Goat Vs Sheep: 10 Important Difference Between Goat And Sheep

What is the difference between Goat and Sheep?

The animal kingdom is full of fascinating creatures. There are several species of animals that stir our curiosity and fascination. Some of them have even been the inspiration for lots of fascinating stories by people around the world. 

Goat and sheep are two different species, but both of them belong to the same Bovidae family. A sheep is more familiar to us than the goat, as a domestic animal and as a source of food. There are certain difference between a sheep and a goat; some of these can be seen in terms of appearance, behavior and even diet

In order to understand the difference between goat and sheep we need to look at their history. There are five types of animals: sheep, goats, cattle, swine, and horses. The most prominent trait of goats is that they don’t have a strong sheered edge that is found within wool of a sheep. Moreover, they spend most of their time on climbing and jumping especially when they want to eat leaves on trees as well as fruits from branches. 

What is Goat?

A goat is a small ruminant mammal that belongs to the genus Capra. They are commonly known for their ability to climb steep slopes and arched-back horns.

On average, a goat is 1.5 to 3 feet tall and weighs anywhere between 45 to 300 pounds. On average, a goat can live up to 15 to 18 years. The mountain goat can grow up to 5 feet tall and weigh between 130 to 300 pounds.

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When people think of a goat, they typically picture a house goat or family pet. Goats have been domesticated since 1620 B.C. when the Egyptians started to breed them. Today people spend thousands of dollars breeding goats to obtain their hair for use with the production of materials such as high-end rugs and clothing, musk for perfumes, and cheese for essential nutrients.

 Goats are amazing animals. They are hardy and better at adapting to their environment over long periods than most other species. They are also very willing to eat just about any plant or vegetation in the wild – which is good news for us because they’ll eat nearly anything living, dead, or decaying.

What is Sheep?

Sheep are small ruminants belonging to the genus Ovis. They are found all over the world and have been domesticated since ancient times. Sheep can be easily identified by the presence of hooves and horns in males, while they are absent in some breeds of females. They have a thick coat of fur that is usually white or black in color (called wool), although some breeds like the Karakul sheep do not produce wool but hair.

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Within the species, there are more than 200 recognized breeds, which vary in size, fleece type and coloration. Sheep producers typically choose a breed based on its suitability for their region and the way they want to use it — whether for wool production, meat or milk.

Sheep are known for their woolly coats and thick fleeces, but they also have a few other interesting characteristics. They’re generally docile and friendly, though some breeds can be more aggressive than others. They’re also very intelligent and often bond with people who take care of them.

Sheep are about 3 feet tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 100 to 250 pounds. Their size varies considerably, from the bighorn sheep of North America to the black-faced sheep of New Zealand.

The average lifespan of a sheep is 10 to 12 years. A male sheep, called a ram, weighs between 100 to 350 pounds and stands four feet tall.

The most common breeds of sheep are Dorset, Hampshire, Southdown, Cheviot, Suffolk and Merino and those who lives in temperate climates are the medium-wool breeds of European origin and the long-wool breeds from England. Dairy sheep are important in some areas of the United States.

Lamb VS Sheep: Difference Between Goat and Sheep

Size, weight and age (Goat vs Sheep)

Sheep are generally larger than goats. The weight of sheep varies depending upon the breed of sheep. Domestic sheep are smaller. Ewes, or female sheep, weigh about 100 to 250 pounds and stand about 3 feet tall at the shoulder. Rams, or male sheep, weigh as much as 100 to 350 pounds and stand as tall as 4 feet at the shoulder. Goats, on the other hand, weigh much less – between 45 to 300 pounds and grows to be anywhere between 1.5 and 3 feet tall. 

The argali (Ovis ammon), a wild sheep native to Mongolia, is the largest sheep species. It can grow to be 4 feet tall and weigh anywhere from 200 to 700 pounds. The argali has become endangered due to hunting and deforestation.

The mountain goat can grow up to 5 feet tall and weigh between 130 to 300 pounds. On average, a goat can live up to 15 to 18 years while the lifespan of sheep is between 10 and 12 years.

Goats tend to be the smaller of the two, but not always. The largest breed of sheep is the Bighorn, which can weigh up to 450 pounds. But there are plenty of goats that can get that big too. (The largest goat breed is the Boer, which can tip the scales at 440 pounds.)

Tail (Goat vs Sheep)

Goat tails are straight while sheep tails are curved at the end. Sheep usually have very short tails that are about four inches long; goat tails can be as long as seventeen inches. Goats also have longer hair than sheep around their rear and tail areas.

Horns (Goat vs Sheep)

Both animals have horns but they grow in different ways. Goat horns are much smaller, thinner, and point forward rather than curl along the sides of their heads. Some goats have no horn growth at all. Female goats’ horns grow upwards from the sides of their heads while male goats’ horns curve back outwards from the top of their skull. 

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Sheep, on the other hand, are generally horned while some breeds have no horn at all. Mostly, male sheep(ram) have horn. Sheep horns grow sideways from their skulls with both sexes sporting them. However, farmers usually cut off sheep horns early.

Habitat (Goat vs Sheep)

The main difference between goats and sheep is their habitat. Goats are naturally very agile and sure-footed. They prefer steep, rocky hills where nothing else can survive, while sheep prefer flat, grassy plains. The goat’s agility also helps it avoid predators like wolves and coyotes; the sheep’s lack of agility makes it much easier prey.

Both sheep and goats are found all over the world. For example, in the United States and Canada, most sheep are found in the western states because of the cooler climate. The mild climate of the Mediterranean region is ideal for sheep. Sheep can be raised in a variety of climates due to their ability to adapt to different weather conditions.

Goats, on the otherhand ,are generally raised in areas where it is too dry or too cold for other types of livestock.

Habits (Goat vs Sheep)

Sheep follow the crowd without questioning anything. They do not like to deviate from the conventional path. Whereas, Goats are adventurous and they like to explore new things in life. They are brave, strong-willed and very intelligent.

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Sheep prefer to stay in a herd as that is their comfort zone whereas goats are found in small herds or alone. The exception to this is the buck (male goat), who prefers to be with other male goats rather than females unless breeding is involved.

Goats are able to make their own decisions, they do not follow the herd mentality. Their personality and charisma helps them become a leader.

Goat kids are more independent than lambs and tend to separate from their mothers earlier in life. In contrast, sheep are herd animals. They form strong bonds with other members of the flock and will panic if separated from them for too long. Lambs also stay close to their mothers for weeks after birth.

Diet (Goat vs Sheep)

Goats are herbivores, and unlike sheep, they are browsers, not grazers. They prefer to feed on leaves, twigs and shrubs.Their diet consists of a variety of plants including low-quality forages like weeds, thistles and even poison ivy. They are also able to digest toxic plants that would harm other animals.  The diet of a sheep consists mainly of grasses, legumes, herbs and other forage plants that produce high amounts of fiber.

Goats prefer a diet that contains about 15% protein but need a minimum of 8%. Sheep require about 10% protein but can live with less.

Because of their differences in diet, sheep and goats can graze in the same area without competing for food. In fact, having them together may actually increase the amount of available grazing areas because both animals have different preferences when it comes to what they eat.

Teeth (Goat vs Sheep)

Goats have a set of 8 permanent teeth in the front and a single set of molars in the back. They are more like humans having only two sets of teeth in their lives. Sheep on the other hand have eight permanent incisors on the top front jaw and fourteen molars, six on top and eight on the bottom. Sheep will have both a set of deciduous (baby) teeth and permanent teeth. When sheep are first born they have no front teeth, at about three months of age their permanent teeth begin to come in and by the time they are six months old they have all their adult teeth.

Breeding season (Goat vs Sheep)

The breeding season is your opportunity to get the animals pregnant and have a baby. All animals have a breeding season, and goats are no different, although their breeding season is typically shorter than others.

In both sheep and goat, the breeding season can be influenced by several factors such as breed, breed types and adaptation to local conditions. 

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The breeding seasons of goats and sheep are similar. The season lasts from October to January in the Northern hemisphere. In the Southern hemisphere it is May to August.

Goats can be bred at any time of the year. They are induced ovulators and a male presence is enough to induce ovulation. A female goat comes into heat every 21 days for a period of two days if she is not bred. If they are bred they will come back into heat in 18 days rather than 21 days so they can be bred on a continuous cycle if desired. It takes 5 months for a goat kid to gestate to birth, similar to other species of livestock.

The gestation period for sheep is roughly five months, or 150 days, and ewes can have multiple lambs. Sheep ewes come into heat every 16-17 days during the breeding season which begins in the fall.

The genes (Goat vs Sheep)

The sheep and the goat are two different species of animals that are both in the Bovidae family. They are related and look similar, but they have different numbers of chromosomes. Sheep have 54 chromosomes, and goats have 60 chromosomes. This means that they cannot produce offspring together. 

Diseases (Goat vs Sheep)

Goats and sheep are very vulnerable to footrot – an infection of the cleft between the claws of the hindfeet that can spread upwards and cause lameness. Goats are more susceptible than sheep to footrot and when affected lose condition much more rapidly than sheep. It is a significant cause of losses in goats, especially those kept on wet ground.

Meat (Goat vs Sheep)

The consumption of sheep predates recorded history, with archaeological evidence from nomadic peoples suggesting that domestic sheep were kept for meat as early as 9,000 B.C., and were being cooked on campfires at 7,000 B.C.

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Meat from goats is called chevon or cabrito, capretto, or kid, depending on the age and breed of the goat. The meat of a young goat (under six months) is also called chevon. Cabrito, a word of Spanish and Portuguese origin, refers specifically to meat from a young goat (usually not more than 9 months). Kid meat is the meat obtained from these kids which are usually slaughtered when they are between 6-8 weeks old and weigh between 5-10 kgs.

A sheep in its first year is called a lamb, and its meat is also called lamb. The meat of a juvenile sheep older than one year is hogget; outside the US this is also a term for the living animal. The meat of an adult sheep is mutton, a term only used for the meat, not the living animals.

The difference between goat meat and sheep meat is that sheep meat is more popular and easier to find than goat meat. Goat meat is much leaner than beef or chicken and lower in calories than other red meats. 

The Key Difference between Goat and Sheep are given below: (Goat vs Sheep)

goat vs sheep


Goats are typically one of two species, either genus Capra or genus Ovis. Sheep are always Ovis. Goats have angular heads and rectangular ears while sheep have rounded heads and forward-facing, larger ears. Sheep have tails that they use as a third leg to balance themselves while goats do not. Both have horns; sheep have smaller ridged horn cores than their goat cousins. The two species’ only similarities are that they are both considered livestock animals, both can be domesticated, and both live in herds led by a dominant male.

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