Internet finds solace in cute sheep photos amid COVID-19 pandemic

Last year they stole hearts at Canterbury's annual agricultural show. 

Now, with much of the world still in lockdown and facing an increasingly uncertain future, it seems they are cheering up internet users around the globe.

Yes, the Valais Blacknose - often described as the world's cutest sheep - are having another moment.

The breed is native to Switzerland, though are bred around the world, including in New Zealand. 

With their black faces, ears and feet, shaggy fringes and white fluffy fleece, the sheep have taken the world by storm in recent years.

And in these depressing times many are finding solace in looking at pictures of the animals online.

"Today is a stressful day, so here are some Swiss Valais sheep," wrote one person on Twitter. 

"Yes, these things actually exist."

Another wrote: "Nope, not stuffed animals, they are Valais Blacknose sheep."

A third person described them as "a mood".

Last year Motueka breeders Sally and Lindsay Strathdee told Newshub the sheep's adorable appearance was matched by their warm temperament - describing them as "more like dogs than sheep".

The animals have made appearances a number of times at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in the past, with crowds flocking to see them.

With the event being cancelled this year due to COVID-19, however, those wanting a dose of feel-good vibes might need to join the rest of the world and settle for a virtual vaccine of Valais Blacknose.