We all know what sheep look like. Or, we all think we know what they look like.
They’re staples in the books we grew up with and in our mental imagery of the ideal farm. Dog-sized critters with heavy cotton-ball coats: woolly, soft and sweet.
But that’s not entirely accurate. Sheep can weigh several hundred pounds, and can be incredibly stubborn. They’ll butt you if they feel like it, and all their weight concentrated in sharp little hooves can mean bruised toes or feet if you get in their way.
Sheep are not always white puffy clouds of innocence. Some of them look more like what you’d think a goat looks like, and many people mistake hair sheep (yes, there are breeds that have hair rather than wool) for their conniving brothers.
Sheep are not always the… brightest critters, either. Faced with tempting foods, they have been known to literally eat themselves to death. The wool breeds have their own hazards, as their coats will absorb water and they can easily drown.
It’s not all bad, of course. The reality of sheep is just a lot grittier than the limited interactions you get with the friendly (albeit stinky) greedy sheep you see in petting zoos once a year. They’re silly and a little naughty, but can be as tame as dogs.
Here to prove that sheep can be wonderful is a relatively new breed that is absolutely adorable. They look like miniature yaks, or Muppets, or shaggy pups.
Known as the Valais Blacknose Sheep, they’ve slowly made their way around the world after getting their start in Switzerland. Their shaggy white coats and black extremities are striking, and they’re so fluffy you’ll want to die.
Christine Reed, one of the people responsible for bringing the breed to the USA, told BNQT that she and several others started their herd off with embryos imported from the U.K. and Scotland.
“It would be fair enough to say they are going viral,” Reed said. “The Valais Blacknose New Zealand Facebook page now has over 11,000 followers and we have inquiries daily from all over the world to import them. They continue to be sought after in the U.K., and the breeding up program in the USA and soon in Canada is growing in popularity.”
According to the Valais Blacknose New Zealand website, “They are originally from Switzerland but were imported into other European countries including the UK as little 4-5 years ago where they became very popular for their visual appeal and their personalities.”
“The result has been the rest of the world has fallen in love with them, however to date only New Zealand has been able to import embryos in 2017 due to a recent change in its biosecurity laws.”
The website also mentioned that these woolly creatures are unusually friendly and make excellent companion animals.
“The Swiss say, ‘make friends with a Valais and you have a friend for life!’ and that about explains it,” the website states. “They are gentle and curious with very little fear of humans, making them the perfect pet.”
“Easy and quiet to handle, to catch them to trim their feet or give them a good “once over” health check, often they just need to be called (with the added attraction of a bucket of nuts helping of course!).”
But with the price of full-grown sheep running into $5,000+ (one posted on Facebook recently went for around US $7,100), this isn’t a pet for the fainthearted or light-walleted.
Still, it doesn’t cost anything to admire these ridiculously cute critters from afar. Have you ever seen anything like this before?
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