Colors & Patterns
Nigerian Dwarf goats are an amazing breed! One very important Nigerian Dwarf goat breed standard is often dismissed by many show and milk breeders; color. The Nigerian Dwarf goat breed standard states that they can come in "any" coat color. It is necessary to consider all attributes of any breed, as every bit of characteristic is an important staple that breeders have worked tirelessly to develop! Here, I hope you can learn to understand this featured characteristic regarding Nigerian Dwarf goats coat colors and patterns.
Nigerian Dwarf goats have two ways to describe their appearance: colored or patterned. Both colors and patterns can be affected by modifier genes like silver and chocolate, and both can have overlays like white, roaning, and even moon spots. Continue reading!
Nigerian Dwarf colors consist of either gold or black. These two colors can also be modified by chocolate and silver. That information will be explained after the pattern section.
Golds can vary from a deep dark red to almost white (called cream). All are genetically considered gold.
True black goats will have a solid black base, but can have white, moon-spotting and roaning as well.
Patterns are different from colors. You won't find a gold buckskin, or a black chamoisee because they are totally separate entities. Patterns are patterned and colors are colored.
There are 6 Nigerian Dwarf goat patterns:
- Swiss Marked
- Cou Clair
Any of the patterns can be mixed! For example, if you breed a buckskin with a sundgau, you can end up with either pattern, or a combination of both!
Kylie Wilcox of KW Farms has devised a clever diagram illustrating each pattern and its combination options to help explain what to expect and the relationships between them.
Buckskins can come in 3 main colors: light, medium, and dark. Light buckskins have cream/white bases, medium buckskins have a warm, brown base color, and dark buckskins have a neutral/ashy brown base color.
Buckskins are recognizable by facial stripes, cannon bone stripes, hip and leg markings, light bellies, and their dark cape. A cape is the dark color that extends across the shoulder area. Sometimes, a cape can extend to cover the rump with age.
Red buckskins are possible, having a red color modifying the shoulder and dark areas, but are only achievable when breeding a buckskin pattern to a chamoisee pattern. This pattern is not a guarantee when crossing patterns. (Not pictured)
The chamoisee pattern is signified by dark facial lines, dorsal stripe, solid dark belly, and solid legs, with a brown body. The body color can have variation in shades!
Swiss marked patterns can be black with tan or black with cream/white. A swiss marked ND will have facial stripes that lead to a light colored muzzle, solid light colored legs, the ears will be lightly pigmented (never dark pigmented skin), and a light colored triangle on each hip.
Cou can be described as pictured (cou clair) or also cou blanc. Cou blanc is the light colored version where anything brown is white instead. Cou's have solid dark legs, bellies, and dark hind quarters. They also have facial lines as well as cheek swoop lines.
Sundgau pattern includes a dark body with light facial stripes, underbelly, legs, and up the rear. Sundgau pattern also has cannon bone stripes like a buckskin in the front, but on the rear legs, the pattern connects from the body to the toes. Example from Jovial Acres.
Bezoar is a rare pattern in Nigerian Dwarf goats. Bezoar features a dark collar, dorsal stripe, facial stripes with a dark face, cannon bone stripes, dark belly stripe with a lighter underbelly, dark rear elbow cuffs, and rear leg stripes to the toes.
Photo example from http://www.nigeriandwarfcolors.com/coatpatterns.html
Photo is property KW Farms & Flying Feets Farm.
Two patterns bred together can produce either true pattern, or a combination pattern. This photo is an example of a chamoisee buckskin combo. Note, the dorsal stripe, cannon bone stripes and facial stripes. The pattern presented shows some of each pattern.
There are two modifying genes that change a goat's color or pattern to present silver or chocolate instead of black, and can even alter the remaining color! Both silver and chocolate modifiers can be entirely solid in color, or patterned.
For example, in a silver buckskin, all parts that would normally be light, would be modified to white. The parts that are normally dark will be changed to silver!
The chocolate modifier changes anything that's normally black, to chocolate instead. In a chocolate modification, there will be no black at all on the goat.
You can only get a modification in breeding if you have at least one parent with, or carrying, the modification.
Both of these examples below are buckskin patterned goats. If you remember, buckskins can be light, medium, dark, and red in color. This is where the modifier comes into play! I do not have examples of this modification in solid colored goats to share at this time.
In this chocolate modification, all of the parts of this goat that normally would have been black, have been changed to chocolate brown instead! She keeps the lighter brown as she would as a typical buckskin, but you can see now where the change has occurred.
On this example of a silver buckskin, all of the parts that would normally be black on a typical buckskin, have been modified to be a silver pattern. Note the cape and facial markings are silver! This modification also turns typical melanistic browns into white instead. In her example you see those areas including the facial stripes are now white.
These are the fun parts! I'm simply calling these add-ons because they don't change or affect the color or pattern of the goat, but more so, accessorize it! These include: roaning, frosting, white, and moon spots.
Roaning can be applied anywhere randomly or in a more patterned effect in a goat's coat. Roaning consists of white hairs intertwined among a goat's normal coat hairs. This goat is solid black, but has roaning and white which jazz up the the color!
Frosting is white fur with little black speckles in it. Typically found on ears and muzzles, but can also be around tails and eyes! In this example, you can see frosting on the muzzle and ears.
White can be very diverse; sometimes in large patches, while other times in small random bits! From top left to right, then bottom left to right, I would describe these goats as follows: black with abundant white, black with random white, swiss marked with white, and gold with sporadic white. These descriptions are up for interpretation among breeders; don't get hung up on the concept, go with what you think works best!
White simply is viewed as being laid over a goat's coat blocking your view of its base coat color/pattern. The best way to describe white is like a paint spill on top of a goat and some drips off and you see what lies underneath!
Moon spots are various colored splatters with round or irregular shapes. Moon spots can present themselves on top of all patterns, colors, and other add ons!
Moon spots generally have, but not always, a silver root hair color with darker tips on the hair. Moon spots typically lighten with time.
Winter/summer grow outs and sheds will change the appearance slightly. Moon spots are random, and may come in just a few, many, or cover large sections of the goat! Moon spots range in color but are never black or white.