Although both Nigerian Dwarfs and African Pygmies are both of West African origin, they are two separate and distinct breeds. It can be easy to confuse the Nigerian with the Pygmy because of the similarities of size and origin, but the similarities stop there.
African Pygmies (such as Pee Wee shown here), are bred to be “cobby” and heavy boned. They are almost as wide as they are tall. Colors accepted by the NPGA are usually solid or with a white band around the belly. They usually have a darker stripe running down their backs from the head to the base of the tail. All colors can be seen here. The variety of Pygmy goats common in the U.S., are most likely descendants of “Cameroon Dwarfs”
The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature goat of West African origin also. They are small in size and have very colorful markings. Their small stature means they do not require as much space as their larger dairy counterparts. They are gentle, have very friendly personalities which makes them good companion pets and easy to handle. Even small children are safe around these little goats. Nigerian Dwarf goats are a true dairy goat. They have been approved as such by the US Department of Agriculture making them eligible for youth 4-H and FFA projects.
Nigerian Dwarfs are bred to have the length of body and structure in proportion to their larger dairy goat counterparts. This makes breeding and birthing easy. Nigerians Dwarfs are somewhat rare in the US, compared with the numbers of Pygmies residing here.
Color is one of the big factors that make breeding the Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat so popular and interesting. You can never be sure what color the babies will be until they pop out! Often times their color changes as they mature. The main color families are black, white, chocolate, red and gold; with any number varying shades and pattern combinations. All colors and patterns are acceptable in breed standards.
These “knee-high” miniatures do not require the space their larger counterpart dairy goats need, making the care for them practical for the small farm owner.
There are 2 maximum height standards on the Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goat reflected by the 2 registries available in the United States. The ideal for both registries on does is 17″ – 19″ at the top of the withers with AG’s maximum height being 22.5″ and NDGA’s maximum height at 21″. For bucks, both registries have an ideal height of 18″ – 20″ with AGS’s maximum height at 23.5″ and NDGA’s at 23″. The average adult weight of a Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat is about 75 pounds.