Canadian Sheep Breeds

Berrichon Du Cher

The Berrichon du Cher was established in the Berry region of France. The original breed was crossed with a Merino in the mid-1780's. Further improvements were made in the 1800's with the introduction of the Dishely Leicester.

Bluefaced Leicester

The Bluefaced Leicester is a longwool breed of sheep which originate from Northumberland and were made known at the beginning of the 20th century.[1] In the 1970s, the Bluefaced Leicester was exported to Canada. Exportation of frozen semen from the UK is now used to expand the genetic diversity in Canada and the United States.

Border Cheviot

The Border Cheviot originated as a mountain breed, native to the Cheviot Hills between Scotland and England, where the climate is harsh and the conditions are rugged. Cheviots are extremely hardy and can withstand harsh winters and graze well over hilly pastures. They were bred to look after themselves.

Border Leicester

The Border Leicester is a dual purpose breed of sheep, producing both meat and wool. Border Leicester wool falls in long, shining locks that are popular with hand spinners. The Border Leicester also has a longer loin and leaner meat than many sheep of its size.

British Milk Sheep

The British Milk Sheep can now be found in the UK and Canada. The exact composition of this breed is debated. However, it is agreed that the breeds East Friesian, Bluefaced Leicester, Polled Dorset and Lleyn are at least a part of this breed. The breed was released in 1980. As the name of the breed suggests, it is a prolific milk producer

Canadian Arcott

The Canadian Arcott is one of the three Arcott breeds developed at the federal government research station in Ottawa between 1970 and 1985 and released to Canadian farms in the late 1980's. Canadian Arcotts were the result of a crossbreeding program that included Ile de France and Suffolk, producing a new breed with strong meat characteristics.


The Charollais is a breed of domestic sheep originating in France. It has been exported internationally, and is commonly used in the U.K. as a sire to produce market lambs with purebred ewes and mules

Clun forest

The Clun Forest is a breed of domestic sheep originating from the area surrounding the Clun Forest in Shropshire. Similar to many of the British breeds of upland sheep, Clun Forest are hardy, adaptable, good foragers, and are long lived. The breed has a short to medium-length wool and dark brown faces. They are a multi-purpose animal, kept for meat, wool, and milk.


The Columbia is one of the first breeds of sheep developed in the United States and is large breed. The product of USDA and university research, it was intended to be an improved breed specially built for the Western ranges of the country (where the majority of sheep raising takes place). Beginning in 1912 in Laramie, Wyoming, Lincoln rams were crossed with Rambouillet ewes.


Corriedale sheep are a dual purpose breed, meaning they are used both in the production of wool and meat. The Corriedale is the oldest of all the crossbred breeds, a Merino-Lincoln cross developed almost simultaneously in Australia and New Zealand and first brought to the United States in 1914.


Cotswold sheep are a breed of domestic sheep originating in the Cotswold hills of the southern midlands of England. It is a dual-use breed providing both meat and wool. As of 2009, this long-wooled breed is relatively rare, and is categorized as "minority" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the U.K.


The Dorset or Dorset Horned breed of sheep is known mostly for its prolific lambing. It has been known to produce two lambing seasons per year: bred in May for lambs finished by the holidays, and bred again immediately after the first lambing to produce again in March or April. This type of management, the ewes sold with the lambs, sometimes produces as many as four or five lambs a year.

East Friesian

The East Friesian is a breed of dairy sheep originating from East Frisia in northern Germany. It is either the best or one of the best sheep breeds in terms of milk yield per ewe. There are reports of individual animals with milk yield reaching 900 litres. In order to provide a high milk-yield, the ewe must receive a high-quality diet.


The Finnish Landrace or Finnsheep is a breed of domestic sheep which has a high incidence of multiple births - it is common for a ewe to have three, four, or even five lambs at once. In North America there have been several instances of births of seven lambs, and the record in Finland is nine live lambs. The lambs are often small, but are vigorous at birth and grow well.


The Hampshire or Hampshire Down is a breed of sheep which originated around 1829 from a cross of Southdowns with the Old Hampshire breed, the Wiltshire Horn, and the Berkshire Nott, all horned, white-faced sheep - these were native to the open, untilled, hilly stretch of land known as the Hampshire Downs.

Horned Dorset

The exact history of the Horned Dorset is not real clear. History tells that the Spanish wished to conquer England, perhaps at this time Merinos were introduced to Southwest England. Crossing with the Horned Sheep of Wales may have resulted in the start of the Horned Dorset, a desirable all-purpose sheep.


The Icelandic sheep is a breed of domestic sheep. The Icelandic breed is one of the Northern European short-tailed sheep, which exhibit a fluke-shaped, naturally short tail. The Icelandic is a mid-sized breed, generally short legged and stocky, with face and legs free of wool. The fleece of the Icelandic sheep is dual-coated and comes in white as well as a variety of other colors, including a range of browns, grays, and blacks.

Ile de France

The Ile-de-France is a breed of sheep native to the French region of Ile-de-France near Paris. It was first developed at a French veterinary college in the 1830s through crosses of Dishley Leicester and Rambouillet, and was originally known as the Dishley Merino. In 1933 it was rigorously tested early on its breeding for meat characteristics and maternal qualities.


The Jacob sheep is a rare breed of small, piebald (colored with white spots), polycerate (multi-horned) sheep. Jacobs may have from two to six horns, but most commonly have four. Jacobs are usually raised for their wool, meat, and hides. They are also kept as pets and ornamental animals, and have been used as guard animals to protect farm property from theft or vandalism and defend other livestock against predators.


Hailing from the desert regions of Central Asia, Karakul sheep are renowned for their ability to forage and thrive under extremely harsh living conditions. They can survive because of a special quality they have, storing fat in their tails. Karakul are also raised in large numbers in Namibia, having first been brought there by German colonists in the early 20th century.


The Lincoln, sometimes called the Lincoln Longwool, is a breed of sheep from England. The Lincoln is the largest British sheep, developed specifically to produce the heaviest, longest and most lustrous fleece of any breed in the world. Great numbers were exported to many countries to improve the size and wool quality of their native breeds.

North Country Cheviot

The North Country Cheviot is a big, long rugged sheep which combines thriftiness and healthiness with prolificacy and strong maternal qualities. The breed is particularly suited to grassy hills and uplands.

Outaouais Arcott

The Outaouais Arcott was one of three breeds developed at the Agriculture Canada research station near Ottawa. The Outaouais was produced by crossing a number of breeds but predominantly the Suffolk, Finnish Landrace, and Shropshire.


Oxford sheep (also known as Oxford Down) is an English breed developed in the 1830s by crossing the Cotswold with a forerunner of the Hampshire, and using the resulting cross-breeds to form the basis of the present-day breed. This breed is primarily raised for meat. The fleece of the Oxford is short, relatively large-bodied, hornless, has a brown face and legs covered in white wool.


The Polypay sheep breed is a white, medium sized sheep which was developed in the 1960s at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho. In general, Polypay sheep are noted for being a highly prolific, dual-purpose (meat and wool) breed.


The Rambouillet is also known as the Rambouillet Merino or the French Merino. The development of the Rambouillet breed started in 1786 when Louis XVI purchased over three hundred Spanish Merinos from his cousin, King Charles III of Spain. The flock was subsequently developed on an experimental royal farm, the Bergerie royale (now Bergerie nationale).

Rideau Arcott

One of only a few livestock breeds developed in Canada, the Rideau is a synthesis of many different breeds, but it primarily the product of Finnsheep, Suffolk, East Friesian, Shropshire, and Dorset Horn. The research flock was closed in 1974, and the breed was distributed to shepherds beginning in 1988 The Rideau Arcott today is a maternal breed, with twins and triplets the norm.


Romanov is a breed of domestic sheep originating in Russia. These domestic sheep got the name Romanov from the town of the same name. In the 18th century, these sheep first got noticed. Soon after they were noticed, they were imported into Germany and then into France. In the year of 1980, they were brought by the Canadian government and were quarantined for 5 years.


The Romney, formerly called the Romney Marsh sheep but generally referred-to by the local farmers as the Kent, is a breed of sheep originating in England. The Romney is a "long-wool" breed recognized in England by 1800. Exported to other continents, the Romney is an economically important sheep breed, especially in the sheep-meat and wool export trades of New Zealand.

Rouge de L'ouest

The Rouge de l'Ouest is breed of domestic sheep originating in France. The breed's name, which literally translates from French as "Red of the West", refers to its region of origin and its unique pinkish face and legs. It was developed in the Maine et Loire department of France, through crossing local landrace sheep with Wensleydales and Bluefaced Leicesters.

Scottish BlackFace

The Scottish Blackface is the most common breed of domestic sheep in the United Kingdom. This tough and adaptable breed is often found in the more exposed locations, such as the Scottish Highlands or roaming on the moors of Dartmoor. It is also known as Blackfaced Highland, Kerry, Linton, Scottish Mountain, Scottish Highland, Scotch Blackface and Scotch Horn.


The Shetland sheep is a small, fine-woolled breed of sheep originating in the Shetland Isles, but now also kept in many other parts of the world. It is one of the Northern European short-tailed sheep group, and is closely related to the extinct Scottish Dunface. Shetlands are classed as a landrace or "unimproved" breed. This breed is kept for its very fine wool, for meat, and for conservation grazing.


The Shropshire breed of domestic sheep originated from the hills of Shropshire, and North Staffordshire, England, during the 1840s. The breeders in the area used the local horned black-faced sheep and crossed them with a few breeds of white-faced sheep. This produced a medium-sized polled (hornless) sheep that produced good wool and meat. In 1855 the first Shropshires were imported into the USA.

South African Meat Merino

Derived from Deutsche Fleisch Merino animals imported into South Africa from Europe in 1932, to improve the quality of wool and meat from sheep in South Africa. The Deutsche Fleisch Merino is a common meat sheep in Germany, Austria, and Poland.


The Southdown is a small, dual purpose British sheep but is raised primarily for meat. The Southdown breed was originally bred by John Ellman of Glynde, near Lewes, East Sussex about 200 years ago. His work was continued by Jonas Webb ofBabraham in Cambridgeshire who developed the larger animal that we see today. It was exported to New Zealand and was used in the breeding of the Canterbury Lamb.


The Suffolk is renown as a terminal sire breed and remains No 1 for growth rate as proven by numerous independent scientific studies. This ability to grow and finish quickly is essential in a falling market and Suffolk lambs can also be taken to heavier carcase weights, if required.


The Targhee is a breed of domestic sheep developed in early 20th century by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. They are hardy, and are especially suited to the ranges of the West where they were developed. Targhee are especially popular in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, where they are favored by western ranchers. This breed is raised primarily for wool.


The Texel sheep originates from the island of Texel, one of the north-western islands off Holland where the ancient native sheep was known as Pielsteert (Pin-tail, because of its thin short tail). In an attempt to improve prolificacy, growth rate and size several English were introduced at the end of the nineteenth century. Rigorous selection resulted in the development of a large, prolific and well muscled sheep.