There are two types of miniature goats in the U. S., the pygmy goat and the Nigerian dwarf goat. They
both were imported from Africa around the 1950s. Although pygmy goats and Nigerian dwarf goats
share common genetics, farmers began selectively breeding them to intensify desirable characteristics.
Pygmy goats were bred for small, stocky bodies because they were considered meat animals and the
Nigerian dwarf was selected for dairy characteristics and milk production. Because both breeds were so
docile, they became popular additions to petting zoos and this helped fuel their attraction as pets.
Differences and Similarities Between Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy Goats
Pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goats both share that same gregarious, fun-loving personality that draws in
the small farmer and hobbyist. Even the most stoic and serious can’t help but “lighten up” when watching
The Nigerian Dwarf Has Dairy Character and the Pygmy Goat is Stocky and Compact
The pygmy is technically a dwarf meat goat which originated in Africa. However, most are raised and
enjoyed as hobby animals, companion animals, and pets. The Nigerian dwarf also came from Africa. It is
a miniature dairy goat, exhibiting the typical dairy characteristics of the standard dairy breeds. Both
attain the same average height, typically 18 to 20 inches tall with the maximum for does being 22 inches
and a bit more for bucks. But that is where the similarities between Nigerian dwarf and pygmy goats end.
Pygmy goats are heavy-boned, wide-bodied and square in appearance. They have wide foreheads,
thick, short necks, and a shorter body length than the Nigerian dwarf. They are called cobby and
compact with a body circumference being full barreled, well-muscled and proportionately wider than that
of other breeds. The pygmy is a good-natured, alert, hardy goat that is very social with other animals
While Nigerian dwarf goats share the same height averages and similar social, loving personalities of
the pygmy goat, their appearance exudes dairy character, exactly as their larger dairy counterparts.
Despite being the same height as the pygmy goat, their body circumference, length and bone are very
different. Their bones are much finer, more pronounced with thin skin, flat ribs and long elegant necks
that blend neatly into tightly attached shoulders. Being dairy animals, their mammary system and milking
ability play an important role in their pedigrees and in evaluating their quality.
Pygmy Goat Body Type
Nigerian Dwarf Body Type
Small Goat Breeds