small pygmy goats

Many believe that pygmy goats and miniature Nigerian dwarf goats are the same animals. This assumption stems from the fact that they are both popular breeds of small goats. However, if you desire to raise goats, you’ll need to understand the concept of pygmy goat vs. Nigerian dwarf to help you make informed decisions. 

What kind of goat is ideal for keeping as a pet or for certain reasons is a common question among many. Although the pygmy goat isn’t considered a dairy breed, both Nigerian dwarf goats and African pygmy goats have the ability for milk production.

However, this article helps you understand the distinctions and similarities between these two breeds of goats.

The Origin of Nigerian Dwarf Goat

smart Nigerian dwarf goat

The Nigerian Dwarf Goat is an American goat breed with West African roots. The first place of domestication of this breed of goat was Nigeria. Between 1930 and 1960, Nigerian dwarf goats, part of the West African dwarf group of breeds, got into the USA.

Nigerian dwarf goats were popular companion and exhibition animals due to their good looks and docility. Furthermore, due to their tiny size and vibrant markings, they are becoming more and more well-liked. After a while, farmers discovered that they make great dairy goats for small-scale dairy production.

Furthermore, they don’t need as much space as larger dairy goat varieties due to their petite stature. Even young toddlers may easily manage these miniature goats because they are so simple. Their gentle and amiable dispositions make them wonderful companion animals.

The Origin of Pygmy Goat

American pygmy goats

The pygmy goat is another dwarf goat breed popular in America. They are also members of the same West African dwarf goat species as the Nigerian dwarf. However, their domestication started in Cameroon.

This goat breed got to the United States as a zoo or laboratory animal. These pygmy goats are hardy, sturdy creatures with outgoing dispositions and hard-headed attitudes. Private breeders who maintained and reared these goats as pets acquired two unique breeds groomed in the 1970s.

One of these breeds was compact, wide, and built like the original African stock. The other was much more delicate and only larger than dairy stock. The National Pygmy Goat Association states that one can give birth to one to four offspring every nine to twelve months.

Similarities Between Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf Goat

These breeds of miniature goats also have a lot in common. Some of these similarities include the following:

  • Both breeds make excellent pets since they have strong personalities and are quite playful.
  • Both breeds are intelligent and simple to train.
  • They are gentle and sociable, making them popular with homesteaders and families.
  • They both have a 145–153 day gestation period.
  • Because they are social animals, they must always have a companion.

Differences Between Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf Goat

The main distinction between pygmy goats and Nigerian dwarf goats is their reason for breeding. Most times, farmers raise pygmy goats mainly for meat. However, Nigerian dwarfs are dairy goats bred for milk production.

Other differences between the pygmy goat and the Nigerian dwarf goat are:


Pygmy goats and Nigerian dwarfs might appear alike. However, pygmy goats tend to be stockier and have shorter legs, but they can often have the same height and weight. They often have a heavier frame because their genetics are for meat production, while the Nigerian dwarf goats have longer, thinner legs and a more slender neck.

American Pygmy goats reach adulthood at 25–40kg (55–88 pounds) and a wither height of 40–50cm (16–20 inches). In their withers, Nigerian dwarf goats measure 40–60 cm (17–24 inches) tall and weigh around 35 kg (75 lbs) at maturity.


Pygmies only have brown eyes and a small variety of colors and markings. They can only have brown eyes, too, as this breed of goats with blue eyes get disqualified in the show ring. The hues of pygmy goats include caramel, black, gray, brown, black, and patterned black.

However, Nigerian dwarf goats come in a variety of hues and patterns. Gold, cream, white, chocolate, buckskin, black, and Swiss marked. Cou blanc and any combination of these colors are the most encountered colors of this breed. Furthermore, Nigerian Dwarf Goats can have bright blue eyes and many other color combinations.

The eyes of Nigerian dwarf goats can be blue. They are the only breed of dairy goats with blue eyes.

Production of Milk

milking dairy goats

Both have characteristics that are similar in terms of milk production. But Pygmy goats produce more pounds of milk per day and have more butterfat. A Pygmy goat may produce up to four pounds per day, compared to a Nigerian dwarf’s two pounds, but they only have 150 lactation days each year.

This may be crucial if you raise goats to make dairy products. 305 lactation days per year, plus the Nigerian Dwarf’s propensity to produce less milk at once. This surplus milk production guarantees enough for drinking, cooking, and domestic uses like cheese production!

The milk from Pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goats is butterfat-rich and sweet. Pygmy milk has a butterfat content of 4.5 to 11%, while Nigerian dwarf milk has a butterfat content of at least 6%.

Since pygmy goats are polyestrous, they can reproduce at any time of the year. Their lactation cycles are shorter, lasting roughly 180 days. You could alternate lactation cycles in two or more does to generate milk all year.

Production of Meat

Pygmy goats are mainly for meat production. Although it’s true, most individuals eager to buy a goat as a pet detest learning that their cute small goats are for meat. Due to their robust muscles, pygmy goats produce a lot of meat.

As a result, two groups of people buy pygmy goats: those who want to raise them for meat and those who want to keep them as pets. The meat production from the Nigerian Dwarf Goat is somewhat low as they specialize more in milk production.


Pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goats are two different breeds, although they appear to be the same to many people. Although they are very similar, their distinction is clear and easy to figure out.

Although bred for different purposes, the pygmy goat and the Nigerian dwarf goat are both beloved backyard pets. A Nigerian dwarf is a fantastic option to increase your milk production. But a pygmy goat is better if you want to generate meat from it.

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