Horned Sheep Breeds

Horns, while essential for the defense of wild sheep, serve little practical purpose for domestic breeds. As a matter of fact, the horns can hurt their handlers and get caught in fences or feeders. Despite these challenges, horned sheep remain popular, with some breeds specifically reared for their aesthetic appeal.

Sheep horns have a bony core covered by a keratinous outer sheath. They grow continuously throughout the sheep’s lifetime but do not regenerate if broken or removed. Generally, sheep horns are larger and more curved than those of goats, which tend to grow straight.

Sheep with Horns

List of Different Sheep Breeds With Horns

In some breeds, both males and females have horns, while in others, only the males are horned. Typically, the male sheep or rams have larger and more impressive horns than the females or ewes.

BreedWhich Gender Has HornsDescription of the HornsPurpose of the Breed
JacobRams and ewesTwo vertical center horns and two small horns that grow downwardMeat, skin, and wool
Wiltshire HornRams and ewesRams have spiral horns, with one turn added each year until they reach full maturity; ewes have shorter, backward-curving hornsMeat
Dorset HornRams and ewesHeavy and spiraledWool
Exmoor HornRams and ewesCurved with one and a half turnsMeat and wool
HebrideanRams and ewesBlack, curved, and occasionally scimitar-shapedConservation grazing
Scottish BlackfaceRams and ewesCurved with one and a half turnsMeat
AfrikanerRams and ewesRams have amber horns with one and a half turns; ewes have short, thin hornsLeather
AlaiRamsLong and curvedMeat and wool
Algarve ChurroRams and ewesRidged, with the ram’s horns projecting outward in the shape of a spiralMeat, also carpet wool
ArapawaRams and ewesLong and spiralledWool
BorerayRams and ewesLong and curved, with higher spiraling observed in ramsConservation grazing, meat, and wool
GuteRams and ewesCurved with one turnPreservation
IcelandicRams and ewesCurved with one and a half turnsMeat
Manx LoaghtanRams and ewesTwo grow upward in a slight curve, and two grow downward that are more curvedMeat
Navajo-ChurroMostly rams but sometimes observed in ewesCurved, with two growing upwards and two downwardsPelts
North RonaldsayMostly rams, about 20% of ewes have hornsRidged and spiraledMeat and wool
OuessantRamsCurved with one turnWool
RackaRams and ewesLong, spiraled, and extend in a straight directionMeat, milk, and wool
RoslagRamsLarge and curvedMeat and wool
SkuddeRamsLarge and spiraledMeat, felting, and landscape grazing

Dehorning or removing a sheep’s horns is discouraged as they play a significant role in the flock’s dynamics. Larger-horned rams tend to be more dominant in the hierarchy and face less competition from other males in the flock. Additionally, the horns have excess blood vessels that regulate temperature by adjusting blood flow.

Do Sheep Naturally Have More Than Two Horns

While most sheep have two horns, some display multiple horns and are said to be polycerate. For instance, the Manx Loangtan and Jacob sheep are known to have four horns as a standard. Some Manx Loangtan sheep have even been recorded to have six horns.

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