Pygmy Goats as Pets
Due to their small size, pygmy goats are often kept as pets rather than for meat or milk production. There are
many reasons why pygmies make good pets:
1. CLEANLINESS: Because their diet contains no meat, goat “droppings” do not have the unpleasant odor
that other pets’ manure has. Goat droppings are small pellets that can easily be raked or swept and
disposed of or used as fertilizer for your garden or flower box. Pygmy goats prefer to be clean and dry and
will seek out those places to rest; they do not like rain and will run for shelter when the first drops fall. Although
uncastrated males can have an unpleasant smell about them, neutered males (wethers) and females have no
such odor at all. A single pygmy goat kept as a pet has none of the objectionable odors typically associated
with livestock simply because they are so small and are not kept in a barnyard environment with large
numbers of other animals.
2. SAFETY: Pygmy goats are not aggressive by nature but are very playful. Like other ruminant (multi-
stomach) animals, they have lower teeth but none on top; even if they were to bite, which they do not, it would
be nothing more than a slight pinch — nothing at all like a dog or a cat bite. There has not been a single
documented case of anyone’s being killed or even seriously injured by a pygmy goat! When threatened, a
pygmy is likely to stand on its hind feet, lower or cock its head to one side and stand its hair on end — or run
Pygmy goats are not prime carriers of rabies or other diseases transmissible to humans or other animals.
The few diseases or maladies that afflict pygmy goats, while rare, are usually limited to that particular animal
or are “species specific” (confined only to goats).
3. NOISE: Pygmy goats normally are not noisy animals; they may “baaa” once in a while when they see
someone, but it’s a pleasant, “down home” sound. They won’t keep your neighbors awake like a barking dog
or a yowling tomcat. When darkness falls, pygmy goats go to their houses and quietly chew their cud or go to
sleep. On dreary or rainy days, they prefer to stay in their houses and relax and chew their cud; and on bright,
sunny days, they like to lie outside and sunbathe. Pygmies are very peaceful animals and do well in either
residential or agricultural surroundings.
4. TERRITORY: Pygmy goats are creatures of routine. Once they learn their “territory”, they normally are
content to stay within it and do not tend to run off and annoy the neighbors. A fenced backyard is sufficient as
long as the fence meets the ground so the goat cannot slip under it to sample the neighbor’s flowers.
Pygmies are not great fence jumpers but do like to jump on top of doghouses or other structures to
experience the “view from the top”. Be sure no such structures are next to the fence, as your goat may jump
down from the structure on the wrong side of the fence and not be able to get back. Car hoods are tempting
as well; so if you don’t want little hooftracks on your shiny new car, park it somewhere else!
5. SPACE REQUIREMENTS: A single pygmy goat kept as a pet needs relatively little space. A nice
backyard is more than sufficient for a little goat. Goats are browsers rather than grazers and do not decimate
your lawn; they prefer to pick the tasty clover, dandelions or broadleaf weeds and let the nice green grass
grow. A common saying among goat breeders is that a goat would starve to death on a golf course —
because there are no weeds to eat! If you have a thorny patch to clean up, a pygmy goat will do the work of
that expensive weedkiller for you. NOTE: Should you decide to invest in more than one pygmy goat, the
space requirements are still very reasonable. An acre of ground can easily accommodate up to a dozen or
more pygmies without fear of overgrazing. Unlike sheep, goats eat the tops off the weeds and grasses rather
than pulling them up by the roots; thus, a goat pasture normally has an aesthetically pleasing, “manicured”
6. RESIDENTIAL ZONING: Many residential areas that have zoning restrictions on agricultural animals will
allow a pygmy goat to be kept as a pet as long as it can be shown that the goat is not being kept for
agricultural purposes. In other words, the goat is not being used for meat, milk production, fiber (wool) or
commercial breeding. A pygmy goat, therefore, would meet the “pet” requirement; if you choose a male,
however, we recommend neutering only because the male smell may be objectionable to your neighbors.
And of course if your little goat is neutered, there can be no doubt he’s not being used for breeding.
7. 4H PROSPECTS: There are a growing number of Ohio counties that are establishing special pygmy goat
classes. This allows youngsters an opportunity they might not otherwise experience — that of raising and
caring for an animal and acquiring the sense of personal responsibility that good animal husbandry requires.
Children who live in residential areas and whose parents do not have the acreage that farmers do can
therefore participate in the 4H program and not be limited to animals such as dogs or rabbits. With farmland
rapidly disappearing and agriculture becoming increasingly distant to most Ohioans, the opportunity for a
young man or woman to acquire the knowledge and experience of raising a “farm” type animal is one that
should be strongly encouraged.