The answer to the question whether goats are smart or not is affirmative. Goats have been part of human life for centuries, and it was rather late that the scientific world concluded that goats are indeed intelligent. Let us see how goats are smarter than others of their kind.

How Are Goats Smart When Sheep Are Not?

Goats have been domesticated and living with humans and in the wild for many centuries, making them an integral part of the farming industry. These friendly animals hail from a group of mammals that form a diverse group called the ungulates. The family includes other farm animals like sheep, cows, and donkeys, who do not put forward excellent intelligence, but with a slight exception for donkeys. At the same time, the ungulates also include animals like dolphins, whales, and elephants who have great skills in recollection, memory, and social skills. This must give proper support to the fact that goats are smarter compared to other domesticated animals of this group.

How Must Have Goats Acquired Their Skills?

The intelligence that goats now possess must be the result of a long evolution, starting from the time when goats used to live in mountainous areas. The limited availability of food, and the constant threat of predators ready to consume them have made them agile and on their toes. The difficulty in finding food developed their skill for finding consumable items from the sparsest of vegetation, and the predators behind them made them watchful, improving their senses. They lived in groups, which demanded them to improve their social skills; in identifying their group members, and competitors, also improving their memory and recollection. Though domestication has affected their natural ability to survive, it is interesting to note that the decrease in their smartness is not to an alarming level.

Goats and Learning

If you have previous experience dealing with goats, you must have noticed how quickly they make their way out by unlocking the gates. Sometimes you could also find them eating things that you thought they would never reach. All these imply the fact that goats are fast learners. To find out their learning speed, scientists designed a feed dispenser that would require the goats to pull a rope and lift a lever to access the food within it. And the results concluded that most of the goats found the way by their 13th trial and accessed the treat. Only one remained, which they labeled as a special case, which did not show any improvement even after 22 trials. And the most important part of the result was that the goats remembered the technique when they were tested after ten months.

how are goats smart

Though there are differences in the result from goat to goat, which the researchers find as personality differences, most of the studies support the claim that goats are smart. The way of their learning is also original and authentic, and they figure out the way their own. In a study, the way to acquire a treat was shown to the goats by an already-trained goat. But then the goats who were shown the solution showed very similar results to the goats that weren’t given the solution. This could indicate that the habit of finding things on their own, even in difficult situations, has not gone astray from them. 

Goats and Their Social Skills

When it comes to social skills and working in the herd, goats often notice their herd mates’ gazes. The gaze of another goat could either indicate a threat or an opportunity to find food, yet another quality they must have retained. During an experiment, when a researcher caught the attention of a goat, the others in the group automatically followed their member’s eyes in the direction it was looking. 

goats existing in a society

When it comes to humans, goats find humans who are paying them attention and with a smile more approachable. They also tend to follow and react to human postures and gestures. They also go to the humans when they find situations difficult, mostly when they are unable to get to their food, and even show gestures that seem like begging.

How Goats Exist in A Society

Existing and surviving in society involves various tactics and adjustments. Domesticated goats, or simply goats living as a flock, use specific techniques to recognize and identify individuals among themselves. They usually associate certain individuals with looks, voice, and smell. As already mentioned before, they have long-term memory, which helps them to store that information for a very long period. The memory process involves complex connections made with the senses combined, attributing different values to different individuals they come across. Having a good ability to sense emotions, the changes in the facial expressions of other goats and their bleats affect the other goats emotionally.

Are Goats as Smart as Dogs?

The above mentioned paragraphs indicate that goats are smarter than you must have thought them to be. But are they as smart as dogs? The answer is yes. All the studies and research done on goats all point to the result that they are as capable as dogs in creating bonds based on an emotional level and being good companions to their owners. This makes them very suitable for that post of loving pet you have been craving.

Goats, which were domesticated through the ages mainly for agricultural purposes, were not considered to have the traits of animals usually kept as pets. The characteristics of dogs, cats, and horses, who create great bonds with their owners, were identified late in goats. Goats turning to their masters when they are stuck in a situation is the perfect example of this behavior. And this behavior is mainly observed in all-time favorite pets, dogs. Their ability to live outside their flock is also a trait that other animals of their family, such as sheep lack.

And, comparing their intelligence with that of dogs, research has found that it stands as a strong rival to that of dogs, based on an experiment involving treats hidden under cups. The way they interact and communicate with their humans also indicates their ability to connect with humans, yet another trait that was hidden and untainted by evolution in the hands of agricultural labor.

Do Goats Show Affection Towards Their Human?

As already discussed, goats can be as loving, caring, and intelligent as dogs. This erases the doubt of whether goats could be attached to their human owners. The domestication part from ages ago contributes a great deal to them behaving lovingly towards humans. Goats can be kept as pets, even to the point that you could keep them indoors and manage them.

To achieve this level of affection you could try some of these methods. One main way is to make the goat associate you with food. Bottle feeding them from a young age is a great way to start creating strong bonds. When they grow older, training them to come to you when it is time for food will help you make the goat trust you. You could adopt some noises and actions to capture the goat’s attention. Treating them to the food they like is also an excellent way at making the goat love you. 

goats' affection towards humans

One point to note while showing affection to your goat is that petting them is different from that of dogs. While dogs like patting on their heads, goats do not prefer that, which when committed, could lead to creating distance between you and your goat. They are comfortable with scratching their heads and underarms. 

And above all, keeping them happy is a significant component of maintaining the bond. Providing a stress-free environment where they are free from frustration is the ideal place a goat can thrive. 


Now that you know how smart goats are, you better start not underestimating them! These cute comic-looking animals are good brains with all the entertainment they provide, apart from all the agricultural benefits we yield from them. So, keep treating them with love, you will receive it back in extras for sure.


  • Sameera R

    Sameera is particularly fond of farm animals and loves to write about them. Horses are her favorites and she wishes to own one someday.

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