Mouflon Sheep (Ovis orientalis orientalis) are thought to be one of two sheep breeds which are an ancestor for all domestic sheep breeds.
Known for their dramatic wild appearance (they are sometimes compared to wild bighorn sheep), the Mouflon sheep breed has a reddish brown short hair coat with a light-colored saddle and dark brown stripes. The head of Mouflons is well-balanced and proportionate to their body and the breed standard says that Mouflon should hold their head high when on alert.
The males of this exceedingly wary wild sheep have large sickle-shaped horns, which are prized by many a trophy hunter. For most subspecies, females also have horns, but they are much smaller than the horns of the males. In a few populations, most or all females do not grow horns. The different subspecies vary slightly in overall appearance; colour also varies with season and between males and females. The face is generally greyish with a white muzzle, nostrils and inside of the ears. The legs are long and slender with a vertical black line below the knees.
Mouflon sheep have historically inhabited mountain ranges and steep, forested hillsides. The modern Mouflon naturally inhabits northern and eastern Iraq, Iran and the Caucasus, though historically the breed could be found throughout the Balkans, the Crimean peninsula and on several islands in the Mediterranean.
On the island of Cyprus the Mouflon evolved, becoming a distinct sub-species which could only be found there (and of which only about 3,000 sheep can be found today). They are now considered rare on the islands of the Mediterranean.
The Mouflon breed was introduced to continental Europe and today’s Mouflon is often imported and raised on North American game ranches as its dramatic, wild appearance and impressive rack of horns have helped to make Mouflon sheep hunting popular.
Despite their impressive appearance (a credit to their stunning horns), the Mouflon is actually one of the smallest sheep breeds found in the wild, the males are horned; some females are horned, while others are polled. The horns of mature rams are curved in almost one full revolution (up to 85 cm). Mouflon have shoulder heights of about 0.9 m and body weights of 50 kg (males) and 35 kg (females).