Breed standards


The Gotland sheep originates from a native landrace sheep on the island of Gotland. Through selection and controlled breeding for size and furskin quality, started in the 1920’s, the Gotland sheep has developed to a multipurpose sheep, yielding both good flavoured meat and high quality furskins. The Gotland sheep is a medium sized sheep, well adapted to graze also extensive pastures thus contributing to Scandinavian landscape preservation. The breed is now common not only on Gotland but also on the mainland of Sweden. 

The adult Gotland sheep are grey. The heads and bones are black, free from wool, sometimes with white markings. Large white markings are not desired. The tail is short, free from wool at the tip. Gotlands are fine-boned with a graceful head. Hornless. Ewes generally weigh from 55 to 90 kg. Rams are heavier, weighing from 80 to 120 kg.

Gotlands are active and friendly sheep, easy to tame. Grazing Gotlands are often more spread out on pastures than other breeds. They still have a pronounced flock instinct and work well with sheep dogs.  

The lambs are born in the spring. The ewes are easy to lamb, prolific, and very motherly. From two years of age they normally give birth to twins, triplets are not uncommon though. The lambs are born black but gradually change to grey of different shades throughout summer. Characteristic for the Gotlands is the long, lustrous grey fleece, in shades of dark to light silver grey. The curls are clearly defined and very soft to the touch.


After weaning the lambs often need to graze regrowth of the ley or be given supplementary feed. The fleece is fully developed at 4 to 5 months of age and then gives a beautiful furskin, useful in a number of ways. The meat is tender and tasty and performs well in comparing tests with meat from other breeds.

The furskins are tanned and shorn to different hair lengths and used mainly for handicraft, interior decoration and clothing.


High quality lambskins for the market should have:

  • Shades of grey from white to black, although the breeding goal is still from light to dark grey, with a clear tone (free from red, beige or brown)

  • Curls of uniform size, ca 10–15 mm with a three-dimensional structure

  • A silky and lustrous wool fibre

Gotland sheep ewes are good mothers, prolific, with a hardy and adaptive nature, and therefore appreciated as mothers in cross-breed programs. The best ewes should, however, be used for pure breeding. Ewes with lower pelt quality could be well suited for crossings with rams of a pronounced meat sheep breed.


August 2009 (English version Feb 2018)