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Published on 5th December 2022 by staff

Pygmy Goat (American Pygmy)

Pygmy Goats

Pygmy goat is a small American goat known for its compact body stature and stocky build. They belong to the category of achondroplastic goats, with dwarfism being one of their prime features. One of their significant physical traits displayed in most dwarf goat breeds is their short legs and arms, though their torso appears of a regular length. Like the Nigerian pygmy goat, their other American dwarf counterpart, the American pygmy also derives its lineage from the domestic West African dwarf breeds originating in the coasts of Western Africa and Central Africa. Despite sharing their name, the American Pygmy isn’t the same as the British Pygmy that gets its ancestry after the southern Sudan goat.

Also Known AsPygmy goat, African pygmy goat
Physical CharacteristicsSmall, stocky, well-muscled, deep, broad barrel, flat, wide and short nose, rounded muzzle, short legs, and thick horns (primarily seen in males)
Temperament/Personality Docile, even-tempered, gentle, adaptable
ColorCaramel with markings of black or brown, black, agouti, brown agouti, gray agouti, solid black, black and white
CoatStraight, with long hair; beard remains sparse or absent in females, but in abundance in males
Weight 25-40 kg (55-88 lb)
Height40 – 50 cm (16-20 inches)  
UsesMeat, as companions, for research
DietMostly hay (in their wild habitat)
Lactation Period6 months
Lifespan10-15 years
Climate ToleranceHigh
Country of OriginUnited States of America
Standard and Qualification InformationNational Pygmy Goat Association

History and Development

Several miniature goats belonging to the West African dwarf breeds were imported to the U.S from German zoos between 1930 and 1960. The purpose of bringing these dwarf goats to the United States was to use them for research and put them in zoos for exhibition. Their utility altered a little when private breeders gained access to them and began petting these goats as companions.

Of the two distinct varieties that developed from these dwarf breeds in the 1970s, one was stocky and compact while the latter a little delicate replicating dairy goats. The first variety became the American Pygmy, while the less muscular type was the Nigerian Dwarf. The American Pygmy gained formal recognition in 1975 when a herd book and breed society developed for this breed.

There has been a decline in the population of these goats over the period. In 2017, the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) marked them endangered. In 2019 the DAD-IS (Domestic Animal Diversity Information System) put the status of these goats to be “At Risk” in their database. 

American Pygmy Goat
Picture of a Pygmy Goat

Meat Production

Due to their compact, muscular build, the Pygmy goats are mostly reared for their meat.

Milk Production

They do not serve as milk goats due to their small size, yet the American pygmy goat produces 1-2 quarts of milk each day during the 6-month lactation period.

Adult Pygmy Goat
Full Grown Pygmy Goat

As Companions

Because of their docile, adjustable, and well-behaved nature, the American pygmy makes for great companion goats, suited for all age groups, from kids to adults.

For Research Purposes

Since they are small and easy to handle, the American pygmy goat has been used for scientific research.

Pygmy Goat Buck
Pygmy Goat Images


They have a gestation period of 145 to 153 days, with most does giving birth to twins. However, a litter may have between 2-5 kids on average.

Baby Pygmy Goats
Pygmy Goat Female

Interesting Facts

  • The American Pygmy contributed to the development of two of the modern breeds, Kinder and Pygora. While the first resulted from the Pygmy-Nubian cross, the second owes its parentage to the Pygmy and Angora.
African Pygmy Goat
Pygmy Goat


Q. How much does an American pygmy goat cost?

A pet Pygmy comes $75-$200, however, show pygmies are costlier, costing up to $500 or even a little more depending on the bloodline.

Q. What is the difference between an American pygmy goat and a Nigerian Pygmy goat?

The primary difference between the two is in appearance and even usage. The American Pygmy appears stockier with short legs. In contrast, the Nigerian dwarf goat is leaner, with long and thin legs. While the former excels as a meat goat, the latter does better as a dairy breed.

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