About Dorpers

Breed Standards


The Dorper Sheep Breeders’ Society of South Africa was founded in 1950 and now has 600 members throughout South Africa and Namibia. Three National Sales are held annually and a National Championship Show is held every second year.

Dorper courses are held throughout South Africa and a Judges’ Panel is made up of people who have passed a Junior Course, two Senior Courses and a Judges’ Examination. Inspectors who are also members of the Society, are appointed from this panel.

Increasing worldwide popularity

The Dorper has already been distributed worldwide and has proved itself a world winner. Worldwide, Dorper numbers are still increasing rapidly.

South Africa is proud to share the Dorper breed with the rest of the world.

Standard of excellence

The purpose of a Standard of Excellence is to indicate the degree of excellence of the animal by means of a description and a score by points according to visual appearance and performance. These values must be recorded in such a way as to give a true reflection of the excellence or deficiencies of the sheep.

For descriptive and comparative purposes sheep may be compared with each other according to a score card, and the following points are allotted, corresponding to the respective terms of the main sections of the standard of excellence.

Standard of excellence of Dorpers

Rating System

Very good

= 5 points

Above average

= 4 points


= 3 points

Poor or below average

= 2 points

Very poor with cull points

= 1 point


Represented by the symbol B


Strong and long, with large eyes, widely spaced and protectively placed. Strong nose, strong well-shaped mouth with well-fitted deep jaws. The forehead must not be dished. The size of the ears must be in relation to the head. A developed horn base or small horns are the ideal. Heavy horns are undesirable but permissible. The head must be covered with short, dullish black hair in the Dorper and dull, white hair in the White Dorper. The head must be dry i.e. without indications of fat localisation.

Fore-Quarter And Neck

The neck should be of medium length, well-fleshed and broad and well-coupled to the forequarters. Shoulders should be firm, broad and strong. A moderate protrusion of the brisket beyond the shoulders, moderate width and good depth are the ideal. Forelegs must be strong, straight and well-placed with strong pasterns and hoofs not too widely split. Weak pasterns and X legs must be discriminated against according to degree. Shoulders which appear loose, a brisket which slants up too sharply with no projection beyond the shoulders, crooked legs and weak walking ability, are faulty.


The ideal is a long, deep wide body, ribs well sprung, loin broad and full. The sheep must have a long straight back and not a “devil’s grip”. A slight dip behind the shoulders is permissible.


A long and wide rump is the ideal. The inner and outer twist to be well fleshed and deep in adult animals. The hind legs must be strong and well-placed, with sturdy feet and strong pasterns. Faulty pasterns must be discriminated against according to degree. The hocks must be strong without a tendency to turn in or out. Sickle, bandy or perpendicular hocks are culling faults.

Udder And Sex Organs

A well-developed udder and sex organs are essential in the ewe. The scrotum of the ram should not be too long and the testicles should be of equal size and not too small. A split scrotum is undesirable.

General Appearance

The sheep should be symmetrical and well-proportioned. A calm temperament with a vigorous appearance is the ideal.

Cover or fleece

Represented by the symbol H

The ideal is a short, loose, light covering of hair and wool with wool predominating on fore quarter and with a natural clean kemp underline.

Too much wool or hair is undesirable. Exclusively wool or hair is a fault. Manes are a disqualifier.

Size or growth rate

Represented by the symbol G

A sheep with a good weight for its age is the ideal.

Discrimination against extremely small or extremely big animals must be exercised.

Distribution of fat

Represented by the symbol D

Too much localisation of fat on any part of the body is undesirable. An even distribution of a thin layer of fat over the carcass and between the muscle-fibres is the ideal.

The sheep must be firm and muscular when handled.

Color pattern

Represented by the symbol P


A white sheep with black confined to the head and neck is the ideal. Black spots, to a limited extent on the body and legs are permissible, but an entirely white sheep or a sheep predominantly black is undesirable. Brown hair around the eyes, white teats, white under the tail and white hoofs are undesirable.

 White Dorpers

A white sheep, fully pigmented around the eyes, under the tail, on the udder and the teats is the ideal. A limited number of other coloured spots is permissible on the ears and underline.


Represented by the symbol T

Type is judged according to the degree to which the sheep conforms to the general requirements of the breed. Emphasis is placed on conformation. Size and fat distribution when determining type, while colour and covering are of secondary importance. (For pointing details, refer to Dorper Sheep Breeders’ Society of South Africa.

Average weights of Dorper ram lambs and rams as well as ewe lambs and ewes in good condition note: some of the ewes might have been pregnant.

Average Dorper weights


Rams & ram lambs

Ewes & ewe lambs

6 Teeth + 105.5 kg 95.0 kg
4 Teeth 102.2 kg 84.3 kg
2 Teeth 92.8 kg 70.9 kg
11 months 80.0 kg 65.2 kg
9 Months 69.5 kg 54.8 kg
6 months 54.6 kg 47.8 kg

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