Do Female Goats Have Horns? Common Goat Myths Busted

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Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Pet lovers often wonder do female goats have horns.

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Goats are sometimes referred to as male bucks or female does and can be considered somewhat mysterious animals.

Maybe it is because goats are not portrayed the way they should be. It is important to understand goats because they should receive the love they deserve!

Some goats tend to have horns, whereas other goats don't. Horned goats can cause harm to families owning goats and other farm animals too. Sometimes male and female goat horns can get stuck in fences and cause harm to the goat. Do goat owners like to keep goat horns intact? What are goat horns?

Read on to find out more about whether female goats have horns and thereafter also check out facts about goat hair and goat eyes.

Do female goats have horns?

A goat's horn has two purposes to fulfill. Goats interact through their horns. A horned goat, if happy, may indulge in a game by giving others a playful head-butt with its horn.

Baby horned goats, especially males, might even head-butt one other with their horn to show which goat is dominant. Bucks use their horns to help regulate their body temperature in hot weather. Blood flows through multiple blood vessels in a goat's horns, as these horns help in pumping blood through the goat's body. The blood cools and returns to the goat's body in hot weather because their horns are exposed to air and not covered beneath folds of skin and hair.

So, do female goats have horns or not? Female goats do have horns, but their horns are smaller than bucks' horns. Sex cannot be confirmed only by the presence of horns or the absence of horns on the head of a goat. Horns differ by breed. Some breeds of goat are inherently polled, meaning they lack horns by birth, probably due to the genes of their parents. Some goats are polycerate, which indicates that the goat has more than the two standard intact horns. This is usually a rare event.

Moreover, if a goat currently does not have horns, it doesn't mean that the goat hasn't had them in the past. There are various reasons why a goat's horns are removed; the most common is that goat owners opt to dehorn their goats. Having a goat's horns removed can be beneficial because it can prevent harm towards other people and animals. Otherwise, owners would prefer to keep their goat's horns intact. Although most goat breeds are horned, Nigerian dwarfs and mountains goats are especially known for their stunning horns.

Female Nigerian dwarf goats are naturally horned, meanwhile, other female goats are usually not horned. Goats born without horns are called polled goats. Female goat horns are short, whereas male goat horns are much thicker and longer. Goat owners can naturally tell if a goat is female due to its short horns. Male goats or bucks grow their horns faster than female goats. The horns of male goats grow within the first week after they are born, whilst female goat horns take longer to grow. Therefore, dehorning a female goat does not have to occur as quickly as dehorning a male goat.

Do all goats have horns?

Dominant female goats are known to lead the way while others are grazing. Male horned goats are known to be dominant until they are age six years or older.

Most breeds of domestic goats are known to have horns on their head. However, a goat may not have horns if it was born a polled goat. As we have discovered, both male and female goats have horns when born. Goat horns are typically straight, softly curved, or curled at the tip.

Though all breeds of goats can grow horns, many goats grow up hornless. According to the genes of their parents, baby goats either can or cannot develop horns. A goat's horns may not be present due to two possible reasons; either the goat was born polled or it had been disbudded or dehorned by their owners. In the case of disbudding, a goat's horn buds are removed before their horns have a chance to develop. On the other hand, being a polled goat means being born with a defective gene, preventing the baby goat from growing horns on its head, thus making it a hornless goat.

Adult goats horns can be removed in rare situations, but goat owners mostly prefer disbudding. The majority of goat owners favor hornless goats since horns can be a pain. An angry goat can be very troublesome and may cause harm to other goats and farm animals too. An angry goat may also hurt the owner, which is the main reason for dairy goats not having horns. There are several techniques used to remove a goat’s horn. Removing a goat's horns helps to reduce any harm that might occur.

Disbudding the horns in baby goats is an issue that is both common and contentious. The baby goat has a small knob when born, called horn buds. These buds develop into two horns. The act of disbudding a goat is unpleasant, but many goat owners perform this procedure when the goat is born because they believe it is vital for the animal's safety and well-being.

Although the word dehorning is used together with disbudding, they both have different meanings. Disbudding is performed when the baby goat is very young so that there are no long-term effects. In many cases, baby goats can recover well from disbudding. On the other hand, a goat is dehorned when it grows old and its horns are fully-grown. Only professional veterinarians should perform such a dangerous surgery that is dehorning. In recent years, there has been a new surge of interest in polled goat breeding. A polled goat is born without horn buds due to its genes. Polled goat breeding was popular in the '50s and '60s but eventually declined in popularity due to the risk of gene-related issues.

Depending on the breed, female hornless goats can have different physical traits.

How To Identify Male And Female Goats

There are almost 180 different goat varieties around the world, ranging in size from the tiny Nigerian dwarf to the huge Anglo-Nubian goat breeds.

There are some distinctions between male and female goats that are quite difficult to distinguish. However, there are also a few easy ways to identify the difference between male and female goats.

Differences In Size And Body Odor: Depending on the breed, most domestic goats weigh between 15-200 lb (6.8-90.7 kg). The height of goats can range between 12-40 in (30.4-101.6 cm) while standing at shoulder length. Male goats are bigger than female goats. Males are referred to as bucks and females are referred to as does. Bucks have a distinct odor, which confirms that the goat is male. Male goats emit this odor whilst the mating season is occurring. This odor is produced to attract female goats to mate. Both castrated bucks and female goats do not release any odors.

Confusion Over Beards And Horns: Female goats (does) and male goats (bucks) can grow beards. A female goat can grow a goatee, whereas a male goat can grow a beard on its chin. Male and female horned goats have hollow horns, but male bucks can grow longer horns than female goats. This also depends on whether the goats have been dehorned/disbudded or if they are polled goats. A goat's horn can help with identifying its sex, but not always!

Structure Of The Body: One way to identify whether the goat is male or female is to look for sex-specific organs. For example, the mammary glands in milk-producing female goats, which are visible by checking the area between the lower abdomen of the back legs. Looking under the tail can be another accurate way to determine the gender of a goat. The body type and horns are crucial in figuring out who the dominant male goat is. The dominant male goat mates with females and has to protect other goats from predators.

Common Myths About Goats

There are many common myths about goats, read on to discover some here!

Goats Can Smell Bad: Male goats release a distinct odor, whereas females and castrated males do not. The odor of male bucks can be intense for humans, however, this smell is naturally beneficial for male goats in attracting female goats.

Goats Are Filthy: Goats are clean creatures. House goats are known to maintain themselves immaculately, and they also do not like getting wet.

Goats Eat Absolutely Everything: This is commonly said because goats are innately curious. Since they lack hands, goats use their mouths to search for things and eat from trees. It might be quite common to think of goats rummaging through tin cans and various objects, however in these cases they are probably just investigating.

Goats Are Disruptive: Goats are known as herd animals by nature. Hornless polled goats are group animals and tend to live happily with others, as they get angry or anxious if left alone. A goat left alone may become disruptive and attempt to escape by breaking through fences using its horn. However, this behavior is only because they aim to locate other members of their herd and does not mean they like to destroy everything.

Goat Meat And Milk Are Unpleasant In Taste: This is a personal preference because some people think that goat milk and meat are delicious, whilst some do not. Creamier milk is produced by goats that has a high percentage of butter and fat content. An interesting fact is that sheep and goat meat is named the same way in various different parts of the world. This is known as 'mutton'.

Goats Are Useless In Every Situation: This is not true. Goats tend to carry a bad reputation for people who don't raise goats, but in reality, these animals are very versatile. They produce dairy and meat. Polled goats can also take care of farms, the compost for gardens and are amazing as pets. Additionally, Nubian goats are known as the ideal animal on farms, as they are so versatile.

Goats Always Like To Escape: Goats are curious animals, which gets the best of them when they are bored. Their boredom can lead them to jump over the fence sometimes! This incident happens all around the world. However, this may also happen if goats do not have enough space to move around and play in, thus, providing a secure fence and regularly checking on them is crucial.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for whether female goats have horns then why not take a look at if female moose have antlers, or the difference between octopus and squid.


Written By

Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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