Dorset Down

Dorset Down

The Dorset Down breed has a relationship with the Hampshire Down. In the 1840s Homer Saunders, who farmed at Watercombe, near Dorchester, exchanged rams with William Humfrey, who was then pioneering the new breed, the Hampshire Down. Saunders went on to fix a breed which therefore had some Berkshire Nott, Wiltshire Horn and Southdown from the Hampshire contribution, and some Dorset and Southdown from the sheep then in vogue in his own locality.

Early descriptions designated it as a "local polled cousin of the Dorset Horn" although with dark face and legs that would be unacceptable today.

A breed society was formed in England in 1906, and although currently represented there by about 50 flocks it has been widely exported

Arrival in Australia

Dorset Downs were introduced into Australia in 1939 by L J. McMaster of Coolah, New South Wales who purchased 20 ewes and 2 rams from three English flocks.

The "Woodhall flock which is still operating commenced in 1946 when Walter Turnbull and Sons of Wedderburn, Victoria, brought 5 ewes, in lamb, from England.


Description of a Dorset Down Sheep

Type and appearance : Symmetrical, combining size and scope. Carriage and action in walking, bright and vigorous

Head: Forehead fairly wide, eyes prominent and lively, muzzle moderately fine. Throat clearly defined. Ears of medium length, thin, pointed, of fine texture, brown in colour, as the face, and carried well above the level of the eyes (rams masculine in character).

Neck: Strongly set on broad shoulders and of mdoerate length.

Chest: Wide, full and deep

Legs and Feet: Wide apart in front and hind legs straight and strong, with flat, clean bone, standing well up on the hoof.

Back and Flesh: Level, with no unevenness behind the shoulders and covered with firm, well developed flesh with entire absence of unevennness of cushions. Long loin, level and well covered with meat.

Hind Quarters: Wide, long and filled with flesh showing a good leg of mutton. Flank both deep and full.

Tail: Large and well set on, almost level with chin.

Fleece: Of fine texutre, dense, covering the whole of the body down to the hocks and knees, round the cheeks, betweeen the ears and on the forehead, but should not have wool under the eyes, across the bridge of the nose or on the ears. Skin of a delicate bright pink. Suggested wool clount 58- 56.


Horns or evidence of their presence

Dark poll

Blue skin

Speckled face, ears and legs

Bad wool

Overshot or undershot jaws.





Prime lamb sire


26 micron.


Number of registered flocks in Australia

Number of registered ewes joined in 2015




For further information on the Dorset Downs

Colin and Margaret Chapman

Brad and Katie Harland