I was pleased to see a goat related comment on my website this week, and I would like to give a brief description of a few common goat breeds for those who are interested in obtaining their own cloven-hooved companions.
Saanens: These are our sorts of goats. They are always white (though they can carry a recessive gene for color: colored offspring are registerable as Sables, in a seperate herdbook). They are famous for having abundant milk, large frames, and docile temperaments, but no one ever mentions their wonderful dancing ability* or the fact that their offspring look little angels from heaven, complete with wings and halos.
Toggenburgs: These handsome Swiss goats are robust and opinionated, and their milk is valued for cheesemaking. They have a wonderful brownish color scheme that would compliment almost any horse or mule color except possibly sorrel.
Oberhaslis: These medium-sized chamois colored dairy goats are very attractive, which is a silly reason to choose a pet but not necessarily a bad one. After all, my FarmWife fell in love with my dashing good looks long before she came to know my heart.
Angoras: These are the Farah Fawcetts of the goat world. In addition to eating hay with them, romping in the pasture with them, and making them haul your humans' firewood, you can spend your free time styling their luxurious locks into dreads, cornrows, and dressage knots. It is common for these goats to keep their horns, however, so if you do obtain one you will want to put a pair of t-post toppers on it.
Kikos: this is a vigorous meat breed, developed from feral stock, and known for their magnificent horns. I personally would not feel comfortable browsing alongside those disemboweling sabers, but that is just me.
Nigerian Dwarves: These delicate and beautiful creatures have very good milk production and high butterfat content, but they look about as sturdy as a siamese cat and I would not recommend playing roughly with one. If your owners do get you a Nigerian Dwarf as a present, I recommend that you keep it in your tackbox for safekeeping so that it does not accidentally get knocked over and broken.
Pygmies: These goats are also very small, but built like little linebackers. They have almost exactly the same size, shape, and recommended uses as a Jolly Ball. If you leave them unattended for more than about five minutes, they will eat your tail, your blanket, your hay, your halter, and the hood ornament off of your human's car.
LaManchas: There is absolutely nothing unsavory about these lovely goats except that they have no ears. Case closed. Sorry, goaties.
Alpines: These goats, another of the Swiss dairy breeds, come in a rainbow of colors and are sort of like little plaid Saanens except perhaps not quite so serene. This is a funny thing that the humans say, because I have noticed that my Saanen goats are not really so serene at all. I would not like to see Jasper Jules on crack.
Boers: These are the cutest of the meat goat breeds, in my opinion. Humans love them because they make good sandwiches, but I love them because they have the body of a cremello and the head of a liver chestnut. I would get one if I could, and he would pull a float with Jasper Jules whilst I stood on top and waved at the crowds. (And, again with the horn thing—since meat goats are typically not disbudded in infancy, you will want to ask your humans to duct tape the heck out of your Boer companion before he puts those antlers anywhere near your delicate equine underbelly.)
Nubians: These Roman nosed Spaniards are like the Mandy Patinkins of the goat world: bold, sassy, and with an uncanny singing range. They don't shut up. I think they might, in fact, have the most muleness of all of the goat breeds, but they are also the goats most likely to get you sued by your neighborhood association.
Littledog, I appreciated your question about goats and I hope this will help you as you endeavor to convince your humans to get you a goat or two of your own. Whethers make lovely companions. You will need a velociraptor fence and a little bit of extra hay, but so long as you have those things you should go out today and get some goats of your own. Please tell your humans that additional information on goat husbandry can be found at this very nice website: http://fiascofarm.com/goats/index.htm, or by emailing any questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.