(A) Basic Description

The Nigerian Dwarf goat is one of two dwarf or miniature goat breeds currently in America. It is a true achondroplastic dwarf of West African origin, genetically small in size, with a body larger in proportion to leg length than is found in other breeds, except the African Pygmy, the other miniature breed.

Nigerian Dwarves may be described briefly as miniature dairy goats, and as such they differ in basic body type from Pygmy goats, which ideally are of a blocky, compact, heavily-muscled structure. Dwarves are short and soft-coated, with fine-textured and pliable, loose skin, flat and flinty bone, refined structure, angularity, and general openness. They are bright-eyed, alert, companionable, and hardy.

(B) Characteristics

Color and Markings — Three separate color lines are known and have been identified. These are:

1–black, or black-and-white

2–brown, or brown-and-white

3–gold, or gold and white

Dwarves may be any color from solid white to solid black. Combinations of solid colors with sharp lines of demarcation are preferable; the majority of markings, where they occur, are completely random, and may present as belts, bands, spots, patches, and any combination of these. Such markings may occur anywhere on the animal; including the face and ears, tail, legs, muzzle and lips, and the beards and wattles where present. There are no specific-location markings indigenous to the Dwarf breed, as opposed to the Pygmy breed. Frosting on the ears and/or muzzle is acceptable; lack of such frosting is desirable. Grizzled or agouti colors are acceptable, but preference is given to shades of brown and gold agouti. Gray agouti, if present, should be non-uniform; two or more shades, and contrasting irregular markings should be present. Uniform gray agouti shades, from light to dark, are considered faults, as these are the preferred colors of the Pygmy breed, and when these are accompanied by uniform black socks, cape, martingale, and/or mane, which are features of the breed-specific markings of the Pygmy breed, the degree of faulting increases. Contrasting colors on the legs (which are called ‘socks’ if they are black and uniform) should be irregular; that is, as in Jacob sheep, they should be a continuation of the random markings on the rest of the body. Ideally, the Dwarf markings alone should enable the breed to be quickly and clearly distinguished from the Pygmy, except in the case of all-black animals.

Coat — The coat is of short and straight hair, varying in density according to the climate and season. Bucks may have coats of moderate length, but not the full, flowing, long coat of the Pygmy. Beards may be present, scant, or absent in both sexes; trimming or clipping of beards is optional. Curly hair is a serious fault.

Head — medium to long, the muzzle to be flat to slightly dished. Sharply dished muzzles are a fault; Roman noses are a disqualification. Muzzle should be rounded and broad; the lower jaw full and well-muscled. Pinched or ‘sniped’ muzzles are faults, as are overshot and undershot jaws. Eyes should be set well apart, not protruding. Ears are medium in size, erect, mobile, and may point forward as in the Alpine dairy goat; pendulous and semi-pendulous ears are a disqualification. Wattles may be present or absent. The ideal head should be similar to that of an Alpine dairy goat, in miniature.

Horns — Dwarves are genetically horned. While the I.D.G.R. acknowledges that it is theoretically possible for a polled animal to occasionally arise in an all-horned breed, such animals are discriminated against by disqualification. Horns to be well-spaced, curving outward, semi-triangular or ovoid in cross-section. In bucks with several years of horn growth, horns should extend upward from the head, turn outward, and then up again at the ends or tips. Semicircular horns are standard in does; a minor fault in bucks. Horns that are parallel, incurving, touching, crossing, and/or closely-set are faults in varying degrees of seriousness. Neatly disbudded or dehorned animals are acceptable, though the practice is discouraged.

Neck and Shoulder — The neck is longer than that of the Pygmy, smooth, tapering and blending well into the shoulder; more slender in does than in bucks. Shoulder blades set smoothly against the body wall and withers.

Body — The back is long and level; a slight degree of bowing in older animals is acceptable. Withers to be well-defined, sharp, wedge-shaped, rising slightly above the shoulder blades. Ribs are to be well-spaced and long, with wide, flat bone, and well sprung.

Rump should be of moderate length, neither level or nearly level, or steep; a 45Ú angle to the slope is desirable.

Hips to be wide, and level or nearly level with the back.

Thurls to be wide apart.

Pin bones to be wide, slightly lower than the hips and sharply defined. Tail to be symmetrical, high, carried erect.

Body capacity large and deep in proportion to size of the animal; ample room for internal organs without crowding, plus generous rumen capacity and ample room in does for pregnancy. Heart girth large; chest floor wide between front legs. Viewed from the top, the body to be wedge -shaped.

Feet and Legs — To be wide apart, set squarely, refined but not spindly.

Forelegs to be straight.

Hind legs to be nearly straight as seen from the rear; and perpendicular from hock to pastern when viewed from the side. More verticality is allowed in Dwarves than in standard dairy breeds.

Feet to be proportionate to the size of the animal, heel deep and sole level, hooves symmetrical and parallel, not splayed outward.

Mammary System (Does) — Udder to be small to medium in size, globular, symmetrical, capacious, extending forward, soft and pliable, capable of collapsing well when emptied. Rear attachment to be high and wide; front attachment to blend well with the body. Teats uniform, two, cylindrical and well-spaced, pointing forward and downward, each with a single centered orifice.

Reproductive System (Bucks) — Testicles two in number, equal in size, well-descended and the testicle in the scrotum clearly below the body, and firm. Teats two in number, very small, non-functional.

Size — The Dwarf breed is slightly smaller than the Pygmy breed, and size is one primary differential. Height at the withers to be measured with the animal standing square on a level, hard surface, using a combination of ruler and square or other measuring device not subject to angular deviation. The ideal size range is 16″ to 19″ for does and 17″ to 20″ for bucks. Maximum sizes allowed are 22″ at the withers for bucks, and 21″ for does, although animals this large are (unfavorably) comparable to Pygmies, and should possess such heights as a result of greater leg length rather than overall body mass. There are no minimum sizes. Because of the different growth patterns in the two breeds, assessment of maximum size during the growing period (which nominally is 3 years) is difficult and acceptance into the purebred herdbook would only be deferred if animals exhibited exceptionally large size and/or height in proportion to the average while very young.

In general, Dwarves tend to grow more slowly early in life than Pygmies, with a compensatory period of growth in the autumn of their first year or the spring of their second, although the opposite of this is not faulted.

(C) Evaluation of Defects

Part 1 — Slight defects

Broken or wry tail
Close-set horns
Spike horns on does
Genetic absence of horns (polled animals)

Part 2 — Defects that could be slight to serious depending on degree (These are all more serious in bucks than in does.)

Undershot or overshot jaws
Wry jaws or face on does
Horns that curve together, touch, or cross
Horns that are parallel, especially when semicircular which may allow them to touch the back
Weak horns that break easily, are thin-walled, or circular in section
Non-symmetrical horns
Short, thick heavily-muscled necks
Winged or loose, open shoulders
Heavily-muscled shoulders and/or legs
Bowed front legs
Closely spaced front legs, pinched heart girth
Swollen stifle joint/s
Very straight (posty) rear legs
Closely spaced hind legs
Close or touching hocks
Feet that turn in or out
Malformed feet–splayed, sloping, overgrown
Narrow, shallow, or short (blocky) body
Level (flat) or nearly level rump, or steeply sloped rump
Poor udder attachment front, side, or rear
Udders uneven in the size of the two halves
Uniform gray agouti color, especially in combination with:
Possession of Pygmy goat breed-specific markings
Long, and/or coarse hair

Part 3 — Moderate Defects

Short and/or sharply dished face
Swollen hocks and/or enlarged knees, not sufficient to cause lameness
Teats too close together, bulbous and/or poor defined at the udder juncture
Teats pointing together or outside, disproportionate in size (too small or large.)
Teats hard to milk due to misplaced or small orifice.
Spur (non-functional) teats on does
Multiple teats on bucks
Large teats on bucks

Part 4 — Serious Defects

Crooked face on bucks
Lameness, especially combined with badly swollen knees and/or hocks
Leaking teats
Thin udder skin that allows seeping of milk or serum
Pendulous udder
Double orifices in teats
Double teats
Functional spur teats, and those close to primary teats
Color, markings and conformation primarily matching the Pygmy breed standard
Curly hair
Disproportionate bodily parts, such as a large head, or a thick body on short
legs, especially in young animals

Part 5 — Disqualifications

Blindness, unless the result of accident
Roman nose
Pendulous or semi-pendulous ears
Blind primary teat or teats on does
Lack of one or both primary teats (blind udder)
Lack of half or functional half of udder, unless the result of accident or mastectomy
Hermaphroditism or evidence thereof; failure to breed
Undescended testicle or testicles
Long, fine white hair (suggesting infusions of Angora blood)
Long hair on the face and/or over the eyes

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