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Published on 5th December 2022 by staff

Saanen Goat

Saanen Goat

The Saanen, named after the Saanen Valley in the Bernese Highlands, is the largest domestic goat breed of Switzerland recognized by its pale skin, erect ears, and a somewhat concave or straight face. It is exported throughout the world and used for producing several local variants, including the Banat White, Russian White, Israeli Saanen, French Saanen, and British Saanen. Because of its light skin coloration, it is sensitive to direct sunlight and thrives in cooler conditions.

Also Known AsCapra di Saanen, Chevre de Gessenay, Saanenziege
Physical CharacteristicsMedium- to large-sized body, with rugged bones, plenty of vigor, ears preferably pointing forward, straight or slightly concave profile
Temperament/PersonalityCalm, sweet, hardy
ColorLight cream, preferably white, small spots may exist
CoatShort, fine, a fringe of hair exists over the thighs and spine
WeightBucks: 77-90 kg (170-198 lbs)
Does: 60-70 kg (134-154 lbs)
HeightBucks: 90-94 cm (35-37 in)
Does: 80-81 cm (31-32 in)
UsesMilk production
DietHay, ground corn, soybean meal, and hulls
Lactation PeriodAverages 264 days
Lifespan8-15 years
Climate ToleranceAdapts well in a cold climate but does not tolerate excessive sunlight
Country of OriginSwitzerland
Standard and Qualification InformationAmerican Dairy Goat Association

History and Development

Originating in the Saanen Valley and the neighboring Simmental, south of Canton Berne, the Saanen has been exported to different countries since the early 1800s due to its high productivity.

Starting from 1904 and continuing till the 1930s, about 150 Saanens were brought to the US from Switzerland. Today, the Saanen is found in over 80 countries across the globe.

Saanen Goat Image
Saanen Goat Picture

Meat Production

The Sable Saanen, a new variant, was developed in New Zealand during the 1980s to produce a low-maintenance and adaptable meat goat. It was done by crossing Saanen, Toggenburg, and Anglo-Nubian goats with feral goats.

Milk Production

Saanens are one of the most productive dairy goats in the world, with average milk production of about 1847 lbs (838 kg) in a lactation period. The milk is also nutritious, having a minimum of 2.7% protein and 3.2% fat content.

Saanen Dairy Goats
Male Saanen Goat
Female Saanen Goat


The female Saanen goats remain in heat for about 20-21 days, and after mating, they carry their kids for approximately 150 days. The young does become sexually mature at about 9-12 months of age.

Saanen Goat Baby

Interesting Facts

  • The Saanen is the most productive dairy goat breed in Switzerland.
  • It is one of the most widely distributed goat breeds, with the total worldwide population being more than 900,000.

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