What Makes a Great Llama?

Llamas, like horses, dogs and cats, will have certain traits, the presence or absence of those characteristics will make a llama more or less desirable. Llamas are shown in competitions, so there are well-established traits a llama owner should look for.

Among them are:

Ears – A great llama has a distinct shape to their ears. Looking at their face, their ears should look like a pair of bananas. This curvature is something to look for in choosing a llama. Some ears can look like spears, or are set forward, undesirable traits in a show animal.

Face – The face of a great llama should be fairly symmetrical. Look at the eyes, eyelids and where the nose is. Make sure the eyes are not cloudy with cataracts, eyelids are not turned in where the lashes can rub the eyes and that the nose is well-centered on the face.

Coat – The coat you want for your llama will depend upon the purpose of your llama. If you want to get fiber from your llama, you want a nice color with soft, long fur. Llama fibers are graded, and higher grades fetch higher prices from spinners and weavers.

If you want a working llama, such as a companion, pet or to help guard other livestock, a coat with shorter hair will make it easier to keep your llama groomed.

Legs – Pay close attention to how the legs align. A well-bred llama has legs that are straight when looking at them from the front or back. “Knock Kneed” llamas are susceptible to joint problems. Llamas can have pigeon toes, bow legs and other leg defects.

What Makes a Great Llama?Back – The back of a llama should be straight, with a proportionate neck.

Chest – The chest should have a strong curve indicating plenty of room for their lungs to work inside.

Jaw – Check the llama’s jaw and make sure there is neither an overbite or underbite.

There are a number of other attributes of a great llama that can be reviewed in detail in the document Minimum Breed Standards for Llamas. The more good characteristics, and the quality of those good traits, will increase the value of the llama. A good llama breeder will be happy to let you examine an animal before purchasing.