About the Breed

* Under Construction *

These precious little sheep are now known by many names: Old World Southdowns, Miniature Southdowns, Olde English Babydoll Sheep, Babydolls, and “the sheep that have teddy bear faces.”

Usually when a breed is developed the industry starts with a large animal and they begin to breed it smaller to obtain a novelty. In the case of the miniature Southdown (Olde English Babydoll) the opposite is true. You see, this miniature breed is not really a miniature breed at all; In fact, they are actually the original Southdown breed. The breed was originally standardized by John Ellman of Glynd, England around 1780 in the South Downs of Sussex county. They are one of the oldest of the English breeds and the grand ancestor of the other Down breeds.

Used with permission from www.MyLittleSheep.com
Documented importations of these small, chunky Southdowns were made into the United States from 1824 to 1829 from John Ellman’s English flock. They grew in popularity in both England and America, and by 1908 there were approximately 367 registered flocks, totaling about 111,000 ewes.

As can happen over years, popularity and necessity changed with a sharp decline around the time of World War I ... and World War II brought near extinction. The introduction of the electric freezer, a move away from small family farms to large scale production facilities and American theme of "Bigger is Better" pretty much sealed the fate of this sweet, little breed as their necessity dwindled and they were crossed with larger sheep breeds (creating the bigger American Southdowns of today).

Mr. Robert Mock of Washington State, U.S.A., was fascinated by miniature livestock.  He discovered that sheep were the only domestic breed of livestock that, at that time, did not have a miniature counterpart in the general livestock population. So, in 1986, after much research and thought, Mr. Mock began a search for the sheep with this breed's original bloodlines ... a task that was anything but easy and occasionally tainted with the fear the breed had been lost entirely.

After a four-year search, two small flocks totaling 26 sheep were located. That was not a group big enough to sustain the breed and make a safe-sized gene pool, so the hunt continued. After further extensive searching, a total of 350 of these miniature sheep were located. Many of them still carried their original Southdown registration papers.

From there, they were renamed a "miniature" breed so as to be distinguished from the taller American Southdowns that we know today and Mr. Mock established a registry for the breed. The registry was closed and the Foundation Flock Mr. Mock established used the original breed standard that John Ellman had set back in the 1780’s.

The Babydoll Southdown Sheep continue to thrive today as wonderful wool producers, organic weed control & lawn mowers, barnyard companions and sweet pets. Those of us enjoying these little sheep have much appreciation for the forethought and efforts of others that gave the small Southdown a place in the world of sheep today.