History of Dexter cows

A Brief History of the Dexter Cattle.

Dexter’s are originally from Ireland. However by the time of the 2nd world war there was no Dexters left in Ireland.

The Dexter originated in the South Western region of Ireland. Like the Kerry, they are descended from the predominately black cattle of the early Celts.
The frequently heard theory that the Dexters are a comparatively new breed is a complete fallacy as the breed is fully described and mentioned by its proper name, in a report on Irish cattle written in 1845, by Mr David Low.
From this publication we learn that the breed owes its modern appearance, name, and probably qualities to a Mr Dexter who was agent to a Lord Hawarden (pronounced 'Harden') who came to Ireland in 1750 and made his home in Co Tipperary. David Low stated that a Mr Dexter had produced his curious breed by selection from the best of the hardy mountain cattle of the area, and to have succeeded, to a very high degree.

However Mr James Wilson, Professor of Agriculture at the Royal College of Science, Dublin disputes this theory see his article published in 1909, volume X11, Number 1 of The Scientific Proceedings of the Royal Dublin Society entitled “The Origin of the Dexter Kerry Breed of Cattle” according to Mr Wilson, the theory “most widely accepted” as to the origin of the Dexter breed is that set forth in an 1845 publication entitled “Domesticated Animals of the British Islands” by Professor Low. However Mr Wilson discounts Professor Low’s version as to the origins of the breed. Dexter cattle are recorded from several earlier sources in other parts of south-western Ireland, to early and too distant from Tipperary to be traceable to Mr Dexter. Another difficulty Wilson finds with Lows account is the suggestion that anyone could produce a “curious breed” embodying “roundness of form and shortness of legs” within the space of the human life by crossing Kerry’s, a breed described by Low himself as “light in the body and long in the leg. Wilson eventually concludes, on the basis of a series of deductions, that Dexters are a hybrid descending from Kerry’s, which are black, and Devon’s, a red cattle imported to Ireland in considerable numbers from England in the 17th and 18th centuries. ‘Ref Dexter Cattle by John Hays.’

I’m not sure if we will ever find the true origins of the Dexter however we have been left with a delightful breed.

Dexter Cattle History 1800

Dexter cattle were first introduced into England in 1882. By a Mr. Martin. J. Sutton of Kidmore Grange, Oxfordshire when he purchased ten Dexters from Mr. James. Robertson of La Mancha, Nr Malahide, Dublin. They were first shown at the Royal Show at Norwich in 1886.

By 1892, this native Irish breed was so well established in Great Britain that at a meeting of breeders at the Smithfield club on December 6th resulted in the formation of the Kerry and Dexter/Kerry cattle society.
Eventually the two societies split into the Dexter Society and the Kerry Society and the Dexter due originally to a few dedicated breeders, has over the years, become the popular breed as we know it to day.

Over the last few years the Dexter has once again become popular in Ireland and a considerable amount of Dexter’s have been purchased from the mainland to become the foundation animals of the new Irish Dexter herds.