Dorper sheep hq images

Dorper sheep

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Dorper sheep

The Dorper is a South African breed of domestic sheep developed by crossing Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian sheep. The breed was created through the efforts of the South African Department of Agriculture to breed a meat sheep suitable to the more arid regions of the country. It is now farmed in other areas as well, and is the second most common sheep breed in South Africa.


The Dorper sheep is a South African mutton breed developed in the 1930’s from the Dorset Horn and Blackheaded Persian. The breed was developed for the arid extensive regions of South Africa. One of the most fertile of sheep breeds that is hornless with good body length and a short light covering of hair and wool. The breed has the characteristic black head (Dorper) as well as white heads (White Dorper). Furthermore the breed shows exceptional adaptability, hardiness, reproduction rates and growth as well as good mothering abilities.


Strong and long with triangle shape. Eyes widely spaced, strong nose and strong mouth with well fitted jaw. Long ears are preferable. Heavy horns are undesirable. The head must be covered with short, dullish, black hair in the Dorper sheep and dull, white hair in the White Dorper.


Medium length, well fleshed, broad and well coupled.

Shoulders and Chest

Shoulders firm, broad and strong. Good muscling on the forearm. A moderate protrusion of the brisket with correct foreleg placement and moderate width between the legs. Shoulders, which appear loose, a brisket which protrudes too much or too little, are faults.


The last asset of the Dorper sheep that will test the current show ring preferences is the hide.   A Dorper’s hide was meant to be a bit denser to resist those flys, and give them a shield against adverse weather.  There is no doubt; “onion-thin” skin is pleasing to touch.

But the truth is, thin skin is only cosmetic, not practical.  Compare that to a dense, soft hide without excessive skin or undesirable wrinkles. Such a hide is an asset to a true practical sheepman. I realize it would take quite a bit of courage for a market lamb judge to praise a lamb for a denser hide, but the Dorper class gives an opportunity for an exception to that trend. Such a judge switching his preference to a heavier hide when the Dorpers enter the ring would be impressive.


  • Adaptability
  • Resistance against cold, wind, rain also high temperatures
  • Easy to care for without shearing problems
  • Suitable for intensive feeding
  • High fertility rates
  • Thick skin
  • Strong broad neck
  • The upper jaw and lower teeth must be correctly aligned

Physical characteristics

The Dorper sheep adapts well to a variety of climatic and grazing conditions. In its native South Africa it has spread from the arid areas to all parts of the republic. It reputably does well in various range and feeding conditions and is also suited to intensive feeding. In Australia, Dorpers are now farmed throughout the arid and tropical areas as well as the high rainfall southern States, thriving even in the extreme cold and wetness of Tasmania.[citation needed] Dorpers can be run as a replacement or with suitable management as a complementary flock to Merinos, particularly as shearing costs continue to rise.

Dorper sheep pictures

Dorper sheep hq images
Image by Alba Joubert from Pixabay

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