Saanen Goat

Capra aegagrus hircus

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Budimir Jevtic/

The saanen goat is the most popular milk breed.


Saanen Goat Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Capra aegagrus hircus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Saanen Goat Conservation Status

Saanen Goat Locations

Saanen Goat Locations

Saanen Goat Facts

grass and legume
Name Of Young
kid or billy
Fun Fact
The saanen goat is the most popular milk breed.
Estimated Population Size
Most Distinctive Feature
white skin and short white coat
Other Name(s)
Saanenziege, Chèvre de Gessenay, and Capra di Saanen
cool weather and hilly terrain
Coyotes, bobcats, wild dogs, and wolves
Average Litter Size
  • Herd
  • Flock
Common Name
saanen goat
Number Of Species

Saanen Goat Physical Characteristics

  • White
  • Cream
Skin Type
about 10 years
30 inches
Age of Sexual Maturity
9 months
Age of Weaning
12 months

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“The Saanen is known as the queen of the dairy goats.”

This dainty white goat is prized for its lovely looks, high milk production, and sweet temperament. Saanen goats originally came from a region in Switzerland famous for its dairy production. One of the most popular goat breeds, the Saanen goat does well in most climates but prefers cooler weather.

5 Incredible Saanen Goat Facts!

  • A Saanen goat can produce three gallons of milk a day.
  • Saanen goats are excellent diggers who can dig their way out of a fenced area.
  • Their main purpose is milk production, but they are also popular pets.
  • Saanen goats are the largest dairy goat breed.
  • You pronounce their name SAW-Nen.

Scientific Name

Its scientific name is Capra aegagrus hircus.


The Saanen is an exceptionally pretty goat. It has pure white fur, a slender build, and a dainty manner of walking. Its ears and nose often appear pink. One of its chief characteristics is a prancing, elegant carriage. For these reasons, it is a popular pet and show goat.

The Saanen goat’s unique characteristics include its amber eyes and its smooth, silky fur. It comes in cream or pure white. Its ears are straight and always match the color of its fur.

The Saanen is the largest of the dairy breeds. An average male stands 3 feet tall and weighs 180 pounds. An average female stands two feet tall and weighs about 130 pounds. Despite its size, it is docile and easy to handle.

saanen goat herd in a field
The Saanen Goats have amber eyes and smooth, silky fur, which comes in cream or pure white




Don’t let their dainty looks fool you. Saanens are rugged goats who can survive in almost any climate. They descended from goats that adapted to the Swiss mountains. They’re highly resistant to diseases and have very tough hooves.

Their origin is the Saanen Valley in Switzerland. Swiss dairy goats are world-famous for the production and quality of their milk. They are friendly with most animals and make excellent pack goats. They can carry lightweight packs with ease. Their long legs and tough hooves make it easy for them to walk on rough terrain.

Saanen goats have excellent personalities. They are intelligent, quiet, and lively. They don’t bleat constantly like some goat breeds. These goats are good with children and easy for a first-time farmer to handle. These characteristics have made them popular pet and show goats.

In their country of origin, Saanen goats travel in herds of 100 or more. You won’t need a herd that big, but they will certainly be happier with at least one other goat for company. Their characteristics make them ideally suited for a backyard farm, urban farm, or pasture farm of any size.

These facts explain why some people call the Saanen the “queen of the dairy goats.”

History and Evolution

Goats have helped mankind in many ways, dating back thousands of years ago. They are one of the first animals that were domesticated by different, early peoples. They are hearty, produce milk, and provide meat for their herders, so it is no wonder that they were incorporated into our everyday life. Looking back to close to 10,000 years ago, the wild bezoar ibex is the common ancestor of domesticated goats, including the Saanen Goat.


These goats prefer cool weather and hilly terrains. Because of their light skin and short fur, they are susceptible to sunburn. If you leave your Saanen goats in a field or backyard, it’s important to build a shaded area for them.

Saanen goats do well on almost any farm. You should have fences that are at least four feet high to discourage jumping. Saanen goats have climbed trees to reach the leaves at the top. Like all goats, they are good jumpers and natural escape artists. Saanen goats have another skill that helps them escape. They are expert diggers who can dig their way out of an enclosed area. Always make sure your fences are secure.

Like other goats, they can get sick if their fur gets wet. You must always provide a safe, dry shelter for goats.

They produce a lot of milk. A Saanen goat can deliver up to three gallons of milk a day. Their milk contains about 3% butterfat, which makes it lower in fat than milk from the Nubian or American pygmy.


Saanen goats enjoy grazing. The healthiest natural diet for them is a combination of grasses and legumes. If you allow your goat to graze freely, it will get most of the nutrition it needs. You will need to supplement your goat’s diet in the autumn and winter. Because they are high milk producers, they need extra vitamin and mineral supplements in their feed. All goats need fresh water daily.

Despite what many people think, goats do not eat trash. They will reject food that’s wilted or dirty. Always feed your goat fresh food, and allow it to graze when possible.

Dairy goat experts say your goat’s diet should mostly be hay, grasses, and silage. If you add supplements, use those that contain high-quality vitamins and minerals specifically for goats. The ideal feed should contain fatty acids, yeast culture, and only 20% protein.

Healthy treats for Saanen goats include black oil sunflower seeds, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

saanen goat kid grazing

Despite what many people think, goats do not eat trash.

©Mircea Costina/

Predators and Threats

It’s important to protect your Saanen goats from predators. Coyotes, bobcats, wild dogs, and wolves all prey on small livestock animals. Even if you have a backyard farm, coyotes can be a danger. Foxes won’t attack full-grown goats, but they may be tempted to take one of the young kids. Eagles and other large raptors will also hunt kids. These facts come with owning a goat, so be prepared to take precautions.

Here are some ways to take care of your goats:

  • Keep the property clean: Cut down shrubs that make good hiding places for predators. Remove trash and food that might attract rodents and their predators.
  • Install secure fencing: Goats can jump, so build the fence at least 4 feet high. Using electric fencing will give you peace of mind.
  • Provide shelter: Predators usually attack at night. Your goat should have a secure shelter like a barn or shed. This will keep them safe from sun, rain and predators.
  • Get a guard animal: Llamas, donkeys and dogs all make excellent guard pets for goats. It’s best to let them bond with the goats before using them as guards. If they’re raised with the goats, the guard animals will regard them as family.
  • Clean up after a kidding: Clean up all traces of blood and afterbirth from the kidding area. Predators will smell the blood and attack.

Diseases are another threat. Saanen goats are very hardy, but they can still need regular medical care. They need regular deworming and hoof cleaning. Goats that spend most of their time grazing or are kept as pets are less susceptible to getting worms.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Saanen goats reach sexual maturity at nine months, but it’s a good idea to wait until they are fully grown. For the best results, wait until the buck is a year old and the nanny is 18 months.

Saanen goats breed in the autumn and winter months. They only breed once a year. Once the nanny is pregnant, gestation takes about 150 days. A typical kidding has two or more kids.

After giving birth, goats go through a process called “freshening,” which is how the nanny begins producing milk. She will nurse her kids for about 12 weeks and then begin weaning them. Nannies and kids can recognize each other’s voices from the moment of birth. Saanen goats are excellent mothers who are very protective of their kids. Goats can get pregnant again 4 to 6 weeks after having kids.

Their lifespan is normally 9 to 15 years.

saanen goat close up

Saanen Goats have a lifespan of normally 9 to 15 years.

©Budimir Jevtic/


There are an estimated 900,000 Saanen goats in the world. Around 14,000 are in Switzerland. They are one of the most popular dairy breeds.

Conservation Status

Saanen goats are not endangered.

Dairy Queens

Saanen goats are pretty, friendly, and intelligent. They’re also excellent milk producers. Their origin in the Swiss Alps has made them hardy and disease resistant. It’s easy to see why they are one of the most popular goat breeds in the world.

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About the Author

Heather Ross is a secondary English teacher and mother of 2 humans, 2 tuxedo cats, and a golden doodle. In between taking the kids to soccer practice and grading papers, she enjoys reading and writing about all the animals!

Saanen Goat FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the purpose of a Saanen goat?

The primary purpose of Saanen goats is milk production. People also use them as show or pet goats. Most people don’t care for their meat.

Are Saanen goats friendly?

They are friendly and docile. Despite their size, they are tame enough for anyone to handle. They make excellent pets and will socialize with other animals.

What is the price of a Saanen goat?

The price for a kid is $100 to $300. You will pay a higher price for a nanny that has a proven record of high milk production.

How much milk does a Saanen goat produce per day? 

She can produce up to three gallons a day.

How do you pronounce their name?

You pronounce it SAW-Nen.

What are the characteristics of a Saanen goat? 

Its chief characteristics are its white or cream coat, silky fur, amber eyes, and long legs.

How long do Saanen goats live?

Their lifespan is from 9 to 15 years. Female goats live longer than males.

How much does a Saanen goat weigh?

They typically weigh from 130 to 180 pounds.

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