Although often cited as a hybrid, the famous "geep" is not a true goat/sheep hybrid, but was a laboratory experiment which fused a sheep embryo with a goat embryo (a type of animal called a chimera). The geep is a mosaic of mismatched goat and sheep parts; the parts which grew from the sheep embryo are woolly while those which grew from the goat embryo are hairy. Each set of cells kept their own species identity instead of being intermediate in type. It could be fertile, but will produce either goats or sheep depending on whether its reproductive organs grew from the goat embryo or from the sheep embryo.

In "The Variation Of Animals And Plants Under Domestication" Charles Darwin wrote: "Captain Hutton, in India, crossed a tame goat with a wild one from the Himalaya, and he remarked to me how surprisingly wild the offspring were."

Although sheep and goats seem similar and can be mated together, any offspring are generally stillborn due to chromosome mismatch (sheep have 54, goats have 60). At Botswana Ministry of Agriculture, a ram housed with a nanny goat impregnated the goat and a live offspring was produced with 57 chromosomes. It was called "The Toast of Batswana" and is intermediate in type: coarse outer, woolly inner coat, long goat-like legs and heavy sheep-like body. Although infertile, the hybrid had to be castrated because it continually mounted sheep and goats in the enclosure. In 1969, Australian farmer Dick Lanyon, near Melbourne, Australia, put a billy-goat among his sheep to scare off foxes during the lambing season. In September of that year he claimed to have dozens of ‘lambs’ which were half-sheep-half-goat, and more were arriving each day. The goat was locked up while scientists examined the supposed hybrids.

The longstanding belief in sheep/goat hybrids may be due to the resemblance to each other such that some primite sheep may be misidentified as goats. In "Darwinism An Exposition Of The Theory Of Natural Selection With Some Of Its Applications" (1889), Alfred Russel Wallace wrote: '[...] the following statement of Mr. Low: "It has been long known to shepherds, though questioned by naturalists, that the progeny of the cross between the sheep and goat is fertile. Breeds of this mixed race are numerous in the north of Europe." Nothing appears to be known of such hybrids either in Scandinavia or in Italy; but Professor Giglioli of Florence has kindly given me some useful references to works in which they are described. The following extract from his letter is very interesting: "I need not tell you that there being such hybrids is now generally accepted as a fact. Buffon (_Supplements_, tom. iii. p. 7, 1756) obtained one such hybrid in 1751 and eight in 1752. Sanson (_La Culture_, vol. vi. p. 372, 1865) mentions a case observed in the Vosges, France. Geoff. St. Hilaire (_Hist. Nat. Gén. des reg. org._, vol. iii. p. 163) was the first to mention, I believe, that in different parts of South America the ram is more usually crossed with the she-goat than the sheep with the he-goat. The well-known 'pellones' of Chile are produced by the second and third generation of such hybrids (Gay, 'Hist, de Chile,' vol. i. p. 466, _Agriculture_, 1862). Hybrids bred from goat and sheep are called 'chabin' in French, and 'cabruno' in Spanish. In Chile such hybrids are called 'carneros lanudos'; their breeding _inter se_ appears to be not always successful, and often the original cross has to be recommenced to obtain the proportion of three-eighths of he-goat and five-eighths of sheep, or of three-eighths of ram and five-eighths of she-goat; such being the reputed best hybrids."'

SUPPOSED SHEEP AND GOAT HYBRIDS (The Field, 4th February 1899) IT WOULD BE EXCEEDINGLY DESIRABLE, not only from a practical, but from a scientific point of view, to determine the existence or non-existence of hybrids between the goat and the sheep. By many writers, even those as renowned as Haeckel, existence of these hybrids is accepted as proved. They are frequently written about by travellers as being present in numbers in certain parts of America and elsewhere. Nevertheless practical experimenters in this and other countries have never been able to succeed in their production. General statements respecting the existence of hybrids are, as I have constantly maintained, of no value whatever. What is wanted is not a mere general statement, but the description of positive and accurate experiments resulting in their production. It is the same in the dispute regarding the fertility of the horse mule. We are told that fertile mules of this origin are known, and a representation of the supposed progeny has even recently appeared in the Field. On the other hand, we have the evidence of such experienced breeders as the late M. Ayrault, that of the many thousand mare mules that he had known, placed under circumstances in most favourable to their breeding, no such an event as a fertile mule was known to him.

With regard to the goat-sheep hybrid, several allusions have been made to it in recent numbers of the Field. The late Mr Morgan Evans, an accurate and intelligent observer, whose early death is deeply to be lamented, wrote, as recently as Jan. 7, that his brother, the late Mr J. B. Evans, of Cape Colony, the owner of many thousand sheep and goats herding together, in no single instance could trace any such hybrid amongst his flocks, nor could he ever find an authentic case in South Africa. In the following number it of the Field I alluded to the numerous goats and sheep that run semi-feral on the Welsh hills, where they are often associated together, but where the production of such hybrids is unknown. Nevertheless, in the number for Jan. 21, Mr Bradish states that such hybrids certainly exist in Australia. But these are general statements, the particulars regarding them are unknown, and no exact description is given. All we are told is that they have short tails and goats' horns, but in other respects resembled the sheep.

In opposition to these assertions, I have to quote the exceedingly definite statements of a careful experiment conducted by a scientific observer, Professor Cossar Ewart, who, writing to me, says : "In your letter of last week, you refer to goat-sheep hybrids. For two years I have been trying to make them, bit without success, yet Broca, and many other writers on hybrids, including Russell Wallace, refer to goat-sheep hybrids as if they were common and fertile with each other." The belief in the existence of these hybrids appears to me to depend upon the fact that there is very slight obvious definite distinction between the varieties of the sheep and the goat. The animals are exceedingly alike, even in anatomical detail. To place my description beyond the realm of suspicion, I quote from no less an authority than Blanford's "Mammals of British India," in which the author gives the characteristics of the genus Ovis as follows : “Tail short in all wild Asiatic forms. Suborbital gland and lachrymal fosse usually present (wanting in O. nahura). Interdlgital glands present on all feet. Inguinal glands present. No muffle. No beard on chin, but frequently long hair on neck. Mammae two. Males no-odorous.” Those of the goat, genus Capra, being as follows : “Size moderate. Tall short. No suborbital nor inguinal glands. Interdigital glands wanting or cofined to fore feet. No distinct muffle. A beard present in all Indian species. Mamma two. Callosities on the knees and sometimes on the chest. Males with a peculiar strong odour.”

The number of vertebra) in both genera is the same except that the sheep are said to have ten to fourteen tail vertebra), and the gat from nine to thirteen. The period of gestation is given by Blanford as being longer in the tame goat, 160 days, than in the sheep.

It is unsatisfactory that the exact origin of our domestic sheep is unknown ; there is no wild species which corresponds with it. The differences between the sheep and the goat are so slight that it is surprising that they do not breed together freely, as they certainly do not in Europe, nor in South Africa. This is more especially noticeable when we take into consideration the fact that the different species of wild oxen, those of the Old and New World, cross as demonstrated by the late Mr Bartlett, and they produce which are not sterile mules, but perfectly fertile, even inter se. - W. B. TEGETMEIER.

SUPPOSED GOAT-SHEEP HYBRIDS (The Field, 11th February 1899) SlR,—The subject of supposed goat and sheep hybrids appears to be exciting some attention, and I have received several letters respecting it. Professor Newton has kindly referred me to some recent experiments in France, an account of which I hope speedily to obtain. Mr C. Tindall, of Wainfleet, has sent me a communication informing me that an animal was born last week at Mr Else's farm , near Horncastle. He tells me that he saw the supposed hybrid, and could hardly think of it as anything else but a cross, which was the opinion of everyone who saw it. Mr Elsey ordered his shepherd to take the greatest care of it. It was then perfectly healthy and strong. Mr Tindall kindly offered to give me any further report upon it. The case is interesting, but it cannot be regarded as a definite one, inasmuch as there is no proof that the male parent of the animal was not a ram. Had the ewes been running with the goat alone, the evidence would have been then definite and satisfactory ; but we have seen in Professor Cossar Ewart's experiments that he failed to obtain any hybrid under those conditions. W. B. TEGETMEIER

SUPPOSED GOAT-SHEEP HYBRIDS (The Field, 11th February 1899) SIR – In reference to Mr Tegetmeier's article in your last issue under the above title, permit me to observe that, in quoting Blanford's "Mammals of British lndia," giving the characteristics which distinguish the goats from the sheep, there seems to be some mistake, so far as the Indian species of the genus Capra is concerned. There are two, at least, of the Indian wild goats which have no beards —viz., the tahr (Hemitragus jemlaicus) of the Himalayas and the Nilgiri wild goat (Hemitragus hylocrius). The antelope goats, or mountain antelope, such as the serow (Nemorhaedus bubalina) and the goral (Nemorhaedus goral), are also beardless. Further, the tahr has four mammae, not two. Both the tahr and the Nilgiri wild goat were pronounced by Blyth to be true goats. - – SMOOTH-BORE

THE GOAT-SHEEP HYBRID (The Field, 25th February 1899) – SIR , - An additional distinctive character between the domestic goat and sheep, which I have not seen noticed, is the manner in which the tail is carried. In the goat it is either turned up or carried horizontally, generally the former. In the sheep the tail is turned down. It is many years since I first observed this distinction, and I have found it hold good among several of the wild species of the two groups which I have been able to examine in the Zoological Gardens [. . .] If I call attention to this distinctive character, perhaps other observers may have something to say on the point.

With regard to the possibility of the interbreeding of goats and sheep, Mr Tegetmeier appears to think that the fact of no hybrids running together on the Welsh hills and in the Cape Colony is strong evidence against such interbreeding ever occurring. I should be surprised if it did under such conditions. Bird fanciers who want to breed mule canaries do not usually keep flocks of canaries and goldfinches or linnets together in the hope of obtaining the desired crop, and, although it would perhaps be rash to say such a system would never be successful, it would be entirely opposed to the method of isolation of individual of two species, by which hybrids have usually been obtained at the Zoological Gardens and elsewhere [. . . ] As the to the interbreeding of the domestic goats and sheep, I have quite an open mind. We are so much in the dark as to the general question of hybridism that I am prepared for a good deal that at present appears improbably, and the goat-sheep hybrid may yet be recognised, notwithstanding the alleged difference in the periods of gestation, and, unless I am mistaken, in the character of the male reproductive organs. – E.W.H. HOLDSWORTH.

SUPPOSED SHEEP AND GOAT HYBRID. (St James's Gazette, 4th April, 1899) I have received from Mr. Upton, of Market Drayton (says Mr. W. B. Tegetmeier, writing in the “Field”), exceedingly interesting photograph of a supposed hybrid between the goat and the sheep. He informs me that the animal is in the possession of a fanner and dealer in his neighbourhood, but that, unfortunately, its pedigree is untraceable, it being bought in Shrewsbury market with a flock of sheep by the present owner. The photograph, however, is hardly sufficiently distinct for reproduction, although it is exceedingly interesting. It shows an animal with entire white forehead and face and dark cheeks. The head more closely resembles the goat than the sheep, and the feet are white to the hocks, and covered with short hair. The covering of the body more closely resembles coarse wool than the hair of the goat. The chief distinctions between the wild species of goat and sheep is that in the Latter there are glands between the toes in all the feet, and that the males are not odorous, whereas in the goats forming the genus Capra, the interdigital glands, if present, are confined to the fore feet, and the males have very strong and peculiar odour. That some of the wild sheep interbreed with one another is certain, and the same is doubtless true of the wild goats, but that the wild sheep and goat interbreed has not yet been ascertained. [Note: most likely a badger-faced sheep, now a rare breed.]

GOAT AID SHEEP HYBRIDS. (The Field, 3rd February 1900) THE QUESTION of goat and sheep hybrids is not yet definitely determined. Their existence is believed in by a large number of persons, and we are constantly hearing them referred to as existing in certain parts of America. It is very strange that they never appear to be produced in this country. Sheep and goats are frequently running together, and the possibility of their production is apparent, but there is no definite example known of any well-ascertained hybrid ever having been produced in this country. Some months ago I had a very important letter on the subject from one of the greatest authorities on hybridity, Professor Cossar Ewart. He wrote to me as follows: "For two years I have been trying to make goat-sheep hybrids, but without yet Broca and many other writers on hybrids, including BMW Wallace, refer to goat-sheep hybrids if they were common and fertile with each other. I have done a number of artificial ffertilisation experiments, and I am more than satisfied that a great deal of light might be let in on the most profoundly difficult of all hereditary by experiments." It similar how little we know and how careless we are to observe objects which may be supposed to be daily under our eyes. That goats and sheep should have been running together in England for hundreds of years and are doing so at the present day, and that we do not exactly know whether or not the two species will hybridise, is one of those wonderful examples of the curious manner in which one can be blinded to an obvious fact by mere familiarity with the animals before us. For my own part, I do not think that the existence of a goat and sheep hybrid has ever been definitely proved. Nevertheless, their existence is firmly believed in by a large number of persons, who allege that they have seen them by hundreds in America. If so, the question is to determine why they cannot be produced naturally or artificially in this country. W. B. TEGETMEIER.

GOAT AND SHEEP HYBRIDS (The Field, 10th February 1900) IN connection with the debated question of the production of goat and sheep hybrids, to which I called attention in the last issue of the Field, I have much pleasure in stating that I have received a communication from Mr V. P. Lort, of Vaynol Park, Bangor, in which he informs me that a most interesting and important experiment is being tried by him. He states that a four-horned St. Kilda rem having been placed in a paddock last summer with three female goats and a female mouflon, the goats have undoubtedly been served several times. In addition to this experiment a male goat has also been mated with two Shropshire ewes. The two sets of animals have been most carefully isolated, so that the young, if any, will undoubtedly be hybrids. As Mr Lort is trying the experiment of breeding, not only from male goats, but also from a ram with female goats, and as Professor Ewart, in addition to natural, is trying a number of artificial fertilisation experiments, we may regard this matter as being about to be very carefully thrashed out. Naturalists are much indebted to both these gentlemen, who, having opportunities of making these interesting experiments, have done so. Should it be found impracticable to produce these hybrids, it will be interesting to know what particular breed of sheep are regarded in America as the result of this supposititious cross. - W. B. TEGETMEIER.

GOAT AND SHEEP HYBRIDS (The Field, 17th February 1900) SlR, — The existence of sheep and goat hybrids is certainly recognised in Jamaica, under the name of "sheep royal." The meat is sold as inferior to mutton, and as superior to goat mutton. I am aware that the natives are not at all reliable as to facts of natural history, and they often state as facts what they think ought to be so. A friend of mine, with whom I was for some time, ran a ram lamb with a flock of goats to improve the quality of the meat and he told me that it was no use to get a ram that had been running with ewes, but that they must be brought up with the goats from the first. Personally, I never had anything to do with the property where this flock ran, so cannot speak with authority as to the result. I am endeavouring to find out reliable facts on the above matter, and should I arrive at any I will let you know. I have seen animals which were said to be hybrids of sheep and goat, but my informant was a native, and I never investigated the question. - HUGH D. CARROLL. 67, Longridge-road, S.W.

GOAT AND SHEEP HYBRIDS (The Field, 17th March 1900). SIR - ln connection with the debated question of the production of goat and sheep hybrids, to which Mr Tegetmeier draws attention in your issues of Feb. 3 and 10, I have no doubt as to the hybridisation at least in this portion of the world. On our ranch here we have had for two or three years back quite a percentage of hybrids. We have several goats, and through carelessness on the part of the shepherds, the billygoats have every season been permitted to run with the sheep for several days at a time. The hybrids are well marked, showing the goat, in difference of wool, also in the facial lines and other places. The sheep are Spanish and French Merinos. J. MAXWELL HERON, Bald Eagle Ranch, Modesto, Cal., U.S.A.

SHEEP AND GOAT HYBRIDS (The Field, 9th April 1900) SIR,—With reference to sheep and goat hybrids in Jamaica I inclose cuttings from the Journal of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, sent me by Mr Barclay, the assistant secretary,together with a letter from that gentleman, which I am afraid, after all, do not bring us much nearer the point. One friend to whom I referred said that he never had any kids from his attempt at crossing goats with sheep ; another says that on two properties he has been on there were goats running with a ram (sheep), and they had kids with long hair, but different in shape to ordinary kids. He is going to try if he can get the hybrid on his own property, and will report results. The general impression seems to be that the cross of a he goat and ewe is more likely to produce a kid than that of a ram with a nanny goat, but there seems no authentic detail in any case. - HUGH. CARROLL. 67, Langridge-road, S.W. [We are obliged for the extracts forwarded, but the evidence, such as it is, being entirely of a negative character, is of no value.—ED..]

GOAT AND SHEEP HYBRIDS (The Field, 21st April 1900) SIR —I have been much interested in the discussion as to goat and sheep hybrids. In your issue of Feb. 3, Mr Tegetmeier has recorded the experiments of Professor Cossar Ewart, which have not proved successful. Now, the explanation of difference of opinion in the different countries seems to me to be simple. The sheep here, although undoubtedly a sheep, is a very different animal to that in England. Anyone may here see hybrid sheep and goats by going to a place called Bidor, in Perak, where they are common, being considered as nothing out of the way. I did not pay particular attention to the details; they had every appearance of being what they were, viz., cross breed. I would suggest that Mr Tegetmeier should try with an Indian sheep and goat, when I do not think he would have any difficulty in getting the desired result. - CHAS. E. DONALDSON. Metang, Perak, March 20.

NOVEL CONSIGNMENT FOR CANADA (Perthshire Advertiser, 1st July 1908). FOUR sheep, apparently crosses between sheep and goats, belonging to Professor Corsar [sic] Ewart, left Duddingston last week for Canada. Instead, however, of being a hybrid collection they belong to the Soay sheep which are to be found near St Kilda, a kind of sheep that was in Britain when the Romans came. The animals, which are being sent to Ontario, had been at Duddingston in connection with Mendelian experiments, and they have been made to show that cross animals can be made to produce absolutely pure-bred types, and that when it is necessary to rejuvenate a herd which has deteriorated from in-breeding, it can be done in a couple of years, instead of five which is the usual time taken by breeders.

SHEEP-GOAT HYBRID (Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 16th November 1936) An animal supposed to be a hybrid between a sheep and a goat has been presented to the Zoological Society of Scotland by Mr James T. Sinclair, jun., of Wick. Mr Sinclair sent the animal to Professor A. E. Crew, of the Institute of Animal Genetics, Edinburgh, who examined it.


HYBRID GOAT ANTELOPES. The Era, 20th August 1913
Miss Ronna Shanara’s performing goats yielded an entertainment that may be classed as unique. The five performing quadrupeds, although described as goats and closely resembling them, are really hybrids, the result of crossing the African goat with the springbok and blesbok. The result is an animal of remarkable swiftness and agility. [. . .] These hybrids will not eat English green stuff, except that in the winter they may nibble a bit of swede; but they live on molassine, linseed, bran. oats, best meadow hay, and bananas. They are so fastidious and nice in their eating that each has have its own feeding dish, and would not eat out of another's. In one other respect, too, they differ from the common goat, in that they have no characteristic odour, and even in a room only a few feet away from one, it would be impossible to detect their presence by the sense of smell. This freedom from odour doubtless due to the wild cross, and is a valuable factor in the protection of these pretty antelopes against the carnivora.

A hybrid between a goat and antelopes is unlikely and there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. The performing goats were more likely wild-looking domestic goats, or crosses with a wild goat, and unfamiliar to a European audience.

An alleged Deer x Domestic Goat hybrid from San Francisco was reported in a The Evening World, New York, 3rd December 1892. The report is based on the animal’s appearance – an antler-less deer with a goat’s eating habits. A White-Tailed Deer x Goat hybrid female was also reported (with photo) in Farm and Fireside, May 16, 1916. The animal’s white domestic goat was seen to mate with a wild deer. The alleged hybrid resembled the goat mother except for its colour which was like that of a deer. In both these cases the alleged hybrids would have been goats whose “deer-like” colour was due to recessive genes. Without the benefit of genetics knowledge, colour/shape throwbacks were believed to be hybrids or the result of maternal or paternal impression.


(The Field, 23rd July 1870) All of the species of Capra would appear to hybridise readily, and the offspring to be as fertile their parent species. There is a pair of hybrid Alpine ibex now in the London Zoological Gardens, the male of which has crossed both with the markhor and with the Cretan goat before noticed. The markhor has also bred with the Cretan goat, and one male of this cross is now getting a tolerably large pair of horns, and if it were not for the tendency of them to twist, he might pass for a pure aegagrus. A younger buck goat, from the hybrid ibex and the female Cretan goat, bids fair to grow aegagrus horns of the true arched curvature, only a little too much thickened, and he is likely to become in time a handsomer animal than the other. - ZOOPHILUS

(The Field, 23rd July 1870) The European Chamois which breeds readily with the domestic goat, though I am unaware whether, or to what extent, the hybrid offspring are prolific. – ZOOPHILUS

(The Field, 14th October 1871) [Regarding hybrids bred at the London Zoological Gardens] There is also a female Cretan goat in the collection, which I take to be of long-domesticated stock, although little differing from the wild C[apra] segagrus, and this animal is the dam of hybrids both by the markhor and by the hybrid Alpine Ibex. The pure-bred Alpine Ibex is now all but exterminated [. . . ] There is a good figure of it by Joseph Wolf in the Rev. S.W. King’s work on “The Italian Valleys of the Pennine Alps,” &c, published in 1858; and this author remarks that “the ibex has been found to produce a fruitful hybrid with the domestic goat, and a numerous progeny of these has been reared at Branenburgh. Such is the race bred at the gardens, from the original pair still remaining, which was presented by the King of Italy in 1862. The horns are like those of C. seragrus, only considerably more massive, and there is a copious beard on the chin, whereas in the pure Alpine Ibex the beard is very small and rudimentary. In the nearly allied Siberian or Himalayan Ibex the beard is amply developed. – ZOOPHILUS.

Wild Goat (Capra aegagrus) x Markhor (Capra falconeri) hybrids may have given rise to the Chiltan wild goat (C. a. chialtanensis) which has features, including horns, that are intermediate in type. Wild Goat x Domestic Goat (Capra hircus) interbreed freely, especially where domestic goats become feral. The hybrids pose a genetic threat to populations of pure wild goats.

Wild Goat x Pseudois nayaur [Bharal] hybrids were bred at the Henry Doorly Zoo in the USA in the 1970s.

West Caucasian Tur (Capra caucasica) x East Caucasian Tur (Capra cylindricornis) interbreed freely where the two species come into contact. West Caucasian Tur x Markhor (Capra falconeri), West Caucasian Tur (as “Capra pallasii”) x Domestic Goat (Capra hircus), West Caucasian Tur x Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex), West Caucasian Tur x Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica), and East Caucasian Tur x Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica) have all been bred in zoos.

Markhor (Capra falconeri) x Domestic Goat (Capra hircus) are bred in Pakistan and have also been bred in European zoos. Markhor (Capra falconeri subspecies C. f. megaceros) x × Nubian Goat (Capra nubiana syn C. beden) - a hybrid was bred in London Zoo in 1860.

Domestic Goat x Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex) were commonly bred in zoos and also occurs throughout the Alps. Usually feral or free-ranging female goats mated with male ibexes and the female hybrid offspring also mated with male ibexes. This led to mongrelised ibex populations. Hybrids have the same colour and markings as the ibex, are larger and heavier, and have longer horns. Hybrids have previously been classified as Capra laevicornis. There is also this account: "A HYBRID IBEX. Bucks Herald, 10th October 1908. Mr. Rothschild has just presented to the Natural History Museum, where it has been placed on the west side of the North Hall, an interesting male hybrid between the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) and a domesticated Italian goat. As regards colour, this hybrid retains the white marks found over the eyes and above the nostrils in many English goats, although they are somewhat smaller than usual, but shows the large and profuse beard and uniformly brown shaggy coat distinctive of the ibex. No traces of the black collar and stripes characteristic of the wild goat are to be seen, but this might be expected, as they have been eliminated in most domesticated breeds. On the other hand, the horns, which are comparatively long and very massive, have quite lost the ibex knobs and acquired the sharp keel of those of the wild goat."

Domestic Goat x Nubian Goat (Capra nubiana) interbreed freely. Domestic Goat x Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica) have been bred in captivity. Domestic Goat x Bharal (Pseudois nayaur) hybrids are miscarried. Domestic Goat x Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra hybrids were reported by Edward Blyth in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1869). Male Chamois will mate with female domestic goats.

Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex) x Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica) interbreed in captivity. Alpine Ibex x Domestic Sheep (Ovis aries) – a hybrid was reported in the 1950s between a female ibex and domestic ram.

Red Goral (Naemorhedus baileyi) x Chinese Goral (Naemorhedus griseus) hybrids occur in captivity.


Argali (Ovis ammon) x Domestic Sheep (Ovis aries) have been bred in the USSR. F1 females were fertile. The Arkhar-Merino sheep breed was developed and thrived at higher altitudes than pure Merino sheep. Argali x Bighorn (Ovis Canadensis) hybrids have been reported in captivity. Argali x Moufflon (Ovis gmelinii) are interfertile. Argali x Urial (Ovis vignei) are also interfertile.

Domestic Sheep x Bighorn (Ovis canadensis). Bighorn rams that have failed to secure mates of their own kind have left the mountains and mated with domestic ewes. The resulting hybrids are longer legged than domestic sheep with light coats. Female hybrids mature faster than female Bighorn and are fertile. Domestic Sheep x Siberian Bighorn (Ovis nivicola) produce hybrids called ovchubuks in captive breeding experiments. Domestic Sheep x Mouflon (Ovis gmelinii) hybrids are common in captivity.

Above: Male and female hybrids between sheep and mouflon (1910).

Bighorn (Ovis Canadensis) x Dall’s Sheep (Ovis dalli) have produced large, fast-growing fertile hybrids. When backcrossed to Bighorn the second generation resembled the Bighorn. Bighorn x Mouflon (Ovis gmelinii) produce hybrids that closely resemble the Bighorn.

Dall’s sheep (Ovis dalli or Ovis dalli dalli) x Stone Sheep (Ovis stonei or Ovis dalli stonei) are interfertile and produce hybrids known as Fannin Sheep (Ovis fannini). These were previously all considered separate species because of their different colouring, but are now considered a single species due to the naturally occurring hybrid zone.

Mouflon (Ovis gmelinii) x Urial (Ovis vignei, aka Ovis orientalis) interbreed freely in the wild producing a range of intermediate forms that resemble Mouflon at one end of the hybrid zone and Urial at the other end (due to introgressive breeding with either the Mouflon or Urial). The hybrids are known as Red Sheep (in the northern hybrid zone) and the Kerman sheep (in the south-eastern hybrid zone. In each case the hybrids are offspring of the local subspecies of Mouflon and Urial.

(The Field, 11th February 1899) I would draw Mr. Tegetmeier’s attention to the fact that Hodgson records that a male Tahr at Nepal paired with a female spotted deer (Axis maculatus), which produced a hybrid of mixed appearance, more like the mother than the father, which lived and grew up to be a fine healthy animal. – SMOOTH-BORE [The Tahr is an Indian wild goat – a hybrid with a deer seems unlikely!]


Aoudad/Barbary “Sheep” (Ammotragus lervia) x Domestic Goat (Capra hircus). The Aoudad evenly bridges the biological distance between sheep and goats, but it is a true species, not a hybrid. Aoudads have the traits of both sheep and goats, and the proteins in their blood are 50% like sheep's and 50% like goats. Aoudads and Domestic goats have produced non-viable hybrids of both sexes. Stillborn male twins were born to a female Saanen goat and a Barbary ram, but many of their cells had chromosomal abnormalities. When the female parent is a goat, live offspring sometimes occur. The hybrid females have been successfully backcrossed to Barbary rams and also crossed to alpine ibex (Capra ibex), but the offspring did not live long.


Pronghorns Antilocapra (Americana) are some times called American antelopes but they are not antelopes, deer or goats. They are a family of their own and their closest relatives are the giraffe and okapi. The Latin name “antilocapra” means “antelope-goat” and refers to its appearance

An alleged hybrid between a Pronghorn x Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus) was shot in 1873, but its authenticity is unproven.
There have been unverified historical reports ofPronghorn x Domestic Sheep (Ovis aries) hybrids where male Pronghorn have allegedly mated with Domestic ewes.

It is possible that frustrated male pronghorns attempt to mate with female sheep or goats after failing to secure pronghorn females. Being only distantly related, the likelihood of hybrid offspring is small.


SUPPOSITIOUS HYBRID (The Field, 17th June, 1899). Having noticed in your issue of April 1 a letter concerning a supposed sheep and goat hybrid, I think that perhaps the following maybe of interest to some of your readers. Some three months ago a Mexican came to my ranche and asked me to lend him a pet ram that I had. On inquiring from him for what reason he might require it, I was dumbfounded by his answer: "I want it for a mate for a couple of sows I have." I volunteered to lend the one I had to him, but on hearing that it was a Merino, he declined my offer, saying that he thought it was a common Mexican ram. Naturally enough my curiosity was aroused, and I made it my business to inquire into the cause of such an astounding request. Not only from the man who asked me for the loan of my ram, but also from several other Mexican ranchmen near by, I elicited the following information:

That it was a well-known fact among Mexican rancheros that a common Mexican ram will cross with a sow, provided that the ram has been brought up by suckling a sow, in the same way as a donkey will cover mares if he has been nourished and run with a mare. The Mexicans around about here assert that the progeny of such a cross fatten much quicker than is the case with an ordinary hog —a considerable advantage, as it naturally entails a reduction in the corn bill. Whether this statement is a fact I cannot say; all I can vouch for is that I have been asked to lend a ram for such a purpose, and that any Mexican one may ask will maintain that such is the case — the greater number asserting that they themselves have owned several such (to my mind) curiosities. In fact, the headman who is in charge of my sheep at present has told me that he has owned several. He tells me that the offspring differ but little from the ordinary hog, except that the snout is distinctly shorter, and that under the bristles there is a thin coat of coarse wool. Before closing this I may add that, relating to the supposed sheep and goat hybrid mentioned in your issue of April 1, in my neighbourhood it is a recognised fact that there are such hybrids, and that it is of no uncommon occurrence, when sheep and goats run together, as is often the case among small ranching men on the Mexican frontier. I personally have seen several such hybrids, at least they have been pointed out to me as being such; and should it chance to be in any way interesting to any of your readers, I have np doubt I could procure you a photograph of one of the same. G.S. Zaragoza, Mexico.

[We insert our correspondent’s letter, not as accepting the account, but rather as a proof of the extreme looseness of the credence given to the existence of certain hybrids. The production of a hybrid between a sheep and a pig is regarded by all zoologists as perfectly incredible. Such hybrids were believed in before any advance in anatomical or zoological knowledge, but are now regarded by all scientific authorities as absolutely impossible. We may say that the belief in each an animal throws greater doubt than ever on the production of the goat and sheep hybrid. Our correspondent kindly offers to send us a photograph of one of these supposed animals, which we shall examine with interest, although a mere photograph cannot offer conclusive evidence. As stated in the letter of Mr Tegetmeier inserted in our issue of April 1 1899, the tangible distinctions between the sheep and the goat, as distinct species, are that in the sheep there are glands between the toes in all the four feet, and the males are not odorous, whereas in the goat the glands are only present in the forefeet, and the males are strongly odorous. In these supposed sheep and goat hybrids it would be very desirable to determine not only the location of the foot glands, but also the presence or abeam of odour in the males.—ED.]

SUPPOSITIOUS HYBRIDS. (The Field, 19th August 1899). SIR,—l am writing to you in reference to an article in the Field of June 17 1899, under the heading " Supposititious Hybrids." I am not good at letter writing, or should have written to you some years ago on the subject of the crossing of Mexican rams and sows. In spite of the ridicule that you throw on the subject, I can assure you that it is a fact, and I can prove it to anyone who cares to spend enough time in the country. My neighbour, old Don Pablo Melendres, for years kept a ram for no other purpose than that of covering his two sows. I have known Americans come here, and at first ridicule the idea, but they have gone away convinced. I can bring witnesses ready to swear before a notary public to the truth of what I claim. I do not take in any English papers (for financial reasons), but friends keep me pretty regularly supplied with the Field, and I have once or twice seen subjects doubted that I might have helped to clear up, but since I left Wellington College, Berks, some sixteen or seventeen years ago, I have not had much occasion to put pen to paper, and the fear that I should not be sufficiently concise or clear has deterred me. I shall be glad to give you all information in my power. J. C. R., Dofia Ana Co., New Mex., U.S.A.

THE CUINO - A SUPPOSED HYBRID. (The Field, 22nd February 1902) SOME TWO YEARS SINCE the subject of the possibility of hybrids being produced between two distinct species of animals more or less different in structure and habits was ventilated in the Field, and articles appeared written by myself and others, denying the existence or the possibility of the production of many of these supposed hybrids. In the Field of Sept. 29, 1900, was published an article which had been sent to it by Dr Marshall of Charlemont, Virginia. It was extracted from the Breeder's Gazette, a paper holding a very high position in the states. It related the full and circumstantial details of the production of a hybrid called a cuino, a cross between the sheep and the hog. The fullest and, apparently, the most practical details were given as to the production of these hybrids, their description, their use, their fertility with the ram, and the whole of the practical details respecting their growth, appearance, and management. In remarking on this paper, whilst giving the writer every credit for good faith, I stated that no physiologist could possibly accept such a statement without the most irrefragible proof, the structure of the animals being too diverse. Some months later a letter came to hand from another correspondent, an Englishman residing in Mexico, endorsing the account, and stating that he and his partner were having such animals reared on their estate, about fifteen miles away from the town in which they lived. In this letter the details of the production and management were repeated ; and it was so obviously written in perfectly good faith that I had only one reply to make - that if my correspondent could forward a specimen of this singular production it would be the only means of settling the question. I have recently received from this gentleman a letter from which I may take the following extracts:

I wrote to you some months ago on the subject of hybrids from the southern part of Mexico. You will receive with this the skull of one of the hybrids mentioned . . . . which will enable you to decide whether there is any trace of sheep parentage in it. I sent a leg of the animal to a neighbour, a Scotchman whose business is in cattle and pigs, and he wrote to me thanking me for the “leg of mutton." His wife, an American, on eating it, asked what the meat was, as it was as dark as mutton, and yet cooked like pork. A friend of mine near the city of Mexico writes to me that he had succeeded in getting the hybrid to cross with the ram. I am going to see him as soon as I can, and if his statement is true, I shall advise you of the fact.

As this cuino is bred with the greatest care entirely apart from the other pigs, and in large numbers in America, where its gestation is said to be seven months and not four or five, as in the case of the sow and sheep, it was worthy of careful consideration, and I was very glad to receive the skull, but, as I anticipated, it has no hybrid character about it whatever. It is purely and simply the skull of a pig. Without stopping to enter into such details as the character of the orbit, or the articulation of the lower jaw, which are utterly distinct in the sheep and in the pig, I need only call attention to the teeth in the fore part of the upper jaw. These are present as in the pig, and perfectly developed, whereas in the sheep, as every anatomist knows, the fore part of the jaw is utterly destitute of teeth, there being only a horny pad against which the lower incisors act. No zoologist could for a moment regard the skull as showing the slightest trace of ovine structure. In order to obtain corroboration of these facts I exhibited the skull at the last meeting of the Zoological Society, and its true character vas recognised by every anatomist and zoologist present who noticed it.

The production and existence of this supposed hybrid is one of those remarkable circumstances which show how readily falsehood is accepted in the place of truth ; but we cannot afford to laugh at the blunders of the American breeders when we recollect that similar mistakes have occurred in this country ; and even in our own Zoological Gardens the existence of a hybrid between the hare and the rabbit was at one time believed in and experimented upon, until it was demonstrated that no such animal existed. This belief has long passed out of existence in this country, but in America , as the Field has often pointed out, the hybrid production of the Belgian hare rabbit was recently, and possibly is now, thoroughly believed in, and large sums are given for specimens of so called hare-rabbits , the animal being simply large variety of the domesticated rabbit. W. B.


Chang M.C., Pickworth S., Mcgaughey R.W. (1969) EXPERIMENTAL HYBRIDIZATION AND CHROMOSOMES OF HYBRIDS. In: Benirschke K. (eds) Comparative Mammalian Cytogenetics.
Experimental hybridization between the ferret and mink, goat and sheep, and between the domestic rabbit and some other members of the Leporidae was discussed at a previous meeting (Chang and Hancock, 1967). In each case successful cross-fertilization was followed by prenatal death of the hybrid. Chromosome studies and sterility of hybrids which survive to adulthood were discussed by Benirschke (1967) and King (1967).

This paper noted that goat x sheep hybrids borne in goats died at around six weeks or approximately two months of pregnancy, and that the maternal (goat) haemolytic antibodies attacked the paternal (sheep) red blood cells in the hybrid foetus and placenta. If the female goat is pregnant with a hybrid on a second occasion, the hybrid embryo dies even earlier. If the sheep was the maternal parent, the incidence of fertilization was very low. If hybrid fertilised eggs were transferred into a female sheep the hybrids could reach 45 days before being miscarried.


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