Different Types of Goat Breeds

Close up of goat eating in front of other goats

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There are many different breeds of pet goats. Some people want large goats and some people want small goats. Some prefer floppy ears and others like them perky. But regardless of what characteristics you are looking for in a pet goat, there is no doubt that you have many options.


The Alpine breed of goats is originally from the Swiss Alps but was bred to be larger in France, where they were deemed French-Alpines. They are also referred to as Alpine Dairy Goats. Does (females) are at least 30 inches at the withers (shoulders) and at least 135 pounds. Bucks (intact males) should be at least 32 inches at their withers and at least 160 pounds. They should do well in any climate, come in a variety of colors, have small upright ears, and that classic "goat" look.


The American LaMancha was bred in Oregon but the roots of the breed go back to Spain. These goats are easily recognized by their extremely short ear pinnae. Some people refer to them as the "earless goats" because there are no obvious ear flaps but they do in fact have ears. There are also two varieties of LaMancha ears, gopher and elf. Elf ears are allowed to be up to two inches in length and are only allowed on does. Gopher ears have no cartilage. LaManchas are excellent dairy goats with high milk production regardless of which type of ears they have. They are considered quite calm and gentle and therefore have made excellent 4-H goats. Does should be at least 28 inches tall at the withers and at least 130 pounds. Bucks should be at least 30 inches tall and at least 155 pounds.


The Pygmy goat is a funny looking goat. The limbs of the Pygmy are not proportionate to its body and the goat himself is short and compact. Males should have long beards and breed standards basically state the hairier the better. Does should be no taller than 22.5 inches and bucks should be 23.5 inches or shorter.


The Saanen is considered the largest of the dairy goat breeds. They are known to be very mellow and "eager to please" and adaptable to varying climates. They have erect ears and a short, fine hair coat. Does are at least 30 inches tall and weigh at least 135 pounds. Bucks should be at least 32 inches tall and 160 pounds.


This is a smaller Swiss breed of goat. Does should be at least 26 inches at the withers and weigh at least 120 pounds and bucks should be at least 28 inches and weight at least 145 pounds. These goats always have soft hair, small but erect ears, and white markings on a solid color.


More popularly referred to as the "fainting goat", the Myotonic gets its name from the myotonia congenita that causes stiffness and the "fainting" effect they are so well known for. There are a variety of Myotonic breeds (Tennessee Fainting Goats are popular) with some reaching 200 pounds or more. Smaller Myotonics are between 80 and 100 pounds but all the breeds are considered calm.


The Nubian is a large, sturdy, and quite a vocal dairy goat. They are known for their long, floppy ears and can come in any color or pattern. Nubian should be at least 30 inches at the withers and weigh at least 135 pounds. Bucks should be at least 32 inches tall and weigh at least 160 pounds. If you are looking for a pet kid Nubian make sure they have tested negative for G-6-S, a disease that only affects Nubians.

Nigerian Dwarf

The Nigerian dwarf goat looks like a miniature Alpine. The maximum height for does is 22.5 inches at the withers and for bucks 23.5 inches. They are described as gregarious and friendly and are great milk producers like their larger cousins. Any color or pattern is allowed and they are the only breed of dairy goat to occasionally have blue eyes.

Before choosing a goat breed, determine how much space you have available to house and fence in your goat. This will help you pick the right sized goat for your yard.