Fun Dall Sheep Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Nov 14, 2022 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta
One of the best Dall sheep facts is that these sheep are a subspecies of Thinhorn sheep and are found only in the mountains of North America

Dall sheep (Ovis dalli) are a white wild North American species of sheep found in Alaska and British Columbia who are a subspecies of Thinhorn sheep. There are only two subspecies of Thinhorn sheep, Dall's sheep and Stone's sheep.

These wild sheep live and are found in rocky mountain areas of Alaska and Canada. They are not dry mountainous sheep as they prefer to live in snowy regions, but not extreme ones.

Dall sheep meat is prevalent in Alaska as it is an excellent source of protein. In fact, many people visit the rocky mountains of Alaska to hunt these sheep.

We have put together some interesting facts about Dall sheep populations for everyone to enjoy. If you like these interesting facts, you can learn about the musk ox and the bharal too here on Kidadl.

Dall Sheep Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Dall sheep?

The Dall sheep (Ovis dalli), obvious from its name, is a sheep that lives in the mountain ranges of Alaska.

What class of animal do Dall sheep belong to?

Wild white Dall sheep, just like the mountain goat, belong to the Mammalia class of animals.

How many Dall sheep are there in the world?

Two hundred years ago Dall sheep (Ovis dalli) were far-reaching all through the western United States, Canada, and northern Mexico. The population was assessed to be somewhere around 150,000 to 200,000.

However, the destruction of their natural surroundings, unregulated hunting, overgrazing of their habitat, and illnesses contracted from domestic animals, have all added to a great decline in the Dall sheep population from 1870 through to 1950. The exact population of Dall Sheep is not known today.

Where do Dall sheep live?

The Dall sheep species occupies a portion of Alaska's toughest snow-capped regions. This subspecies of sheep is found in Alaska and western Canada and most Dall sheep have a white fur coat. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains North America's northernmost Dall sheep populations. These sheep generally live above treelines, on mountain edges, dry knolls, and steep mountain cliffs.

What is a Dall sheep's habitat?

The typical Dall sheep habitat includes elevated glades, green mountain inclines, and regions close to tough, rocky cliffs. Since these sheep can't live in warmer temperatures and also can't travel through deep snow, the typical Dall sheep range usually covers drier areas, where the yearly snowfall is approximately around 60 in (150 cm) each year.

Who do Dall sheep live with?

The Dall sheep species is a group of social animals who do not live a solitary life. These animals live in large populations of groups which are known as herds.

Males and females live in separate herds. The males' sheep herds are called bachelor herds while the females live in nursery herds with their young. A male's herd can be a small one with as few as five rams or it can be a large group with up to 50 rams.

How long do Dall sheep live?

Dall sheep have a lifespan of 12 to 16 years.

How do they reproduce?

Dall sheep are dimorphic animals, which means that rams (male) and ewes (female) are completely unique. An adult Dall's mating season is from November to December.

Female sheep (ewes) start breeding at the age of between three and four years and give birth to one lamb per year.

Although males can breed at the age of one and a half years, they actually begin to breed when their horns are large enough in age and size to fight and reach a dominant position in their hierarchy.

In order to obtain this position, wild rams have to fight each other.

After the fight is over and the dominant position is won, the dominant males choose the females of their choice to mate with, and then the mating process is complete. Young lambs are born in May or June and the ewes take care of them in their nursery herds.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of Dall sheep is currently Least Concern according to the IUCN.

Dall sheep populations in Alaska, Canada, and British Columbia are considered healthy in number right now, however, their population occasionally declines when they are caught in hot summer weather or when they are stuck in areas with high snow.

Another reason for the occasional decline in the population of Dall sheep is the increase in the number of their predators in the wild.

However, despite these slight population decreases, they are not considered to be a vulnerable or endangered species because their population generally increases during milder weather conditions, and this helps balance the decline during other times.

Dall Sheep Fun Facts

What do Dall sheep look like?

The average Dall sheep size is similar to that of a normal sheep that weighs up to 154 lb (70 kg).

They have a grey-white or black, thick woolen fur coat and an outer layer covered in thick wool that is often used by humans for making woolen clothes and other winter heat-insulating items.

Their coats are around 2 in (5.08 cm) deep and help to keep them warm during times of cold weather.

The Dall sheep skull is very strong and thick, protecting them from injuries by falling or during fights and Dall sheep are also known for the large and curly horns of the males (rams) Females (ewes) have smaller horns than males and the male's horns increase in size they age, and this helps us identify their gender quickly as they grow up.

When male Dall sheep are younger than three years of age, they often resemble ewes as their horns are nearly the same size.

How cute are they?

Dall sheep look cute and fluffy thanks to their curly horns and thick wool. They are also extremely cute as little lambs.

How do they communicate?

Dall sheep seldom communicate, but they do bleat when they are looking for another female or for their lambs, every now and then. They may also make a coughing sound when frightened.

Dall sheep have a complex social framework. Females, called ewes, gather with their lambs, and the males (rams) crowd together away from ewes and lambs, except during the mating season, which happens in late fall.

Rams build up strength and climb up their hierarchy of different rams through a progression of practices and by head-on crashes and fights. These fights increase as the breeding season draws near.

How big is a Dall sheep?

Dall sheep grow up to 55 in (140 cm) long from the tail to the head, and they are 42.01 in (106.7 cm) tall at the shoulder level.

How fast can a Dall sheep run?

On account of their astonishing balance, wild Dall sheep can balance on edges that are just 2 in (5 cm) wide. They can also bounce 20 ft (6 m) in the air and can climb up a mountain at an energetic 15 mph (24 kph).

How much do Dall sheep weigh?

On average, a Dall sheep (Ovis dalli) weighs 154 lb (70 kg) because of its thick white coat that it needs to protect itself from the cold winter and snow. This think coat helps it to survive in the winter.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males of the Dall sheep species are called rams. Dall sheep females are called ewes.

What would you call a baby Dall sheep?

Baby Dall sheep are known as lambs. Until they reach the age of three years, male and female Dall sheep look comparatively similar.

After that age though, males are effortlessly recognized by their horns, which keep on growing during the spring, summer, and late summer. And since the growth occurs inconsistently between seasons, they have a start-and-stop growth pattern on their horns. Lambs are often born in the month of May.

What do they eat?

Dall sheep are herbivores, not carnivores. The typical Dall sheep diet includes frozen grasses, sedges, wide-leaved plants, sedge stems, and bantam willows. In winter, these food varieties are scant, so the Dall sheep's winter diet is different.

Dall sheep hunt lichens in winter and adds this to their eating routine. Since they need to search for a different source of food between seasons, these sheep occasionally move between different summer and winter ranges. The main predators of this subspecies are golden eagles.

Are they smelly?

All breeds of sheep are a little smelly. Since they are covered in thick wool most of the time, their body produces a distinct odor, which, whilst it may not be repulsive, can definitely be noticeable from a distance.

Would they make a good pet?

Not really. It is not common to keep sheep as pets, but almost any variety of sheep can be kept on a farm.

Dall sheep are social animals, so a small flock needs to be kept together. If you do have Dall sheep on your farm, it is wise to be mindful when caring for them or playing with them as they will protect themselves when they feel threatened and may attack the person they think is threatening them.

Did you know...

One of the best wild white Texas Dall sheep facts is that in a Dall sheep vs. mountain goat fight (whenever they cross paths in the Yukon territory) the mountain goat is sure to win. A mountain goat is more dominant than a Dall sheep since mountain goats are more accustomed to fighting with other goats in their habitat.

These North American white wild sheep are generally known for the male's enormous twisted horns. Females (also known as ewes) also have horns. However, theirs are slimmer, shorter, and slightly bent.

Dall sheep mounts are sold to decorate houses, and so these amazing sheep are sadly often hunted. These mounts are also kept as trophies by hunters who showcase them to visitors and take pride in hunting down these white wild animals. This is another reason for the decline in Dall sheep populations.

How did Dall sheep get their name?

The particular name 'Dall' is derived from William Healey Dall (1845–1927), an American naturalist. The name Dall's sheep or simply Dall sheep is now commonly used when referring to this amazing Ovis dalli sheep species.

Dall sheep hunting

Dall sheep hunts are very common in Alaskan snowy regions as residents and non-residents both love hunting these trophy animals, and their meat is also commonly eaten in the area. It's not all bad news though as in Alaska high-altitude regions lack predators, so Dall sheep population growth increases steadily in these regions.

Therefore to keep the population growth in check, it is legal to hunt these animals in certain parts of Alaska. The cost of hunting them in North America is about $850.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the mountain goat, or the badger.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Dall sheep coloring pages.

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Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

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Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Deeti Gupta picture

Deeti GuptaBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

A detail-oriented fact-checker with a research-oriented approach. Devika has a passion for creative writing, she has been published on multiple digital publishing platforms and editorials before joining the Kidadl team. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from St.Xavier's College, Deeti has won several accolades and writing competitions throughout her academic career.

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