Yes, it’s an ugly name. I didn’t like it at first. But the sheep are so friendly, I was won over by them very quickly.
The “Dor” comes from the name “Dorset” and the “Per” comes from the name “Persian.” In South Africa in 1946, sheep breeders completed a breeding project wherein Dorset Horned Rams from England were crossed with Blackhead Persian Ewes from Arabia. The result was “heavily muscled lambs” with excellent meat flavor that could be bred year round with high fertility (high likelihood of producing twins). Dorpers don’t have much wool–they aren’t bred for fiber. What little wool they have is naturally shed for the most part. They are usually shorn for show, however. Here’s a photo of a couple of nicely groomed Dorpers at the Yamhill County Fair (belonging to David and Roberta of Charlton Farm).
Most Dorpers have black heads, but there are unusual occasions when they will show up with a white or off-white (called “red”) head. We don’t have any of those yet. Our only odd one is the quarter Katahdin, seen here. Her lambs will surprise us, I’m sure! (I hope we get to keep one!)