed shows a black face with a distinct white mark above and on each side of the muzzle. The legs are similarly colored. They have have no wool on either the face or legs. Both sexes have a round, low set of horns.

    Dalesbred wool is of typical carpet quality. The fleece is curly on the outside with a dense undercoat. Dalesbred sheep are very adaptable to climatic changes and can survive in the harsh environmental conditions. Dalesbred ewes are often crossed with Teeswater rams to produce the Masham which is one of the most famous of British crossbreeds.

    Breed category: carpet wool, heritage

    Distribution: United Kingdom

    Go to Heritage Sheep =>

  • Damara

    The Damara originated from the Hamites of Eastern Asia and Egypt and moved down to the present day Namibia and Angola. For many years, the sheep were in an isolated region of Namibia and thus remained free of influence from other breeds. Damara sheep can survive in a harsh environment and under poor nutritional conditions.

    Research has indicated that up to 64% of the diet of the Damara sheep can consist of browsing material. This places the Damara in the same feeding category as goats. Hair is mostly short with a tendency to a fine layer of woolliness developing under the hair during winter. The sheep has a wide range of colors which are all equally acceptable and desirable. With the exception of the tail and the rear rump, there is no visible localized fat.

    Breed categories: hair (meat), fat-tailed

    Distribution: Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada

    Go to Damara Sheep Breeders Society of Australia Inc. =>
    Go to Damara Sheep Breeders' Society of South Africa =>

  • Debouillet

    The Debouillet was developed in New Mexico in 1920 from Delaine Merino x Rambouillet crosses.The breed is best adapted to the range conditions of the southwestern United States. The Debouillet is a medium-sized sheep with white hair on the face and legs. They are hardy and gregarious and adaptable to unassisted pasture lambing. They produce a fine wool fleece with a deep, close crimp.

    Breed category: fine wool, rare

    Distribution: United States

  • Delaine Merino
    (American and Delaine Merino)

    Several strains of Merinos evolved in the United States. The type "A" Merino was developed in Vermont through selection and inbreeding. This Merino carries a very heavy, wrinkly hide. In form, the type A is angular and has little carcass value. It is not advocated for commercial lamb and wool production. The "B" type Merino was developed principally in Ohio, a result of breeders selecting for a heavy fleece on a sheep that has a fair mutton form.

    Its body is fairly free of wrinkles, but it carries heavy neck folds and frequently wrinkles or heavy folds behind the shoulders and on the thighs and rear flanks. The type B is larger and better adapted to everyday conditions than the type A. The type "C" or Delaine Merino is the most practical Merino and is especially adapted to range sheep production in the western and southwestern parts of the U.S.

    The Delaine Merino is of medium size. Mature ewes with full fleece average from 125 to 180 pounds. Rams are larger ranging in weight from 175 to 235 pounds. The Delaine has a smooth body and is free of wrinkles. In the U.S., over 95 percent of Merinos are smooth or nearly smooth.

    Breed categories: fine wool

    Distribution: North America

    Go to American Delaine & Merino Record Association =>

  • Derbyshire Gritstone

    One of the oldest British sheep breeds, the Derbyshire Gritstone was originally bred by the farmers of the Peak District to survive in a harsh environment and to thrive on the poor quality grazing found on the moors. They are concentrated today around Derbyshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, but Gritstone rams have been used widely on Welsh sheep to increase their size.

    Gritstones are big, strong sheep with a good weatherproof fleece, the finest of all the fleeces found in the hill breeds. Both sexes are polled (hornless). The face and legs are black and white.

    Breed categories: medium wool, meat, hill

    Distribution: United Kingdom

    Go to The Derbyshire Gritstone Sheepbreeders Society =>

  • Devon Closewool

    The Devon Closewool is a medium sized, white faced, hornless sheep with a dense white fleece of medium length and staple which contributes to its valued quality of hardiness. The wool of the Devon Closewool is ideally suited to the home spinner and also modern manufacturing processes. It should contain no black fiber, and therefore commands a premium price.

    The wool is close and fine with a wool count of 48-53. The fleece enables the Closewool to withstand wind and rain. The breed is primarily a grassland sheep and is very hardy. A well established breed the Devon Closewool's original home was Exmoor but it is now spread throughout Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and parts of Wales.

    Breed categories: dual-purpose, long wool

    Distribution: United Kingdom

    Go to the Devon Closewool Sheep Breeders' Society =>

  • Devon and Cornwall Longwool

    The Devon Longwoolled is a mutton and long-wool producing breed found in northern Devon in England. The breed is similar to the South Devon but smaller. Both sexes are polled. They were developed from Leicester Longwool crossed with Southam Nott and Bampton Nott. Their wool is very strong and is used mainly in the manufacture of rugs and carpets.

    Breed categories: long wool, rare

    Distribution: United Kingdom

  • Dohne Merino
    (Dohne, El Dohne Merino)

    The Dohne Merino is a synthetic, dual-purpose Merino developed by the South African Department of Agriculture using Peppin-style Merino ewes and German Mutton Merino sires. The progeny were interbred and selected for high fertility, rapid lamb growth rate, and fine Merino wool under commercial rangeland conditions.

    The breeding program was initiated in 1939 and the Breed Society was formed in 1966. Selection since 1970 has been done with the aid of performance and progeny testing and comprehensive production records. All recorded animals are maintained in a computerised flock recording scheme. The Dohne Merino is one of the leading woolled breeds in South Africa.

    Breed categories: dual-purpose, fine wool

    Distribution: South Africa, Australia, New Zealand

    Go to Dohne Merino Sheep Breeders Society of South Africa =>
    Go to The Australian Dohne Breeders Association =>

  • Dormer

    The Dormer is a cross between Dorset Horn rams and German Merino ewes (presently known as the South African Mutton Merino). It was a direct consequence of a series of extensive slaughter lamb experiments carried out at the Elsenburg Research Station of the Department of Agriculture since 1927 over a period of more than ten years. The name Dormers is an abbreviation of the linkage Dorset-Merino.

    The main object with the development of the Dormer was to breed a mutton breed which could adapt to conditions in the winter rainfall area of South Africa (cold and wet) and from which suitable rams could be produced for cross breeding purposes. The Dormer is well known for its high fertility, excellent mothering abilities, long breeding season and easy lambing.

    Breed category: meat

    Distribution: South Africa

    Go to Dormer Sheep Breeders Society of South Africa =>

  • Dorper
    (White and Blackheaded)

    The Dorper breed is numerically the second largest breed in South Africa. Their popularity has spread to many countries throughout the world, including the United States in 1995. The Dorper was developed in South Africa in the 1930's, through crossing of the Blackheaded Persian ewe (a native fat-tailed sheep) with the Dorset Horn (a mutton breed).

    The breed has a characteristic black head (Dorper) or can be all white (White Dorper). Dorpers are a well-proportioned breed with heavy muscled hindquarters. Their skin covering is a mixture of hair and wool and it will drop off without being sheared. The Dorper has a thick skin which is highly prized and protects the sheep under harsh climatic conditions. It is the most sought after sheepskin in the world.

    Breed categories: hair (meat)

    Distribution: Worldwide

    Go to American Dorper Sheep Breeders' Society =>
    British Dorper Sheep Society =>
    Go the Canadian Dorper Sheep Association =>
    Go to Dorper Sheep Society of Australia =>
    Go to Dorper SA =>

  • Dorset
    (Horned and Polled)

    Dorsets are best known for their ability to produce a lamb crop any time during the year. History tells us that centuries ago when Spain wished to conquer England, Merino sheep were brought into southwest England and crossed with the Horned Sheep of Wales. The result was a desirable, all-purpose sheep that spread over Dorset, Somerset, Devon and most of Wales.

    The first Horned Dorsets were brought to the United States in 1885. In 1948, a dominant gene for polledness occurred resulting in Polled Dorsets which are now popular in the farm flock states. Dorset ewes are prolific, heavy milkers that produce lambs with moderate growth and maturity that yield heavy muscled carcasses.

    Breed categories: medium wool, meat

    Distribution: Worldwide

    Go to Continental Dorset Club =>
    Go to California Dorset Breeders' Association =>
    Go to Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset Sheep Breeders' Association =>
    Go to Polled Dorset Association, Inc. =>

  • Dorset Down

    The Dorset Down originated in England around 1800 by mating Southdown rams with the large Hampshire Down, Berkshire and Wiltshire ewes. The Dorset Down is a solid, medium sized, dark-faced, polled sheep. It has a short, close white fleece with wool round the cheeks, between the ears, on the forehead, and down the legs.

    The wool is generally of high quality. The breed produces early maturing lambs and as such is an ideal terminal sire. Ewes will take a ram in most months of the year, making the breed ideal for the Christmas or early spring lamb market when prices are at a seasonal high. Carcass conformation is good with fine bone and shoulder, being well fleshed with delicately flavoured tender meat.

    Breed categories: medium wool, meat, terminal sire, rare

    Distribution: United Kingdom, Europe, New Zealand, Australia

    Go to Dorset Down Sheep Breeders' Association =>

  • Drysdale

    The Drysdale is a dual-purpose breed whose wool is used mainly for carpet manufacture. Drysdale sheep carry the dominant Nd gene, a mutant which occurred in the Romney breed. The Nd gene causes a high abundance of coarse, very hairy fibers, called halo-hairs.

    The wool of the Drysdale is without crimp, highly medullated, with a fiber diameter of 40 microns. It is known for its whiteness and dyeing versatility. The Drysdale is found in most environments throughout New Zealand. They are sheared twice a year.

    Breed categories: carpet wool, dual-purpose

    Distribution: New Zealand, Australia

  • Dutch Spotted

    The Dutch Spotted sheep is native to the Netherlands. The first record of it is in the 1880s. The breed is believed to have originated from the hardy sheep that were used to graze peat bogs in medieval times. In the 1950s, farmers crossed the sheep with the Texel and Zwarbles to get better qualities. No crossing has been done for the past 20 years. The Dutch Spotted is a compact muscular breed, with short, curly, connected wool and a preferred color ratio of 80:20 black to white, but with black knees.

    Breed categories: meat

    Distribution: Netherlands, United Kingdom

    Go to the UK Dutch Spotted Sheep Society =>

  • East Friesian
    (Friesian Milk Sheep, Ostfriesisches Milchschaf)

    The origin of the Friesian sheep breeds is the region of Friesland extending along the North Sea coast westward from the Weser River in the northeast of Germany along the north coast of the Netherlands and south to the Schelde (Scheldt) River at the border of the Netherlands and Belgium.

    The German East Friesian Milk Sheep is the best known and most important of the Friesian breeds and is the breed known in the scientific literature as the "East Friesian." The East Friesian is considered to be the world's highest producing dairy sheep. They are highly specialized animals and do poorly under extensive and large flock husbandry conditions. Friesian sheep cross well with local adapted breeds.

    Breed categories: dairy, short-tailed

    Distribution: Worldwide

  • Easy Care

    The guiding principle behind Easy Care is straightforward. Centuries ago, sheep didn't naturally have huge fleeces, merely a winter coat which was shed in springtime, as with most wild animals. However, man began to breed sheep for wool because of its value. In recent times, the value of wool has fallen so dramatically that its production is uneconomic. Meat production without the overhead and extra shepherding required in wool production would be much more profitable.

    By using highly selective breeding to combine the rapid growth rate, lambing quality, and other strengths of his naturally wool-less pedigree Wiltshire Horn flock with the smaller, hardy Welsh Mountain and combining some of the strengths of other breeds, Iolo Owen has achieved his aim: a breed of sheep with all the qualities sought after by the modern farmer with fewer of the drawbacks.

    As well as being woolless, Easy Care are extremely hardy, thrive on grass and inexpensive feeds, have a superb lambing ratio (180% is the average), and produce excellent meat.

    Breed category: hair (meat)

    Distribution: United Kingdom

    Go to the Easy Care Sheep Society =>

  • Est à Laine Merino
    (Merino de l'Est)

    At the end of the 18th century, Merino blood was introduced into German sheep in the borders with France, and gradually these large "meat" Merinos were kept in large numbers in the Alsace Lorraine region of France. This strain became known as the Est à Laine, which translated means East and Wool.

    The Est à Laine Merino is an attractive, strong, large-framed sheep with very fine white wool. The head is long, white in color, with long, drooping ears. The sheep is naturally polled (no horns), unlike the original Merinos. The neck of the Est à Laine Merino has no folds or dewlap, making it easier to shear.

    Breed category: fine wool, dual-purpose

    Distribution: Europe, United Kingdom, North America

  • Exmoor Horn

    Though ancient in origin, the Exmoor Horn, which has existed since time immemorial in the west of England, is well adapted to modern requirements. The Exmoor can be described as a dual purpose breed to keep pure on the higher moorland; in fact, they are classified as a hill breed.

    The Exmoor Horn is an excellent crossing ewe. The Bluefaced Leicester cross produces the Exmoor Mule which is docile and prolific in lowland areas. The Exmoor is white faced, with horns, cherry colored skin, and a white fleece of medium length and good quality.

    Breed categories: hill, dual purpose

    Distribution: United Kingdom

    Go to Exmoor Horn Sheep Breeders' Society =>

  • Faeroes Sheep
    (Færøerne, Foroyskur Seydur)

    The origins of the Faeroes breed goes back to the Old Norwegian, Icelandic, and perhaps Shetland breeds. They are not gregarious and tend to be territorial. The Faeroes will forage in small groups, spreading to cover the entire area, behaving somewhat like the Icelandic sheep. These sheep are small and well adapted to mountainous terrain. The color varies from white, grey, light red, dark red, chestnut brown, to black.

    However, due to the low price of wool, they are sheared primarily for the comfort of the sheep. The lambs reach a slaughter weight of 20 to 45 pounds at 5 months of age. A good ewe will weigh about 45 pounds at 6 to 7 years of age. Rams weigh from 45 to 90 pounds. Bone structure is light, but strong. These animals are seasonal breeders, with singles being most common.

    Breed categories: short-tailed, primitive

    Distribution: Denmark


  • Finnsheep
    (Suomenlammas, Finnish Landrace)

    Finnsheep or Finnish Landrace, as they are known in their native country of Finland are considered to be several hundred years old, descending from the Mouflon that live in the wild on Sardinia and Corsica and also said to be related to other Scandinavian short-tailed sheep.

    First imported to the United States in 1968, the primary use of Finnsheep was the production of crossbred ewes. Finn ewes are hardy, will lamb on an accelerated lambing program, have strong maternal instincts, and are highly prolific. Lambs are noted for their high livability.

    In the last 20 or so years, more research work and data has been compiled in the United States involving Finnsheep and their crosses than any other breed of sheep. In more recent years, Finnsheep have become valued for their soft fleeces of medium wool.

    Breed categories: medium wool, dual-purpose, short-tailed, prolific

    Distribution: worldwide

    Go to American Finnsheep Breeders Association =>
    Go to Australian Finnsheep Breeders Association =>

Last updated 19-Apr-2021
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