Difference Between Goat and Sheep

Goat vs Sheep

The considerable differences in physical characters, and feeding habits between goat and sheep are interesting. The similarities and differences between goat and sheep should be understood well as both of them are in the same group in the scientific classification, Family: Bovidae. They are two species belonged in different genera (goat in the genus Capra; sheep in the genus Ovis).


One of the earliest animals to be domesticated is goats. There are several breeds of goats those differ depending on the use for man. Goats have been used for dairy, fiber, meat, skin, and as companion animals. Meat of a young goat is known as either kid or cabrito while the older ones’ flesh is known as chevon or mutton (rarely). Goat’s tail is short and erects up with a little curve. The body is covered with a hairy coat, but it does not have to be combed. Also, the coat needs not to be sheared. Male goats have glands beneath the tail, and their secretions give them an odor, which is unique for them. The odor gets stronger with the sexual maturity, and becomes strongest during the mating season (rut). Most of the goat breeds have horns which are upright and narrow. Presence of a beard is another characteristic feature of the goats. They are browsing herbivores, and have a four-chambered stomach called rumen. Their lifespan is around 15 -18 years, while there have been some exceptional cases of 24 year old goats. Sometimes, goats have become backyard pests as they browse on almost all the plants at their reach. The lifetime could come down to eight or ten years if, there have been stressful periods, especially due to rutting and kidding.


Sheep is a very valuable livestock animal for the man. At present, there are more than one billion domestic sheep in the world. Australia, New Zealand, and British Isles have been the major sheep producers in the world. Usually, the flesh of adult and young (<12 months) sheep are known as mutton and lamb respectively. Additionally, the meat of sheep is known differently in different places; for example, lamb is used to name adults’ meat in United States.

Somehow, the sheep has glands beneath their eyes and scent glands between the toes. The characteristic philtrum (groove) to divide the upper lip is distinct. Mostly, sheep have manes but, lack horns. This herbivorous ruminant is a grazer, but browsing is rare. A sheep could live up to 10 – 12 years.

In review of above characters of these two animals, they are similar in many ways, but it is more important to discuss the differences between the two.

In brief:

Goat Vs Sheep

- Goat has a short tail, which is erected upwards with a curve, but sheep’s tail is long and hanging down.

- Goat’s hairy coat and sheep’s wooly coat are another significant difference between these two.

- Sheep has a distinctive philtrum, which is unique to them.

- Additionally, the presence of mane and absence of horns (mostly) in sheep, are other differences to goats.

- Bearded goats are very unique among many animals.

- The foraging habits in goat and sheep are different, as those are browsing and grazing respectively.

- Moreover, a goat could live a little more than sheep.