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.