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Submitted on
February 18, 2013
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Sheep and Goats: Learn the Difference by Hukkanaama Sheep and Goats: Learn the Difference by Hukkanaama
Big image, whoah man!

I wanted to stretch my graphic designer muscles after having done little to no graphic design stuff for almost a year. Phew! So, I bring you a short and sweet guide to how to distinguish a sheep from a goat! Even though they appear very similar, they are actually very easy to tell apart.

Oh course, the facts here are mostly generalizations. For example, I'm sure there are some domesticated goat breeds that don't have horns, as there are domesticated sheep breeds that do have them, and stuff like that. These are just basic guidelines. (Fun fact: In 2005, a flock of Finnsheep were found in Jaala, Finland, that had reverted back close to the original, historical form of Finnsheep due to uncontrolled breeding and harsh living conditions. These sheep, dubbed as "Jaala sheep" came in variety of colors, had fur on top of wool and horns - traits that aren't common to modern day Finnsheep. Apparently this caused the entire Finnish textile archeology and middle age enthusiast community to implode on itself, as these sheep had the type of wool our ancestors used in their clothing. More info on Jaala sheep (only in Finnish) here and here)

Here are the sources I used as links for those who are interested:
Sheep 101: Sheep and Goats
Animal Planet: Why aren't mountain goats really goats?

Videos showing sheep / goats headbutting:
Domestic sheep
Bighorn Sheep
Domestic goats
Nubian Ibex

EDIT: Oh my goodness, guys! I'm drowning in faves! Thank you so much for the support, I do try to answer your comments but I'm not sure if I can keep up with them. I'll try! :heart:
EDIT 2: Corrected some info. Thank you, everyone who shared their knowledge!

EDIT 3: Gosh guys, a DD? That's definitely something I didn't expect. :faint: Thanks for the ongoing support, everyone, I'm glad this little guide has been useful for so many!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-03-11
FlyQueen Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2014   Digital Artist
We have 3 Goats and some Cameroon sheep~ They are both interesting to care for 8>
But personally I think it's funnier to have pet goats because they make so much nonsense and don't give a fuck about almost anything XD
Bat-Snake Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm sure you've seen the recent news that a living goat/sheep has been born alive and well. He's super healthy apparently and is faster in speed than the other lambs.

And holy crap it's adorable…
Hukkanaama Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014  Professional
As a matter of fact, I didn't! That's really interesting, thanks for sharing! :D What a cutie.
Bat-Snake Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome!

It's not what I thought the chimera would look like, but its cute nonetheless. 
CrossDevice Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013
This could be very helpful. Much thanks
lalacassiano Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013   Traditional Artist
Thank you , this is very helpful!! :3
MojoLiazon Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2013  Professional General Artist
And congrats on the DD! Seems a whole lot of people must have been pondering the differences. :D
MojoLiazon Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2013  Professional General Artist
Eh... Heh... Sorry to be a nitpicker, but I'd just like to offer the info that some sheep have beards and don't require shearing. (They shed their wool). Also there is a sheep breed with an upright goatlike tail but that might just be a Mouflon variant, though it is called a sheep. :P Also, some sheep don't graze, they browse just like goats. Some goats graze. But I know, you did already say it's a generalization. 

But this is a very helpful infographic, it ought to help a lot of people. Good on you for doing it! 
Hukkanaama Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2013  Professional
That's some interesting info you got there! You wouldn't happen to know or remember the names of the breeds/species you're talking about? I'd like to know more about them, especially the sheep with goat-like tail and ones that shed their wool. :D
MojoLiazon Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2013  Professional General Artist
Purebred Barbados Blackbelly sheep often have very short, goatlike tails, and they're descended from Mouflon in part so I guess this isn't strictly ovine, though the lines between caprine and ovine are often blurred. If it hybridizes freely with sheep, despite looking like a goat, I guess it's close enough!

As for shedding wool, any breed of hair sheep that is purebred and grows wool at all tends to be also a seasonal "self-shedder" that only grows wool for winter, and sheds it afterwards. 

While there are many breeds of hair sheep that shed, for example, Damara sheep. They're also called 'fat tailed sheep' but a lot of breeds are very similar. Their tails can be as wide as their bodies and function like a camel's hump. Even lactating ewes only come into water every second day.

It would seem that sheep that permanently keep their wool are probably the result of thousands of years of human breeding for that trait. All wild and primitive types of sheep tend towards shedding, although that's a debated topic. Damaras are one of the oldest, purest, strongest gene pools and dominate all others because of that, and they're shedders. Whenever people see them the first thing they think is "goat!" lol. 

The father of my Damara ewe had a full beard as well as a mane but I've been unable to find another Damara Ram with a beard. I've heard of a case that was in the agricultural news where a supposedly pedigree Merino produced a goat hybrid after breeding with another pedigree Merino; this was traced back five generations to a goat being left with a sheep. Apparently sheep and goats can produce fertile hybrids that can go undiscovered because they take so strongly after one parent or the other, not 'showing' both. From all I've learned of goats and sheep, they don't seem as distantly related as I'd been taught.
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