Dominique Chicken

(American class)

Prepared by Michael Schlumbohm and Keith Bramwell, Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Dominique Male Chicken The Dominique, often incorrectly referred to as "Dominecker", is an old American dual purpose breed. The breed was admitted to the American Poultry Association's (APA) Standard of Perfection in 1874, and is only recognized in the cuckoo pattern. They have a rose comb, yellow skin and they lay a brown shelled egg.

Standard Weights
Cock: 7 lbs.
Hen: 5 lbs.
Cockerel: 6 lbs.
Pullet: 4 lbs.

The Dominique is a medium sized dual purpose breed that more closely resembles an "egg-type" breed than any other breed in the American class. The body is moderately long, wide throughout its length, and only moderately deep. The back line of the male is level with a concave sweep up to the tail which is moderately long and well spread, being carried at an angle of 45 degrees. The back line of the female slopes slightly from front to rear and there should be a moderate break at the junction of the back and tail which is well spread and carried at an angle of 45 degrees. The breast is round, full, and carried well forward. The Dominique has a rose comb which is bright red in color, along with the face, wattles, and earlobes.

At first glance the plumage color is the same as the Barred Plymouth Rock; however upon closer inspection it is noticeable that the two breeds have a very different 'barring' pattern. The Dominique has a form of barring that is known as Cuckoo. The main difference between Cuckoo and Barred is that the black and white bars on the feathers of the cuckoo pattern are not as clearly defined and crisp as they are on typical barred varieties. In addition to this, the under-color of cuckoo varieties tends to be more whitish in color while in barred varieties the barring carries clear through to the skin.

The name "Dominick", "Dominique", or "Dominica Fowl" was commonly given to gray or blue-barred chickens, however the exact derivation of these names is not known. Some have supposed that "Dominick" came from "Dominie" (a preacher or teacher), and that the name was first given to a flock of cuckoo patterned birds that belonged to a certain dominie. Others have tried to associate the name with "domino", because the color pattern resembled the spots on a domino. All that is known about the matter is that the name "Dominick" was first applied to any "hawk colored" or cuckoo chicken, which had no distinguishing body shape or uniform comb features and fell short of the definition of a breed. By the 1840's these cuckoo birds were bred with a little more care and the stock began to develop definitive characteristics. It was then that the names "Dominique" and "Dominica Fowl" began to be used.

It is a cherished tradition among Dominque breeders that the modern Dominique is an ancient purebred American breed, which lost preference when poultry keepers became interested in breeds of foreign origin, and in the later "made" American breeds. However, this is not necessarily the case. Old poultry literature has references to Dominiques as existing since about 1840-50, and makes particular mention of certain stocks whose history was known as far back as 1820-25. Yet, these Dominiques would have been very different from our modern Dominique with the majority of them having single combs.

Although the name Dominique has been applied to cuckoo patterned birds since the 1840's one leading poultry authority by the name of Bement, did not recognize the Dominique as a breed until 1856. This view is probably the most accurate because in reality the Dominique didn't begin to improve and more closely resemble the modern Dominque until after the Civil War. At this point in history it began to gain a more prestigious place among improved breeds of chickens, and it became popular as a "color breed". In other words, the most defining characteristic was still the plumage color rather than body size, or shape and the color could occur in any mix of breeds and still be called Dominique. In the early days the Barred Plymouth Rocks were also more of a "color breed" as well.

Dominique Male ChickenAs mentioned earlier, most of the birds were predominantly single combed, but in some flocks rose combed individuals were more numerous. Birds with single and rose combs competed in the same classes until 1870 when the New York State Poultry Society decreed that only rose combed birds would be recognized as Dominiques at its exhibitions. As a result of this act, the single combed Dominiques, which were the more popular type, were subsequently developed as the Barred Plymouth Rock. (See Plymouth Rock history)

Following the division of Dominiques according to comb, a different size and shape of body was made characteristic for each branch of the divided "color breed". The single combed branch, as more popular, was given the larger size and shape common for general purpose birds. While the rose combed branch was established with a smaller size, and more of an "egg type" shape. Because the small type retained the old name, and the facts about the relations of Plymouth Rocks and Dominiques were soon forgotten, the later breeders of Dominiques concluded that the modern Dominique was the "original" or "true" type of an ancient breed. The fact is that the modern Dominique has resulted from breeding together small birds of various origins having the cuckoo color pattern as well as selecting for rose combs and large full tails. It has also been theorized that the Leghorn, Dorking, and Hamburg breeds could have been used in making the modern Dominique; however, there is no evidence to support this.

After this split from the Plymouth Rocks the Dominique has only been mildly popular. It is a little bit of a mystery why the breed had not been more popular in the late 1800's and early 1900's, the standard body shape being a lighter weight brown egg layer should have had a place in the poultry economy. In addition to this, the breed was, and is, capable of being made to be a very attractive exhibition fowl. Nonetheless, interest in the standard Dominique stayed limited to a few fanciers, and from time to time Dominique breeders have tried to generate more interest. Early efforts made about 1900 to popularize the breed most likely failed because breeders who engaged in promotion of their breed did not have birds of Dominique body shape, but rather a rose combed Plymouth Rock of poor shape and color. Another effort, begun about 1910, was made by breeders who had birds with good Dominique body shape, and for a time they met with a good deal of encouragement. However, these breeders made the error of trying to popularize a Dominique with a crude type of barring just at the time when the barring of the Barred Plymouth Rock was approaching the perfection now seen in it today. Currently, there seems to be a renewed interest in the breed with quite a few people now breeding them. More and more Dominiques are seen at the shows and many people have taken up keeping them in backyard situations.

Bantam Dominique
(Rose Comb Clean Legged class)

Both the APA and American Bantam Association (ABA) recognize the bantam Cochin, and it is in fact one of the most popular breeds of bantam chicken today. It is reported that the bantam version was also imported to England from China. New varieties were then developed both there and in America. Shape and color requirements are generally the same as for large fowl Cochins. Some differences do exist and breeders and exhibitors should consult the ABA Bantam Standard to read the full proper description for shape. The APA recognizes the following varieties: Barred, Birchen, Black, Blue, Brown Red, Buff, Columbian, Golden Laced, Mottled, Partridge, Red, Silver Laced, and White. In addition to these varieties, the ABA also recognizes the Black Tailed Red, Buff Columbian, Lemon Blue, and Silver Penciled.

Both the APA and American Bantam Association (ABA) recognize the bantam Dominique. The bantam version was also created in the United States, with the shape and color requirements being the same as for large fowl. The bantam is also only recognized in the cuckoo pattern.

Standard Weights
Cock: 28 oz.
Hen: 24 oz.
Cockerel: 26 oz.
Pullet: 22 oz.

Works Cited
Robinson, John H. Popular Breeds of Domestic Poultry. Dayton: Reliable Poultry Journal, 1924.
The American Standard of Perfection Illustrated: A Complete Description of All Recognized Breeds and Varieties of Domestic Poultry. Burgettstown, PA: American Poultry Association, 2010.
Bantam Standard for the Breeder, Exhibitor, and Judge. 2011 ed. Kansas City: Covington Group, 2011.