Ouessant sheep

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Ouessant sheep

The Ouessant (or Ushant) is a breed of domestic sheep from the island of Ouessant off the coast of Brittany. It is one of the Northern European short-tailed sheep breeds, together with several other types from Great Britain, Scandinavia and Germany. Also occasionally called the Breton Dwarf, it is one of the smallest breeds of sheep in the world. Rams are around 49 centimetres (19 in) tall at the shoulder, and the ewes about 45 centimetres. They are currently being raised in a number of European countries including Germany, France, and Great Britain. In North America they are beginning to be bred in Massachusetts, and raised in California.

Most Ouessant are black or dark brown in color, but white individuals do occur. The rams have relatively large horns, and ewes are polled. The Ouessant existed exclusively on its home island until the beginning of the 20th century, and is still a rare breed today. Ewes rarely produce twins, and the breed is primarily used for wool production. In Paris, the city government recently began using a small herd of Ouessant sheep to graze public lands.


  • Breed Name: Ouessant
  • Other Name: Also known by some other names such as Ushant, Breton Island Dwarf and Mouton d’Ouessant
  • Breed Purpose: Wool, hobby
  • Breed Size: Small
  • Horns: Rams are horned, but the ewes are usually polled
  • Climate Tolerance: Native climates
  • Color: Dark brown or black
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Country/Place of Origin: France


The Ouessant (pronounced: Ushant) sheep breed is a breed of domestic sheep which is named for the island where it originated. The island of Ouessant is a small piece of land located just off the coast of Brittany, France and until early in the 20th century the Ouessant sheep breed could only be found on this small island.

Thought to be the product of selective breeding from European short-tailed stock, the Ouessant is now found throughout Europe and on several farms in the US – specifically in Massachusetts and California.


  • A member of the Northern European Short-Tailed breeds, Ouessant sheep are distant cousins of the Shetland and Icelandic breeds.
  • The two most distinctive features of Ouessant sheep are their size and their color. Considered by many to be the smallest breed of sheep in the world, adult ewes measure less than 18″ (46cm) at the shoulders and rams are under 20″ (50cm). Additionally, Ouessant sheep come in a number of different colors : Including black, white, brown, and grey.
  • It is true that the small size of Ouessant sheep contributes to the breed’s characteristic charm and appeal. However, their diminutive size also means that the breed is not commercially viable in the modern world of agricultural production. In fact, one of the primary objectives for breeding Ouessant sheep today is the preservation and conservation of the rare genetic resources that are found in the breed.


The Ouessant is the smallest sheep in the world with a shoulder height of about 48 – 50 centimeters
(19 – 20 inches) for the Rams, and 45 – 46 centimeters (17 – 18 inches) for the Ewes. The small
size is hereditary and is a result of living in such severe conditions on the island of Ouessant, but
animal size and carcass quality can increase with the quality and quantity of feeding. The breed is
slow maturing with a growth cycle exceeding three years.


Ouessant sheep are very small sized animal. They are one of the smallest breeds of domestic sheep in the world. Average body height of the mature ewes is around 18 inches at the shoulder. And the mature rams stand around 19 inches tall at the shoulder. Most of the animals are dark brown or black in color. But sometimes white animals do also occur.

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