Most Wensleydale Sheep have white wool, though some have black wool. The wool is prized as being amongst the best wool from a sheep.
Females weigh about 240 pounds (110kg); rams about 300 pounds (135 kg.) The rams give bigger size to offspring from any ewes from any strain they are bred with; the quality of the wool is also passed down. A pure Wensleydale strain is, however, also being kept for the future.
They are bred in Cumberland, North Lancashire, Westmorland, Yorkshire Dales, Scotland and in North America.
Most of the lamb for meat comes from progeny of cross-bred sheep descending from them. When actually slaughtered for meat, the sheep yield fine-grained, tasty meat and very large joints. The lamb has good flavour and is very tender.
The breed started from a ram named “Bluecap”, which was born in 1839 in East Appleton, North Yorkshire. Bluecap was half Dishley Leicester Sheep, and half from a ewe belonging to a longwool breed that is now extinct, Teeswater “Muggs”.
The Wensleydale Sheep breed was itself nearly extinct in the 1970s, but was revived.