United Horned Hair Sheep Association, Inc.
These are the standards that all breeders should do their best to have as breeding
goals. Some standards are required for registration and a complete list of standards
which are required for registration is listed afterward.

Traits discriminated against, traits which are suggested to be used minimally in
breeding the sheep, are a fault and are not a disqualification and animals exhibiting
faults in one area or another are still able to be registered. An animal displaying a trait
that is listed as a disqualification is NOT able to be registered or recorded. Sheep
which do not exhibit the requirements for registrations are considered to be
disqualified and not eligible for registration.

The General Character and Appearance of the Sheep represented by the United
Horned Hair Sheep Association, Inc., should be one of a noble animal.  The sheep are
not purely a meat breed but are more for multiple markets
(Click Here for more
information about multiple markets) and may not necessarily weigh nor exhibit the
deep and heavy muscling of sheep which are considered purely meat breeds.
However, sheep within this division may exhibit deeper depth and wideness of
muscling as compared to other divisions.  The goals of breeders who utilize this
division are to increase the size of the body and the basal circumference.

Should be well balanced and proportional to the body and held high when the sheep
is alerted. Ewes should have a more feminine face and features than the rams.

The back of the head of mature rams may display a slight to extreme rounded hump
behind the horn base. This is part of the rams’ physical frame which helps cushion the
brain during any sparring.

Young lambs may have a straight profile to a shortened nose with raised forehead.

As ewes age, some may display a slight roman nose (elevated area on the nose
bridge seen when viewed from the side profile) while many will maintain a straight
profile.  In addition, some may show slightly elevated or more prominent forehead area.

As the rams age, a slight to moderate roman nose (elevated area on the nose bridge
seen when viewed from the side profile) may be displayed. One may note a bigger
elevation on the nose bridge during times association with breeding cycles or during
an increase in sparring activity among rams. In addition, a prominent forehead may be

Sheep within this division are considered a hair or shedding sheep. These sheep
actually have two coats: a hair type coat and usually a more wooly undercoat. The
undercoat may resemble a thicker hair to a more wool type look and texture. This
undercoat grows during cool weather and will naturally shed off when warmer weather

In colder climates, some sheep may exhibit a 3 inch or more, full winter undercoat;
however, the undercoat should completely shed off without shearing when warm
weather arrives with the exceptions of lambs and some yearlings.

The ability of the sheep to grow and shed the undercoat may lead to only partial
shedding for a time in various climates. A complete shedding generally occurs by May,
June or early July. The exact time for a complete and natural shedding depends on
the climate. Lambs and some yearlings may not shed totally till the next year.

The complete and natural shedding ability is important in maintaining ease of care and
a lack of such shedding may be indicative of parent breeds in the background that are
not desirable or of having wool parent breeds in the recent background.

As sheep within this division have influences from other divisions, Painted Desert and
Corsican color patterns are recognized.
1. Flashy/Loud
2. Medium Flashy
3. Medium
4. Medium Minimal
5. Minimal
6. Solid – no spots (this is saved for lambs out of spotted genetics)
7. Blackbelly
8. Lightbelly
9. Mouflon - For the sheep maintaining color patterns from Stumberg influence, the
Corsican “Mouflon” pattern will be utilized as Stumberg sheep have
Mouflon and Argali content.
10. Solid Color pattern

In addition, the following color patterns are recognized for sheep maintaining mostly
the colors and patterns of the original sheep:

**** - Bighorn (Fawn to and including chocolate, some gray overtones along with
possibly some light sable gray or brown, with prominent lighter to white tail and rump
patch, and gray to white muzzle). (The number for this category will be determined by
software designer)

Colors defined in the Painted Desert Sheep Page Breed Standard will be utilized to
describe the overall coloration of these sheep.

With some influences, lambs may present as lighter colorations with deepening of
colors during the aging process.

Ears should be parallel to the ground or at higher angles. A very slight angle
below parallel to the ground may be noticeable at times; however, the ears should
become parallel to the ground or higher when on alert. SEE PICTURE TO THE RIGHT

While at birth, lambs may display droopy ears, especially those who are part of a
multiple birth; however, the ear(s) should straighten up within a few days. Otherwise,
ears must not droop enough to be considered floppy. Such ears would tend to
indicate cross-breeding in the background of the sheep.  Naturally occurring (not due
to injury or other difficulties) droopy ears are a disqualification for registration.

Ears generally should come to a slight point at the tip and not be completely rounded
in shape. However, within this division, some ears may represent stronger tips or be
more rounded and look wider and thicker. Elf ears (ears with external cartilage which
is generally 1/2 inch to 3 inches in length and exhibiting a more v-shaped ear) and
Gopher ears (ears without visible external cartilage or with less than 1/2 inch) are
acceptable. Natural ears may vary in length but are generally in the range of 3 - 4
inches. Abbreviations used within the registry are as such: E indicating Elf Ears, G
indicating Gopher Ears, and N indicating Natural Ears. SEE ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE

Eyes should be bright and alert and must be free from genetic eyelid defects such as

Incisor teeth should meet the dental pad. A severe and distinct space between the
incisor teeth and the dental pad is a disqualification.

Sheep should not have an extreme overbite (parrot mouth) or underbite (monkey jaw).


CLICK HERE to learn how to estimate the age of your sheep by looking at the teeth!

Neck should continue from the head and gradually lead into the shoulders and be
gracefully held when sheep are alert.

A ewe’s neck will be graceful and proportional in size based on the ewe‘s overall frame.

A ram’s neck will be thicker and more muscular than a ewe‘s neck in appearance and
to the touch.

Mature rams may or may not display a mane in the winter due to influences of some
sheep breeds within this division. Some rams will shed the mane completely in the
summer while others will retain the mane. Some ewes may also exhibit a short mane.

A ram’s mane may be varied in length from short to long, some even almost touching
the ground when in full winter coat. Some manes may be much shorter and hang just
a couple of inches below the bottom line of the chest.

The shoulders should be developed and muscled proportionally to the size of the
sheep. They should flow into the ribs (well laid into the ribs). Some of the sheep may
look blockier due to influences within this division.

The withers (the area between the shoulder blades along the top line) may be elevated
with rams exhibiting a more pronounced and higher elevated wither. Some sheep may
have a completely straight topline and no elevation at the withers.

The width of the chest may be narrow to moderate with a more athletic look -
proportional to the size of the sheep.  However, especially with higher content Rocky
Mountain Bighorn sheep, chests may be from the moderate to a wide range.

Continuing after a smooth transition from straight or elevated withers, the back should
be strong, level and relatively smooth.

The back is proportioned to the height of the sheep and is generally not longer than
the height.

Ribs should be well sprung. Abdomen should allow for multiple births and be
proportional for smaller sized ewes; however, some influences may tend toward single

The bottom line should not be tucked in at the fore flank nor the rear flank.

The Legs should be sound and proportioned to the size of individual sheep. Sheep will
have long athletic legs, usually longer than body height from the bottom line to top
line. However, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep may influence a shorter but stronger
leg appearance. Rams will generally have thicker legs than ewes.

Legs should have a conformational correct appearance. Front legs should not be
knock-kneed, bow-legged, buck-kneed or calf kneed. Rear Legs should not be cow
hocked, sickle hocked or post legged. Lower Legs on both front and rear legs should
not toe in (angle inward/pigeon toed) or toe out (angle outward/splay-footed) too
much. Pasterns should be strong and correct.


A nice four square stance is desired with legs standing nicely inline with the body of
the sheep.  However, while on alert, these sheep may be viewed leaning forward
ready to spring away.

Continuing from the back, the rump should exhibit a rounded slope to the dock.

Size and muscling of rump are proportional to the size of the overall sheep.

The Thigh should be well developed in proportion to the size of the sheep.

The twist is the junction where the insides of the thighs meet. To compare sheep as
far as meat capability, the measurement of the depth of the twist may be taken. To
measure the depth of the twist, one can place hands at the top of the tail and at the
crotch. This measurement assists especially in judging of pure meat sheep breeds
and shows the depth of muscling in this area. SEE ILLUSTRATION TO LEFT

With the multiple influences on some sheep, the depth of the twist may be minimal to
moderately deep. Rocky Mountain Bighorn influence should deepen the twist. The
Twist should be muscled proportional to the size and frame of the individual sheep.

A ewe’s udder should be well proportioned and relatively symmetrical and have only
two teats. A ewe with more than two teats is discriminated against. The teats should be
free of obvious defects affecting function.

Both Testicles should be uniform and symmetrical, free of obvious deformities.
Testicles should be well sized and the scrotum itself should also be free of obvious


Tail lengths vary.  Shorter tails are preferred.  Tails should not be “round” and should
be more “flat“.         

A tail that is reaching to the hocks is discriminated against.  A tail past the hocks is a
disqualification from registration in the United Horned Hair Sheep Association, Inc.


Hooves should be well formed and kept free of deformities and disease.

All rams must grow and display horns, however, both polled (hornless) and horned
ewes are acceptable as are ewes with scurs. Some breeders prefer not to have scurs
on their sheep due to scurs being easily knocked off and bleeding that could occur.

Rams with scurs are not eligible for registration. To be registered, ram lambs out of
unregistered parents will need to exhibit horns in submitted registration photographs.

In general, wide horns (horns with plenty of room from the face) are preferred over
horns that may grow close to the face and eventually touch the face. Some flock
owners and breeders prefer horns which are a little closer to face (more heart
shaped) or have tight curls while other flock owners prefer horns which have much
wider areas between the face and the horns or less tight curls (horns almost sticking
straight out).

Filing or training of the horns to prevent horns from touching the face is acceptable
and will not prevent the ram from being registered. However, such activities should
always be disclosed in an honest manner to potential customers.

Horns can be of varying shapes.


Overall directional shape of horn growth
Supracervical Horns (abbreviated SH)
(Heart Shaped)

Homonymous Horns (abbreviated HH)
(spiraling out)

Polycerate/Multiple Horns (abbreviated MH)
(multiple horns - 3, 4, +)

Ewes’ horns really do not take on shapes as the rams’ horns. They sometimes can be
curved outward or backward. To indicate Horned Ewes in the registry, HE is the
abbreviation used.  SEE PHOTOS TO LEFT

A mature ram’s horn lengths vary based on actual age, individual ram (genetics),
areas of the country (environment and weather), nutrition and health. Growth rate
(the rate at which the horns grow) is also dependent upon some of the above factors.
Horns generally slow down during late winter/early spring unless fed to overcome the
slowdown; however, the average overall growth rate for horns for young rams is 1" per
month for the first two years. Some rams may seem to get a good start with quick
growing horns while others horns grow slower but then catch up as the ram matures.
Based on above factors and breed influences, mature rams usually display 20 - 29
inch length horns to measurements in the 30 - 39 with 40+ considered superb.

Bases on mature rams generally run 10 inches in circumference but may range from 8
- 12 inches. The stronger the influence of some breeds such as the Rocky Mountain
Bighorn Sheep, the larger the bases. According to Toweill and Geist (1999), 17 inch
basal circumference is sometimes achievable in mature rams.  However, in practice
with Bighorn Sheep influence, an average of 15 inch basal circumferences is
observed when nutrition, environment, and health of the animal are optimal.   

Some breeders will prefer larger base measurements as the horns grow out from the
bases and with larger base measurements, the belief is, the better future opportunity
for growth exists.  In addition, larger basal measurements add a strong feature for
photos and in other markets.


While shapes and lengths of the sheep breeds represented by UHHSA, Inc., are
similar, there may be color variation within this division.

SEE PHOTOS TO THE RIGHT to view horn colors in young rams: White, Black, and

The average height for sheep within this division for the ewes is 20 - 30 inches at the
withers and 25 - 35 inches at the withers for rams.  Individual sheep may be outside of
the range and there is no fault or disqualification for above or below average heights.
The wide range of heights reflects the breeders’ choices of bloodlines to cultivate
within stated breed choice restrictions.

Please note, sheep within this division may run taller than most of the other divisions
within UHHSA, Inc.  Heavy influences of Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep may push
mature ram height towards the 33 - 40 inch mark while some may maintain typical
heights of the Painted Desert sheep or other sheep represented by the United Horned
Hair Sheep Association, Inc.

The weight of the sheep varies as this division is utilizing a specific mix of influences to
push towards higher weights and horn basal circumferences.  

Ewes may weigh 60 - 150 lbs with an average of 70 - 100 lbs.  Rams generally weigh
from 75 - 200 pounds with an average of 100 lbs.  However, heavy influences from
Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep may push mature ram’s weight toward the 200 lb - 300
lb range.

Sheep within this division are the results of efforts of breeders through the years to
increase body size and horn basal circumference, utilizing native or primitive sheep
along with the Black Hawaiian, Corsican, Desert Sand, Mouflon, Multi-horned hair,
Painted Desert, and Texas Dall Sheep. While called the American Heavy Horned
Division, this does not limit influences to breeds classified as “heavy horned” versus
“thin horned” in literature as some literature classifies Alaskan Dall as “thinhorn”.  The
name of the division is a recognition of shepherds’ goals of increased basal

Information about any known background of the ancestral breeds should be included
in pedigrees with their percentages of the breeds noted to assist breeders in choosing
bloodlines. If a sheep is unregistered, the animal should be clearly labeled as
unregistered. This information should include any known wool breeds in the bloodlines.

Classifications: (may have more than one)
A = Alaskan Dall influence
B = Bighorn influence with subclasses below based on the classification in Toweill
and Geist (1999)
 R = Rocky Mountain Bighorn – larger blocky bodies, with heavy horns and
        tending more toward a tighter curl.
 C = California Bighorn – smaller bodies, horns wider curls
 D = Desert Bighorn – smaller bodies
S = Stumberg influence (Mouflon and Argali)
O = Other influence

Toweill, D. E., & Geist, V. (1999). Return of Royalty: Wild Sheep of North America.
Missoula, MT: Boone and Crockett Club & Foundation for North American Wild
THIS website is copyright May 2009 by United Horned Hair Sheep
Association, Inc.  Active Members of UHHSA are permitted to use
information on their website to help in ethical and honest promotion and
education about the breeds represented.  However, a link to this
website should be provided.

Pictures are copyrighted by owners of the sheep pictured and
permission will need to be sought to use the pictures.
Measuring depth of the twist:  
Hand Placement is indicated
by the horizontal red lines.  The
depth is the vertcal blue line
Homonymous (HH)
Horns spiraling out like a corkscrew especially when viewed from side
Back Legs - Side View
Front Legs - Front View
Front Legs - Side View
Gopher Ear
Elf Ear Length
Natural Ear length
Toes Angled
Pigeon Toed
Toes Angled
Weak Pasterns
Back Legs - Rear View
Normal Bite
General Anatomy
Both Testicles
Normal and even
(L) One testicle did not descend
Unilateral Cryptorchidism
(R) Both testicles did not descend
Bilateral Cryptorchidism
Both testicles small
sized but still
functioning properly
One testicle
smaller than the
Tail Lengths
Tails with these lengths are Correct
Tails to the hocks are acceptable but
considered a fault.
Tails past the hocks (red horizontal line)
Disqualification from Registration
Supracervical (SH)
Heart Shaped Horns
displayed by a Mouflon Ram
Polycerate Horns
More than 2 horns
Mature Ram on Left displays 4 separate horns
Ram Lamb on Right has two separate  horns and two fused horns
Fused Horns are considered a FAULT
Click on picture
above to learn how
to measure and
score your ram's
Sheep with strong Bighorn influence
may exhibit a light to white tail or rump
patch of varying size.
Easy Does It!” By Pat Gaines is licensed under CC BY-
NC 2.0 Cropped to show profile of young lamb for
educational purposes. Rocky Mountain Bighorn Lamb.
Watchful Mother” By James Marvin
Phelps is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Desert Bighorn Sheep, Zion Canyon
National Park, Utah.  July 21, 2015.
Cropped to show horns.
Balancing Ewe” By James Marvin
Phelps is licensed under CC BY-NC
2.0 Bighorn Sheep, Zion National Park
Utah.  October 30, 2010. Cropped to
show ewes’ horns.
Ears will generally be at parallel to the ground or above. Sheep which naturally
have ears below parallel to the ground are disqualified from registration

Left Photo. “
Blockade” By James Marvin Phelps is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Desert Bighorn Sheep. Zion Canyon National Park Utah. October 30, 2011.  
Cropped to show faces.
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep” By Rennett Stowe is licensed
CC BY 2.0  Note the white muzzle.
Watchful Mother” By James Marvin
Phelps is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Desert Bighorn Sheep, Zion Canyon
National Park, Utah.  July 21, 2015. Note
the tail/rump patch.
Life Lesson” By James Marvin Phelps is
licensed under
CC BY-NC 2.0 Bighorn
Sheep. East Zion, Zion National Park Utah.
October 30, 2010. Cropped to show two of
the three sheep closer. Note white muzzle
and rump/tail patch.
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