About Dorpers

Breed Characteristics

Outstanding Characteristics Of the Dorper

These important characteristics are essential for proper selection. We don’t have to wonder how to achieve these as they are bred into the breed over the past 60 years. It is therefore our obligation to future generations, not to breed these characteristics out or select them out.

When you do your selection keep the following in mind

The appearance of the Dorper appeals to many people, and it is easy to care about something that pleases the eye.

Good breeding practice

Dorpers can lamb three times in two years. To achieve this, remember the following:


This is measured by the well being of the animal and the ability to produce and reproduce under any condition, and is determined by the following:

The ewe should keep reasonable condition while raising her lamb to be ready for the next mating cycle. However, be fair to your animals, especially ewes raising multiple lambs, under drought and poor grazing conditions – let nature help you to select for this important aspect.


The Dorper was originally bred to produce under arid conditions. Now also farmed in ultra cold, snow and wet conditions.

Under these conditions the animal must be able to survive and resist health hazards and diseases. You can select for hardiness through observation and record keeping.

Veld Utilization

The Dorper is outstanding in this aspect and being non-selective in its grazing habits, means that it will fully utilize virtually any type of grazing or roughage. This trait also makes the breed excellent when participating in any controlled grazing improvement program. It is an absolute fallacy that the Dorper “tramples” the pastures (veld). It is strictly the farmers’ responsibility to control his stocking rate.

According to the research done by Prof. Tertius Brand of the Elsenburg Agric Research Centre, who received all research on diet selection etc. of Dorpers, there is a lack of information on the breed under more intensive conditions, but it seems clear that Dorpers are less selective feeders than other breeds. They are bigger than most wool sheep, but they consume less herbage per metabolic size and can actually be used to improve veld conditions. Obviously, the farmers’ stocking rate must be correct.

Animals can be compared by means of the so called relative trampling index, which uses body weight, sleeping length, spoor size and distance walked to determine the potential ability to disturb the soil surface. In various tests done around the country it was proven that Dorpers take in lower quality materials, thus improving veld conditions. However, more research is needed under extensive conditions as well as on other behaviour aspects of this unique breed.

Good Mothering Qualities

The Dorper ewe will nourish her lambs under difficult conditions. When the ewes are left alone they will lamb easily, and will retain and look after their lambs. Give them enough space with good grazing, clean water, etc.

Furthermore, they will give you a good return on your investment. The Dorper does not easily lose their lambs, even if they are handled soon after lambing. The mortality rate in the Dorper is low.

Easy Care

Dorpers are easy care animals. With the correct covering on the animal, you are ensured of good demand for breeding material as no shearing is required.

Dorpers and White Dorpers generate additional income from the sale of skins.

Dorper Skins

Explore more

Breed History

Breed Standards

Tattoo Marking

Pizzle Disease