Scottish Blackface

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A Scottish Blackface in the Outer Hebrides
A Scottish Blackface ram, circa 1890

The Blackface or Scottish Blackface is a British breed of sheep. It is the most common sheep breed of the United Kingdom. Despite the name, it did not originate in Scotland, but south of the border.[1]: 156 


The origins of the breed are uncertain. It was developed on the Anglo-Scottish border but it is not clear exactly when it became a distinct breed. It replaced the earlier Scottish Dun-face or Old Scottish Shortwool, a Northern European short-tailed sheep type probably similar to the modern Shetland.[1]: 156 

There are several types of Blackface in the United Kingdom, including the Perth variety, which is large-framed and coarse-woollen, and mainly found in north-east Scotland, Devon, Cornwall and Northern Ireland; the medium-framed Lanark type, with shorter wool, found in much of Scotland and in parts of Ireland; and the Northumberland Blackface, which is large with relatively soft wool.[2]


Blackfaces are horned, and as their name suggests, they usually have a black face (but sometimes with white markings), and black legs.[citation needed]


This breed is primarily raised for meat.[3] The wool is very coarse, with a fibre diameter of 28–38 μm and a staple length of about 250–350 mm.[4]


  1. ^ a b M.L. Ryder (1968). Sheep and the Clearances in the Scottish Highlands: A Biologist's View. Agricultural History Review 16 (2): 155–158. Archived 9 March 2006.
  2. ^ The Blackface Breed. Blackface Sheep Breeders Association. Accessed November 2019.
  3. ^ Breed data sheet: Blackface / United Kingdom (Sheep). Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed November 2019.
  4. ^ Scottish Blackface. Directory of U.S. Sheep Breeds. American Sheep Industry Association, Production, Education and Research Council. Archived 19 July 2011.