Breed standard


Origin and Distribution

The Blacknose sheep is an unpretentious indigenous breed, which is well-adapted to the harsh conditions of the mountains which it inhabits, in the German-speaking part of the Canton of Valais in Switzerland.  There are indications that this breed has existed since the 15th century. Today there are 17,500 herd book animals. 

The ewes can lamb twice a year after the age of two.


Typical Breed Characteristics

The Blacknose Sheep owe their name to their beautiful black Roman noses. The black colouring extends up the face to the eyes and surrounds them.  The ears are totally black and there are black markings on the fronts of the knees and on the hocks.  The lower legs are short black booted. The ewes have a black patch directly below their tails. Typically both rams and ewes of the Blacknose Sheep have spiral-shaped horns; the rams’ are massive and curved, the ewes’ horns tend to be straighter.  An important feature is the wool, which should be of similar length and thickness all over the animal’s body, head and legs.

Overall appearance

The Valais Blacknose Sheep is a mountain sheep breed which has equal wool distribution all over its body.  The impressive horns and distinct markings give it its unique appearance.  The Valais Blacknose Sheep has a harmonious, robust and large-framed body. 


1. Colour Features

Nose to the centre of the head is black

Black eye rims, both sides connected to the Nose

Black ears to the head

Ankles black with black spots on front and back of the knees

Ewes have black spot under their tail but it must not be too large and must be interrupted by the white tail.

The rams have no tail spots.


Head and neck

Short, dressed head

Wide mouth, broad forehead and Roman nose

Ears Medium

Short, well-muscled neck

Rams pronounced head shape



Spiral forming in the horizontal direction of the back equal gap

Occasional black stripes are tolerated


Width chest, shoulder

Wide and deep chest

Shoulder close fitting

Good spring of ribs



Long straight and well developed loin

Height within two years

Ewes 72-78cm

Rams 75-83 cm


Weight within two years

Ewes 70- 90kg

Rams 80 -125kg


2. Legs 

Short well placed

Straight between the joints with plenty of bone

Well wooled

Wide-legged position of the front legs

Spacious surefooted

Average ankle angulations

Solid bone structure

3. Wool

Fineness 5-4 (Swiss grading)

Staple length 10cm with a good crimp

Balanced fleece

Sheep should be evenly covered with a coat of long curly wool, of good quality and free from kemp or hair.