All About Nigerian Dwarf Goats

This Small Goat Breed is Lovable and Gentle, and Produces a Surprising Amount of Milk for Its Size

All About Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature goat of West African origin. Nigerian Dwarf goats are enjoying a rise in popularity due to their small size and colorful markings. Their small stature means they do not require as much space as larger dairy goat breeds, and their gentle and friendly personalities make them good companion pets. They are easy to handle; even small children can be at ease with these little goats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also approved the Nigerian Dwarf goat as a livestock dairy goat, which makes them eligible for youth 4H and FFA projects.

Nigerian Dwarf goats are easy to handle; even small children can be at ease with these little goats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also approved the Nigerian Dwarf goat as a livestock dairy goat, which makes them eligible for youth 4H and FFA projects.

The Nigerian Dwarf is a Miniature Dairy Goat

A healthy Nigerian Dwarf doe can produce a surprising amount of sweet milk for her small size – up to two quarts per day. The Nigerian Dwarf goat milk benefit is that it is higher in butterfat (6-10%) than most dairy goat breeds. However, many Nigerian Dwarf owners do not raise their goats for milk but for the pleasure and companionship, these little caprines bring to their lives.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat Conformation

A Nigerian Dwarf goat’s conformation is similar to that of the larger dairy goat breeds. The parts of the body are in balanced proportion. The nose is straight, although there may be a small break or stop at the level of the eyes. The ears are upright. The coat is soft with short to medium hair. Any color or combination of colors is acceptable, although the silver agouti pattern and color are a moderate fault (Pygmy goat-specific markings).

The ideal height of Nigerian Dwarf goats is 17″ to 19″ for does with does up to 21″ allowed in the breed standard. Ideal height for bucks is 19″ to 21″ with bucks up to 23″ allowed in the breed standard. Ideal weight is suggested to be about 75 lbs. Animals are disqualified from the show ring for being oversized for the breed standard and/or for other faults: having a curly coat, roman nose, pendulous ears, or evidence of myotonia (a breed characteristic of fainting goats).

Nigerian Dwarf Goat
Nigerian Dwarf Goat Temperament

Dwarf goats are gentle, lovable, and playful. Their calm, even temperament, and engaging personalities make them suitable companions for all, including children, the disabled, and the elderly. Even breeding bucks are handled easily. They make wonderful pets and great animal projects for young children in 4H or FFA. Breeders of other types of goats find their Dwarfs blend in with the rest of their herd and do not need special quarters; just adequate fencing to contain them because of their small size. Many Nigerian Dwarf goats share pastures peacefully with other livestock such as cattle, horses, llamas, and donkeys. In fact, they will often improve a pasture by removing brambles, undergrowth (including weeds), and ivy (even poison ivy) that other livestock won’t eat.


Goats should be kept in clean pens free of dampness, drafts, and pests like flies and rodents. They also require adequate fencing due to their small size. Nigerian Dwarf goats should not be housed in airtight buildings; they need to have ventilation for optimum health. For one to just a few goats, many owners find that an oversized dog house or two does the job. Pens or houses should be kept clean with fresh hay or straw for bedding. Many owners find that providing a few “toys” for the goats provides them with hours of caprine entertainment. Tree stumps, rocks, or large cable spools are great for “king of the mountain” games and jumping. Just be sure to keep them away from the fence to avoid giving herd escape artists means to roam your neighborhood!


Breeding Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Dwarf goats breed year-round. Many owners breed their does three times in two years, giving the doe at least a 6-month break. Of course, this is a personal choice for each breeder. The gestation period for a doe is 145 to 153 days. For the most part, Nigerian Dwarfs are a hearty breed with few kidding problems. New babies average about 2 pounds at birth but grow quickly. Watch out for those little bucks! Bucklings can be fertile at as young as 7 weeks of age. Make sure you wean does and bucks separately to help you avoid unintentional breeding.

Does can be bred at 7-8 months of age if they have reached a mature size. Some breeders prefer to wait until they are at least one year or older. Dwarfs does can have several kids at a time, three and four being common with some quintuplet births occurring. Dwarfs are generally good mothers able to take care of their babies should you leave them to do the raising of the kids. They can also provide a surprising amount of milk for their size if you decide you are interested in goat milk or making goat cheese.

Bucks are able to be used for service as young as three months of age and easily by the time they are 7 or 8 months old. Dwarf bucks are vigorous breeders but are gentle enough to be used for hand breeding (contained) or pasture breeding where one buck is available for several does as they come into estrus. Both methods are used successfully.

Feeding Dwarf Goats

Most breeders feed a 12–18% protein goat feed or dairy ration. It must not contain urea as this is toxic to goats. Many breeders give less grain if good pasture and browse are available. Hay or pasture should always be provided in abundant supply. Fresh water in clean containers should also be available at all times.

Health Care

Dwarf goats, like all other breeds, need some basic care for good health and long life. Hooves should be trimmed regularly, about every four to eight weeks or more often if needed. A properly trimmed and shaped hoof should resemble those of a kid goat’s hoof. Vaccinations for tetanus and types C&D centermost are the basic types given. Check with your local vet for other vaccinations recommended for your area. Some experienced breeders may immunize their own goats; new owners and breeders should take their goats to the local vet for vaccines. Worming should be done several times a year. Your vet can suggest any special supplements (such as selenium), additional immunizations, and a recommended wormer and worming schedule for your particular herd based on your area and known preventative health measures.


Nigerian Dwarf Goat Registries and Shows

Dwarf goats are registered in 5 registries: four in the United States (NDGA, AGS, IDGR & ADGA) and one in Canada (CGS). Dwarf shows are growing in popularity and are becoming more readily available all over the country. Shows are fun, educational, and a great way to meet other breeders and owners. They are a place to sell your goats or obtain superior stock for breeding. Shows or event information can be obtained through registries, local goat clubs, and organizations, including NDGA.

What’s the Difference Between a Nigerian Dwarf and a Pygmy Goat?

Although they have similar origins, Nigerian Dwarfs and African Pygmies are separate and distinct breeds, with recognized differences. Pygmies are bred to be “cobby” and heavy boned. Dwarfs are bred to have the length of body and more elegant structure that’s similar to their larger dairy goat counterparts. Pygmies are also primarily “agouti” patterned, with black, silver, and caramel being the most common colors.


Nigerian Dwarf Goat Coloring

Color is one of the factors that makes breeding Dwarfs so popular. You can never be sure what color the babies will be until they are born; even then you can’t be sure because many times their color may change. The main color families are black, chocolate, and gold with virtually every color combination imaginable being produced. Dwarfs can be dalmatian-spotted, pinto-patterned, tri-colored, or just classy shades of solid jet black, white, chocolate, or gold. Buckskin patterns are also popular, described by contrasting facial stripes, a “cape” around the shoulders with a coordinating dorsal stripe, and leg markings. Brown eyes are the most common; however, dwarfs with China blue eyes are becoming increasingly popular and available.

How Much Do They Cost?

The average cost for registered breeding stock is between $200 and $500 per head, with champion pedigrees, milk production recorded animals, and unusual coloring at premium prices. Pet quality stock often costs much less with wethers (neutered males) generally available for $50 to $100.

Reprinted with permission of the Nigerian Dairy Goat Association (NDGA). The NDGA is a not-for-profit registry, show sanctioning and breeder support organization that is dedicated to the development and promotion of the Nigerian Dwarf Goat. NDGA was formed in 1996 and is the only registry and show sanctioning organization dedicated exclusively to the Nigerian Dwarf breed. NDGA is funded through goat registrations and transfers, annual membership dues, and fundraising activities. They also publish a quarterly journal, called “Nigerian Goat News,” in addition to an annual membership directory and calendar for members. All of these publications are included with membership.

Photos courtesy of Livin My Dream Farm.
Video courtesy of Fairland Farm.

16 thoughts on “All About Nigerian Dwarf Goats”
  1. I was wondering if Nigerian Dwarf Goats are talkative/noisy? We had a group of 4 full size goats pastured for a friend for a couple weeks and they were almost annoyingly loud. So if you have any thoughts about that concerning the NDG breed I’d sure appreciate it!
    Thank you

    1. Hi Lori, it can depend on the goat and whether she is lonely, in heat, or needs something. But my perception is that Nigerian Dwarf goats are in the middle. They don’t scream like Nubians, thank goodness, but they certainly will let you know when they want something.

  2. I have a concern with my girls. I would like to breed them but they turned 4 this year. What are the chances they could possibly have complications with delivery.
    I was told they are a great age for breeding, then told they are to old. I’m not sure what to do?

    1. Hi Judy, a Nigerian Dwarf in great health can live past 15 years, but I wouldn’t recommend breeding her past 10 years since she can have more complications as she reaches her senior age. But four years isn’t old at all, when it comes to breeding age. Some people say that waiting too long to breed a doe can affect her fertility, but so far that is just an anecdotal wives’ tale and I’ve seen no studies to back this up. So now sounds like a great time to breed! Nigerian Dwarf goats can have extreme complications during delivery if the buck is a larger breed like a standard-sized dairy goat, so stick with other Nigerian Dwarf bucks or maybe Pygmy goats or Kinders. The most common dystocia (labor problems) I’ve seen with Nigerian Dwarf goats is when the baby needs help coming out because it is stillborn or hasn’t turned, so I suggest knowing the exact breeding date so you can be ready on the due date. Here is a story about recognizing dystocia: and here is a great due date calculator: Good luck!

  3. We live in middle Tennessee, and anxiously want NDG’s for our homestead. Do you know of a reputable breeder we may look into for breeders to start our herd? Your time is Sincerely appreciated.
    Thank You,
    J Rodrick

  4. I am considering breeding my 8 month old Nigerian dwarf but you say they should be a mature size. What weight would that be?

    1. Hi Lindsey, most experts on Nigerian Dwarf goats say the ideal weight is 75lbs but a range between 60 and 80 pounds is normal and healthy, depending on her frame. I would want a doeling to be 60 pounds or close to it before breeding. If she is almost 60 pounds, she will probably reach a decent size by the time she kids. One reason to wait a little longer is that, if she experiences dystocia, that may mean reaching inside her vulva to help assist in birth…and this is much easier if she is fully grown. Most owners wait until they are a year old, just to be safe. I hope this helps!

  5. Hi, I have a dwarf die and I’m not sure how old she is, the lady I got her from said she rescued her from another family. She told me she was pregnant, I’m not sure at all how can you tell if she is

  6. I know this may be a silly question but, I’m actually looking for information on which breed would be the smallest and best ones to make into a house pet. We live in Central Oklahoma where weather varies, 5 acres ( not all fenced but wooded) so they wouldn’t have full run. I grew up on the farm but always had cattle and horses but never goats. I’m trying to do research before I go ahead with anything. Thank you for your time. Danah

  7. Can you tell me what is the difference between nigerian dwarf and pigmy
    I need diffrence with picture

  8. We are bringing home brother and sister in 4 weeks. They will be 12 weeks. New babies should be born this month. So about two months or so before the new ones come home. Can I leave them separate for two months in the buck and doe pen? Do I keep together ? I don’t want babies just yet. She won’t be ready for it. I don’t want to hurt her.

    1. Hi Loretta, I’m glad you asked. Doelings can go into heat long before they’re large enough to safely carry and deliver kids, and Nigerian Dwarf goats go into heat exceptionally early! I’ve heard many people report that first heat happening at eight weeks of age. So I recommend separating them, which means you may need to find a wether for the brother. Or you could put him with a doe that is already confirmed to be pregnant, but you would need to remove him before she kids.

      1. Hi Marissa,
        We are interested in getting NDG’s so we are doing a lot of research. I don’t think we will be using them for milk and was wondering if it is bad for the goat NOT to be milked. Also, was told you can’t have just one because they get depressed. Is this true?

  9. I am considering some smaller goats to have for: brushing, pets and eventually milk. We can create a nice situation for them but our primary use besides pets and milk is poison oak control. Would the Nigerian Dwarfs be able to eat poison oak safely? Safe for the goats to eat. I read in one place it was ok and another not.
    Thank you

  10. Well, I’m a home-based Nigerian….I just stumbled on your article about Nigerian Dwarf Goats.
    It was mentioned therein that Nigerian Dwarf Goats are “gentle”….though I do not know your yardstick for this notion (or supposed fact) but I can assure you that no one here in Nigeria can ever tell you that those goats are gentle…tey will always come over and over, back and fault to what where you chased them from.
    “Stubborn” is the name we call them here….in fact, ‘goat’ is the common metaphor for stubborn children here in Nigeria.

    In addition to the facts you stated about NDG, they are characteristically known to love high places and hate rain. They always prefer standing or sitting on a raised spot or platform to levelled ground and whenever it’s raining they are always on the run for cover.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *