Standard of Perfection
|The breed is also known as:
Head and Face
Head carried strongly, not too high, and set on a short, thick neck. Head
is neat and cleanly chiseled, wide between the ears and tapering slightly
to the nostrils. There should be no sign of horns or scurs. Forelock
should be present but not overly abundant, and should have a texture
similar to the wool of the body. Face cover should be limited, and is more
present in young animals than older ones. There should be no tendency for
wool blindness. The face has a wedge shape and is covered with short white
hair, which should be cleanly white with no trace of gray or sandy pigment
uniformly distributed throughout. Isolated discrete spots of black hair on
face and ears are not objectionable. The white hair over dark skin gives
the desired overall appearance of blue. Muzzle is strong and wide, with
teeth meeting the dental pad evenly. Eyes are full sized, bright and
clear. Ears are blue (white hair over gray skin), fine, and fairly long,
set on the side of the head and carried horizontally. Black spots are
allowable on the ears.
Comment: The head is an essential component of the breed type, and the ear
carriage, shape, and degree and character of hair and wool on the head all
reflect this. In addition the head is a component of soundness. Wide
mouths with even teeth are better able to consume grass.
Neck is short to medium length, is strong, and is level with the back.
Comment: The neck carriage and style are a part of breed type and set the
Leicester Longwool apart from other related longwools which have a higher
The shoulders are upright, and are wide over the top. The shoulders meet
the back smoothly, with no tendency for a dip between them over the top.
Comment: The shoulders are a part of the wide, thick conformation that is
typical of the breed. A dip, or “mutton withers” is objectionable since it
is functionally weak and allows for degradation of wool between the
The chest should be deep and wide and the breast prominent.
The back is wide and level. It is well filled behind the shoulders,
resulting in great girth and thickness through the heart girth. The back
carries firm even flesh. The loin is long, wide and deep.
The ribs are well sprung, giving the barrel great capacity for lungs and
The rear quarters are full and square, with no tendency for a narrow rear.
The legs are well muscled and full. The tail is set on well and is nearly
level with the back. Tails are ideally docked with too short a dock
Legs and Feet
The legs are straight from the back and front view, are tightly attached
and are set wide apart. The legs from hocks and knees down are covered
with short white hair or a combination of hair and wool. The hair and wool
on the legs is ideally free from gray, rust or sand color, although some
animals have discrete black spots. From the side the limbs have correct
angles at shoulders, stifle, hip, hock and pasterns. The cannon bones are
short, and the pasterns upright without being too steep. The hooves are
black and tough and are resistant to foot rot.
Comment: Leicester sheep should be large, robust, square sheep, as
reflected in the chest, back, ribs, hindquarters, legs and feet. They
should be thick throughout, with great body capacity. Length, width and squareness are all important and typical of the breed, although the sheep
can become too extremely square and wide and as a result can have poor
The skin of the body is a healthy pink color, with the occasional black or
gray spot not penalized if these spots grow white wool.
Comment: Leicesters have heavily pigmented facial skin, and with that
comes a tendency for pigmented skin throughout. This pigment is not
objectionable unless it is associated with pigmented wool on otherwise
white individuals. Pigmented skin tends to increase as sheep age so that
very old sheep are likely to have grayer skin than younger sheep.
Movement is free, confident and smooth.
Comment: Functional movement is the key to the sheep being able to use
pasture effectively and is a critical component of the breed type.
Constitution and General Appearance
Leicester Longwool sheep are alert and robust, and have style and
character. They should be active yet docile and easily handled.
Comment: Docility and ease of handling are important components of breed
Mature rams range from 140 pounds to 330 pounds; mature ewes from 110
pounds to 220 pounds.
The udders of ewes should be tightly and well attached, symmetrical and
with even texture throughout. Extra teats are moderately objectionable.
The testes of the male should be symmetrical, with good tone and should
hang freely in the scrotum. Testes and related structures should be free
of abnormal lumps or textures. The prepuce of the male should be clean and
not ulcerated. Ewes should mother their lambs well with good milk
production for rapid growth.
Comment: Reproductive function is critical to the breed without which the
breed is of little utility. This includes milk production for females and
testicular function and capacity for males, both of which are related to
the conformation and textural quality of these organs.
The fleece is dense, and grade and style are uniform over the entire
animal. The wool is ideally silky and lustrous with a soft handle. Locks
should hang individually, have medium crimp or wave and have no tendency
for crossfibering. The wool should have a well defined crimp or wave over
the entire lock, and should be a uniform texture from the skin to the tip.
High luster is typical of the breed. Wool is clean and white with little
tendency for yellowing. Colored spots in white fleeces are objectionable.
The wool growth for one year varies from 5 to 14 inches. Fleece weights
for ewes vary from 6 to 14 pounds, for rams 9 to 20 pounds. The fiber
diameter is usually 32 to 38 microns, with a Bradford count of 40s to 46s.
Comment: The fleece of Leicester sheep is very distinctive and is an
important part of the breed. Fleece characteristics set the breed apart
from others and must be rigorously guarded.
Colored sheep are acceptable. Colored sheep are colored throughout the
head and legs, and throughout the fleece. Colored sheep do not include
white sheep with areas of colored fleece as these are objectionable in the
breed. The colored areas of white sheep arise through genetic mechanisms
that are a great risk to a white breed. The mechanisms for more uniformly
colored sheep (some of which are attractively shaded over the body) are
not a risk to a white breed, since the result is sheep that are either
wholly colored or wholly white. Aside from color, the standard for colored
sheep is as for white sheep described above. The usual colors in the breed
are “English Blue” which is a shaded gray, and black.
Breeders Association (LLSBA)
705 Hamilton St. Williamsburg, VA 23185