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Photo credit : Brownlee Photography


History of the Nigerian Dwarf Goat

The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a true miniature dairy goat. Nigerians were developed from descendants of miniature goats from Africa. These miniature goats were referred to as West African Dwarves (WAD).

West African Miniature goats first arrived in America by ship in the early to mid 1900’s. They were brought over with the big exotic cats that were intended for zoo exhibits. Their main purpose was to serve as food for these exotic cats on the long trip over. Fortunately, not all of them were eaten during the trip. Due to the novelty of their small size and colours, these goats were also used as a zoo attraction.

Mrs. Bonnie Abrahamson, who worked at one of the zoos in California, is recognized as being one of the first to note there were major differences in the body type and style of these imported goats. At the time, all WAD miniature goats were simply referred to as pygmies (denoting size not breed).

These notable differences led to the development of the Nigerian Dwarf in the United States. They became classified separately from the general group of pygmies. The Nigerian Dwarf is now a well known breed in the US and Canada. However, the distinction of this breed is still not recognized everywhere. In many other parts of the world, they are remain identified as part of the larger group called pygmies.


The following is a timeline on the development of the breed:

1981 – July 24 International Dairy Goat Registry (IDGR) registered the very first Nigerian Dwarf Goat. Bullfrog Alley’s Johnny Jump Up #2 was the very first recorded Nigerian. He was bred by Mrs. Bonnie Abrahamson and owned by Mr. Robert Johnson. Mr. Johnson owned IDGR at the time. His herd name was Pine Cone Valley.

1984 –American Goat Society (AGS) registered their first Nigerian goat. Mrs. Patricia Freeman from Dutton, Ontario was on the original Nigerian Dwarf Committee for AGS.

1985 – AGS National Show, Graham, Texas – First sanctioned Nigerian show with two exhibitors; Shaula Parker & Kathleen Claps. Pine Cone Valley Black Satin became the first Nigerian doe to win Breed Champion.

1985 – Canadian Goat Society (CGS) recognizes the Nigerian Dwarf Breed as a breed in Canada

1987 - May 21 The first Nigerian goats to be Canadian registered were Braco Irish Mist & Braco Irish Solid State. The Braco herdname was registered to Mrs. Patricia Freeman. She was one of the front runners for the breed development in both Canada and the United States.

1987 - September 22 – The first Canadian born registered Nigerian was Nicola Valley Buckshot. Buckshot was owned by Isabel Fenton.


1997 – Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association (NDGA) – First registered Nigerian: Oak Meadow’s Pippin’s Prize


2005 – American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) accepted Nigerian Dwarf Goats into their Registry.

Once the first Nigerian goats were recognized and purebred registrations began in the United States, the registration process followed quickly in Canada through the Canadian Goat Society. In recent years, Nigerian Dwarf goats have become very popular and have outpaced all other goat breeds in registered numbers.

Johnny Jump Up 2 - 1980s-Color-Restored

Johnny Jump Up
Photo Credit: IDGR 

Breed Standards

Erect ears and a straight face. A Nigerian may be polled. Any colour or combination of colours is allowed, however it is a serious fault to have agouti colouration (Agouti defined as the hair banded with a main colour and a lighter colour) 

It is also a very serious fault if the animals do not conform to the body measurement chart shown below:

24 months - Male or Female height at Withers: 22"

30 months - Male maximum height at Withers: 23"

30 months - Female maximum height at Withers: 22"

*information taken from The Canadian Goat Society Website* 

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