About the breed

Colin Pearse, a life member of the association has compiled two books on the history of the breed and the families that have breed them. This fascinating new edition can be yours for £33. Order from the chairman on the contacts page.


A brief description of the Whiteface Dartmoor sheep

The Whiteface Dartmoor sheep are hardy and can withstand very wet or cold winters.  They are excellent for crossing and ewes are first class milkers and good mothers.

registered sheep should have upright pasterns, and teeth that meet the edge of the pad.  They should comply with DEFRA rules with regard to identification ( tagging ) and tail docking.

HEAD:                            White, rams should be horned

FACE:                            Free of wool, broad and bold

EARS:                             Short and thick with rounded ends,  occasional black spots

NOSE:                            Black

NECK:                            Strong by the shoulder, medium length

BODY:                           Medium length, deep and broad

BREAST:                     Deep and prominent

LEGS:                          White

FEET/HOOVES:       Black

BONE:                          Medium

TAIL:                             Broad

WOOL:                         White, of good staple, fairly strong curl, average weight  5.5-7kg from ewes


The full breed characteristics are as follows:

  • White head and face. Face of ewe free of wool
  • Ears short and thick with occasional black spots on the them. Nose black, face broad and bold. Male sheep may be horned
  • Neck strong and massive by shoulder and of medium length
  • Breast deep and prominent. Body of medium length, deep and broad
  • Good broad tail
  • Ability to withstand either very wet or hard winters, without detriment to subsequent lambing season or to wool.


Average weight of wool 12-16 lbs from Ewes. 10-16 lbs from Hoggs. Under suitable conditions much heavier fleeces are possible and shears of up to 21 lbs have been recorded by Breeders. White of good staple with a fairly strong curl. The wool should be moderately greasy.

Ewes are excellent for crossing, are first class milkers and good mothers.


Ewe and lamb

Whiteface Dartmoor sheep are one of Britain’s ancient breeds. Although the majority are now settled on Dartmoor ( They are sometimes Known as the Widecombe Whitefaces), it is thought that the breed would originally have been spread over the Westcountry. As more land became enclosed they were driven back to Dartmoor where the breed is now firmly rooted. They are extremely hardy and are mainly kept on poorer pastures at 500- 2000ft. above sea level, grazing the moor in the summer months as required.
Whitefaces are renowned for their excellent mothering instinct and ease of lambing.

Crossed with Suffolk, they produce an excellent butchers lamb, or crossed with Teeswater or Bluefaced Leicester they make a mule that is vigorous and retains the hardiness, mothering instincts and ability to raise multiple lambs.
Whiteface Dartmoor Sheep were on Natural England’s ’Native breed at risk’ register but since great interest in the breed over the last few years the breed is in a reasonably sound position.