Goats’ Lifespan: How Long Do They Live?

No matter what sort of livestock you keep on your homestead, preparing for the end of their lives is important, and even in the case of dairy animals or pets that typically enjoy a long lifespan, being ready for the inevitable so that you can replenish your flock or herd is just a part of doing business.

goat eating a whole orange
an Alpine goat eating a whole orange

Let’s look at goats today: what is the lifespan of a goat? How long can we expect them to live?

Domestic goats live an average of 12 years, but some can live considerably longer, up to 18 years. Each domestic breed has a different average lifespan that you should familiarize yourself with before you add them to the herd.

You might be as surprised as I was to learn that goats are fairly long-lived animals, with many living about as long as an average dog and quite a few of them living a lot longer. There’s a lot more that you’ll want to know concerning their lifespans, so keep reading and I’ll tell you a lot more.

Lifespans of Common Goat Breeds

As mentioned, different goat breeds have significantly differing lifespans.

Pretty much all of them tend to live to a ripe age, but depending on the breed you buy, some of them might be with you for a significant fraction of your own life, assuming you don’t slaughter them or get rid of them in some other way!


Renowned for great health, hardiness, and good grazing ability, Boer goats are one of the most popular dairy breeds, and females that are well taken care of can live to an astonishing 20 years old. Bucks, though, typically don’t enjoy such a long life, only living for a max of 12 years.


A dual-purpose breed that is kept for the production of delicious meat and also plenty of milk, they have a modest lifespan of between 10 and 18 years, with females again living longer than the males as a rule.


Nubians are amazing producers when it comes to milk, and this makes them a superstar among all the other dairy breeds out there.

But, you’ll pay for that productivity in noise because they tend to be extremely loud and vocal. Males and females tend to be quite long-lived, living anywhere from 15 to 18 years.


Another stupendously popular dairy breed, Alpine goats hail from France and can produce more than a gallon of milk a day. They have a relatively short lifespan compared to other breeds, just 8 to 12 years. They do tend to be quite healthy, though, and rarely get sick in any kind of weather.


Known for their perky ears and alert expression, along with their pearly white coat, the Saanen is a remarkably good forager, great milk producer, and decent when it comes to meat. They’ll usually live between 13 and 15 years, though individuals that live to an older age are fairly common.


The most ancient domestic dairy goat known, the Toggenburg is thought to have originated in the Toggenburg Valley in Switzerland. They are beautiful, superb producers, and have an average lifespan of 8 to 12 years.


Often kept for milk, the adorable LaMancha is instantly identifiable by its extremely short, gopher-like ears. They have lots of personality, but unfortunately, a short lifespan for goats: just 7 to 10 years.

Nigerian Dwarf

Tiny, energetic, and friendly, Nigerian dwarf goats are extremely popular pets. They’re also extremely long-lived, living to a ripe old age of about 15 years on average!


Originally hailing from Central Asia, Angoras are one of the relatively few goat breeds that are kept for their wool-like hair. They have a modest lifespan of 10 to 12 years.


Pygmy goats definitely live up to their name, as these pint-sized powerhouses are among the smallest on Earth.

They are mostly kept as show animals or as pets, but they’re surprisingly healthy, hardy, and agile. You’ll need to put up with their antics for quite a while, too, because they can live anywhere from 10 to 15 years.

Do Male or Female Goats Live Longer?

As a rule, female goats tend to live longer. Male goats, or bucks, live a life that is loaded with testosterone, and this lends them greater strength, speed, size, and musculature at the cost of reducing their lifespan.

However, some breeds show a marked difference in longevity between bucks and does, while others are much closer.

As described above, female Boer goats live considerably longer than the males, whereas with Nubians, the lifespan is far more similar between the sexes.

How Long Do Goats Live in the Wild?

Surprisingly enough, goats living in the wild can still enjoy a long life of between 10 and 20 years depending on the species.

Wild goats have all of the same concerns and must deal with all the same hazards that other wild animals do, but they tend to fare quite a bit better than most.

Availability of food, disease, injury, and predation are all problems, but goats don’t have very many predators in the wild in most locales.

Accidental slips and falls from the sheer mountainsides and rocky hills that they typically inhabit are also big risk factors.

Do Goats Kept in Captivity Live Longer?

Not necessarily. Compared to many wild goat species, domestic goats actually tend to not live as long under the same conditions, though getting an accurate baseline is difficult considering that we obviously cannot control for conditions when looking at those that live in the wild.

One thing is known, though, and that is that wild goats tend to be far tougher and less prone to many common ailments that plague domestic goats.

But considering that in most cases domestic and wild goats are pretty far apart now, genetically, this is more of an academic consideration than a practical one.

What Factors Affect a Goat’s Lifespan?

All the typical factors that affect the longevity of livestock affect goats.

Nutrition is, as ever, a big one, as is the administration of supplements, medicine, and other things that will maximize their health and help them thrive.

Regular checkups and medical attention to help them deal with major and minor injuries and ailments are always good things that will contribute to a long life.

Stress is another big negative factor, and goats that are kept in poor conditions, subjected to extreme weather, constantly subjected to abuse from owners, and other harmful conditions will not live as long as goats that are happy, calm, and relaxed.

Lastly, don’t neglect predator concerns, either: goats that get injured by predators typically won’t live as long regardless of other factors, and large wild animals can definitely cut their lives short. Constant hassling from predators is also a major stressor as detailed above.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *