Historical News

Short Stories of Karakul’s Past

This was the last section of the Karakul Tails & Tales Newsletter, Fall 2022

Education Focus – Karakul History in Canada & US – Cousins

 Serendipitous coincidences with Canadian Karakul imports spanning 108 years, 1914 to 2022.

US and Canadian Karakuls were related through the large 1914 import, over 130 head, which entered though (PEI) Prince Edward Island, Canada, and studied there for two years. The study ended in 1916 and 24 sheep that proved to be of the best fur-bearing quality were transported to Frank Dawley, Fayetteville, in central New York. Many of the remaining Karakuls stayed in Canada and were bought and transported to western provinces. Without new genetic input over 100+ years, Canadian Karakuls eventually became quite inbred, were outcrossed with other breeds for genetic necessity or lamb markets, until purebred Karakuls were non-existent. A supportive association might have helped mitigate extinction.

A photo and caption of four Karakul rams in 1914, two of which were at PEI. 

~ From: The Karakul Sheep in America by J Walter Jones, 1914

Caption: No. 6.  Four Rams of the 1st Importation

2 rams-Lowden & Yermoloff died in 1912.

Other 2-Teddy Sr & Fasset, together w Lowney

(not pictured) are now at Charlottetown, PEI


Spring 2022, right after the discovery of the breed’s extinction in Canada, a large farm in the Canadian Maritimes began the long-term work of up-grading to high percentage Karakul sheep, with big diverse ewe flocks. It is in the same area, 108 years later, and about as many miles apart, as the very first Karakul sheep farm on Prince Edward Island in 1914.

A 2nd serendipity-3 rams imported in 2022 have Dawley bloodlines, returned to their source. The Maritimes Islands seem to be the unlikeliest of places given the breed’s desert heritage.

What is it about those far eastern islands in the Canadian North Atlantic that serve as Karakul incubators?    


Posted on our Contact page by Karen Gosling

I thought all you Karakul lovers might like this: My Great Grandfather, William David Watson was born in 1860s in Bradford, Ontario, a descendant of the early Scottish settlers. He started a farm in Aurora, Ontario to breed Karakul Sheep. I believe he was the first. Here is a link to the book he wrote about them. He died before finishing the contents page.


Regards, Karen from Sheffield, England


A one-page article Karakul Sheep: Their American History, was the inside back cover of The Shepherd magazine in their feature “Focus: Karakuls”, December 2016. This is the story of how Lowry Hagerman got his start with Karakul sheep. Lowry had some of the best sheep in the fur business which produced large numbers of high-priced matched pelts. He wrote the Karakul Handbook in 1951 outlining his selection practices, right before the Persian lamb market collapsed completely in 1954.


Two articles in the Livestock Conservancy News on the history of Karakul sheep by Carole George:

1. Winter 2018 – Ancient Origins of Karakul Sheep

2. Spring 2018 – The Karakul’s Journey to the US


History of Karakul Imports to North America  —

— I wrote this in January 1990 for the Karakul Friends Newsletter, with a short epilogue February 2016 outlining my goals to follow up on stories of Karakul imports. ~Deborah

How The Alliance Came To Be

–For the story on Karakul Shepherds coming together


Do you have Karakul stories to share? Please connect with me by typing in the box below Leave a Reply and hitting Post Comment. I will receive an email but your comment will not be posted online unless you request. Or email me in private: info@karakulshepherds.org   Thank you. Deborah

Updated January 2023

To return, click Home Page here OR Click on KARAKUL SHEPHERDS ALLIANCE title at top of the page

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