Breed Standards




The Karakul is one of the Asiatic Broad-tailed types of sheep, distinctly angular in build, clean cut, alert and hardy.  Differing radically from many other breeds of domesticated American sheep, Karakuls historically have been raised for the production of a valuable fur pelt taken from the very young lamb. Although we recognize that this is not currently their primary use, the Registry maintains that, in mature Karakuls, the emphasis should continue to be placed on those characteristics indicative of the best quality fur production, not on those characteristics that make for the best wool and mutton production.  Fur production being the most important quality possessed by Karakuls, proof of ability to produce high quality fur in offspring is the only real indicator of pure quality. Wherever possible all Karakuls should be judged and evaluated through proof of actual production, either by examining Iamb pelts or lamb photographs.


The mature Karakul of good fur producing quality will have numerous physical characteristics indicating its possible capabilities as a fur producer. Those desirable characteristics are listed as follows:



General: Long, narrow, and sharply defined; more or less indentation between forehead and nose; convexity over eye and along lower jaw distinctly prominent. Ewes should show a finely chiseled head, rams masculinity, with nape of neck strongly developed.

Muzzle: Relatively narrow especially in ewes; lips thin; nostrils narrow, slanting upward and outward.

Nose: Slightly to strongly arched, most prominent in rams.

Eyes: Large with yellow-brown iris; obliquely set.

Forehead: Narrow; indented and sharply outlined.

Ears: Always pointing downward and slightly forward; varying from long U shape to small V shape, or may be entirely absent; soft and pliable; the larger ears having the thinner cartilage.

Poll: Well rounded, narrow and prominent.

Horns: In rams, hornless to large, outwardly curved spirals, well rippled. In ewes, generally hornless; small semi-developed horns permissible.


General: Long, thin and carried semi-erect; joining top of shoulder with pronounced curve.

Wattles: May be present on one or both sides of neck.


General: Long, narrow, high, with top line showing indentation in front of and back of shoulder point, highest at loin, sloping angularly at rump and bending into the typical low set broad-tail.

Shoulder: Slantingly set, thinly fleshed, point protruding.

Back: Indented behind shoulder point, sometimes concave and narrow.

Ribs: Very long with little spring; transverse section long oval in shape.

Loin: Side view convex; low at front and rear; strong but not overly broad.

Hips: Wide, prominent.

Rump: Long and sloping, free from excessive fat.

Twist: Shallow; covered by tail.

Thigh: Long, muscular but narrow.

Flank: Deep and flexible.

Chest: Deep and narrow, with large lung capacity.

Brisket: Narrow, coming almost to a V shaped point.

Breast: Undeveloped, blending from brisket into neck.

Udder: Strong and well developed with two prominent teats.

Scrotum: Well developed and carried high.


General: Long, straight and light in bone. A tendency toward knock knees, while undesirable, is found in many of the best pelt producers.

Hooves: Black, except in strains other than black; strong, with prominent dew claws.


General: Broad-tail in type, joining the sloping rump with a broad base.

Upper tail: Large U-shaped; much fatty development on each side and around tail bone, which lies indented therein; relatively as wide as the body, lying flat against it.

Lower tail: Formed as appendage, relatively small, with little fat, twisting and turning upward then downward and ending in a narrow point; sometimes docked.

Prominence:  Depends upon the condition of the individual, but the skin sack should be present whether filled with fat or not.



General: Consists of that fiber covering the head, ears, and lower legs and is not shorn as part of the fleece; short, straight to slightly wavy, coarse and firm, longer and wavier on the poll.

Color: In all black strains, glossy black through all ages, often with a definite metallic luster; sometimes showing a few white hairs on nose, knees and around hoof in advanced age. In other color strains, of same general character as found in black strains, differing only as to color which may be white, mottled or any shade of gray or brown.


General: Consists of that fiber that is normally shorn form the Karakul.

      Texture and Grade: Medium dense, long staple usually considered as carpet wool but often actually grading braid, low quarter or quarter-blood and sometimes three-eighths, showing good natural luster (not to be confused with artificial luster coming from yolk), with long open crimp, free from cotting, parting easily and cleanly to the skin and falling naturally into numerous locks; fleece should be as similar as possible over entire body in density, character and staple and consists of a fine undercoat mixed with a longer, coarser outercoat. Fiber diameter varying from 80s to 12s in any one individual is common; greater proportion of the shorter, finer wool is found as a undercoat just noticeable near maturity and increasing in quantity with advanced age; kemp or extremely coarse, brittle fibers undesirable and should not be present; has very light yolk content and light shrinkage.

Length and Weight: 12 months growth about 8-10 inches; weighing 4 to 10 pounds in ewes, more in rams. Longer staple and heavier fleeces occasionally occur and may be indicators of lower quality in fur production. Recently shorn Karakuls show high luster and often a definite pattern caused by the new wool growing in several different planes.

Color: In black strains: black at birth and usually until about six months of age, or longer; as age advances fleece gradually turns brownish, bluish or steel grey; rate and time of change varying with individuals and gradually becoming lighter as age advances; rarely remaining black throughout life; small white spot on poll and tail tip common; other white markings permissible.

In other color strains: may be grey or brown or white at birth, gradually turning to a yellowish white or white as age advances.


Texture: Soft, loose, thin and pliable.

Color: Black strains: muzzle, around the eyes, tongue, inner mouth and other exposed parts decidedly blue-black to black, somewhat lighter under the hair and fleece but always of a definitely blackish hue.

In other color strains: pink or pinkish, although inner mouth and tongue may be both pink and black.


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updated 5-9-17. cw