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Pygmy goats were used in West Africa for meat, where their small size is an advantage for survival under adverse conditions. The breed is blocky, with a relatively short neck, rounded shoulders and hips, and a wide body. Pygmies must be less than 21 inches tall at the withers. Any colour is allowed but standard markings are required.

A Type Classification system has been set up for this popular pet breed, whereby breeders may have their animals evaluated against the ideal. This can help serious breeders, and buyers at a distance from the farm, to select breeding stock which will improve their herd.