The breed was first established on the Swedish island of Gotland by the Vikings with Karakul and Romanov sheep brought back from expeditions deep into Russia and crossed with the native landrace sheep. The Vikings were great seafarers as well as sheep farmers and took these animals on their extensive voyages to provide meat and skins along the route. Hence the spread of these Northern short-tailed sheep and the development into related breeds such as Gute sheep, Icelandic, Finnsheep, Shetland, North Ronaldsay and Manx. Primitive horned Gotland sheep (still called Gute) still exist on the island of Gotland today. The Gotland Peltsheep or modern Gotland has been developed in Sweden since the 1920's through controlled breeding and intensive selection, producing a true multipurpose long wool sheep, yielding good flavored close-grained meat, furskins and soft, silky, lustrous fleece.
Fine-boned and of medium size. Horn less black head sometimes with white markings and free from wool. Bold eyes, alert medium sized ears. Small neat muzzle with even jaw and teeth set squarely on the pad. Slender neck and shoulders set smoothly into a level back with generous length, good depth and reasonable breadth of body. Slender black legs well spaced and upright. Short hair tipped tail. Dense, long, lustrous grey fleece, occasionally black or white. Clearly defined even curl and staple, soft to the touch. Calm, friendly disposition.
A bright, active and friendly sheep full of curiosity. Ewes generally weigh from 120 to 155 lbs. Rams are heavier weighing in at 165 to 190 lbs. Lambs are born with a lush black birth coat and are very active and quick to suckle. They make rapid summer growth and may reach 66 to 110lbs at 6 to 7 months old dependent on litter size.