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  • Fall 2004, Suri Network survey indicated a majority of members wanted to pursue development of an independent Suri Breed Standard and that Suri Network was the best organization to pursue this;
  • Consultant suggests broad based educational and consensus approach;
  • Winter 2005 first meeting of breed standards committee;
  • Fall of 2005 the Suri Network and the AOBA boards had a joint conference call regarding this topic. It was agreed on that call that there would be two breed standards, one for Suris and one for Huacayas. It was further agreed that the Suri Network would coordinate the development of the Suri standard. The Suri Network agreed to include all Suri breeders in this process, as we have done, and not limit it to Suri Network members. "As a consequence there has been little or no effort by AOBA to develop a Suri standard independent from what has been done by the Suri Network". At the AOA national type conference in Reno, NV, the process was limited to work on developing a Huacaya standard. AOA recognized that the Suri community had essentially completed their work on the Suri standard.
  • Education on standards using Suri Network News and PurelySuri™ magazine;
  • Summer Symposium 2005 1st Suri Breed Standards Type Conference develops rough draft of
    Suri Network Suri Alpaca Breed Standard;
  • Survey of members and non-members on positive and negative traits as well as comments on rough draft;
  • Joint conference call of Suri Network board with the AOA board discussing and reaching agreement on Suri Network role in developing the Suri breed standard;
  • Suri Network offers, in agreement with AOA, to help regional affiliates at their type conferences as a means to include more Suri breeders in developing the Suri standard. Most conferences were attended by a Suri Network representative.
  • Suri Network Summer Symposium conducts further education on standards as well as developing a proposal for a ‘review and revision’ mechanism to direct future changes in the standard once developed;
  • Final survey sent to all Suri breeders regarding three topics; prioritization of fiber characteristics, crossbreeding and the proposed ‘review and Revision’ proposal;
  • March 2007, Vote on acceptance of the standard-Approved.


The 2007 standard was written with input from any and all Suri breeders who wished to have something to say. The Suri Network realized from the beginning that for this process to be effective that an all inclusive approach was crucial.

There were at least three surveys that went out to all Suri breeders, members and non-members alike, regarding breed standards. There were open large group discussions at two Suri Network Symposiums/Type Conferences in 2005 and 2006. At the Suri Symposium in 2005 a rough draft was written with the participation of over 100 Suri breeders. At many of the regional AOBA Affiliate type conferences which were open to any Suri breeders, there were Suri Network representatives facilitating input by interested Suri breeders.

Therefore, there were many opportunities for breeders to participate if they chose to do so. Every attempt was made to make this as open and as inclusive as possible. Recognizing the need to include the opinion of other stakeholders such as fiber processors, designers, other fiber industry experts, veterinarians and judges; there were opportunities for their input as well.


A breed standard, once widely accepted, can be a strong unifying force within the industry. The breed standard serves as a target or goal to aim at or aspire to.

A breed standard will discourage crossbreeding.

A breed standard having been developed by consensus of all major stake holders will discourage the development of multiple competing standards. Multiple standards would retard progress toward overall national herd improvement by confusing breeders as to which target to shoot for.

A breed standard will serve the new buyer by serving as a yardstick against which to measure potential purchases.

A breed standard can facilitate the development of evaluation tools that established and new breeders alike can use to determine the success of their breeding program. Such evaluations can augment show ring performance as a means of such evaluation.

In the future a breed standard can facilitate the development of data sets that breeders can utilize to track performance thus facilitating selection based on objective performance criteria.

A breed standard will help bring better objectivity to the show ring.


The Suri Network established the first alpaca breed standard in North America ten years ago. This groundbreaking effort was tirelessly led by Suri Network member Dick Walker, with assistance and support from many other Suri Network members.  A process allowing for Suri Network member input was followed by a membership vote, which approved the very first Suri Breed Standard in 2006.

Most livestock breed standards are revised periodically. In early 2016 a committee was formed to review and update the Suri Breed Standard. The Board President appointed Tim Sheets and Linda Kondris as co-chairs, who then recruited members Karl Heinrich; Gail Campbell, DVM; Amanda VandenBosch; and Cheryl Gehly. Randy Coleman, Board member, served as liaison between the Board and the committee.  This committee provided perspective from alpaca judges, fleece experts, long-time alpaca breeders, fiber processer, and an alpaca owner/veterinarian.

Breed Standard Review Committee:  Tim Sheets, Co-Chair, Linda Kondris, Co-Chair, Gail Campbell, DVM, Amanda VandenBosch, Karl Heinrich, Cheryl Gehly, Patty Hasselbring, Randy Coleman and Deb Christner, Board of Trustees Liaisons.

Coincidentally, the Alpaca Owners Association (AOA) has identified development of a breed standard as an activity to take place this year. Two of the members of the Suri Network review committee are also involved in AOA’s development of the huacaya breed standard and will use the standard developed by the Suri Network for Suris as a model for the huacaya breed standard. 

The Suri Network News Brief in January 2016 shared the status and plans for revision, as well as the members of the committee.  The Committee went to work. They researched and reviewed the breed standards that are used by other livestock industries as well as the Australasian Alpaca Breed Standard. Other breed standards reviewed are listed here. The committee also identified formatting that they found beneficial.

Jacobs Sheep:
South Africa Hereford:
Midline Angus (note maternal and temperament traits):
Dexter Cattle:

Highland Cattle:
Shetland Sheep:
Charollaiss Sheep:
Leicester Sheep:
Merino Sheep:
Australasian Alpaca Breeders Association:

The committee used various industry resources, including: The Art and Science of Alpaca Judging, published by the AOBA (now AOA); discussion with Cameron Holt; the Suri Network SHIP program classification categories, and of course, the original Suri Breed Standard.  

 Following completion of the draft revision, the committee submitted it to the Suri Network Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees reviewed the draft and approved it for dissemination and comment to the membership. 

At that time the following strategies for public comment were instituted:

  • A page was developed on the Suri Network website, with copies of the original breed standard and the proposed revisions, plus an online forum for discussion about the proposed revisions.
  • A letter was sent to all Suri Network members with a link to the revised Breed Standard and an invitation to review and comment.
  • The proposed revisions were posted on the Suri Network Members’ Facebook group.
  • An email was sent to all members of the Alpaca Owners Association, with a link to the proposed revisions and an invitation to comment.

The comment period was open for 30 days, allowing time for members to read and respond to the proposed revised breed standard. The Suri Network received a number of comments, both through the online forum and by email, about the proposed standards. Those comments were reviewed and discussed at length by the committee.

Here are the areas addressed in member feedback that have been reviewed again by the committee:

Formatting, with headings of Ideal, Improved, and Unimproved. Member reaction to the format using three columns, and the headings used, was both positive and critical. After discussion, the committee decided to retain the format. The format is similar to that used by the Jacob Sheep Breed Standard and is easy to read. 

The three columns give more depth to the standard than simply the “positive” and “negative” of the original standard. Because the headings for the columns seemed confusing to readers, the committee decided, after much discussion, to re-label the three categories: Ideal Traits, Acceptable but Less Desirable Traits, and Unacceptable/Undesirable Traits.

Graphic depictions: Several comments related to missing the graphic illustrations that were found in the original Suri Breed Standard. The committee recognizes the value that many find in graphics, and will link to graphics and other resources on the Suri Network website as supplements to the standard.

Temperament: A comment was received concerning temperament, and the committee referred to the Midline Angus Association’s breed standard, which includes “docile temperament” for the following reasons: 1) Calm, good nature is important to part-time producers, 2) Easy handling save time and money.  These factors are also true for alpacas, and are consistent with industry marketing efforts.

Lock: There is no lock style that is preferred, and the committee reviewed the section on “lock” in detail. Language was adjusted to ensure that there is no implication that any type of lock is preferred over others, but that uniformity of lock throughout the entire fleece is important.

Luster: Language was adjusted so that luster does not appear to be the “primary” important characteristic of Suri fiber, but that it continues to be recognized as one of the important factors that makes Suri fiber, Suri.

Fineness: Several commenters suggested including metrics relating to fineness. Following extensive discussion, the Committee arrived at what they believe is the best option for a resource concerning desirable fineness would be reference to the Suri Herd Improvement Program (SHIP), which delineates fineness and even breaks down and scores fineness by age. It was noted by the committee that the SHIP scoring ranges for AFD can be changed much more easily as industry changes, while the Breed Standard requires a vote of the membership for change.

Overall:  The committee appreciates the feedback from Suri Network members as well as others, and believes that the analysis provided by other readers adds to the value of the final proposed document.

Here you will find the July 2016 Suri Breed Standard Revision, which will be discussed at the 2016 Suri Symposium and Fleece Show in August prior to a vote by the membership. The original Suri Breed Standard is provided for reference.

The Suri Breed Standard has been developed and copyrighted by the Suri Network. The Suri Network retains its copyright on the Suri Breed Standard (both original and revised), and all rights to ownership of the document. Any use of the Suri Breed Standard must retain notice of copyright and reference to it must include credit to the Suri Network.

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