Saanen goats are a white or cream-colored breed of goat, named for the Saanen valley in Switzerland. By the late 19th century they had spread across Europe, and in the early 20th century were brought to the US. In the 21st century, they are among the most popular dairy goat breeds, due to their high productivity and ease of management.
Saanens are the largest of the goat dairy breeds, and one of the largest milk producers. Does typically weigh at least 135 pounds and stand 30 inches tall, with bucks weighing at least 160 pounds and standing 32 inches. The profile of the head is straight or dished (concave), with erect, forward-pointing mid-sized to large ears. Saanen does are known for their ease of management in herds, mellow temperaments and adaptability, as well as their production abilities. Their milk generally has a butterfat content of 3-4%.
Saanens are generally white or cream-colored, although breed associations prefer pure white. Their coats are usually short and fine, with occasional longer fringes on the back and hindquarters. Due to their light coloration, they can be sensitive to harsh sunlight and hot climates. Darker-skinned animals are better able to handle these conditions. The Sable Saanen is not a crossbreed, but is a recessive expression of color derived from the white Saanen. Sables can vary in color from beige through black, with almost any color but pure white (which would be a white Saanen). Sables are accepted as a breed in their own right in some dairy goat breed clubs, but not in others.