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Dominique Chickens
Dom History: Colonial to 1900
Dom History: 1915 to Present
Dom Looks: Adult
Dom Looks: Chick/Pullet/Cockerel
Dominique Personality: Friendly
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Dominique Chicken History: Colonial to 1900

America's First Chicken

A rare, heritage breed. Historically significant.

The exact origin of the American Dominique chicken is not known, but they came from European chicken breeds and later in its refinement, some Asian breeds. They were brought from southern England to New England in Colonial times.

"This old fashioned breed is said to have been brought over by the early Puritans, and wherever bred in purity is acknowledged to be one of the best, hardiest, and most beautiful of all domestic fowls.

"They are without doubt the oldest of the distinctive American breeds, being mentioned in the earliest poultry books, as an indigenous and valued variety."
-Profits in Poultry, Useful and Ornamental Breeds, 1886.

The top photo is Dominique chickens, Banty chickens, and Ancona ducks.

"Thank you Nancy for your work in preserving this American Heritage chicken." -David, Sweeny, Texas

Common on Family Farms

The name "Dominique" probably came from birds imported from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti). Early names of these poultry include Blue Spotted Hen, Old Grey Hen, Pilgrim Fowl, Dominico, Dominic, Dom, Dominica, Dominecker and Dominicker.

Dominique fowl was very common in American farmyards during the 1820s and 1830s. They were kept as a dual-purpose chicken (egg and meat). During this time the farmers took minimal care of their birds so only the hardy and vigorous survived, creating a strong breed of chicken.

Old-Fashioned Dominique

Starting in the 1840s breeds from Asia were brought to the United States. People wanted novel and foreign breeds. They started to displace the American breeds. It was a slow but steady decline of popularity of the Dominique, America's first breed of chicken.

"The poultry-keepers of the country (USA) are ever hankering after something new. But it is not of any use to find a new breed unless it is manifest improvement, either in size, prolificness, good looks or some other respect, such as hardiness. The American Dominique is pre-eminently an old breed. Our great-grandfathers had these fowls." -Poultry World, 1887

This line drawing is a Dominique feather from the American Poulterer's Companion, 1876.

First American Poultry Show

The first poultry show in the United States was in Boston in 1849. Over 10,000 people attended to see 1,423 birds. The Dominique breed was shown there.

This book is from 1881. Showing birds has been popular a long time.

"I have always admired the old type of Dominique. In form and carriage it has always seemed more attractive to me than the Barred Plymouth Rock." -W.H. Davenport, Farm Poultry, 1908

American Dominique Fowl

This is an advertisement in the "Poultry Breeders Almanac" from 1852. A Pennsylvania farmer is selling some Dominiques.

Lots of Praise for Dominiques

In 1860 in the book, Ornamental and Domestic Poultry: "Dominiques are hardy, excellent layers."

In 1872 in the London Field: "One of the oldest established, and certainly one of the most useful, is the Dominique. Each feather is of a very light gray, barred across with darker slaty-blue bars or pencilling. The Dominique cocks are showy birds, with full saddles and hackles, and abundant, well-matched sickle feathers. They should weigh six to eight pounds when mature. The merits of this bird will recommend them to persons residing in the country as well worthy of promotion in the poultry-yard."

Beautiful Dominiques

From "The American Poulterer's Companion" about Dominique fowl: "Their beautiful appearance, when in full plumage, is quite an acquisition to the farm-yard or lawn. I believe them to be one of the very best breeds of fowl we have, and I do not know of any breed that alters so little by in-and-in breeding; they are first rate layers."

This line drawing of Dominique fowl is from "The American Poulterer's Companion: A Practical Treatise on the Breeding, Rearing, and General Management of the Various Species of Domestic Poultry" written in 1876.

Standard of Perfection

In 1871 the New York Poultry Society decided that only rose combed Dominiques would be the breed standard. Before that it was acceptable to have Dominiques with either rose or single combs.

The single combed Dominiques were folded into the barred Plymouth Rock breed- a larger breed common in New England created by crossing large, single comb Dominiques with Java chickens.

In 1874 the Dominique breed was officially admitted to the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection.

Dominiques in the 1870s

The drawing to the left is a Dominique cigarette card from 1875. In the 1870s the American Tobacco Company put various trade cards in cigarettes.

Hardy, Brave Survivors

"The American Dominiques excel in other varieties of fowls in a happy combination of vivacity and stamina. They will safely go through an amount of exposure that would decimate most of the inbred strains of Asiatics."

"They are particularly suited to the wants of the pioneer, being able to elude the attacks of most ground vermin by an instinctive habit of roosting in the highest accessible positions."

"The cocks will not infrequently make open fights with hawks, and a well-bred mature hen with a clutch of chickens will defend them against all comers in a spirit that savors strongly of game."
-The American Stockkeeper, August 1895.

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"All of the 16 Dominique chicken eggs were fertile. 13 hatched. They look good, like little penguins. Much better than my last experience with hatching eggs I bought from someone else." -Mike, Clinton, North Carolina

Dominique Chicken History: 1915 to Present

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