10 Goat Breeds: The Different Types of Goats

Written by Kathryn Dueck
Published: July 21, 2022
© Dewald Kirsten/Shutterstock.com
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Though most people have a standard image in mind when they think of goats, these hooved ruminants actually come in an incredible variety of colours, sizes, and uses. In fact, over 300 goat breeds exist, falling under the genus Capra in the family Bovidae. Humans raise goats for everything from their hair fibres to dairy to meat to companionship. Some even make great show animals! And one goat breed looks so strange, you’d think someone made it up. Read on to discover 10 different types of goats from around the world.

1. Boer Goat: The World’s Largest Goat Breed

Largest Goats - Boer Goat
The Boer goat is the world’s largest goat, weighing as much as 350 pounds.

©Africanstar/Shutterstock.com

The world’s largest goat breed is the Boer goat, a South African type famous for producing large quantities of meat. And they are truly huge! Males can weigh up to 350 pounds with females usually peaking at 250 pounds. Fully-grown adults can reach up to 30 inches or 2.5 feet in height. Farmers prize them for their fast rate of growth, their prolific reproduction, and the high quality of their meat.

The world’s largest goat wasn’t a Boer, however. A British Saanen goat by the name of Mostyn Moorcock reached 44 inches in height and 66 inches in length. He weighed an astonishing 400 pounds.

2. American Pygmy Goat: The World’s Smallest Goat Breed

American pygmy goat relaxed lying down on a rock.
American pygmy goats only grow to be 15-20 inches tall.

©James Clarke/Shutterstock.com

The world’s shortest goat breed is the American Pygmy goat, originating from the West African Dwarf group. Though they may be slightly heavier than the next goat on the list, they are shorter overall, averaging between 15-20 inches in height. Adults weigh between 30-90 pounds.

This breed makes a great pet with a lovable, curious personality. However, farmers sometimes raise them for their meat. They also make good dairy goats. In spite of their diminutive size, they can produce 1-2 quarts of milk a day.

3. Nigerian Dwarf Goat: The Best Pet Goat

The world’s best pet goat is the Nigerian Dwarf goat, a West African dairy breed. Farmers and pet owners value it for its exceptionally docile temperament and high rate of milk production. A single Nigerian Dwarf goat can produce up to 2 quarts of milk a day with a higher-than-average butterfat content. The tallest bucks stand 24 inches at the shoulder while the tallest females reach 22 inches. They usually don’t weigh over 80 pounds.

Because of their gentle, lovable personality, Nigerian Dwarf goats make outstanding pets. They require much less room than larger goat breeds and get along well with both people and other livestock. They are safe, engaging playmates for children.

The American Pygmy is an American breed of achondroplastic goat.
The American Pygmy goat is the world’s smallest goat breed, averaging only 15-20 inches in height.

©jitkagold/Shutterstock.com

4. Saanen Goat: Raised for Its Milk

saanen goat kid grazing
Saanen goats are raised for milk and can produce up to 12 quarts per day.

©Mircea Costina/Shutterstock.com

The best dairy goat breed in the world is the Saanen goat from Switzerland. It can produce up to 12 quarts of high-quality milk a day, the highest rate of milk production in the world. Farmers and pet owners prize the Saanen’s sweet temperament and lovely, snow-white coat. It’s the largest of the dairy goat breeds and requires a large amount of space to graze and play.

Other popular dairy breeds include Nubian goats, LaMancha goats, Alpine goats, and Toggenburg goats.

5. Spanish Goat: Raised for Its Meat

Spanish Goat close-up
Spanish goats are raised for their meat.

©ODEBLAS/Shutterstock.com

One of the best meat goat breeds is the Spanish goat, a breed originating in Spain. It comprises 6 different types including the Tinerfena and Malagliena. This breed is a highly adaptable goat located all over the world. They have also earned the nickname “brush goats” for their ability to clear unwanted species of plants from large areas. Before the Boer breed was developed, breeders widely considered Spanish goats to be the best meat goats in the world.

Other popular meat goat breeds include Kalahari goats, Kiko goats, Australian Rangeland goats, and Savanna goats.

6. Angora Goat: Raised for Its Hair Fibres

An Angora goat mother with her kid separate from the herd.
Angora goats are prized for their high-quality mohair.

©Janice Adlam/Shutterstock.com

Breeders cherish the Angora goat for its silky, luxuriant fibres. Farmers raise this breed for its high-quality mohair. It originated in Turkey, though today it has spread through many countries. It has also spawned many subtypes including the Indian Mohair and the Pygora. Despite being a relatively small goat, a single Angora can produce up to 10 pounds of fibre per year. Its hair is usually white, though some individuals are grey, brown, or black.

Other fibre breed goats are the Hexi Cashmere goat, the Changthangi goat, the Nigora goat, and the Pygora goat.

7. LaMancha Goat: The Goat Breed With No Ears

The LaMancha goat holds an interesting title: it’s the only goat with no ears! Of course, this breed still has ear holes and eardrums, so it can hear just fine. However, its external ears are limited to “gopher ears” or “elf ears,” which are just tiny nubs or flaps. Little to no cartilage is present. The LaMancha originates in Spain, though it has since come over to America.

Farmers breed LaManchas for both meat and milk, but they also make excellent pets. Owners adore them for their sweet, gentle temperaments. They can even learn their own names! They do tend to get lonely, so it’s advisable to keep them with at least one other goat.

Earless young LaMancha goat, close-up.
LaMancha goats are known as the only breed with no ears. Instead of full-sized ear flaps, they sport tiny nubs.

©ANGHI/Shutterstock.com

8. Arapawa Goat: The World’s Rarest Goat

One of the rarest goat breeds in the world, the New Zealand Arapawa goat is, according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, critically close to extinction.

©Molly NZ/Shutterstock.com

Sadly, not every goat breed is abundant. Some are rarer than others, and the Arapawa goat may be the rarest of all. Originally dwelling in New Zealand, it found its way to America and gained traction as a dual meat and dairy goat. It’s a small but stubborn goat with a hardy disposition. Conservationists list the breed as Critically Endangered.

9. Madurai Goat: The Fiercest Fighter

goat breeds
Two young goats fighting at a festival game in the city of Madurai in southern India.

©YAMOMOYA/Shutterstock.com

The Madurai goat earns the title of the fiercest goat in the world. It lives mostly in the city of Madurai in India. Breeders raise these goats for the purpose of goat fighting. The breed is fearless and aggressive, with individuals readily attacking anything they perceive to be a threat. With tough bodies and stubborn spirits, they resist handling by all but the most experienced.

10. Damascus Goat: The World’s Weirdest Goat

goat breeds
Damascus goats are one of the most interesting-looking animals in existence.

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Dubbed the “goat monster” by the Internet, Damascus goats are among the strangest-looking animals on the planet. With bulging foreheads, pendulous ears, and jutting underbites, they resemble something out of science fiction. Their outlandish appearance has made them expensive goats to purchase and own.

The breed originated in Damascus, Syria’s capital, though it also lives throughout Cyprus and Lebanon. Farmers primarily raise these goats for dairy, meat, and show. Despite the differences in their appearance, the Damascus breed is actually a type of Nubian goat.

Many goat owners take the Damascus goat’s strange appearance to the next level by cutting their ears short. Though not all owners choose to do this, pictures of cropped Damascus goats are common. This is done to prevent injuries to their unusually long ears.

From dairy to meat to show to pets, goats are among the most versatile livestock animals on the planet. And with over 300 breeds, there’s a goat out there for everyone!


The Featured Image

A group of Angora goats, that supply mohair, on a farm in the Karoo in South Africa.
A group of Angora goats, that supply mohair, on a farm in the Karoo in South Africa.
© Dewald Kirsten/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with experience in both fiction and nonfiction. When not putting words on a page, I enjoy reading, hiking in the great outdoors, and playing with my dog.

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