Physical Features


A ram should express masculinity and alertness. Masculinity in a ram can be judged by its eye and general attitude, rather than by the size of its head. A ewe should show that intelligence and female character found in outstanding sheep.

A flock of noticeably large in the head and heavy in the shoulders is not suitable for “unassisted” lambing.

Lower jaw: Well developed, i.e. deep and with a square or broad form to allow for sufficient spacing and, therefore, proper development of the incisor teeth. The latter should meet the pad at right angles, and no definite under-shot or over-shot condition should be tolerated.

Nose: Slightly roman. This type of nose, together with more or less erect ears, are indications of that active alert character which it is so necessary to preserve, if you want “Easy Care” sheep.

Head Covering: The face should be open and white with a covering of fine hair, indicating a soft handling fleece. Black spots on the face, are not permissible in stud sheep. There should be no wool below the eyes, and the crown or poll should be covered with a top-knot.

Ears: Of short to medium size with a 10 to 2 setting, giving an alert appearance – an indication of alert and active character. Their texture and covering should be soft handling, as indicative of a soft handling fleece. Thin, pink ears are undesirable, as in all breeds, as they are liable to scald. Small black spots are permissible, if only a few, but are objectionable and to be discouraged.

Horns: Not permissible.


Strong and should hold the head well up. This, together with the high winters and the setting of the shoulders, enables the sheep freedom of movement – a most important feature.


The withers should be higher than the shoulder blades, which should fit smoothly against the vertebrae. The shoulders be well laid back so as to produce the correct angle in the pasterns and to avoid any “straightness” in the front legs.

Excessive width, as favoured by some breeds, is to be avoided at all costs. It is quite unneccessary and is responsible for a lot of trouble at lambing.


The top view should be a wedge shape narrower in the shoulders with a wide back end. Since the withers are higher than in lowland breeds, and as there is usually a slight slope at the tailhead, the topline will not be so level from withers to tailhead. It is not discernible when the carcase is hung up and, therefore, does not detract from its value.

From the point of view of ease of lambing, this slope or droop is of no consequence. The all-important point in this connection is plenty of width between the points of both the hips and the pin bones, especially the former, or, in other words, the width of the hindquarters.

Chest, heart-girth and spring of ribs

The usual descriptions of these characters as for any breed of sheep apply equally to the Perendale with excessively deep briskets also contributing to lambing problems.

Front Legs

Front view of sheep kneesThe front legs of a sheep should be straight when viewed from in front. On a structurally sound animal, a vertical line may be drawn from the point of the shoulder to the middle of the hoof. This line should intersect the knee.

‘Knock kneed’ sheep may have turned out front feet.

‘Bowed legged’ animals are often narrow in their stance and may roll their feet as they walk.

From the side, the forearm and cannon bones should be in a straight line. If the knee joint is forward of this line, pasterns and shoulders can be serious faults.

Excessively heavy bones and very short cannon bones should be avoided, and unnaturally short legs will handicap the hill sheep.

Hind Legs

Side view of back legsBack view of hind legs

The structure of the hind legs is similar to the front.

There are well defined angles in the joints, at the hip, stifle, hock and pastern joints. The angles are critical, particularly during mating when large amounts of stress are placed on these joints in rams.

Too much angle in the leg joint is less than ideal and a ‘sickle hocked’ condition exists.

When viewed from behind the hock joint should be in a straight line.

A sheep is ‘cow hocked’ when the hocks are rotated inwards and the hooves rotated outwards. If the legs are wide at the hocks (bow legged), the feet are turned in. Extra pressure is placed on the hock joints and lameness is common.


Angles of different pastern jointsThe way the hooves grow often indicates structural problems further up the legs. Long or excessively short even claws may indicate too much or not enough pastern angle, causing both claws of the hoof to grow or wear excessively.

Overgrown claws affect the mobility and performance of the animal.

The figures below indicate the correct angle of the pastern joint.