Descended from the local breeds, which grazed the low ground in and around Dartmoor, they are a slow maturing breed taking some 3 years to reach maturity. They are not classed as a Hill breed. Improvements were carried out during the 19th century using the local Longwools and the Leicesters. The Association was established in 1909 to standardise, promote and develop the breed, which was well established in three areas, South Hams, Chagford and Tavistock. Today flocks are kept throughout England, Wales and south of Scotland and Ireland. Breeding stock has been exported.
Attractive, quiet and easily handled the Dartmoor sheep now have their enthusiasts throughout the country and provide a natural focal point whenever they appear.