About the Breed


The Breed

A myotonic goat, otherwise known as the fainting goat, nervous goat, wooden-leg or Tennessee fainting goat is a domestic goat whose muscles freeze for roughly 3 seconds when the goat feels panic. Though painless, this generally results in the animal collapsing on its side.

They have a muscle condition called myotonia congenita. This inherited trait leads to an overall increase in muscle mass so that goats are very muscular when compared to other breeds of similar size. This trait is so distinctive that it is easy to confuse the trait with the breed. Hover, the myotonic goat is much more than just a myotonic condiiton, it has a host of other consistent traits that are very important and need to be conserved for future generations.

Several important characteristics are typical of the breed:

  1. Docile temperament
  2. Myotonia congenita leading to stiffness and muscularity
  3. Abundance of high quality muscle
  4. Good adaptation to low-input forage-based feeding systems

General Description

Myotonic goats come in varying sizes. The medium to large animals of this breed are generally used for meat production while the smaller animals are generally sought after as pets. Myotonic goats of all sizes are stocky, with obvious width for height. The body is wide, full, and deep, with heavier than average muscling evident throughout. Muscle development increases with age, so that older goats are more heavily muscled than younger ones. Tennessee bloodlines tend to be lower and broader than Texas bloodlines, which tend to be taller and a little less blocky. They are alert, goodnatured animals with a confirmation that is smooth, functional, and rugged. They are also generally quiet, and are much quieter than many other breeds of goats. Parasite-resistance is another trait that the breed is renowned for.


Size varies within the breed, and this description is geared more towards type than size. The weight of Tennessee line does usually center around 80 to 110 pounds. The weight of Texas line does is generally somewhat higher at 90 to 120 pounds or so. the range of weights, though, is considerable. Mature bucks of lines selected for large size can be close to 200 pounds, with some advertised at weights above that. These include bot Texas and Tennessee lines. Small companion animals can be as light as 50 pounds at maturity, and as short as 17 inches at the withers.

The companion animals within the breed tend to be smaller than the meat production animals within the breed. The size variability is continuous, with all sizes between small and reasonably large present within the breed.

The companion animal type has does that are usually no smaller than 50 pounds mature weight and bucks rarely under 80 pounds mature weight. The production type for does generally ranges between 80 pounds and 130 pounds, and for bucks ranges from around 130 pounds to 175 pounds. Does larger than 150 pounds and bucks larger than 200 pounds are not typical of the breed are occasionally encountered.

Breed Type Characteristics

HEAD – The head is medium length with a broad muzzle rather than a fine, snipe-like muzzle. Jaws are full and well formed, and have an eve bite (neither overshot nor undershot). The head is broad and the eye orbits are prominent, especially from above. The eye orbits protrude outward further than in other breeds, giving the head a distinctive appearance with the eyes prominent and obvious. This is more pronounced on most Tennessee goats than it is in many Texas goats, but is present in both. An obvious stop is present at the level of the eyes, separating the head from the facial region. The profile of the facial region is usually straight, or rarely slightly convex. The ears are moderately sized, and most are held horizontally or somewhat forward toward the face. The ears typically have wave or ripple halfway down the length along the front edge of the ear. horned and polled animals are both typical. horns are usually well developed and large, and should have at least an inch or two of separation between them.

COAT – Coat length varies from quiet short and smooth to very long and shaggy. The long, shaggy coats can be long enough to drag the ground in older goats, but never have any tendency to ringlet or lock formation is present in Angora goats. The hair on shaggy goats is always straight and coarse. both extremely short and extremely shaggy goats and all the range between are present in purebred Myotonic goats. Many goats grow abundant cashmere in the winter. presence of bears is variable with many females lacking them but nearly all males having them. No coat type is to be preferred over another, with the exception that long coats with ringlet or lock formation are unacceptable.

COLOR – All colors are acceptable all combinations, and all patterns or markings.

STIFFNESS – The stiffness of these goats relates to their myotonia congenita, which is an essential portion of the breed type. The various levels of stiffness are arbitrary, but a general guide is useful for breeders:

  1. Never observed to stiffen, but other type trails are consistent as pedigree.
  2. Very rarely stiffens, never falls.
  3. Stiffens only occasionally, and rarely falls.
  4. Walks normally with no swivel. The rear limbs lock up readily, the forelimbs less so, and goats with this degree of stiffness rarely fall to the ground.
  5. Animal walks relatively normal, although somewhat stiff in near and with a swivel at the hip. Readily stiffens when startled or stepping over a barrier.
  6. Animal always moves stiffly to some degree, and readily becomes “locked up” when started or stepping over a low barrier.

The previous statements are taken mostly from the Myotonic Registry website.

For more specific breed information on Myotonic goat breed, please click on Myotonic Goat Registry.