In the last decades, several endangered breeds of livestock species have been re-established effectively. However, the successful revival of the Dutch and Danish Landrace goats involved crossing with exotic breeds and the ancestry of the current populations is therefore not clear. We have generated genotypes for 27 FAO-recommended microsatellites of these landraces and three phenotypically similar Nordic-type landraces and compared these breeds with central European, Mediterranean and south-west Asian goats. We found decreasing levels of genetic diversity with increasing distance from the south-west Asian domestication site with a south-east-to-north-west cline that is clearly steeper than the Mediterranean east-to-west cline. In terms of genetic diversity, the Dutch Landrace comes next to the isolated Icelandic breed, which has an extremely low diversity. The Norwegian coastal goat and the Finnish and Icelandic landraces are clearly related. It appears that by a combination of mixed origin and a population bottleneck, the Dutch and Danish Land-races are separated from the other breeds. However, the current Dutch and Danish populations with the multicoloured and long-horned appearance effectively substitute for the original breed, illustrating that for conservation of cultural heritage, the phenotype of a breed is more relevant than pure ancestry and the genetic diversity of the original breed. More in general, we propose that for conservation, the retention of genetic diversity of an original breed and of the visual phenotype by which the breed is recognized and defined needs to be considered separately.