Dairy Breeds

Dairy Breeds — Canadienne


Dairy Barn, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum


The Canadienne is the only dairy breed to have developed in North America. It is descended from cows brought to Canada by Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain in the mid-1500s and early 1600s. Prior to the 1950s, Canadiennes were the primary milking cows. Currently, however, there are less than 200 purebred females in Canada. Rare Breeds Canada has declared the Canadienne a rare breed. However, the Canadienne is a hardy breed. Through self-selection, these cows have inherited an ability to survive, reproduce, and give milk on poor feeds and throughout harsh Canadian seasons.

Canadienne milk is rich in fat and protein, making it perfect for producing specialized cheeses. The breed may be black, brown, tawny, or russet in colour. Generally, colouring is lighter along the back, around the muzzle, and near the udder.

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