All 6 Breeds of Wild Sheep (A to Z List)

There are wild sheep found all over the world and on most continents. Wild sheep are present in Asia, Central, and North America, as well as in the Middle East and parts of Europe.

Wild sheep usually inhabit mountainous areas that are hard to reach for predators.

Wild sheep live in rocky areas. They tend to live alone, but some wild sheep also live in herds.

They can shed their wool naturally, have horns that they can use to defend themselves, and can live in rocky terrains of up to 4000 feet in altitude.

Breeds of Wild Sheep

Are There Wild Sheep?

There are six breeds of wild sheep. They are bighorn, dall, argali, mouflon, snow sheep, and urial sheep. All of these breeds belong to the Ovis genus of ruminants.

1. Argali

Scientific Name: Ovis ammon

Region: Western East Asia, Himalayas, Tibet, Altai Mountains

Conservation Status: Not Threatened

Argali is the Mongolian word for sheep, but they’re also a distinct species of wild sheep who roam throughout western East Asia. There are also nine sub-species spread across a very wide area on the inner, mountainous areas of the Asian continent.

They’re also commonly known simply as ‘mountain sheep’ because they can live in altitudes of up to 5,800 meters.

A herd of Argali can number up to 150 head of sheep. The ewes stick together while Rams often roam alone. They generally prefer high altitudes to avoid predation. However, in Kazahstan, they tend to stick to the forests where it is harder for them to be hunted by humans.

They are the world’s largest sheep making them attractive to trophy hunters.

2. Bighorn Sheep

Scientific Name: Ovis canadensis

Region: North America (From Baja California to northern British Columbia)

Conservation Status: Least Concern

One of the most well-known sheep breeds that live in the wild is the Bighorn sheep.

This sheep breed, as the name suggests, is known for its large and robust horns, which are present in both males and females.

This sheep can weigh up to 300 pounds and might reach sizes of up to 6 feet, which is more commonly seen with rams. The rams are more aggressive than ewes.

They have large horns that they use to charge against other rams and also against other potential threats in the wild, so they’re adequate at defending themselves.

Even though they are a bit more aggressive than the vast majority of domestic sheep breeds, Bighorn sheep are sometimes seen as an animal of prey in the wild and are often targeted by other predators.

Their advantage is that they prefer to live in large herds, so they feel protected by the herd. They are also great climbers, which allows them to climb areas where their predators can’t reach, which means that they can also stay safe from their predators if they climb these rocky areas.

3. Dall Sheep

Scientific Name: Ovis dalli

Region: British Columbia, Yukon, Alaska

Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Dall sheep, or the Thinhorn sheep, is another wild sheep breed.

Like the Bighorn sheep, this breed is also found in rocky and mountainous areas of North America where it will seek shelter from its predators.

Compared to Bighorn sheep, Dall sheep are slightly smaller and less bulky. They will only weigh up to 180 pounds, which is a typical weight for rams.

Ewes, on the other hand, will weigh less than that. Thinhorn sheep usually reach a size of up to 3 feet, and rams are sometimes larger than that.

Like Bighorn sheep, Dall sheep also inhabit rocky areas that are hard to reach.

They’re quite sturdy and hardy, so they can survive harsh winter conditions. This means that they live also in more remote areas such as in Alaska, although they’re still often targeted by various predators such as wolves and bears.

Dall sheep can be quite aggressive if needed. Rams have larger horns that allow them to defend themselves, but ewes also have horns.

This will provide them with an additional layer of self-defense, which, unfortunately, might not be enough for them to survive sometimes because of powerful predators.

4. Mouflon

Scientific Name: Ovis

Region: Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran

Conservation Status: Not Threatened

Mouflon are found in Turkey, Armenia, and Iran. They’re the closest wild breed to domestic sheep and are believed to share the closest common ancestor, who was also called Mouflon.

The Mouflon are noticeable for their dark brown fur coats that tend to be much shorter than the long coats of domestic sheep. They also often have dark black stripes above the knee and white feet.

The rams have large horns that can grow  up to 85 cm and curve in a full revolution. Some females have horns while others are naturally polled (born without horns).

Mouflon are social creatures who live within a dominance hierarchy. Rams battle by clashing horns to determine the most dominant male who gets his pick of mates.

5. Snow Sheep

Scientific Name: Ovis nivicola

Region: Siberian mountains

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Snow sheep get their name for the fact they live in high snowy regions of Siberia. They’re at least 600,000 years old as a species.

It is believed that snow sheep traveled across the Bering land bridge to Alaska where they then evolved into dall and bighorn sheep. Their horns closely resemble those of the bighorn.

They can live in very inhospitable conditions including rocky and snowy mountainous regions up to 2,000 metres (7,000 feet). They migrate in winter to avoid the coldest of areas, although they still stay high up in the mountains to avoid predation by wolves.

While they’re not considered endangered, several subspecies have as little as 3500 head remaining.

6. Urial

Scientific Name: Ovis vignei

Region: Central and South Asia

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

The Urial is widely distributed across central and south Asia. It’s found in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and India.

While only listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, several subspecies are endangered. Their declining populations is due to the relatively low altitudes at which they live. This makes them more vulnerable to predation and catching diseases from domesticated livestock.

They also inhabit very remote and arid areas that cannot sustain large, dense populations that would be more conducive to herd growth.

The male’s horns can grow up to 100 cm (39 in) long.

Facts About Wild Sheep Breeds

The most well-known wild sheep breed is called a Bighorn sheep. This sheep lives in rocky areas of North America. It is used to living in larger herds, although it can also survive on its own.

Dall sheep, also known as the Thinhorn sheep, are another sheep breed that live in the wild.

Wild sheep breeds are used to living alone in the wild without the need to be sustained by humans.

These types of sheep are very good at sustaining themselves as they only need to eat grass and other leaves in their habitat. They can also fend for themselves, especially if they are attacked, in ways domesticated sheep cannot.

Wild sheep breeds are found all over the world but are most notable in North America and Asia where they populate higher, mountainous areas in the wild.

They are very good climbers and they’re not afraid to fend off their predators by fighting them with their horns. The rams are especially dangerous bceause they often have larger horns and higher testosterone levels.

These are some of the most well-known wild sheep breeds out there.

Do Wild Sheep Need to be Sheared?

Wild sheep don’t need to be sheared because they can do it on their own. Wild sheep will get rid of excess wool by grinding up against rocks and trees, where they will leave their wool and allow new wool to start growing on their bodies.

Even though wild sheep don’t need to be sheared, they still need to get rid of their thick winter coats as the weather starts to get warmer. The good thing for them is that they can do it on their own, as they don’t need the help of humans to do it for them, unlike domestic sheep which need yearly shearing.

Wild sheep will, instead, rub against trees and rocks to get rid of the larger and thick coats that they have throughout the winter. They also need to remove their thick wool when it gets warmer, or else they would start to feel uncomfortable.

How Do Wild Sheep Survive?

Wild sheep survive by climbing rocky areas and mountains where their predators can’t reach them.

They can also survive by relying on their herd and if it gets too extreme, they can defend themselves with their horns.

Unlike domestic sheep that are timid and friendly, wild sheep can be quite aggressive and territorial if needed. They can defend themselves as they have large and sharp horns that they use to charge other animals.

But the most important survival technique is their climbing skills. They can climb some extreme areas and territories, such as rocky areas and mountains. This allows them to stay safe and hide from their predators, giving them the upper hand and being able to stay away from danger.

Conclusion

There are wild sheep in nature. Two of the most common wild sheep breeds are Bighorn sheep and Thinhorn sheep. These sheep survive by shedding excess wool on their own, defending themselves, staying in a herd, and if needed, defending themselves with their horns.

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