The chicken world contains a wide range of different breeds – and some of them are pretty unusual to look at!
We’re going to check out 14 funny looking chicken breeds from across the globe. We’ll find out how they got their interesting looks. And we’ll learn more about their other characteristics too.
Ready to meet some strange birds?! Step this way…
Funny Looking Chicken Breeds
There’s actually some debate over where Polish chickens originate. And that debate sheds some light on just why this breed is so unusual.
You’d probably expect Polish chickens to come from Poland. And while some people believe that’s true, others say the breed originated in the Netherlands. The name, the argument goes, comes from the Dutch word for head – “pol”.
So why might a chicken have a name meaning head? Well, Polish chickens have a distinctive domed skull. And they also have a very large and dramatic crest – a tuft of feathers on top of their head.
Breeders have focused on enhancing these traits for exhibition. And today, Polish chickens have truly prodigious crests! They’re so large that they can actually cause these chickens some problems.
If the crest isn’t kept clean, it can cause eye infections or become infested with parasites. And its size means that it obscures the bird’s vision. As a result, Polish chickens can be easily startled by people or animals appearing unexpectedly close to them.
Many people who keep Polish chickens tape up their crests. This needs to be done carefully to avoid causing pain, but can make life easier for these chooks.
The Silkie is both beautiful and very unusual. Its feathers have a fluffy appearance that’s been likened to silk or even fur. But because they have a different structure to the feathers of most chickens, Silkies can’t fly.
It’s an unusual breed in other ways too. It has black or blue-black skin and bones, and striking blue earlobes. And each foot has five toes, one more than most breeds have. These dramatic looks mean Silkies are often kept for showing in poultry exhibitions.
The breed is believed to have originated in Asia and are thought to have a long history. The explorer Marco Polo wrote of furry chickens that were probably Silkies way back in the thirteenth century.
Silkie hens are good layers and sitters. And they will also successfully incubate the eggs of other chickens.
The eggs of the Araucana are amongst the most unusual of all chicken eggs. They have a beautiful blue shell. But they’re not the only reason Araucanas stand out from the crowd.
All North American Araucana chickens are rumpless – in other words, they have no tailbone. That gives them an unusual shape. But it also causes these birds some practical difficulties.
The absence of a gland that usually secretes oil onto the feathers makes preening more challenging. And without a tail to help them balance, breeding can be difficult too.
North American Araucanas have pea combs and long, tufted feathers on their ears. The American Poultry Association recognizes five different color varieties: golden duckwing, silver duckwing, black, black-breasted red and white. Bantam Araucanas may also be buff.
The hens lay around 250 eggs a year, which can range in color from light blue to olive green.
4. Scots Dumpy
You won’t be surprised to hear that the Scots Dumpy is a Scottish chicken. The other half of its name reflects its exceptionally short legs. Those are no more than 1.5 inches long.
Aside from being so short, the Scots Dumpy otherwise looks quite normal. It has a single red comb, small earlobes, and medium-sized wattles. And it can be found in pretty much any of the normal chicken plumage colors.
The hens are both good layers and sitters. They produce about 180 white or cream eggs per year. And they’re often used to incubate the eggs of game birds.
Scots Dumpies have been known in Scotland for at least two centuries. But by the 1970s, they were considered extinct.
Fortunately, a Scottish bride had taken some birds to Kenya as part of her marriage dowry in 1902. It was the descendants of those birds that allowed the breed to be revived, and to continue to this day.
The Onagadori is more dramatic looking than funny. But on a list dedicated to chooks with unusual looks, we couldn’t pass this breed by!
It has a sweeping long tail that’s more than five feet long. And individual birds may have tails even longer – the record is 39 feet. It also has red-brown eyes, white earlobes, and a single bright red comb.
It originated in Japan, probably from cross breeding between Shikoku and Totenko chickens. The first Onagadori are believed to have been black-breasted whites. Today, three colors are recognized in Japan, and five in Europe.
The Onagadori is a purely ornamental breed. And in Japan, it’s been awarded the status of Special National Treasure.
The tiny Serama is a comical looking chook. It stands between 6 and 10 inches high, with its chest proudly thrust forward and its head held high. Its short back means there’s barely any room between its neck and its tall, upright tail feathers.
There are lots of different colors of plumage. All colors have a single red comb, red earlobes, bay red eyes and yellow legs.
They originated in Malaysia hundreds of years ago. The hens lay lots of eggs, but because they’re so small, this is a breed that’s usually kept as an ornamental bird.
7. Frizzle Pekin Bantam
Frizzles are immediately recognizable by their sweet curly feathers. These are caused by a genetic abnormality that means the feathers curl outwards from the chicken’s body.
In Europe and Australia, Frizzles are considered a separate breed. But in the US, chickens with the frizzle gene are considered a sub-set of their breed. And one of the most common breeds to carry the gene is the Pekin Bantam.
They’re adorable birds, with those curly feathers making them look like a ball of fluff. But in other respects, Frizzle Pekin bantams look much the same as others of the breed. They have a single red comb, a rounded body, and elegant tail feathers.
They’re a true bantam, with no standard equivalent. Males weigh about 24 ounces and females about 20 ounces.
8. La Flèche
La Flèche is a commune in France, and it gives its name to a chicken with an interesting quirk. La Flèche chickens have a comb shaped like a pair of miniature horns!
They also have black feathers and bright red eyes. It’s a combination that gives these chooks a rather devilish look.
But while they prefer roaming and foraging to interacting with humans, they’re not aggressive birds. And they can co-exist happily with most other chicken breeds.
Their other characteristics include white earlobes and slate gray legs. Adult males weigh around 8 pounds, while hens are around 6.5 pounds.
And the hens are decent layers too, producing between 140 and 200 eggs between March and October.
9. Naked Neck
The Naked Neck chicken looks just like you’d expect. While the rest of its body is covered in feathers like any other chicken, its neck is bare.
The naked neck is a genetic trait, and it’s relatively easy to introduce into other breeds. But the original Naked Neck – also known as the Transylvanian Naked Neck, or Turken – is a distinct breed.
Quite how it first emerged is unknown. Some believe it originated in Asia, where it has a long and sad history of being used in cockfighting.
But despite their bare necks, these chooks are surprisingly healthy and hardy. They’re active birds, and good at foraging. And the hens are good layers too, producing around 200 eggs a year.
10. Modern Game
The Modern Game bird was an indirect result of cockfighting being banned in Britain in 1849. Those who’d kept birds for fighting turned to a new – and happily less bloody – hobby: breeding and exhibiting.
The Modern Game bird was developed to look like the ideal cockfighting bird, but to show, rather than to fight. It has long legs, a markedly upright posture, a short back and a fine, long tail. There are both standard and bantam varieties.
11. Dutch Owlbeard
Just as you might expect from its name, the Dutch Owlbeard has a decidedly owlish appearance! That’s mainly because of its “beard” – a ruffle of feathers around its neck and beneath its beak.
It’s a trait that’s visible even in chicks. They emerge from the shell with a furry collar already in place. That quickly develops into a full beard.
They can be found in a wide range of different colors, including both solid colored and spangled varieties. They have an upright stance, horn-shaped combs, and don’t have wattles.
They’re independent spirits who like to roam free. But they’re also calm and friendly, and with good care will become tame enough for hand feeding.
The hens lay plenty of eggs too – around 200 per year. And they’ll continue laying through the winter months.
The Phoenix is a chicken with very long tail feathers. It was bred from Japanese breeds similar to the Onagadori.
The tail isn’t as long as the Onagadori’s, though. A Phoenix chicken will have a tail of around 3 feet. That’s because, unlike the Onagadori, the Phoenix still molts regularly.
Different colors are recognized in different countries. In the US, the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection lists silver, gold, and black-breasted red.
There are both standard and bantam varieties too. Standard adult males weigh about 5.5 pounds, while male bantams are about 26 ounces. Standard females are about 4 pounds, and female bantams are about 24 ounces.
They’re known as friendly and calm chooks. And as well as cutting a dash in the exhibition ring, they make great pets.
13. Dong Tao
The Dong Tao is one of the funniest looking chicken breeds we’ve come across. It hails from Vietnam, and it’s also known as the Dragon Chicken. In most respects it looks pretty normal – until you see its legs and feet.
In comparison to the rest of the bird, these are huge. And they unfortunately cause some problems when it comes to breeding. The hens’ hefty legs often crush the shells of the eggs. For that reason, the eggs are usually removed and placed in an incubator to hatch.
Those large feet also mean that even adult birds are very sensitive to changes in temperature. So Dong Taos need good shelter and care.
Their meat is considered a great delicacy in Vietnam. In former times, only high status individuals like mandarins and members of the royal family were allowed to eat it.
The Sultan chicken comes from Turkey, and it has an illustrious heritage. It was used as an ornamental bird in the gardens of royal palaces. And it’s still bred as a show bird.
Its distinctive appearance comes from the combination of a large, puffy crest, long tail, beard and heavy feathering on its feet and legs. It has a small comb, barely visible beneath the crest. And it have five toes on each foot, one more than most chickens.
There are both standard and bantam varieties, but even the standard is quite small. Adult males weigh around 6 pounds, while hens are around 4 pounds. Bantams are less than a third of the size of standard chickens.
The most common color for Sultans is white, but there are also blue and black birds. The hens aren’t prolific layers, producing upwards of 50 small white eggs per year.
They’re friendly and docile birds, easy to tame and handle, and they make great pets.
Weird and wonderful
That brings us to the end of our look at 14 funny looking chicken breeds.
These breeds show just how much visual variety there is in the chicken world. And they all have their own individual personalities too.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about these unusual chooks!