The native home of the Dexter is in the southern part of Ireland where they were bred by small land holders and roamed about the shelterless mountainous districts in an almost wild state of nature.
The first recorded knowledge of Dexters in America is when more than two hundred Dexters were imported to the US between 1905 and 1915.
In recent years there has been a worldwide surge of interest in Dexter cattle. These gentle, hardy and easy to handle animals are one of the world's smallest bovines. They require less pasture and feed than other breeds. They thrive in hot as well as cold climates and do well outdoors year round, needing only a windbreak, shelter and fresh water. Fertility is high and calves are dropped in the field without difficulty. They are dual purpose, being raised for both milk and meat.
According to the guidelines, the ideal three year old Dexter bull measures 38 to 44 inches at the shoulder and weighs less than 1000 pounds. The ideal three year old Dexter cow measures between 36 to 42 inches at the shoulder, and weighs less than 750 pounds. There are two varieties of Dexters, short legged and long legged. Milk and beef production and other characteristics are generally the same for both types.
Dexters come in Black, Red or Dun. Dexters are horned or polled, with some people preferring to dehorn them.
A milking cow can produce more milk for its weight than any other breed. The daily yield averages 1 to 3 gallons per day with a butterfat content of 4 to 5 percent. Yields of cream up to one quart per gallon are possible. The cream can be skimmed for butter or ice cream.
Beef animals mature in 18-24 months and result in small cuts of high quality lean meat, graded choice, with little waste. The expectable average dress out is 50 to 60 percent and the beef is slightly darker red than that of other breeds.