Goat vs. Sheep

Goat vs. Sheep

Goat and sheep are types of small ruminants (animals that re-chew their food) that belong to the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are around 300 breeds of goat and more than 1000 breeds of sheep that can be found on the farms around the world today. Goats and sheep provide meat, milk, hair/wool and skin for the people worldwide and play important role in the global agricultural economy. Even though they belong to different species, goat and sheep can interbreed. Produced hybrid, also known as "geep" is infertile. Aside from obvious similarities, goats and sheep differ in:

Number of Chromosomes

Sheep has 54 chromosomes, while goat has 60 chromosomes (microscopically small, thread-like structures which carry genetic information).


Goat has short, hairy coat and beard, while sheep has woolly coat and mane. Unlike goat, sheep requires regularly shearing.

Shape of the Body and Lips

Goat has more slender body compared to sheep. Upper lip in sheep is divided with the vertical groove (philtrum), which is absent in goat.


Sheep has tear glands beneath the eyes and scent glands between the toes. Male goats have scent glands beneath the tail which produce strong scent during the mating season. Unlike male goats, male sheep are nearly odorless.


Most goats have horns, while most sheep are hornless. Goats have narrow, less curved horns compared to sheep, which have thick, tightly curved horns positioned on the lateral sides of the head.


Sheep's tail is long, positioned downwards and usually docked at birth. Goat's tail is short and oriented upwards.


Sheep are grazers, which mean that they consume grass, clover and other plants that can be collected from the ground. Unlike them, goats are browsers. They collect leaves, twigs, wines and other vegetation that is located high above the ground. Goats are able to erect their body (stand on their hind feet) to reach leaves and twigs on top of the shrubs. They also frequently consume inedible items such as cardboard boxes, cloths and paper.


Sheep are cool and distant and they don't like to be separated from the rest of the herd. Unlike them, goats are curious, intelligent and independent. They prefer fenced area much less compared to the sheep. That's why sheep are entirely domesticated, while there are many types of wild goats that freely roam in the wild.


Goats are excellent climbers. They easily maintain balance on the steep hills and rough, rocky terrains. Unlike sheep, goats will try to find shelter in the case of weather inclement.

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