Pygmy or Dwarf Goat?

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.

51 Responses to Pygmy or Dwarf Goat?

  1. Sammie says:

    I have a question about housing Goats Together.. I currently have 4 Nigerian Pygmies. 3boy (neutered) one doe whom is the little leader. and I found someone whom has a Nubian doe kid that needs a home.. but is it ok to house her with my pygmies being a regular size goat? also being a different breed does that matter? our house they have is 8×8 ft with a large fenced in area that is going to be expanded either this fall or next spring and they are let out and allowed to wander around the yard and eat all my pitiful attempts of gardening. I have been scouring the internet and for some unknown awful reason I can not find the answer to this lol. And you seem to know you stuff! Also how does on do the neutering themselves? I was contemplating getting a stud for my doe sometime and I am a very do it myself type person.. Thank you in advance for any and all advice!!

    • Christine says:

      Hi Sammie! Well, I have 3 Pygmys, 2 Boer/Nubian mixes, 1 Saanen, a couple of wethers & they all live happily together! Of course when you bring in a new “guy/gal” expect some head butting. That’s quite normal. Everyone has to understand their position on the totem pole. I’ve seen where the resident “boss” slips down a notch when someone new is brought in. They always figure it out. No one can actually get hurt but it’s something they have to sort out on their own. Even if you think the littlest one is getting a bum deal, don’t worry – it will work out. Just make sure no one is hogging all the food at feed time!

      As for your last question, I’m not sure what you’re asking… I neuter my bucks myself between 2 & 3 months of age. Does have to be spayed by a vet but if you don’t keep a buck, you need not worry about spaying your doe. Please rephrase your question & I’ll give it my best shot!

      Please join my Facebook!

      • Sammie says:

        oh ok i was wondering HOW you neuter the bucks because if i breed current doe and her baby is a buck I wanted to neuter him, but if it was a doe just let her be. I do not keep a buck but i know someone whom has a lovely buck that I can use as a stud he is the father to my two youngsters born this april and they are unrelated to my two older ones. To have this make sense I have 2tricolored a girl and boy they are related and last years kids, and then my two new boys are related and this years kids. and a 8x8ft area with 2 platforms for sleeping on inside as well is a big enough space to add the one more? I read somewhere that a 8×8 was big enough for 5 full sized goats but I trust you over wikipedia after reading your stuff =D

        • Christine says:

          Sammie, that’s easy. You can buy a “bander” & bands for about $10 total. You can pick one up online here. Your little buck will appear uncomfortable for about a day but it’s relatively painless & totally bloodless. Do it at about 2 to 3 months of age but remember it takes at least 10 days before he’s actually sterile and about 30 days for his little sack to fall off. Remember to vaccinate first for Tetanus or CD&T.

          As far as space, my goats have access to about 8 acres but they’re always in the same 30 x 30 area… if the total space they have is 8 x 8, that’s a little on the small side. However, if they have plenty of places to jump up on and move you should be fine. You’ll probably have to worm more often as they’re bound to be picking up more parasites in a smaller confinement. I wouldn’t put the breeding buck in that small an area – even if there’s only one breedable mate, he’ll make everyone else nervous!

          Good luck & stay in touch!


  2. Deborah Couch says:

    We have a 3 yr old pymgy nanny not her first delivery She has now been in distress for over 24 hrs does not seem to be progressing with delivery. Giving her water and she is a healthy goat and has delivered twins before and a single.. Can you help me help her??

  3. Hi mate would it be ok if we took some info from here to use on one of our blogs? cheers mate

  4. Brandi says:

    Hello, I just want to say first off I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE. I have a pygmy goat that we have grown to love over the short time we have had her. We got her about 2 weeks ago at a stockyard and she is expecting. She is pacing and heavy breathing and I am just concerned about her giving birth. I am also excited and just a nervous mom. If you have any advice it would be appericated. Thank you so much.

    • Christine says:

      Brandi, I’m glad you enjoy my website! Have you seen this page where I list all the possible signs to look for? There’s also a video there of Brownie kidding. If she’s a friendly doe, just keep her company and talk to her in a soothing voice. If she’s still timid then just watch and talk to her from a distance. If she’s scared of you, it’s just added anxiety for her. However, as soon as the kids are born, handle, handle, handle! Good luck & have fun – try not to worry!

  5. MB says:

    Christine your site has been very helpful to us as new goat owners. We have two male drawf goats and three female pygmies. Do we run the risk of the two different tees breeding and if they do are there any conerns we should be concerned with.

    • Christine says:

      Hello MB, glad I can help some! Goats when the does are in heat, they’ll usually accept any male! However the girls will know who the most “experienced” buck is. I had the same thing here last summer.. funny thing the nicer of my bucks was not the ladies favorite. They’d run from him and flicker their tails to the older, unattractive buck. The older buck knew exactly what to do, no fussing around & the girls knew that. I trusted their judgment! Some folks would concerned with in-breeding – how do you know later on if you’re breeding a doe to her father? There are few problems with in/line breeding with goats unless you have registered animals. The important thing is noting the breeding date so you can have an idea when to expect kids. Good luck & have fun!

  6. candice says:

    Yes they are taking regular wormer from the vet its an injection called dectomax accourding to their weight. i do not use block but have considered it. i will have to get some maybe they are lacking a certain mineral they are not gettin else where. he doesnt have a temp it was alittle low when i took him but we laied him on blankets and a heatin pad that night and it was back to normal. i will keep you posted on how he is & i have a nanny expecting in the next month or so which im excited about shes our best momma and we enjoy watching her raise her little ones. thanks so much!

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