Out of all the various animals that you might raise as livestock or just as companions, chickens are probably the most appealing.
With so many varied breeds, a low bar to entry, and plenty of personalities, it is no wonder that chickens are extremely appealing to farmers and to backyard keepers alike.
However, some chicken breeds are known for aggression and can be dangerous to inexperienced keepers. What are the most dangerous chicken breeds?
The most dangerous chicken breeds include the Cornish, American, Old English Game, Malay, Asil, Oriental Game, Cubalaya, Sumatra, Buckeye, Wyandotte, and Faverolles. These are breeds known for consistent aggression and for being fight-prone, though not necessarily the largest. Some of these breeds will demonstrate aggression even as chicks.
Definitely not the breeds to choose if you are looking for a backyard flock to provide eggs and occasional meat!
Many of the most dangerous chicken breeds are those that were bred over many generations specifically for cockfighting, or else are still mostly wild stock that can barely be called domesticated.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about the most aggressive breeds, or rather why you should avoid them!
What Makes for an Aggressive Chicken?
Genetics and selective breeding (for or against) is what are primarily responsible for determining the baseline level of aggression in chickens.
Domestic chickens are all descendants of the red junglefowl, a wild bird that is still found in tropical forests across Asia.
The more closely related a chicken is to the red junglefowl, or closer to its “wild” ancestors, the more likely it is to be aggressive.
Over the centuries, chickens destined for domestication have been selectively bred for various traits, including egg production and meat quality.
However, aggression is also a trait that can be selected for or selected against in chicken breeding. When chickens are domesticated, they are typically bred to be less aggressive than their wild ancestors.
However, if aggression is encouraged through selective or haphazard breeding, it can become a more prominent trait even in domestic chickens.
For example, some chicken breeds are known for being particularly aggressive towards other chickens and animals.
This may be a useful quality for roosters and hens that want to protect the flock and chicks in particular. However, it can be dangerous when these chickens act aggressively toward people!
Sadly, there is a dark side to breeding for aggression. Many chicken breeds, usually referred to as game breeds, were specifically developed for the sport of cockfighting.
Cockfighting is a bloodsport in which two roosters are placed in a ring and fight each other until one is dead or severely injured.
Today, cockfighting is illegal in most developed countries. However, it is still widely practiced clandestinely in some areas, particularly in developing countries.
The twist is that many legacies and some modern breeds of domestic chicken have been refined from these game breeds, or else the prizefighter lines of old have been diluted to make them more suitable for reasonably tranquil domestic life.
However, since some of these game breeds were bred for hundreds of years across thousands of generations, the old instincts for aggression are not so easily broken!
These domestic descendants might still be known for a mean streak, or else a higher than usual chance of producing truly ferocious roosters.
With all that in mind, let’s look a little closer at some of the breeds available today that are infamous for aggression.
Not to be confused with the Cornish Cross, which is much tamer. The Cornish, formerly referred to as the Indian Game chicken, is an old English breed that was once common in Cornwall, hence the name.
It was bred for meat production and was developed by crossing local birds with Malaysian gamefowl.
The latter were imported in the 1800s to improve the fighting ability of the birds. As a result, the Cornish is still known as one of the most aggressive chicken breeds available today!
Characterized by a large and meaty build, the Cornish chicken is an excellent legacy choice for those looking to add some extra heft to their flocks or protein to their diets.
Hens are rarely as aggressive as roosters and are also known for their egg production.
When it comes to raising Cornish chickens keep in mind these big, bold birds require more space than other breeds. And, like most on this list, will not cohabitate well with other species.
The American is another game chicken that was bred from English and Malaysian gamefowl. It was developed in the United States in the late 1800s and, like the Cornish, was originally used for cockfighting.
The breed has since been used for meat production and is characterized by a large build and aggressive behavior.
Today, American chickens are still known for their aggression, particularly roosters. In addition to being more aggressive than other chicken breeds, they are also known to be extremely noisy and high flyers, which can make them taxing to keep.
If you’re looking for a breed of chicken that will make its presence known, the American is a good choice.
Additionally, American hens will not tolerate additions to an established flock and will kill newcomers or late additions.
On the other hand, both roosters and hens are known to be good parents, being very gentle and attentive with their own young. However, roosters are notorious for being loners, and will often try to kill any other rooster in the area.
Old English Game
The Old English Game chicken is a heritage breed that was developed in England over 500 years ago. It was originally bred for cockfighting but is now primarily kept as an ornamental breed.
Unlike the Cornish and American, which are meat-type chickens, the Old English Game is a lightweight chicken that was bred for speed and agility.
Despite being long ago discontinued from breeding for cockfighting, Old English Game chickens remain extremely aggressive, if not the most aggressive on this list.
Hens and roosters alike are territorial and will show aggressive tendencies towards other chickens, animals and people, particularly children. They are also known to be high flyers, and will often roost in trees or on roofs.
The Malay chicken is a heritage breed that was developed in Malaysia over 1,000 years ago.
It was originally bred for cockfighting and is characterized by its height, stout, muscular build, and dense, sharp beak and spurs.
With roosters topping out at nearly 3′ tall, this is one breed that is capable of inflicting real damage, so watch out.
Malay chickens are still widely used for cockfighting in some parts of the world, and are therefore known to be ferociously aggressive (even against chicks and hens) and will likely fight to the death against any creature that crosses them- and that does not take much!
These birds show absolutely zero fear against any perceived threat.
Possessed of a hair-trigger temperament, they are also known to be quite fast, making them difficult to stop on the attack and hard to catch if they escape. A breed only for the boldest or most experienced keepers.
The Asil chicken is a heritage breed that originated in India. These chickens are a heritage breed that is known for their striking appearance and formidable size.
The most distinguishing feature of Asil chickens is their large, prominent eyes, which give them excellent vision. They also have long legs and a large body, are capable jumpers with some flight capability.
In addition, Asil chickens are known for their aggressive nature, which makes them good at protecting their territory but of questionable safety around chicks, which they may attack.
But, curiously, some owners report that their Asils display quite a lot of affection toward their human keepers, and only act hatefully toward other chickens and animals.
As a result, Asil chickens are not recommended for first-time chicken owners.
The Oriental Game breed of chicken is more of a category that encompasses several breeds of Asian jungle fowl.
All of them remain very close to their wild roots, and this “species” is declining as a domestic breed today.
All of them fly well, are fearlessly aggressive, and will fight to the death against perceived threats or competing roosters.
Aggression is so etched into the DNA of these birds that chicks are often spotted fighting each other as soon as they hatch. Yikes.
But, if you want an interesting and truly venerable breed that requires little care or interaction, you might consider getting a few before it is too late.
The World’s Most Dangerous Chickens
As you can see, there are a number of breeds of chicken that remain quite aggressive and fight-prone to this day.
While some may be more dangerous than others, all should be considered carefully before being kept as livestock or pets.
If you do decide to keep one of these breeds, it is important to be aware of their tendencies and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, your family, and your other chickens.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.