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Do Sheep Make Good Pets? (The Pros and Cons)

Do Sheep Make Good Pets

Sheep are primarily farm animals that like to be kept in herds. As pets, sheep might not be the best option for you since they require a lot of space, regular care, annual shearing, and they prefer to be with other sheep.

If you’ve been researching sheep for a while, then you probably already know that sheep have a gentle and docile character and that they’re quite intelligent. It’s also possible to keep them in your backyard provided you have enough space.

There are many downsides to keeping sheep as pets, though. They like to stay in flocks, which might not be ideal if you only want to have one sheep as a pet.

Keeping sheep also requires some prior knowledge. Sheep need regular shearing, and they also need space to move around. For these reasons, sheep might not be ideal pets for everyone.

Why Sheep are Good Pets

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If you’re looking to keep sheep as pets, there are some arguments that you might have that will prompt you to keep them as your pets. There are certainly some positive aspects of keeping sheep as pets.

Here are some positive things about keeping sheep as pets.

1. They’re Affectionate and Gentle

One of the most positive things about keeping sheep as your pets is their character. They’re one of the most positive animals that you can keep, because they’re docile, gentle, and affectionate, even towards humans. They’re also non-aggressive – except for rams which can be aggressive at times.

Sheep are especially great for children because they’re so gentle. The likelihood of sheep injuring or causing harm to your child is minimal to zero. Compared to other pets like cats or even dogs, sheep are far more gentle with humans, especially with children.

No wonder they’re seen as a symbol of innocence!

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2. They Get to Know You

Contrary to popular belief, sheep can get to know you and even have emotional intelligence. While you probably won’t be able to teach your sheep tricks as you would teach to your dog, they can easily learn some things that you might want to teach them.

More importantly, sheep can get attached to you because they have the ability to recognize faces very well. Perhaps more impressively, sheep can even read social cues from facial expressions and recognize how another sheep – or even human – is feeling at a certain moment in time.

This level of emotional intelligence is rarely seen with animals. It just goes to show that sheep can make for great partners and that they might be the ideal type of pet if you’re looking for a gentle and sweet animal.

sheep wool

3. They Care for your Yard

As sheep are farm animals, they can provide you with various benefits, such as:

  • They can graze the grass or lawn and keep it in shape
  • They provide milk and wool
  • You can use their waste as fertilizer

These are just some of the benefits of owning sheep. Of course, some of these benefits will also require some work and patience. Getting milk and wool from them can be challenging at first and they will need shearing, which will cause you to have extra costs to get some of these benefits.

Ultimately, sheep are farm animals and they can be used to provide some of these benefits, too. 

Why Sheep are Not Good Pets

sheep wool

We’ve discussed why sheep might be good pets for you, but there are also some reasons why they might not be the best option in the world.

Here are some cons of keeping sheep as pets.

1. They Prefer to Stay in Herds

The number one reason why keeping sheep as pets is not great and might harm the sheep is that they prefer to be kept in herds. 

Sheep are highly social animals. They rely on other sheep for survival, as they feel much safer in a herd. Sheep stay in herds because it allows them to bond with other sheep, giving them a sense of social validation.

But perhaps more importantly, staying in a herd allows the sheep to feel safe and protected from their predators. It is one of their defense mechanisms. So keeping one sheep alone might not be the best option since it might lead to the sheep becoming jaded and depressed as a result.

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2. They Need a Lot of Space

Another bad thing about keeping sheep as pets is that they can require quite a lot of space. If you have a lawn behind your home, that simply might not be enough to keep your sheep as a pet.

Sheep require a lot of space to graze the grass and get some exercise. And since you might prefer to keep several sheep at the same time, you might need quite a lot of space, and this is simply not possible for everyone out there.

Ideally, sheep should be kept in larger pastures with a lot of space and some fencing. This provides an additional challenge if you can’t offer that sort of space to your sheep. This means that owning sheep as pets might not be great if you live in a town or a more crowded area.

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3. Sheep can be Costly and Require Work

Sheep require a lot of work and sometimes resources to maintain. For example, you’ll need to make sure that sheep get sheared at least once a year. You’ll also need to perform regular check-ups and provide them with medication at times.

At the same time, they might require you to have some knowledge about them. This could come in handy if they become ill or if something happens to them. Of course, you can always contact a vet, but it’s easier if you have the knowledge yourself.

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Conclusion

Ultimately, sheep can be good pets because of their docile character and nature, and the fact that they can learn quickly.

However, the downsides of owning sheep as pets outweigh the positives for most people. If you can’t offer them enough space or if you live in a town or a crowded area, then having sheep as pets will not be ideal.

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