There are two subspecies recognized:
- P. g. gambensis – White or Gambian Spur-winged Goose of the Gambia to Ethiopia, south to Angola and the River Zambezi
- P. g. niger – Black Spur-winged Goose of southern Africa from Namibia and Zimbabwe to the Cape Provinces
The Spur-winged Goose is one of those species best kept as a pair or trio (two females to one male), in an enclosure of their own. Despite a slightly gawky appearance, they are pretty adept at climbing, so this needs to be considered when building their pen. They will need some protection in the winter in the UK.
Although called a goose, taxonomically it belongs to the group known as True Ducks. The Spur-winged Goose was thought to have evolved somewhere between the shelducks and perching ducks. The fleshy featherless knob above the bill is much less prominent, or even absent, in the smaller of the 2 subspecies, the Black.
Because of their grumpy disposition in the breeding season, meaning they are usually kept on their own, there should be little risk of hybridisation. Hybrids have been reported though with Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptacus, Swan Goose Anser cygnoid, Upland Goose Chloephaga picta and Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna.
As one of the species that may dump-nest, the number of eggs in a nest can vary if there is more than one female in the enclosure. Each may lay 6 to 14 eggs and incubation is for 30 to 35 days. The male may hang around, enthusiastically defending his family, but the female does the rearing.