Raising Goats for Pets: Ultimate Guide for Beginners




About Marc MacDonald

I’ve been raising goats for nearly 20 years now. Over those years, I accumulated a lot of information about goats and what works and what doesn’t.

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Goats as pets

Interested in raising goats for pets?

Why not – they’re so cute…and profitable!

In this complete guide, we explain how you can get into the pet goat business, raising pet goats for profit.

Here are some of the things we cover:

And much more! Let’s get into it:

What is the Size of the Pet Goat Market in the USA?

Commonly thought as a farm animal in production of milk, meat and fiber, goats can also be excellent pets. Their charming personalities, curiosity along with their intelligence makes them fun companions. Raising goats as pets also provides superb farm training for your children. Their ability to form close bonds with their owners makes them good pets. Fun fact: pet goats are high in demand for Goat Yoga classes.

The population of goats in the United States in 2012 was 2,621,514 as of the most recent USDA census. Apart from being kept for meat, milk and fiber, goats can also be kept for other purposes such as pets, livestock shows and brush control.

Statistics from the USDA- Small scale US goat operations show about 4 of 10 small scale goat operations (42.4 %) focused on meat production. One of 10 operations (10%) focused primarily on dairy goat production. 46.1% of operations focused on goats for brush control, livestock shows and pets. 1.5 percent of operations focused on fiber production.

Of operations with fewer than 10 goats, (72.4%) indicated they have goats for brush control, pets and livestock shows.

Do Goats Make Good Pets?

Goats are adorable animals that can be kept as pets. They are fun to watch and have charming personalities. Goats are easy to love, entertaining and low maintenance.  They are easy to handle and you can use them to teach children how to take care of livestock as part of their daily chores. 

Goats as pets

The rise of Miniature goats has allowed more Americans to discover the joys of keeping these curious friends in their backyards. Miniature goats like the Nigerian dwarf and pygmy are good choices for people who want to keep goats as pests. These goats take up less room than large goat breeds.

Considerations for keeping goats as pets:

  • How many pet goats to keep. Goats are herd animals and best kept with their kind for companionship. So you should own more than one.
  • Best goat breed to keep as pets. Miniature goats are the best to keep as pets. They are funny and make great family pets. The number of pet goats to keep depends on the size of your backyard (goats love jumping, climbing and running), the breed choice and the time you are willing to devote to the goats.

Keeping the goats indoors is not a good idea. They will feel too confined and cause havoc and climb on everything. For the sake of your own, it is best if your pet goats live outside.

Goats as Pets – Pros and Cons

Pros of Goats as Pets:

Owning goats in your compound can be beneficial. Below we are going to discuss some of the benefits of owning pet goats:

  1. They make great companions – they are fun, attractive, gentle and friendly animals. You will never have a dull moment as long as you have these animals. They are playful, loyal and gentle with children. Be sure to own more than one; goats are herd animals and bond with their own kind.
  2. They will clear weeds and grasses in the compound- Goats will graze and clear all unwanted weeds, shrubs and poison ivy in the compound.
  3. They make manure- goat manure is rich in nitrogen and is excellent for your kitchen garden. Goat manure is easy to collect and odor less. Once dry, you can use the goat manure to farm vegetables like kales, cabbages and also flowers.
  4. They produce dairy products- These goats can provide your family with plenty of milk and dairy products like cheese. Goat milk is easier to digest so you can feed it to children.  

Cons of Goats as Pets:

  1. They succumb to parasitic infections. Odds of contracting an infection are high since they may encounter poisonous plants when browsing.
  2. They can’t protect themselves from predators. Though they have horns, they run away from danger rather than use the horns for protection. Some predators that attack these pet goats are stray dogs, coyotes and mountain lions.
  3. Goats are escape artists- If the fence in your backyard is not high enough, the goats will jump over.
  4. Goats will destroy food crops in your garden. If not kept away from your kitchen garden, these goats will eat kales, cabbages, fruit trees and flowers.

Goats as Pets with Dogs

Goats as Pets

Goats are social animals that need company of at least their kind, but can also get along with other domestic livestock like donkeys, sheep, horses and cows. They also get along with dogs. Be mindful that stray dogs see goats as prey.

You have to put the following considerations before you keep your pet goat and dogs together:

Goats Are Prey Animals

It is important to understand that a goat is prey and situated toward the bottom of a food chain. Canines are great danger to goats. Predator/prey relation may resurface at home with your domesticated dogs.

Dogs Are Predators

Even the most trained dogs require supervision in the presence of your pet goat. It is as simple as the dog scaring the goat, the goat runs like prey then the killer instincts of the dog come into place. If you have dogs that are not established livestock guardian dogs, then the canines should be danger for your beloved pet goat. Livestock guardian dogs have instincts to protect the animal that is prey to them. They will fight off anything that will try to get close to your pet goats.

Best Goats for Pets

Choosing the perfect breed of goat to keep as a pet will depend on what the purpose for the goat is and how much you would want to spend on it. Below is a list of the best breeds to keep as pets.

Pygmy Goats

Standing at 21 inches, they are gorgeous, pretty animals. They don’t need much space and forage very well. They also are good producers of milk, so you will save yourself time to go to the grocery store.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Standing at 22inches tall, these goats are kept for companionship and also Goat Yoga. Their size makes them easy to keep in smaller spaces.  Their personalities make them ideal for pets according to the “Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association”.

Kinder Goats

These goats are a cross breed of the Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf. They are ideal for small homesteads since they are easy to keep. They bring the best of both the pygmies and Nigerian Dwarf and are docile enough to withstand sharing a home with your family. They are also good milk producers.

Mini Fainting Goats

The Livestock conservancy declared the myotonic breed endangered in 1988. These goats have short to thick coats. Their friendly nature makes them good pet goats. They are also known to be good meat goats.

Mini Dairy Goats

Mini dairy goats include the kinder goats, Nubian-Nigerian crossbreeds. These goats measure Pygmy height. They also make good pets because of their attractive and friendly nature.

Pygmy Goats as Pets

Pygmy goats were introduced in the United States in the 1950s. They are friendly and adaptable to any climate. Though considered as a pet goat, they can be used for milk and meat production for a small household.

Characteristics of Pygmy Goats

goats as pets
  • These goats weigh 55 to 85 pounds and are only 16-23 inches tall.
  • Pygmies have brown eyes.
  • Temperament: Active, Friendly and Playful.
  • Have a lifespan of 10-15 years.
  • Have erect ears and full coats with straight medium-sized hair.

Unlike other pets like cats and dogs, miniature goats don’t bite, kick or even scratch. They don’t require constant human companionship but it is best if you keep more than one pygmy. They need adequate (not so large) area to play and run. Also they need to be in a fenced area to keep predators away and to keep the goats from roaming outside your compound.

For additional info on pygmy goats, check out the National Pygmy Goat Association.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats as Pets

The Nigerian Dwarf was imported to the US between 1930 and came from West Africa. The breed was recognized by the American Dairy Goat Association. They were used as exhibition animals before later becoming a popular pet goat. Their size makes them easy to keep in small spaces.

Goats as pets

Characteristics of Nigerian Dwarf Goats

  • They stand at 23 inches for bucks and 21 inches for does.
  • Average weight of mature Nigerian Dwarf is 75lb.
  • Have a lifespan of 10-15 years.
  • Temperament: Lovable, gentle, friendly and playful.

These goats make good pets due to their admirable personalities, but can also provide milk for small households. Their milk is high in butterfat and can be used for making cheese.

They are hardy and can survive in any climate. It is advisable to check with the local authority if there are restrictions to owning and keeping goats in your area before getting one.

For additional info on Nigerian dwarf goats, check out the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association.

Fainting Goats as Pets

Fainting breeds are a “myotonic” breed from America. The goats have myotonia, a condition that makes them collapse with their bodies stiff for about 10-15 seconds and then rise and walk away. This is according to International Fainting Goats Association (IFGA). It is characterized by a condition where the legs stiffen and it falls over. Although they are called “fainting goats”, they actually don’t fall unconscious.

Goats as pets

Fainting goats make good pets and can also be used for meat production.

Characteristics of Fainting Goats

  • Coat colors are black and white but colors of other goat breeds can also be found in the Fainting goat.
  • Fainting goats are generally 17-25 inches tall.
  • On average they weigh 60-174 pounds.
  • Have a lifespan of 10-18 years.
  • Temperament: Social and friendly.

If properly socialized, the animals can be safe with children and are good companions.

For additional info on fainting goats goats, check out the International Fainting Goats Association (IFGA)

Smallest Goat for Pets

The most popular miniature goat breeds in the US are;

  1. Nigerian Dwarf- weighs 75 pounds and stands on average at 21 inches.
  2. Pygmy-weighs at about 85 pounds and stands 23 inches tall.

Below are some reasons to raise miniature goats.

  • They eat less. Smaller breeds need less food than larger breeds.
  • Need less space and fencing. Small goats do well in smaller pastures.
  • Easier to handle. They weigh on average 85 pounds so they are easy to carry around and tend to.
  • They are cute. It is hard to deny the fact that mini breeds are cute.

Raising Goats for Pets: Best Practices

You have to consider the following before raising goats for pets:

  1. Check with local authorities. Check the zoning regions to ensure pet goats can be kept within the town limits. If you are in close proximity with your neighbors, check if they are tolerant with goats.
  2. Goat behavior. Pets tend to like attention. They should never be kept alone so it is advisable to get a pair of the same breed.
  3. Shelter. Miniature breeds require at least 135 square feet per goat. Have fencing that is five feet high as goats are very agile and good jumpers. The barns should always be dry and clean. Dirty and wet living condition may cause health related problems for the goats. Have enough ventilation in their shelters and design the barns to areas that provide part sun and part shade.  
  4. Food and Water. The best practice is to provide your pet goats with pasture. They browse on grass, weeds, plants and shrubs. Supplement their diet with high quality hay greens and grains. Goats also need plenty of fresh clean water on a daily basis.
  5. Purchasing a pet goat. Purchase a goat that meets all your requirements.  

Pet Goat Supplies – What Supplies Do Pet Goat Owners Need?

The following necessities are essential if you have pet goats:

  1. Housing. This will keep the goats safe from predators and also provide warmth in winter. Provide clean bedding where your pet goats will sleep.
  2. Feed. The pets will require a balanced diet so provide them with high quality feeds. Supplement their feeds with grains, and quality hay. Make sure the feed has vitamins and minerals. Provide some pasture area too. Goats are good browsers and will eat all that they require saving you money.
  3. Hoof Trimmers. You will need to trim your goat’s hooves at least 4 times a year.  
  4. Dewormer. It is important to get advice from your vet on the best deworming kit. Always deworm your goats. Worms affects your goat’s health and cause other health related issues.


  1. International Fainting Goat Association (IFGA)
  2. Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association
  3. National Pygmy Goat Association
  4. Map: Literally every goat in the United States
  5. American Dairy Goat Association
  6. Pygmy Goat | The Maryland Zoo
  7. Goat Breeds Nigerian Dwarf – Goats

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