The Dexter is a small, short legged cow of ancient origin, hailing from the South Western region of Ireland. Like the Kerry, they are descended from the predominately black cattle of the early Celts. The breed owes its modern appearance, name, and probably qualities to a Mr Dexter, agent to a Lord Howarden who came to Ireland in 1750 and made his home in Co Tipperary. Mr Dexter produced this breed by selective breeding over many years from the best of the hardy Kerry mountain cattle of the area. Dexter cattle were first introduced into England from Ireland in 1882.
The Dexter breed is the smallest British breed of cattle. It is a dual purpose dairy and beef breed, producing prodigious quantities of creamy milk. Dexter cows are extremely maternal and will milk well. Calving problems are rare and newly born calves are up on their feet very quickly. There are two recognised types, short legged and non-short, both of which have their equal merits. The breed comes in three colours, predominately black, but also red and dun.