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Do Female Bighorn Sheep Have Horns?

Do Female Bighorn Sheep Have Horns

Female bighorn sheep, or Bighorn ewes, have horns. These horns are much smaller and spikier than the horns of a male Bighorn sheep.

It is not very common to see female sheep with horns. These are far more common with males because they are a sign of masculinity and they’re also important for fighting for dominance.

However, Bighorn sheep are one of the rare sheep breeds to have horns also in females.

Do Female Bighorn Sheep Have Horns?

Yes, female Bighorn sheep have horns.

Female Bighorn sheep will grow their horns in the first four years of their lifetime. These horns are smaller than the horns of male Bighorn sheep. They are also spiky and not nearly as wide as the horns of a male.

At first sight, this might make the Bighorn sheep ewes appear as though they are goats.

Bighorn sheep is one of the rare breeds where horns also grow in females. This might be due to a large variety of reasons:

  • Bighorn sheep are genetically predisposed to have horns in both females and males
  • They’re wild sheep, so they need horns for protection
  • It happened because of evolution

Bighorn sheep are wild sheep. Unlike the majority of domestic breeds, they’ll need their horns to defend themselves. Domestic sheep, on the other hand, have gotten used to the protection provided by humans, so they won’t need to use their horns. Bighorn sheep will occasionally use them to deter predators.

Bighorn ewes are one of the rare female sheep to develop horns. Horns are only seen in a few other sheep breeds in females, such as wild sheep breeds like Jacob sheep. In the majority of sheep breeds, horns are only seen with males or they are not present at all.

Related Article: Is Bighorn Sheep Native to North America?

How Do Female Bighorn Sheep Horns Look Like?

Female Bighorn sheep horns are small and pointy. They are much smaller than the horns of a ram of the same breed.

Male Bighorn sheep have large horn cores, while the horns of females are much smaller. This difference comes down to the needs of each gender; the female might use these horns for self-defense, but for males, the horns have a much more important role.

For male Bighorn sheep, horns are an indicator of strength and dominance. They will use these big horns to fight against other males to try and assert dominance in their society.

And the ram with the biggest horns will usually be the strongest and will be perceived as the male with the most status.

For females, the horns have a different role. They are sometimes useful for self-defense, but much more seldomly to establish dominance.

These spiky horns can come useful when fending off some predators, but sometimes, even these horns are not enough for the females. Sheep are still seen as prey in the wild and are eaten by animals like wolves.

Bighorn sheep are wild sheep, so they need to protect themselves more than the domestic sheep breeds. This is one of the reasons why females will also start to develop horns in Bighorn sheep, and not only the males.

What Do Female Bighorn Sheep Use Their Horns For?

Female Bighorns heep use their horns for self-defense. On rare occasions, females also use horns to establish dominance over other sheep.

Genetics is the main driving factor behind sheep developing their horns. Genetics will dictate how large the horns will be, and how strong they will be.

And in most cases, the sheep breed will also dictate whether females will have horns or not. They are simply not seen with the majority of domestic sheep breeds.

Bighorn sheep are an exception to this rule. They are wild sheep, so they are exposed to threats and predators much more often than domestic sheep.

Self-defence will be a much more important factor for the Bighorn sheep compared to domestic sheep, as they need to use every resource possible to survive.

Most wild sheep will try to protect themselves by climbing inaccessible areas and higher grounds. They’re very good climbers, so they will seek higher ground where there are not that many predators.

They also seek rocks and other rough terrains, which allows them to avert the danger.

In some cases, their horns might also be of use when defending against predators. That’s why also females develop them. This is mostly typical with wild sheep breeds where females also need to defend themselves.

These horns can provide decent protection for females, but not as strong as it is for the males.

On some rare occasions, females might also use their horns to show dominance over other sheep. This might happen against the same gender or even the opposite gender, which might happen when these sheep breed.

Related Article: Are Bighorn Sheeps Prey?

Do Male Bighorn Sheep Have Horns?

Yes, male Bighorn sheep have horns, and they are much larger and stronger than the horns of a female Bighorn sheep.

Horns are much more important for males than they are for females. They need it to fight off other males as well as predators. Two rams will lock horns against each other and fight to show dominance until one of them gives up. The ram that wins the fight will be seen as the more dominant of the two.

The horns of the male Bighorn sheep are much larger and curved than the horns of the female. They need to be bigger to protect the head and the brains of the male when they are bashing against another ram. These knocks can be quite powerful, so the horns will absorb most of the damage.

Read Next: Bighorn Sheep vs Mountain Goats


Female Bighorn sheep are one of the rare female sheep to have horns. They need their horns to defend themselves against predators, and on rare occasions, to fight with other sheep. But this role will belong to the males who need to assert dominance over other males in their hierarchy. The horns of the females are also much smaller and less powerful than those of the males.

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