Saanens are the largest and one of the calmest of the dairy breeds. The Saanen breed also produces the most milk on average and tends to have a lower butterfat content, about 2.5%-3%.
The Saanen temperament is as a rule, calm and mild mannered; breeders have been know to refer to them as living marshmallows. Saanen goats are easier for children to handle and are popular in the showmanship classes due to their calm nature. They originated in the Saanen valley in the south of Canton Berne, Switzerland. In 1893 several thousand head were taken out of the valley and spread throughout Europe. Between 1904 and the 1930’s approximately 150 Saanens were imported into the United States from Switzerland.
Saanens are medium to large in size (weighing approximately 145 lbs/65kg) with rugged bone and plenty of vigor.
Does should be feminine, and not coarse. Saanens are white or light cream in color, with white preferred. Spots on the skin are not discriminated against. Small spots of color on the hair are allowable, but not desirable. The hair should be short and fine, although a fringe over the spine and thighs is often present. Ears should be erect and alertly carried, preferably pointing forward. The face should be straight or dished. A tendency toward a roman nose is discriminated against.
The breed is sensitive to excessive sunlight and performs best in cooler conditions. The provision of shade is essential and tan skin is preferable.