Irish Dexter Cattle

A dual-purpose animal is bred to serve two functions: milk and beef. The Dexter is to be compactly built, shorter in length than that of a true dairy breed but thicker in the thighs, hips, loin, and shoulders. Its disposition should be easy to handle and docile as its main purpose is to be a family cow. It should not be overly large and tall, or excessively small.


Balance: The size of bone, depth and fullness of all parts, low-setness, and shortness of leg and neck should reveal a consistently uniform harmony throughout. A balanced animal reveals equality in all parts. The animal should appear smoothly blended in such proportions as to give even and uniform appearance.

Quality: Indicated by smooth, neat, clean-cut features throughout, which contribute to the beauty and general ability of the animal to economically perform the function of production. Neat joints, general refined condition of bone, a pliable softness to the hair and hide, a clean-cut appearance of the head and smoothness of body lines and finish are necessary attributes.

Style: Associated with harmonious development in all body characteristics. It involves the general beauty and the degree of grace, which it displays while moving or at rest. Attractive, graceful carriage is desired. The animal should have enough nervous response versus stability to keep muscles in proper tone, hold the body together, and impress his or her true value. Style is often responsible for an animal catching the eye of a judge or prospective buyer and selling at a premium.

Constitution: Characteristics that determine the feeding ability, reproductive capacity, health, vigor and longevity: Broad mouth and large nostrils; wide and deep chest capacity, as determined by the length and fullness of the fore ribs and width of chest floor; deep heart girth and well-sprung ribs encase the diaphragm, heart and lungs, which are vital to longevity and reproductive ability.


ADCA Dexter Breed Characteristics

Solid black, solid red, or solid dun are of equal merit.  A small amount of white on the reproductive organs, udder and/or underline is permissible.  A few white hairs in the tassel (switch) of the tail are also permissible.

The Dexter is a dual-purpose breed with both beef and dairy qualities.

Head & Horns:
Short, broad head, tapering gracefully towards a broad muzzle.  Jaw should be wide enough to accommodate well-placed teeth with an even bite.  Eyes should be bright and prominent.  Horns should be moderately thick with an inward, upward curve.  Removal of horns is allowed without penalty.  Polled animals are also allowed.

Deep and thick, but not too short, blending well into the shoulders.  Head should be carried above the spine.

Ample chest width giving plenty of room for the heart and lungs; well sprung ribs, wide across the loins.  Quarters thick and deep, broad full hips, well- rounded rump.

Straight topline with tail set level with spine.  Good width between both front and back legs.  Legs should be of moderate length, in proportion to body size, squarely placed under the body, wide apart and perpendicular when viewed from the rear.  Feet should be short-toed, deep heeled and level soled.  They should not turn either outwards or inwards.

Cows – Udder should be well attached with high and wide rear attachment and strong median suspensory ligament.  The four teats should be of medium size and well spaced on the udder, hanging plumb and of equal length.  All four quarters should be of equal size.

Bulls – Well hung testicles of even size.  Four well defined teats evenly spaced.  Bull’s sheath should be of moderate size and held near the body.  The penis should retract completely into the sheath when at rest.

Loose and pliable.  Hair should be short and sleek in summer, longer and thicker in winter.

Cows – Typical range in height is between 34 inches and 46 inches; however, the preferred height for all mature (3+ years old) females is between 38 inches and 42 inches, measured at the hip.

Bulls – Typical range in height is between 36 inches and 50 inches; however, the preferred height for all mature (3+ years old) males is between 40 inches and 44 inches, measured at the hip.