15 Best Goat Breeds for Pets
Goats make adorable pets because of their ability to form close bonds with their owners. They are fun, interesting and personable. Most goats are easy to handle and do not need a lot of feed and space. So how about having a pet goat—one like Dan Bilzerian's, the famous internet personality known for his lavish lifestyle?
Choosing a perfect breed for a pet would depend on what else you would want to do with your goat and how much you would agree to spend on it. If you want to raise a goat solely for a pet, it would cost anywhere between $50 to $350 (much less than a cat would come for). Here I list some of the best goat breeds for pets.
Pygmy goats are more popular as pets than for dairy throughout the world. The Pygmy makes a friendly, intelligent and gregarious pet. They are adaptable to almost any climate. The breed was first seen in the US in the 1950s.
These tiny goats are only 16 to 23 inches tall and weigh only 55 to 85 pounds. They are very compact and well-muscled animals. They have a disproportionately large body compared to the length of their legs. They look like "beer kegs with legs" as precisely described by Jerry Balanger and Sara Thomson. They have erect ears and full coats with straight medium-sized hair.
Pygmies always have brown eyes. They come in seven colours and are categorized into caramel patterned, agouti patterned, and black patterned. Though pigmies are generally considered pets, they can produce milk enough for a small household. They produce as much as 1 to 2 quartz of milk with 5 to 11 per cent of butterfat a day.
2. Mini Alpines
Full-sized Alpine goats originated in the French Alps. Mini Alpines should ideally look like their full-sized counterparts. Full-sized does are at least 30 inches tall and weigh around 135 pounds. Mini does are a maximum to about 30 to 31 inches tall. Like Pygmies, they are good-natured and can adapt to most climates.
Alpines come in a variety of patterns such as cou blanc which means "white neck" in French. These have white front quarters and black hindquarters with grey or black markings on the head. Alpines have erect ears and straight faces.
The full-sized Alpines are popularly known for their milking ability. They can produce roughly about 2400 pounds of milk a year with 3-4 per cent of butterfat. The stereotypical Alpines are pushy in a herd setting. They will do anything for food and are a little hyperactive. Many might not fit into this picture but they are generally friendly animals for a pet.
3. Nigerian Dwarf
These goats have been seen in the zoos for many years before they were recognized as a breed for its registry in 2005 by the American Dairy Goats Association. These goats are known for providing both milk and meat. Nigerian dwarfs are intelligent, colourful, and productive pets.
The dwarf has proportional sizes of body parts. The nose is straight and the ears are small to medium size and erect. Nigerian dwarfs can be 22 to 24 inches tall and weigh about 75 pounds.
The milk is tastier and richer compared to that produced by most other breeds; these are easier to milk also. However, when you want to buy a Nigerian Dwarf from a breeder, make sure that the breeders are not breeding the animal strictly for pets; goats that do not come from a line that has been bred for milk will not be a potential milker.
4. Mini Myotonics (Mini Fainting Goats)
In 1988, the myotonic goat breed was officially declared as an endangered breed by the Livestock Conservancy. These goats are generally 17 to 25 inches tall and weigh around 70 to 150 pounds. They are muscular and wide in proportion to their height. They come in all colours, markings and patterns although the black and white is the most common colour.
The myotonic goats have short hair but some may have longer and thicker coats. For their friendly nature and for being so easy-to-keep they are popularly raised as pets. Unlike most other pet breeds they are known for meat more than as milkers.
5. Miniature Silky Fainting Goats
Miniature silky fainting goats are also known as mini silkies and why not, these have to be the cutest goats ever. They have this sweeping floor-length coats and bangs that conceal their eyes. These goats are a relatively new breed that originated in 2003 and to date, the demand of these goats had always been more than its supply.
These goats are registered by Miniature Silky Fainting Goats Association. These goats have erect ears and long bangs. The eyes are either blue or brown. Like their ancestors (some, but not all), Mini Silkies faint.
6. Mini Toggenburgs
Toggenburgs are the oldest registered breed of any animal in the world. Toggenburgs are a brown base colour and have a white or light stripe down each side of the face, white on either side of the tail and while below the hocks and the knees. A typical goat, right? All the Toggenburg in a herd would look-alike for anyone who has not had to spend a day with the herd, but each one will have a unique personality and appearance. Toggenburgs have erect ears, straight or dished faces and medium-length coats. Mini Toggenburgs registered at MDGA are shorter than 28 to 29 inches.
7. Mini Lamanchas
This breed is one of the most popular miniature dairy breeds. The Lamanchas breed was developed in North America. They have small, glossy hair and come in almost all colour combinations. They have very short ears with a ring of skin around their opening. This unique feature helps them get identified anywhere: A goat with no ears! The "elf ears" have one inch long erect triangular flaps.
The heights of does and bucks registered through the Mini Dairy Goats Association are no more than 28 and 29 inches respectively. These mini goats are known for their friendly personality and tasty milk with around 4 percent butterfat. Unlike Alpines, the LaManchas are quite like "herd queens". They would sit back and watch rather than fight for food.
8. Nubian Dwarf Goats or Mini Nubians
Nubians originated in England where they are known as Anglo-Nubians. Full-sized Nubians have long, pendulous ears that should ideally extend 1 inch beyond the muzzle when held flat along the face. Nubian dwarf goat breed originated in West Africa. The dwarfs should be shorter than 22 to 23 inches. They are friendly animals and make one of the most popular pet breeds often used by children in 4H.
9. Mini Saanen
Next in popularity just behind the Nubians is the Saanen. The Saanen is pure white or off-white or cream with pink or olive-coloured skin. They have erect ears and a concave face. This breed originated in the Saane Valley of Switzerland and now is distributed worldwide more than any other breed. The Mini Saanen is required to be shorter than 28 to 29 inches to be registered in the MDGA.
Goats that appear like the Saanen but are any other colour than white or cream are known as sables. Mini Sables are registered in the Mini Saanen herd book of the MDGA.
10. Mini Oberhasli
The Oberhasli originated in the Berne region of Switzerland, where it is known as Oberhasli-Brienzer, among other names. Mini Oberhaslis registered with the MDGA should be less than 28 to 29 inches tall. These goats are easily distinguishable with their black belly, black muzzle, black legs, and black dorsal stripe down their back and mostly a rich red based coat. They have erect ears, straight profile, short and silky hair.
11. Mini Guernseys
The mini guernsey dairy goat is medium in size and MDGA-registered ones being about less than 27 (for does) and 29 (for bucks) inches tall. The ears are erect and ear tips slightly upturned. The hair colour of mini guernseys are shades of gold. Skin colour is also in golden shades ranging from peachy- flesh to orange-gold. Their personality is known to be very docile and friendly.
Kinder is a dual-purpose breed suitable for both milk and meat. The Kinder breed originated in Washington in 1986 from a cross between a Pygmy buck and a Nubian doe. The goats have long ears that stand out perpendicular to the sides of the head and extend to the end of the muzzle when held flat against the jawline. Their face is straight or dished and their coats are fine-textured.
These goats come in any colour combination and markings. Kinders have a quite muscular personality compared to other dairy breeds. Generally, the height of a Kinder is 20 to 26 inches for does and a maximum of 28 inches for bucks. They weigh anywhere between 115 to 150 pounds. The legs of kinder are moderately heavy boned but not coarse. The breed is a prolific, alert and gregarious animal. The breed is registered under the Kinder Goat Breeders Association.
Pygoras are alert, friendly and easy to house goats. The Pygora goat breed was developed by crossing a Pygmy and an Angora. These are fibre goats with beautiful fleece. The length of the goat is the same from the top of the withers to the base of the tail.
The colours of the coat are recorded as caramels, agoutis, and solid black or solid white. The does are no more than 22 inches and the bucks are no more than 27 inches tall. For the goats registered under the Pygora Breeders Association, the fleece is one of the three types: a long fibre with lustrous ringlets or a blend of fibres of mohair and cashmere type or very fine fibres below 18.5 microns.
Boer goats originated in South Africa. They are top meat producers among the goat breeds for meat. The skin is loose and supple with short, glossy hair. The body is proportional throughout the length with a prominent strong head and brown eyes. Ears are smooth and pendulous with no folds and pinches at the base of the ear canal. A typical Boer goat is white-bodied with a red head but can be of any colour.
Nigora is a breed developed by crossing over a Nigerian dwarf and an Angora. These goats are medium-sized fibre goats. They come in a variety of colours and patterns and have a fluffy coat. The ears are upright or floppy and the legs are long. The size of Nigora is around 21 inches for does and 24 inches for bucks. These goats are sweet-natured, easy to handle and fun to be around.
If children are carefully taught about the do's and don'ts of handling pets, Nigoras make amazing pets for 4H children. They must never be taught head butting or jumping on people's back games. Nigoras are a new breed registered under The American Nigora Goat Breeders Association.
If you are thinking to buy a goat for a pet, all the best! Do buy two because they are herd animals and they like to live with companions. If you already have livestock in your place, then you are good to go with just one for now.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Sherry Haynes