The Swaledale has a black face with a white muzzle and white markings around its eyes. Both ewes and rams have a set of low, round, wide horns. The fleece is coarse and varies in colour from white to grey.

The Swaledale is thought to have originated in the UK in the 12th century and is from the same genetic umbrella as other horned sheep, such as the Blackface and Rough Fell.

Swaledale is one of the most northerly dales of the Yorkshire Dales in England. The Swaledale breed was developed here and in what was then Westmorland but became Cumbria. It is now found across the hills and moorlands of Northern England.

As a maternal hill breed, the Swaledale is hardy sheep and the females are excellent mothers and good foragers. This means that can rear lambs on sparse grazing and in exposed environments.