Updated: Jan 22
Intense competitors, groomed to perfection, long weekends, harsh judging, and cuteness overload. Fox haven pygmy goats are one of the many breeders that strive for perfection to get championship titles for their pygmy goats.
Yes, pygmy goats have a national championship in the United States and it definitely takes Crufts to the next level. Imagine an arena full of adorable pygmy goats ready and raring to compete for a world-renowned title. What could be cuter than that?
It's not all fun and games for Fox Haven Pygmy Goats, though, the hard work and determination that goes into getting show-ready goats is staggering and certainly impressive. From the age of 12, Karole Miller has been breeding pygmy goats and showing them in Pygmy Goat shows at Annual National Conventions and Cloverdale Citrus Fair.
This is how it started “a long time ago when I was around 12 years old and I joined a local 4-H club. I had to have a couple of projects so I decided on rabbits and goats. After raising dairy goats for a little while, I was gifted a pygmy goat and fell in love. That was all it took. I immediately started showing her and bought several more pygmies. Breeding was the next logical step if I wanted to establish myself as a breeder and showman. I wanted to see how my pygmies stood up against the breed standard. I then bred my animals in an effort to improve on the animals I already had.”
The process of making a goat is a lengthy one, Karole explained what goes into it - “I would say that while the order may differ from one breeder to another, we all have a similar process. It starts with a bath. Shampoo and Conditioner. Then they're towelled off and blow-dried. Now it's time for their pedicures. Hooves must be trimmed and looking neat. Then I start cutting any stray hairs with scissors and electric sheers. I trim the area between their back legs as well. Then there's a bit of show spray for shine and they're ready to go.”
The shows are usually a three-day event, Karole described what happens. “There are three shows for each day... a Wether show (neutered male), a Doe Show, and a Buck Show. When our class is about to begin, we take the goat for that class into the show ring on a leash, where their teets are checked to make sure there are only two and the boys also get a testicle check to make sure that both are fully descended and proper. We then walk our goats around the ring for the judge to observe until they have us stop in a line and they check each animal's conformation, muscling, structure, etc.”
Judges then make their decisions and place the goats from 1st place working down which then means the goats can move on to other championships. “Every show and every judge is different. There will be some judges that love the way your goats feel and look and there will be those who really aren't fans. Last year was a very successful year for us as one of our bucks became the 2022 National Champion Buck at our National Convention. We won a lot of big, pretty rosettes and we were also excused from classes because we didn't make the cut that time. You might have an idea of how your animals will do but it's up to the judge to judge your animals against the breed standard.”
They all work towards becoming permanent grand champions, and they then compete against other grand champions to win master champion. This is when they are considered “finished” but they can compete for National Champion at the Annual National Convention.
The American Pygmy Goat breeding and showing community is ever-growing “ As breeders and showmen, we all pretty much know each other from shows and from talking online or serving on committees together. My husband, Gary, and I go to at least one show each month, sometimes as many as 3. Now keep in mind that a show can be three days long over the course of a weekend so it can get expensive, especially if you're staying in a hotel.
“My plans are to continue to better our bloodlines by making smart choices in our breeding program, to continue showing and being involved in the pygmy goat community, and to serve where I can in the National Pygmy Goat Association.”
Fox Haven Pygmy Goats have had a massive following on social media that has quickly spread worldwide. When asked if she was surprised by this, Karole responded “OMG YES! It's weird to think that THAT many people appreciate my particular kind of content. What also surprised me was how often folks want to talk about pygmy goats in the comments. I've actually made some really great friends and contacts just through my comment sections. I have a relatively small following on Facebook and Instagram but my TikTok currently has over 102,700 followers.”
Fox Haven Pygmy Goats simply love the goats for “Their personalities, their cuteness, their love for us and each other, their playful antics... I could literally go on and on about them. And let's face it... there are very few animals that are cuter than a baby goat.”