America's Oldest Breed of Livestock

Dominiques and Barred Rocks

Male Dominique

Female Dominique

Male Barred Rock

Female Barred Rock

No discussion of the American Dominique would be complete without reviewing the difference between it and the Barred Plymouth Rocks. In the general there is much confusion between the two because both carry a barred feather pattern, though there the similarity ends.

The Dominique head is more refined and has a rose comb while all of the Plymouth Rocks have single combs. Once there was a Rose Comb Barred Plymouth Rock variety but they disappeared long ago.

The tail of the Barred Plymouth Rock is considerably shorter than that of the Dominique. The Dominique’s tail is long and flowing, similar to that of a Hamburg or Leghorn. The Dominique sickle feathers are wider as well as being longer.

Body conformation is difficult to describe therefore pictures will be used. Notice that the Barred Plymouth Rock is a heavier bird than the Dominique. It also has a deeper body and lower tail carriage. The Dominique is “more upright” than the Plymouth Rock. This upright carriage combined with the body shape gives a stately appearance to the Dominique.

The barring on the feathers themselves should also be considered. This matter is muddled by the commercial hatcheries as their Dominiques and Barred Plymouth Rocks both have a dark cuckoo pattern on the feathers that is virtually indistinguishable. For this discussion we need to review good quality exhibition stock.

In Barred Plymouth Rocks the barring on the feathers is to be sharply contrasting black and white bars. The dark and light bars are the same width and are to be laid down on the feather in parallel rows. These straight uniform bars are the same in both males and females.

However the barring on Dominique feathers is very different. The light bars are a silvery white and the dark bars are not quite black, this author preferring a dove gray.  The light bars are to be almost twice as wide as the dark bars; this combined with bar shape gives the Dominique its mottled appearance.  The bars come in a number of shapes with the most common appearing in the accompanying graphic.  The feather tips should end in a bar, with a small rim of a bar at the very tip giving the feather an “eye” at the end.    This trait is rarely seen in today’s flocks though it was widespread in the good flocks of the early 1900s.

Finally, the light barring on the Dominique male should be twice as wide as that of the female. This results in a male that is much lighter than the female.  The reason for this is simple; the Dominique male carries two chromosomes for the barring while the female only carries one.  An interesting bit of trivia – the Dominique is actually a dark bird with light bars though it is often described in just the opposite manner.

Readers who would like to study the breed characteristics in greater detail should obtain a copy of the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection.  This book is used to judge poultry at shows and contains a wealth of information on the finer points of a breed.