Dorper Sheep are a Large, Hardy Meat Sheep Breed

The Dorper sheep are characterized by outstanding lamb production, adaptability, hardiness, pasture utilization and good mothering qualities. 

What about their name, Dorper? According to experts at, in the 1930s South Africa saw a need for a hardy sheep that could produce a quality carcass on the South African veldt.

"A project was initiated to cross the Horned Dorset with the Blackhead Persian to produce the desired results. Thus the name Dorper originated from combining the name Dorset with Persian, and pure white animals were appropriately named White Dorpers."

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The breed has the signature black heads (Dorper) as well as white heads (White Dorper). This is how the two are distinguished. 


Hobby Farms confirms that in the early 1930s, meat-sheep raisers in South Africa set out to create a mutton breed that didn't require shearing and could produce high-quality, fast-growing lambs under harsh conditions.

"They crossed British Dorset Horn rams with fat-tailed Blackhead Persian hair-sheep ewes, the former because of its ability to breed out of season and the latter for its supreme heat-hardiness and its wool-less hair coat. The end result was a black-headed white sheep they called a Dorper. Other breeders created an all-white version they called the White Dorper."

Breed characteristics

  • Skin from the Dorper is highly sought after for its unique quality and is used in the manufacture of fine leather goods.
  • Dorper lamb is well known for its mild flavor and tenderness.
  • The nonselective grazing habits of the Dorper allow them to maintain their condition when the quality of grass and other forage declines.
  • Dorpers have been known to eat plants other livestock won't touch.
  • They adapt to both extremes of hot and cold weather, so the breed requires very little. 

The Dorper has thick, highly prized skin, which protects it in tough conditions

What are they used for?

Dorper sheep are the ideal, easy-care meat sheep. 

Dorper lamb does not have the "mutton taste" that causes so many Americans to avoid eating lamb. Rather, it's succulent and fine-textured.

The purpose of the Dorper breed is to produce prime lamb. 

Interesting facts about these sheep

Did you know?

The breed is known for its good mothering qualities and maternal instinct. In terms of breeding stock, Dorper ewe should produce lambs for at least seven years.

The American Dorper Sheep Breeders' Society is dedicated to the mission of supporting the establishment of the Dorper Breed on the North American Continent.

Are you familiar with this sheep breed? Please leave us a comment below!

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