The domestic goat can be traced historically to the wild goats of Asia as far as 9000 years ago. Goats vary greatly in size, shape, and color, but regardless of their origins, they all share the same basic characteristics. They are capricious, intelligent, and playful animals with a great need for companionship.
The African Pygmy is a true miniature because its body conformation is so similar to that of the larger dairy breeds. They stand between 15 and 20 inches tall at the shoulder, and some are almost as wide as they are tall. Males are usually taller than females. They are fine-boned with a straight or slightly dished face, erect ears, and a long refined neck. The African Pygmy comes in a variety of colors, ranging from brown, black, white, red or golden, often in combination with random white markings. Their hair is short and fine during the summer,
but they can adapt to colder climates by producing a thick, wooly undercoat. They are hardy goats, thriving as well in heat and humidity as extreme cold
The African Pygmy is a miniature dairy goat with milk production being quite generous for their small size. They will produce as much as a quart and a half per day for up to ten months. This goat is one of the few breeds of goat that will breed out of season. Therefore, they will often produce more than one kid crop per year. They mature early, and many will produce offspring by one year of age. Single births are common the first time, but after that twins or triplets are not uncommon.
Although domestic goats in general originated in Asia, the African Pygmy is one of four types of dwarf goats from Africa. There are many local variations, but the four basic types are West African, Southern Sudanese, Somali and Small East African. The type which has been most widely distributed throughout Europe and the United States is the West African, commonly called the African Pygmy or Nigerian Dwarf. The African Pygmy was originally kept by African villagers to supply milk. They were first brought to the U.S. as exhibits for zoos and to be kept as pets. Because of their small size, these goats are economically raised and easy to care for. Their docile temperament and fun loving actions make them a perfect family pet. The African Pygmy exists in small numbers worldwide. Older breeds of livestock such as this have almost been phased out due to changing agricultural practices. The few breeds of livestock animals used mostly today, have been bred especially for increased production, whether it be for dairy, meat, or fibers. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is an organization dedicated to saving these "minor" breeds of animals, therefore protecting the genetic diversity and viability of these heritage creatures. The African Pygmy is listed as RARE under this organization, meaning there are fewer than 1,000 annual North American registrations and estimated fewer than 5000 globally. Many domestic animals such as the African Pygmy Goat, are rare or in danger of extinction, just like wild animals.