two baby goats on a field of green grass

Can Goats Live Inside?

Adorable photos of Pygmy goats running around people’s homes continuously circulate the Internet (as a self-proclaimed goat lover, I’ve seen them all!). They’re irresistible, especially when they’re wearing pajamas. It makes you wonder: can these adorable little animals live inside?

Goats can live inside, but it’s NOT recommended. If you want to keep a goat inside, you will need to let it outside to graze and run around a little more frequently than you would an indoor dog. Goats are rambunctious and can get into trouble, so keeping them inside isn’t ideal.

Goats make great companions, but they can be rowdy kids. Let’s take a look at their care requirements and whether they’re allowed to be kept in the suburbs.

Basic Care Requirements

If you still want to keep a goat as a domestic house pet, you need to know what kind of care a goat requires. It’s possible to keep them in the house, but it isn’t recommended for several reasons. Goats are like dogs in some ways, in that they can be indoors but also need time outside to relieve themselves and release built-up energy. 

American Pygmy goats, which are also called African Pygmy goats since the breed is derived from the West African Dwarf goats, are the most popular goat to keep as a domestic pet. They’re small, light, and incredibly cute – the perfect combination for a cuddly companion. Nigerian Dwarf goats are also used as pets, although they’re not as common as the Pygmy.

pygmy goat with his head through the slats of a fence
African Pygmy Goat

Size

Pygmy goats can weigh up to 88 pounds (40 kilograms) and grow up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) at the shoulder blades. The size of these little guys isn’t much of a concern because dog breeds like the Great Dane exceed the weight by almost double.

Pygmy goats stay small, so they can’t outgrow the space you have for them in your home.

Companionship

Goats shouldn’t live alone, even if they’re living with you. If you want a pet goat, it must be two pet goats. Goats naturally live in herds, and living alone can make them unhappy, even if they get to spend a lot of time with humans.

Some cities like San Diego require you to have two goats. Not every city is as proactive about goat keeping laws, so your city’s rules might not be as specific. But, it just goes to show that goats truly cannot live alone, so don’t consider having a pet goat if you can’t have two.

Roaming Room

A miniature goat needs at least 135 square feet (12.54 square meters) so they can run around and graze. Since you have to have two goats together, you’ll need to double that to at least 270 square feet (25.08 square meters).

The necessary components for a good outdoor area include:

  • Sun and shade: The area outside should be sunny and shady so the goats don’t get overheated.
  • Shelter: Even if you intend to keep your goats inside, they should have some kind of shed or large dog house they can stay in. You might occasionally have a reason to keep them outside for longer periods, so they need to have sufficient protection they can rest in, especially when it’s excessively windy or sunny.
  • Sturdy fences: Fences endure a lot of abuse from goats. They like to rub up against them when they’re shedding and poke their heads through the slats. The fence needs to be deep in the ground so goats can’t fit under them, and the slats need to be thin so they can’t escape.
  • Protected windows: Goats are rowdy and might stand on their back legs and break your windows. It’s wise to put bars over low windows so they can’t break them.

Temperament

Goats are playful animals – they like to jump and run and get into things. Much like toddlers, they need constant entertainment, or they’ll get bored. Goats also love to climb, so you’ll need some things they can climb on in their outdoor area.

Their bubbly personalities aren’t great for indoor living. Running and jumping in the house is to be expected, and so is climbing. Remember, you’ll have to have two goats together. If you’re not keen on the idea of a couple of kids climbing on your kitchen table, you might need to make preparations for the goats to live outside full time. 

Where Can Goats Be Kept as Pets?

Laws regarding keeping goats as household pets in residential areas are left to local jurisdictions. The legality of keeping goats as pets varies from city to city within a state. Some cities don’t even have a firm grasp on what the laws regarding pet goats are because goats as pets are a recent craze

These are the steps you need to take to find out if you can keep pet goats where you live:

  • Find out if goats are allowed: Talk to the local zoning board or building inspector to find out if goats are allowed in your residential area. Make sure it’s clear that you’re keeping goats for personal use and not to sell meat or dairy.
  • Run it by the HOA: If you live in a homeowner’s association, they might have their own rules that won’t allow you to have goats on your property. Remember that goats are rowdy and destructive and might be a nuisance to your neighbors.
  • Follow the rules: As mentioned before, some cities like San Diego have incredibly strict regulations for pet goats. Be sure to follow all of them so you don’t end up breaking the law.
  • Have the right insurance: Since goats are destructive, you might have to pay for damages they might cause. Some insurers won’t cover those damages, so you’ll need to research which kind will work for you.
Nigerian dwarf baby goat, black and white
Nigerian Dwarf baby goat

What Breeds of Goats Can I Keep?

Miniature goats are the best to keep as indoor pets if you are still thinking you want to keep them in your house. They’re small enough to keep indoors and won’t cause as much damage as larger goats will, but remember that their size won’t stop them from causing damage.

Pygmy goats are the most popular breed to keep as pets and have been in the United States since the 1950s. They are very compact,well-muscled animals and have a disproportionately large body compared to their legs. However, since they’re so popular, they should be pretty easy to find for a decent price.

Nigerian Dwarf goats have been in zoos long before they became recognized as a breed in 2005. They were at first listed as endangered, but in 2013 they were taken off the list.

The Nigerian Dwarf’s body parts are more proportional, similar to body proportions of regular dairy goats. They’re another popular breed to keep as pets because they’re shorter and lighter than Pygmy goats. They might be a better option to keep indoors. However, they’re a bit more active and are ready to breed at just a few months old.

Other breeds that aren’t as popular include:

  • Kinder
  • Mini Alpines
  • Mini Lamanchas
  • Mini Myotonic (Mini Fainting Goats)
  • Mini Oberhasli
  • Mini Saanen
  • Mini Toggenburgs
  • Mini Nubians
  • Miniature Silky Fainting Goats

Conclusion

A goat can technically live inside with you. However, they can be a nuisance to live with, so they aren’t recommended as indoor pets. They will climb and destroy your furniture, run and jump around, and graze on whatever they can get their teeth on.

If you keep a goat as an indoor pet, you still need to provide plenty of space for it outdoors. Make sure the fences are sturdy and that there’s a shelter for the animal to stay in. 

It’s crucial that you follow all the local laws. Laws are left to local jurisdictions to decide, and HOAs might have their own rules you have to abide by. Be sure you know all of the local laws before obtaining a couple of goats.

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