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Do Goats Make Good Pets?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Keeping goats as pets can be rewarding, or uniquely infuriating. Although some do make excellent pets, they require commitment and tolerance on the part of their owners to do well, and anyone considering the acquisition of a pet goat should think carefully before taking the plunge. They have unique needs which are unfamiliar to people who have not interacted with them before. In addition, you may be restricted by municipal laws if you live within the limits of an incorporated area, or have trouble getting access to a veterinarian to care for your pets.

The traits which make goats great pets also cause them to be very difficult to handle, according to Pettable (check out our review of the pet telehealth company), a popular virtual pet care company. Almost all species are intelligent and deeply curious, and will constantly investigate their surroundings. As part of their adventuring, they routinely fight their way through fences and gates, and the animals, while endearing, can wreak havoc on gardens and landscaping. They also tend to eat indiscriminately, which can lead to gastrointestinal distress, or costly surgery, if the goat swallows something inappropriate such as clothing or garbage.

Goats are herd animals, which means that you should plan on keeping at least two if you want them as pets. In addition, they need a roomy space, and do not thrive in restricted living conditions. Because of their natural curiosity, the space also needs to be rich with stimuli, and you should be prepared to put together a varied and interesting diet for the goats to keep them out of trouble. Like other livestock kept as pets, you may experience difficulties finding someone to care for your goats if you go on a trip, let alone tracking down a veterinarian to provide routine care, if you live in a non-rural area. In addition, some municipalities consider these animals to be livestock, and you may not even legally be allowed to keep them in a residential area.

Although they are hardy and adventurous, goats are not self-sufficient. They require daily attention including food, play, and water. If you are keeping them as milk producing animals in addition to pets, they will need to be milked one to two times a day to prevent mastitis, a painful infection of the udders. Goats can also get aggressive if they are bored or sense that you are afraid, which can result in a painful butting. Billy goats, in particular, can be obnoxious if unaltered, and both billies and nannies can emit strong hormonal odors.

On the other hand, goats are loving, affectionate, loyal animals, and many people deeply enjoy keeping them as pets. For people with more limited space, pygmy goats might be an excellent consideration, as they do not get nearly as large as some breeds, such as Swiss Alpines and Nubians. The native intelligent and intensely curious animals are fun to have around, if you are willing to put in the work.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All Things Nature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon973880 — On Oct 14, 2014

Wow what an interesting bunch of articles and posts. I have never smelled anything from any of my goats besides normal smells, chewing cud, dirt, etc., but never a smell like a buck. I have found in all my years of owning goats that they do not eat garbage like "tin cans." They may be seen nibbling off the paper of the tin can, however. They may eat paper (it smells like trees – a favorite of goats).

The person who said his goat ate a nail? Not likely. Goats have a sense of humor and may have thought it was a great game, and either never gobbled a nail or it was lost in the dirt of the pen. Did you use a magnet while looking for the nail?

For those considering owning a goat, have a good fence. I tell people that if water can flow through it, then a goat can get out. Goats are happiest outside in the sun. They are farm animals and so should have a large area to roam, but they hate the rain, so they need protection from rain. They are not like any other ruminant. They prefer weeds to grass. They will browse all of your trees and literally bark them and kill them but leave all the grass just nibbling the seed heads off.

They will nibble at everything, tasting it. If it tastes good, they will eat a little more. They are great for clearing land that has brush due to that fact.

All told, if you have the room and plenty of weeds, good fences, and somewhere for shelter, plan on having two goats because they do not like to be alone. A goat alone will be loose on a regular schedule looking for you or a friend. Also plan to pay for damage to the neighbors' cars. They love the sound of bouncing on metal!

By choppers — On Jun 05, 2014

My recent charge has been to raise three goats - one to be groomed to become mayor of our town of Lajitas, TX. I have never raised goats - all I knew is if we were going to have animal exploitation, I would be in charge! (Facebook - Clay Henry the Goat) These goats have surpassed all of my expectations! They are the most wonderful loving animals.

The soon-to-be Mayor is a Boer, named Clay Moore Henry, and his nanny is Annabelle Clay-Reese. I love them so much I hate leaving them each day to come home. Oh, by the way, two secrets: goats will do almost anything for raisins and peanuts in the shell. Be prepared if it is their first time. They love them. They are power treats! Of course, my goats are totally spoiled and get them every day.

Goats are great pets if you are tolerant of basic goat behavior (walking wrecking balls). I am slowly potty training them. My expectations were low, but it seems to be working anyway. Goats rock!

By anon311378 — On Dec 31, 2012

For everybody asking if you can housebreak a goat, it depends on your definition of 'housebreak'.

You can probably train a wether or doe to pee outside. This is particularly true if you have hard floors, as they don't like to be splashed by their own urine. Carpet would make it harder.

Bucks constantly pee on their own heads so trying to convince a buck to pee outside would probably only frustrate you and annoy the buck. Bucks are not generally recommended as pets in general, however.

Teaching them to go number 2 outside would be far more difficult, as goats just sort of go wherever and don't pay much attention to where the berries fall. The berries are easy enough to sweep up, but they do get everywhere as they tend to bounce as they fall, so you'd forever be hunting down goat droppings that rolled under the fridge or fell down inside the couch (guaranteed they'd go while standing on the furniture) or fell down a floor register, or -- yeah. No fun.

Aside from the goat berry issue, one other thing to keep in mind is that goats chew. Constantly. They like to chew on paper and wood in particular, so they'd be gnawing on your furniture like beavers and eating your wallpaper and your books. You'd also want to keep every electrical cord out of the goat's reach.

They would also be prone to jumping on the furniture and playing king-of-the-hill on it with any other animals you have. Goats can also be aggressive towards other animals as goats establish a pecking order by beating up on each other, and a good whack from a herd mate might not faze another goat, but it could kill another animal.

Anyway, goats make great pets if they're kept outside in a suitable enclosure. They're really not a house pet, however, due to some instincts that just aren't compatible with living inside.

By anon305144 — On Nov 24, 2012

Can you housetrain them? Do they make good indoor pets?

By lugboxer10 — On Feb 03, 2012

I am interested in purchasing a Nigerian Dwarf goat. I am doing research on them, of course, and can certainly use some advice.

I live in NYC, I have a house with a nice sized yard. I have two dogs and a mini pig. I am wondering if these goats can be indoors, like the pig. I have room outside for the goat, and I will make sure I have a area for him to graze. Just wondering about the indoor part. And housebreaking.

Has anyone had experience with this type of situation? I'd really appreciate some feedback.

By anon193335 — On Jul 04, 2011

I have a goat!

By anon167799 — On Apr 14, 2011

We found an abandoned two week old male goat on our rural 30 acre property where we have about 13 cows and calves.

We are not there very often but have a caretaker who comes four times each week to feed and water. He took the baby goat home and bottle fed him. He neutered him and keeps him in a 10X10 pen.

Now he is a year old and outgrowing the pen. We would like to bring him back to our property so that he can roam with the cows and feed and shelter with them.

We want to be sure he is well cared for. Will this new environment, back on the property, be suitable? Does he need another neutered "friend" to roam with him, or the cows and calves sufficient?

By anon152625 — On Feb 14, 2011

I'm after some advice. there is a goat that has i believe escaped from somewhere, he hangs around my factory where there are other factories too, he sleeps under my carport at night and has been around now for a few weeks.

I have left him water and it seems like he eats a lot of the plants that are around, but i still believe he should be somewhere else. maybe he is in distress, i don't know, what should i do with it?

By anon138805 — On Jan 02, 2011

My first goat was a fainting goat. Now two years later I have 11. I have no problem keeping them and yes, they're better than dogs!

By anon94422 — On Jul 08, 2010

I was just thinking, I have a commercial herd of Boers, 60 adults and 100 kids, and there is nothing they like better as a treat than carrots. In the winter they also have beets, to give them energy in the cold months.

I also agree with poster 1. It is only bucks that smell. This is due to the testosterone hormone. The smell comes from the base of the horn, but also from the fact that they drink their own urine when the does are in season. This adds to the 'attraction'.

The person who wrote this article, whether they are a vet or not, should really get their facts right before posting and misleading people.

Poster 6: Heavens, i would not like to be one of your goats. They hate rain!

poster 8: Your male goats would be wethers then, not full bucks. this means they have been castrated and not able to breed. because they have been castrated the male hormone that makes them temperamental is not produced in their system.

By anon86232 — On May 24, 2010

I have a herd of Boer Goats (twenty) and they love to eat carrots that are cut into bite size portions.

By anon72124 — On Mar 21, 2010

I am really interested in purchasing a mini-goat. The question I have is: are they good pets to have indoors? And secondly, how do I go about finding one to purchase? Thanks. C.J.

By whippersnip — On Mar 10, 2010

I wouldn't delay in seeking professional help for the goat that ate the nail as obviously this is not normal feed and could cause problems.

I advised once before that I had two male (weathered) goats and one was more friendly than the other. That has now changed and they are both very friendly, coming up for a pat or a treat to eat and they love going for a walk with a dog lead. The best pets you could possibly get. Regards, Whippersnip

By anon69144 — On Mar 06, 2010

well i just read through these posts and just wanted to say while moving my parents' mini-goats fence and re-building them a new goat house/play area, the billy ate a nail a normal sized nail.

i chased him around when he was chewing on it, and then by the time i caught him it was gone. i was watching him close and checked the area to make sure he didn't drop it.

So does anyone know if he will digest it or what will happen with it? I know he can eat tin and some other soft metals but a solid zinc nail, i'm not so sure about.

By anon56167 — On Dec 12, 2009

For pets, bottle fed goats become much friendlier around people than those naturally fed. We take them from the mother after one day and milk the mother, giving all or part of the milk to the babies from a bottle. They are really cute when very small, and you can hold them in your lap while feeding them.

As stated earlier, bucks need to be weathered to use for pets. Male goats are friendly, but will rub against you and leave a strong odor on your clothing. Does that are in heat may also rub an odor on you.

I have also noticed that different breeds like different foods. While they all like oats and grain, our nigerian Dwarf goats like people food, if you drop a cookie, they gobble it up. Carrots as well.

The Nubian and Boer goats do not like people food or carrots, so it's something in their genetic makeup, as I have seen this in many goats over the years.

By amypollick — On Nov 21, 2009

Anon53457, you really need to call your local county agent and see if he or she has any booklets available on raising goats. If there is a large animal vet in your area, you could also talk with him or her for good ideas about keeping your nanny goat healthy and happy. Don't go into this blind.

By anon53457 — On Nov 21, 2009

we have never owned a goat but we are getting a nanny and i'm hoping i won't regret it. are there any good tips on how tos or not tos? please, i need advice on food dos and don't's and if they like certain toys. i need to know everything. it's my seven year old's Christmas present early. i hope i'm doing the right thing. thanks for any advice.

By anon53366 — On Nov 20, 2009

i love goats. they are so sweet. the differences in attitude are related to how much time you spend with them.

I've had up to nine at once. they ranged from super tame to not so tame. the only thing close to trouble I've ever had from a goat has been from my not so tame ones. goats that are tame make the best pets.

By anon52254 — On Nov 12, 2009

how much would a goat cost?

By whippersnip — On Oct 10, 2009

Hi we have two bucks and they make great pets. Happy to see us and ready always for a pat and a hand feed despite having ample food always available. we have a rural situation however and it may be different in suburbia. Both have different personalities and one is much easier to handle than the other. We enjoy our "pets."

By anon48172 — On Oct 10, 2009

Hi A comment that male goats should not be kept as pets is off beam. We have two male goats that get on well together and despite different personalities, both are always happy to interact with us humans, taking food from our hands and rushing up to greet us when visited. Although we have a rural residential property we interact with the goats daily and they give us as much pleasure as our faithful dog.

By anon41108 — On Aug 12, 2009

I would like to say we have three goats and they are very fun, easy to care for and very loving. They love attention and treats. They are very picky about what they eat and do not eat everything as people think. There are a lot of things they turn their noses up to. Also when kept with a friend they tend to just play with each other, lie around in the sun or shade or graze around on the grass. They like clean living areas, clean fresh water daily and a good quality food. They also love to have their backs and bellies scratched. We also have a buck who does smell, the does do not! But he also is not so much of a bully. when they figure out you are the boss, and food provider they tend to all follow you, which is the leader since you have the food bucket! They make awesome pets.

By anon37704 — On Jul 21, 2009

this is a reply to number 5, about washing a dirty goat. It's easy. Get a bottle of tearless baby shampoo, a long garden hose with a nozzle, wait for a hot summer day, and tie the goat to the fence by a collar or a halter which is better. Spread out the hose so it can warm up the water as the sun shines on it. Then wet the goat down, put on enough shampoo to lather up, and rinse it off *completely*.

The eaisier way is to leave the goat out in the rain (*only in warm weather*) until she's soaked and dripping, then dry her before she gets dirty again. Rain removes dirt from the top and sides of a goat, but not its underside.

By anon36475 — On Jul 12, 2009

I would like to know how and what to use to wash a goat? I will be taking over the care of a "nanny" goat soon, and she is very dirty. Is there some type of shampoo I need to get?

By liliannem — On Apr 12, 2009

Question out there for people who know all about goats. I am an artist wanting to include a live goat in an interactive art piece in which the goat would be fed artwork by visitors during a one-time 'performance'. Can anyone suggest what I could possibly use to draw the art work on that would not be harmful to goats and that they would find tasty, perhaps organic rice paper? Strange request, I know, but would appreciate any feedback.L

By anon29744 — On Apr 07, 2009

I have goats myself, they are loving and loyal. They have never tried to escape their paddock, they have never eaten anything that has hurt them.

I think you should look at the plus's of having a goat. I think they have more personality than some dogs. They are not hard to look after.

They are quite easy actually. They are just like a cow, but with more personality.

By anon13853 — On Jun 05, 2008

Is it possible to housetrain a goat?

By anon4917 — On Nov 06, 2007

Hi there,

I just wanted to strongly emphasize that goats make terrific pets!

But I also wanted to comment on your line "Goats also tend to eat indiscriminately, which can lead to gastrointestinal distress, or costly surgery, if the goat swallows something inappropriate such as clothing or garbage." This is not true. Although the traditional idea of a goat was the typical billy chewing on a tin can, goats are selective eaters. They pick delicately through their feed and are that good they can separate out the grains that they don't like. Also, they will pick up and mouth rubbish such as nails, plastic etc. but will always spit it out once they have determined it is not edible.

Also, it is only bucks that have an odor, not does and also not wethers. Please also note that for pets only wethers and does are suitable; for a multitude of reasons bucks should not be kept as pets.

Again, I'd like to stress that goats make great pets!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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