24 Heritage Sheep Breeds (A to Z List with Pictures)

Examples of heritage sheep breeds include Barbados, Cheviot, Corriedale, Cotswold, and Dorper.

There are many different sheep breeds in the world, each with its own unique history and characteristics. These heritage breeds have been around for centuries and are the ‘grandfathers’ of sheep breeds. But each has something valuable to offer to the modern farmer. Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular heritage sheep breeds.

Heritage Sheep Breeds

Examples of Heritage Sheep Breeds

1. Barbados

This small, black-faced breed is native to the island of Barbados. It is known for its hardiness and ability to thrive in hot, humid climates. The Barbados is a popular choice for meat production.

Related Article: Average Cost of Sheep

2. Cheviot

The Cheviot is a historic breed of sheep originating in the Cheviot Hills between England and Scotland. They were first brought to North America in the early 1800s and quickly became popular for their hardy nature and prolific wool production.

Today, Cheviots are still prized for their wool, which is used for a variety of purposes including carpeting and clothing. They are also known for their resistance to parasites, making them a good choice for flocks in areas with high levels of sheep pests and diseases.

Related Article: What Sounds Do Sheep Make?

3. Corriedale

The Corriedale is a dual-purpose sheep breed, originally developed in New Zealand and Australia. It is known for its high-quality wool and meat. The Corriedale is a cross between the Merino and Lincoln breeds. It was developed to combine the best characteristics of both parent breeds – the high-quality wool of the Merino and the meatiness of the Lincoln.

Related Article: 40 Rare Sheep Breeds

4. Cotswold

The Cotswold is a British breed of domestic sheep originating in the English county of Gloucestershire. They are large, white-fleeced animals with long, lustrous wool. The Cotswold is one of the heaviest and largest of the British sheep breeds. It is kept primarily for its wool, which is used in the production of high-quality yarns and fabrics.

5. Dorper

The Dorper is a South African breed of domestic sheep. It was developed in the 1930s from a cross between the Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian. The Dorper is a hardy, multipurpose breed that is well-suited to arid conditions. It is now the most popular sheep breed in South Africa and is also found in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada.

6. Dorset

The Dorset breed is a British sheep that was developed in the county of Dorset in the early 19th century. It is a dual-purpose breed, raised for both meat and wool. The Dorset is a medium-sized sheep with short, thick legs and a wide body. The fleece is white and of medium length, with a soft, woolly texture. The Dorset is a docile breed that is easy to handle.

7. Finn Sheep

The Finn sheep is a heritage breed from Finland. It is a small, hardy breed that is well-suited to cold climates. The Finn sheep is known for its high-quality wool, which is often used in spinning and felting. The breed is also popular for its meat, which is lean and flavorful.

8. French Rambouillet

The Rambouillet is a large, hardy breed of sheep that originated in France. It is well-suited to harsh climates and rugged terrain and produces high-quality wool. The Rambouillet was imported to the United States in the early 1800s and has since become one of the most important sheep breeds in North America.

9. Gulf Coast Sheep

The Gulf Coast sheep is a relatively new breed, developed in the early 1900s in the southern United States. It is a cross between the Dorset and Rambouillet breeds. This hardy breed is well-suited to hot, humid climates and is known for its excellent mothering ability and high milk production.

10. Hampshire

The Hampshire is a large, dual-purpose sheep that was developed in the county of Hampshire in England in the early 19th century. It is a very hardy and adaptable breed that does well on a variety of pasture types. The fleece is thick and lustrous, and the meat is of excellent quality.

11. Iceland

Icelandic sheep are a heritage breed that has been bred in Iceland for centuries. These sheep are well adapted to the harsh Icelandic climate and are known for their thick, luscious wool. Icelandic sheep are also relatively small, making them easy to handle and care for.

12. Jacobs

The Jacobs sheep is a small, hardy breed that is native to the British Isles. It is named after Jacob, the Biblical patriarch who is said to have kept flocks of these animals. Jacobs is known for their ability to thrive in harsh conditions and produce high-quality wool. They are also popular as meat sheep, as they provide a leaner, more flavorful meat than some of the larger breeds.

13. Karakul

The Karakul is a sheep breed that originated in Central Asia. It is known for its distinctive curly, lambswool-like fleece, which is prized for its softness and warmth. The Karakul was once the world’s most popular sheep breed, but it declined in popularity after the Soviet Union collapsed and many of the countries where it was raised became independent. Today, there are still a few Karakul farms in operation, mostly in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

14. Katahdin

The Katahdin is a relatively new breed of sheep, having been developed in Maine in the early 1900s. It was created by crossing several existing breeds, including the Hampshire, Suffolk, and Southdown. The result was a hardy animal that could thrive in harsh conditions and produce high-quality wool. Today, the Katahdin is one of the most popular sheep breeds in the United States.

15. Leicester Long Wool

The Leicester Long Wool is a British sheep breed that was developed in the 18th century. It is a cross between the English Leicester and the Cotswold breeds. The Leicester Long Wool is known for its long, lustrous fiber which is perfect for spinning and weaving. It is also an excellent meat sheep, with high-quality carcasses.

16. Romney

The Romney is a British breed of domestic sheep originating in the county of Kent in southeastern England. It is one of the oldest and most popular breeds of sheep in the United Kingdom and was exported to many other countries during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Romney is a medium-sized breed, with both ewes and rams typically weighing between 120 and 180 pounds. The breed is known for its prolificacy, with ewes often giving birth to twins and even triplets. The Romney is also prized for its high-quality wool, which is used in a variety of garments and textiles.

17. Saxon Merino

The Saxon Merino is a German breed of domestic sheep. It derives from the old Saxony landrace of merino sheep, which was common in central Germany until the early nineteenth century. The Saxon Merino was created in the early twentieth century by cross-breeding local landraces with improved merino breeds such as the Spanish Merino. The resulting breed was larger and had more wool than the old landraces, making it more suitable for commercial production.

18. Scottish Blackface

The Scottish Blackface is one of the most popular heritage sheep breeds in the world. This breed has been around for centuries, and it is known for its hardiness and adaptability. The Scottish Blackface is a dual-purpose breed, meaning that it can be used for both meat and wool production. This breed is also very rugged, and it is well-suited to the harsh conditions of the Scottish Highlands.

19. Southdown

The Southdown is a small, stocky breed of sheep that was developed in the early 19th century in the southern counties of England. The Southdown was created by crossing the native Hampshire Downs sheep with a number of other breeds, including the Norfolk Horn, which helped to give it its characteristic short legs.

The Southdown was originally bred as a meat breed, and it is still prized for its excellent meat production. The Southdown is also a popular choice for cross-breeding with other breeds, as it imparts many of its good qualities to its offspring.

20. Spanish Merino

The Spanish Merino is one of the oldest and most popular sheep breeds in the world. These animals were originally bred in Spain, and they quickly became prized for their wool. The Spanish Merino was eventually exported to other countries, where it was used to create new breeds of sheep. Today, these animals are still widely considered to be some of the best wool producers in the world.

21. St. Croix Hair Sheep

The St. Croix hair sheep is a small, hardy breed that is native to the Virgin Islands. These sheep are known for their low-maintenance coats, which do not require shearing. St. Croix hair sheep are also considered to be very disease-resistant and have excellent mothering instincts.

22. Suffolk

The Suffolk is a British breed of domestic sheep. It was developed in the county of Suffolk in the early nineteenth century from cross-breeding of existing indigenous breeds. It is a large, dual-purpose breed, raised both for meat and wool.

23. Tunis

The Tunis sheep is a North African breed that is known for its distinctive, curved horns. These sheep are relatively small, with ewes weighing in at around 90 pounds and rams around 110 pounds. They have short, fine wool that is used for making clothing and other textile products.

24. Wiltshire Horn

The Wiltshire Horn is a British breed of domestic sheep. It originates from the county of Wiltshire in south-western England and was formerly known as the Wiltshire Down. It is a medium-wool, short-legged variety, and is classified as a terminal sire breed, meaning that it is used for meat production rather than wool production. The Wiltshire Horn is one of the oldest British sheep breeds and is thought to be descended from the Roman-era sheep that were brought to Britain by the invading Roman legions.


Sheep are a domesticated animal that has been used for centuries for their meat, wool, and milk. There are many different breeds of sheep, each with its own unique characteristics. Some popular breeds include the Dorset Horn, Jacob, Dorper, Tunis, Cotswold, Dorset Sheep, Corriedale, Texel, Cheviot, and Merino.

Skip to content