Major success for Greyface Dartmoor sheep: As of April 2024 this south-west longwool breed is no longer categorised as rare on the RBST Watchlist. Since 2009 the number of flocks has increased by 155%.

This will mean the breed will no longer be catergorised on the RBST Watchlist as a priority or at risk breed but will be in the other native breeds category. This decision is a testament to the excellent work undertaken by the breed society and its dedicated breeders.

Key Characteristics

The Greyface Dartmoor is a hardy breed suited to grazing uplands and able to cope with most weather conditions. The breed is known for being placid and easy to bucket train. Anecdotal evidence suggests a level of resistance to footrot. Lambing percentage is usually around 150%. Lambs are small and lively and there are few lambing problems. 

  • A sturdy longwool breed with a long, lustrous fleece.
  • Ewes weigh around 60-70kg and rams, 75-100kg. 
  • The white face should be the only part of the sheep that is free of wool.
  • There should be distinctive black or grey speckling around the nose.


  • The Greyface Dartmoor is also known as the Improved Dartmoor and descends from the ancient hill sheep that used to graze Dartmoor.
  • In the 19th century improvements were carried out using longwool breeds to try to develop a more profitable breed.
  • The Dartmoor Sheep Breeders’ Association was formed in 1909 to try to promote the breed beyond the South West and indeed the breed is widespread throughout the country although mostly in very small flocks.


The Greyface Dartmoor ewe is an excellent mother and produces a good commercial lamb when crossed with a terminal sire. Although the Greyface Dartmoor is not as prolific as other longwool breeds it is more hardy and is suitable as a crossing sire to produce a thrifty halfbred ewe for the lowland farmer.

The Greyface Dartmoor produces a heavy, versatile fleece well suited for use in carpet and other hard wearing woollen products. There is the potential to create added value products from the fleece. Staple length- 25-30cm. Fleece weight- 7- 9kg. Quality- 36s-40s.

A purebred Greyface Dartmoor lamb can reach 16-20kg deadweight within 4 months. The breed remains lean and is suitable for taking onto heavier weights (25-30kg deadweight at around 8-9 months). A crossbred lamb from a Greyface Dartmoor will grow quickly and has the potential to grade well.

Did you know?

Traditionally the long, curly, lustre wool was used to make blankets, carpets and cloth. 

Breed Societies

For more information about the breed visit the The Dartmoor Sheep Breeders Association