The objective of this study was the morphological characterization of the sheep population in the southwest of Tunisia. A joint analysis of quantitative and qualitative characters was carried out on 987 animals of three breeds: two local breeds (Barbarine (BAR) and Queue Fine de l'Ouest (QFG and QFT)) and an exotic breed introduced from Morocco, the D'man (DMN) breed.
Results on quantitative characters (height at withers (HG), body length (LC), thorax perimeter (PT), body weight of males (P♂) and body weight of females (P♀)) showed a significant superiority of the Queue Fine de l'Ouest breed compared to the other two breeds. On the other hand, results on qualitative characters (fleece color, horn and wattles) showed white to be the dominant color of the fleece in the Barbarine and Queue Fine breeds, while for the D'man breed there were various colors. Generally, females of the three breeds were polled while males were horned for the Queue Fine and polled for the Barbarine and D'man breeds. The Barbarine distinguishes itself from the other breeds by the total absence of wattles which are predominantly missing in the other two breeds.
Genetic distances estimated on the basis of quantitative characters showed that distances found between the Barbarine-D'man and Fine Tail of Ouest-D'man breeds were higher than those found between the Barbarine-Queue Fine breeds.