America's Oldest Breed of Livestock

Return Dominique Standard to Proper Form

For this article you must consider the times.  The American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection had been modified by a small group of men to change the Dominique weights, pattern and conformation to much closer to the Plymouth Rock.   A small but vocal group of “old men” began to submit various articles to publications and to petition the APA to change to the Standard of the Dominique back to what the breed had been historically.   What follows is one of those calls to action, written by Dr. W. H. Harwood, how maintained a Dominique flock of over 500 breeder females.   It  is taken from the August, 1908 issue of Poultry Fancier

Plaintive Protest From an Old Fancier

He Claims That His Old Favorites Are Being Wiped Out of Existence by the Standard Requirements of Late Years. Poultry Fancier Would Like to Hear from Other Breeders Regarding the Matter


 I have read with interest the various articles that have appeared in the poultry journals the past year upon this fine old American breed. I have been much interested in the work of the National American Dominique Breeder’s’ Club, of which I am a charter member. I have been delighted to learn of several breeders in various parts of the United States who have kept this grand old breed pure, just as it was in the days of our great- grandparents. I have birds in my yards now that are real old American Dominiques. But for all the interest that has lately been developed in this, the oldest of American breeds, there is today greater danger than ever before that the real, pure American Dominique will become extinct, and that a Rose Comb Barred Rock-Dominique will take its place. Up until now such men as Jesse G. Darlington, S. F. Yerkes, Geo. K. Hawley, L. M. Jones and a few others have kept this breed pure, jealously guarding against the least ad mixture of other blood. Some of these men and their fathers before them, have bred and kept American Dominiques in their yards, without a break, for nearly or quite seventy-five years. They know what an American Dominique is — they care nothing for “Standards of Perfection” — they could have told you every characteristic of the American Dominique years before the men who made the “Standard,” and the men who judge at the shows by the “Standard,” were born. But these old men, whose ideal of what an American Dominique should be was as perfect fifty years ago as was ever any Game Fancier’s ideal of his favorite breed, will soon pass away, and what have we left to take their place? A “Standard of Perfection” that pictures and describes a Dominique that cannot exist’ unless it has in its veins a liberal admixture of Barred Plymouth Rock blood. We have judges who feel bound to be governed by this “Standard”; then of course exhibitors must conform to this same false “Standard,” or they cannot win at any show. Some of the oldest and best breeders of the real American Dominique have written me that they long since stopped exhibiting for they would not rain their strain by trying to meet the requirements of the present “Standard.” But as I have said, these men will soon be gone, and the majority of so-called American Dominique breeders will show, and will breed to show, and to win ; and the real, pure American Dominique will be totally extinct in less than twenty-five years, unless the “Standard” can be made to conform to the type of the breed, instead of as now, the breed to conform to a false “Standard.” This “Standard” should be changed to fit the old, unmixed American Dominique of fifty to one hundred years ago. We have the real unmixed American Dominique now, but such a bird could hardly win at any show, simply because the “Standard” calls for the Rose Comb Barred Rock- Dominique, This “Standard” description of the breed was made to fit a variety of fowl that has been exhibited as an American Dominique for more than twenty-five years past. This variety of fowls is not the pure, old American Dominique, but a mixture of Dominique with Barred Plymouth Rock in varying proportions^ — usually three fourth Dominique and one-fourth Barred Rock.

An American Dominique is almost as different from a Barred Rock as a Black Breasted Red Game is from a Partridge Wyandotte. Even in color and markings they are considerably different — very few pure Dominiques are shaded and barred like a Barred Rock — but in their other characteristics they are vastly different. What old Game Fancier would think of mixing some Partridge Wyandotte blood in his strain of games to improve them in size, markings, etc. ? Equally foolish is it to destroy the old Dominique type with admixture of Rock blood in order to meet “Standard” requirements.

There would not have been a pure American Dominique in existence now had it not been for such men as Jesse G. Darlington, and others, as above referred to, who would not allow a drop of Rock or other blood to be mixed with the strains that had been kept in their families for from fifty to seventy-five years. They perferred not to show or to be beaten at the shows, rather than destroy or modify the original American type.

We have to-day two types of American Dominiques : First, the old sprightly, hardy bird of our great grandmothers’ time. Cocks are often “away off” in “Standard” color and markings. In their surface color there are often gleams and glints of gold, and white in wings and tail is not uncommon. The hens are usually more of a hawk or leaden color than the Barred Rock ; the barring is wider and not as sharply defined as in the Rock. Both cock and hen have very long tails; the chicks feather much earlier and more fully than Rock chicks. Second, the Exhibition American Dominique, which needs no description. It is described and illustrated in the “Standard of Perfection.” Now which shall it be in the future — real Dominique or mongrel Rocks? Once destroyed, like a beautiful vase, the old breed can never be restored. We have this old breed yet in its purity, but I have pointed out the conditions now active which will surely blot it out of existence very soon, unless these conditions are changed. How many real Dominique fan ciers will then be content with their Rose Comb Barred Rocks? As well let the name American Dominique perish with the breed, and have in the place the Rose Comb Barred Plymouth Rock.

I have the best of authority for all of my statements. I have letters from nearly every prominent breeder of Dominiques in America, both those who have jealously clung to the old pure type, and those who keep the Rose Comb Barred Rock-Dominiques ; and while I would on no account connect any names with anything sent me in confidence, I have such a fund of testimony from the most competent breeders to prove the correctness of my position, that I have no fear of contradiction from anyone who knows. If we are to save the real, old sprightly American Dominique untainted by the blood of the long-bodied, clumsy Black Java, the “Standard” for breeding and judging American Dominiques must be changed very soon. There are several men still living who can write a correct Standard for this grand old breed, which they have had under observation in their own yards for fifty years or longer.

I have not written this article to make myself disagreeable to any breeder, with all of whom I am on the most amiable terms ; but I can see that with the pass ing of the few old men like L. M. Jones who left us for the “Better Country” last winter, the real American Dominique will also be gone, unless the Standard of breeding and judging be made to fit the old type, and may Heaven grant that some way may still be devised to preserve in its purity the real, old-fashioned American Dominique. –  Chasm Falls,  N.Y.