Nigerian Goats vs Pygmy Goats: What’s the Difference?

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The miniature Nigerian dwarf and pygmy goats look similar and are confused by many people. If you want to keep goats, you’re probably wondering what’s the difference between Nigerian goats Vs pygmy goats.

The biggest difference between Nigerian dwarf goats and pygmy goats is that Nigerian dwarfs are dairy goats bred for milk production, while pygmy goats are considered meat goats. The well-proportioned Nigerian dwarf goat resembles large dairy goats. The American pygmy is stocky with a heavy build. 

Nigerian dwarf goats and pygmy goats are popular breeds of miniature goats. Keep reading to learn the differences between these two breeds and decide which one of these goats is a better choice for you. 

What Is a Nigerian Dwarf Goat?

The Nigerian dwarf goat is an American goat breed originating in West Africa. Nigerian dwarf goats belong to the West African dwarf group of breeds and were imported into the USA between 1930 and 1960.

The Nigerian dwarf goat has been bred to look like a miniature dairy goat and doesn’t resemble the stocky West African dwarf goat. 

At first, Nigerian dwarf goats were raised as show and companion animals for their appearance and docility. Later, it was discovered that they make excellent dairy goats for small-scale dairy production. 

This goat breed is recognized by the American Dairy Goat Association and is one of the most popular miniature goats in the USA.

What Is a Pygmy Goat?

The pygmy goat is an American breed of dwarf goat. Like the Nigerian dwarf, the pygmy goat hails from the West African dwarf goat group of West Africa. 

Goats of this group were imported to the United States as zoo or research animals. Some of these goats ended up in the hands of private breeders who kept and bred them as companion animals. 

By the 1970s, the breeders created two distinct breeds – one was compact, broad, and solidly built like the original African stock. The other was much more delicate, resembling dairy stock just in miniature size. 

The former breed became known as the American pygmy goat, and the latter became the Nigerian dwarf goat. 

The American pygmy goat was used to create two modern-day goat breeds. The kinder goat was developed by crossbreeding with the Nubian, and the Pygora was made from crossbreeding with the Angora goats. 

What Is the Difference Between Nigerian Goats vs Pygmy Goats?

Nigerian dwarf goats and pygmy goats are two distinct breeds with similar appearance and origin. These two breeds might look the same to a newbie, but they are different in many ways.

These are the most notable differences between pygmy goats vs Nigerian dwarf goats:


Both Nigerian dwarf and pygmy goats are miniature goat breeds, but there are significant body differences between the two.

The American pygmy is a short, stocky, compact, and muscular goat. The legs and necks are short and thick in relation to overall body length.

These goats have square heads and broad foreheads, but the head is in proportion to the size of the body. Pygmy goats are often heavier than they look and weigh from 50 to 100 pounds. 

On the other hand, Nigerian dwarf goats have balanced proportions and look like larger breeds of dairy goats. Nigerian dwarf goats have longer legs, long necks, and longer bodies than pygmy goats. 

Although Nigerian dwarf goats are similar in height to pygmy goats, they weigh less. An adult Nigerian dwarf can weigh from 50 to 85 pounds. 


Pygmy goats come in several colors, including caramel, black, grey agouti, brown agouti, black agouti, or patterned black. Furthermore, pygmy goats can only have brown eyes. Blue-eyed pygmy goats are automatically disqualified from a show ring.

Unlike pygmy goats, Nigerian dwarf goats come in various colors and patterns. The most commonly seen colors are gold, cream, white, chocolate, buckskin, black, chamoisee, Swiss marked, cou blanc, cou clair, sandgau, and any combination of these colors. 

Nigerian dwarf goats can have blue eyes. In fact, this is the only breed of dairy goats that can be registered with blue eyes. 


While both pygmy goats and Nigerian dwarf goats make great pets, these two breeds were developed for different purposes. The pygmy goat was initially created as a small meat goat and is reared mostly as a companion animal or for meat purposes.

The Nigerian dwarf is considered a dairy goat, although it was originally bred as a companion animal and for show. Nigerian dwarf goats produce milk naturally high in butterfat and protein and, on average, lactate 10 months per year.

Which is Bigger Pygmy or Nigerian Goat?

Pygmy goats and Nigerian dwarf goats are very similar in size. The average height of a pygmy goat is 16 to 21 inches, while Nigerian dwarf goats, on average, grow 17 to 21 inches high. 

Although they tend to be the same height and weight, pygmy goats appear bigger because of their stocky build and shorter legs. 

Can You Breed a Pygmy Goat with a Nigerian Dwarf?

Yes, you can breed a pygmy goat with a Nigerian dwarf goat. Crossbreeding these two breeds is already very common.

If you decide to breed a pygmy goat with a Nigerian dwarf, it’s recommended to cross a purebred Nigerian dwarf buck with a pygmy doe. The slender dairy-type kids are often much easier for many to birth. 

Crossbreeding these two breeds can create more color variations and blue eyes in offspring.


Although they look the same to many people, Nigerian dwarf goats and pygmy goats are two distinct breeds. Nigeran dwarf goats are considered dairy goats and have balanced proportions, long legs, and long necks. The small, stockily-built pygmy goat has short legs wide body and is considered a meat goat.

The Nigerian dwarf goat and pygmy goat are bred for different purposes, but both make popular backyard pets. If you’re looking to expand your milk production, the Nigerian dwarf is a great choice. But if you plan to produce meat, a pygmy goat is a better option. 

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