Let’s explore 17 beautiful black and white chicken breeds! Or, as we call them, Chanel chickens. These chickens are fancy. And fashionable!
For centuries, homesteaders have been keeping poultry not just for utility – meat and eggs, that is – but also for their beauty. There are chicken breeds kept purely for ornamental purposes.
“I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is perfect harmony.”Coco Chanel, who founded a fashion empire on her black and white creations.
If we go back to Coco Chanel’s quote – undeniably, there is so much beauty and elegance in the contrast of black and white. It is no wonder that farmers adore black and white animals in their yards, chickens included.
Besides the striking color patterns of the following black and white chicken breeds, many are superb chicken meat and egg birds. But which black and white chickens are our favorite?
We propose that the following black and white chicken breeds are some of the most breathtaking!
Let’s take a look.
17 Black and White Chicken Breeds
We scoured our favorite feathered farmyards to research these 17 black and white chicken breeds.
We’re starting with one of the most remarkable – and we also saved some of the best (and rarest) for last.
Let us know which black and white chooks you like the most!
|Use||Eggs, meat, ornamental|
|Weight||Cock: 5 lbs; hen: 4 lbs|
|Eggs||White or tinted, small to medium, 150+ per year|
|Characteristics||Active, wary, good foragers, prefer to be out in the open.|
The Lakenvelder chicken is an old breed – the official records go back to the 18th-century Netherlands-German border region. But its direct ancestors have likely arrived there in the 1st century BCE, with the first Jewish settlers.
The breed’s name means white spread over a black field in Dutch. Some homesteaders also refer to them as a shadow on a sheet. You’ll see why if you look at the stunning contrast between their glistening white body and black tail and hackle feathers.
The bird was selected for its tasty chicken meat and eggs and was considered excellent for both purposes. However, it is not a superb producer by today’s standards (note that those standards may be too high!). Due to its handsomeness, it was also popular in poultry shows.
Lakenvelder is an active breed that likes to do lots of foraging. They are best free-range – keeping the birds confined seems to contribute to their inborn flightiness. Be careful if you have a mixed flock, as the Lakenvelders are likely to dominate over more docile chicken breeds.
2. Scots Dumpy Chicken
|Breed Name||Scots Dumpy|
|Use||Meat, eggs, ornamental|
|Weight||Cock: 7 lbs; Hen: 6 lbs.|
|Eggs||White or tinted, 180+ yearly|
|Characteristics||Extremely short legs, check for external parasites|
Scots Dumpy is one of the two Scottish heritage chicken breeds. This ancient curiosity belongs to the type called creeper chickens due to the extremely short legs – not more than 1-1/2 inches long!
This characteristic is a hereditary genetic condition called chondrodystrophy. It is recessively lethal – if you breed two short-legged Dumpys, about a quarter of embryos will fail to develop. Thus, the breeders tend to cross-breed a short-legged Dumpy with a long-legged one.
Scots dumpy is a hardy breed and a decent egg producer. The chickens can be confined but are better kept free-range (although they can get noisy) – their short legs make them unable to accomplish much damage to the yard. Due to being so close to the ground all the time, they are vulnerable to external parasites, so double-check regularly for mites, fleas, and ticks.
|Weight||Cock: 8.5 lbs; Hen: 6.5 lbs.|
|Eggs||Light to dark brown, 200-280 yearly|
|Characteristics||Friendly, noisy, cold-hardy (and may continue to lay into the winter)|
Originally called the American Sebright, Wyandotte was one of the early American breeds developed at the end of the 19th century. The silver-laced variety (black and white) is the original from New York State. More chicken varieties developed later in other regions.
Wyandotte is a dual-purpose breed with chicken meat that has characteristically yellow skin. The eggs are brown(ish). Because this breed is notoriously cold-hardy, it can continue laying into the winter. It has a friendly disposition and is a perfect choice for families. However, if you have nervous neighbors, know it can get noisy.
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|Use||Meat, eggs, ornamental|
|Weight||Cock: 6.5 – 9 lbs; Hen: 5.5 – 7 lbs.|
|Eggs||Tinted, 200+ yearly|
|Characteristics||Autosexing breed. Friendly temperament|
In the mid-20th century, British breeders wanted to create a triple-purpose breed from Wyandotte – heavy enough for meat production, a proficient layer, and an ornamental show bird. Also, they made it an autosexing chicken breed. In other words – male and female chicks differ in their coloring as soon as they hatch. Wybar was the result of the experiment.
The laced-patterned Wybar has a friendly disposition and can get very tame with the owner. It loves to forage and is a proficient digger. It is best kept free-range but can stand some confinement if enough space is available.
Unfortunately, despite all its qualities, Wybar wasn’t a drastic improvement from Wyandotte. And it never really became popular. Consequently, it is surprisingly rare today – seldom encountered even at shows.
5. Silver Laced Polish
|Breed Name||Silver Laced Polish|
|Weight||Cock: 6 lbs. Hen: 4.5 lbs|
|Eggs||Small, White, 200+ yearly|
|Characteristics||Active, soft-feathered, needs enough space to avoid picking|
Have you ever wanted a chicken that sports an afro? Look no further. Polish chicken is a crested breed with a wildly lush feathery crest that covers almost the entire head and tends to have a lovely beard.
Despite its name, this tremendously attractive and unusual breed is not from Poland. No one knows where it came from, although it has been with us (at least) since the 1600s, according to paintings. There is a theory that they were transported to the Netherlands by the Spanish. However, it’s tricky to prove these theories with certainty.
Out of the nine recognized varieties, most are black-and-white or silver-white – and the Silver-laced Polish is one of them. Still, there are other colors in the Crested Polish palette, such as golden.
Homesteaders used to prize them for eggs, but today they are predominantly an ornamental breed. They need a lot of space to avoid picking and damaging each other’s crests.
|Origin||Sussex, United Kingdom|
|Use||Eggs, meat, show|
|Weight||Cock: 9 lbs. Hen: 7 lbs|
|Eggs||Cream or brown, ~60g, 180-250 yearly|
|Characteristics||Alert, good foragers, productive, easy to handle.|
The Sussex originated in its namesake town in England more than a century ago. Their stout bodies made them an excellent meat breed. Unlike many other old chicken breeds that have become a rarity, Sussex is still famous today as a dual-purpose breed, especially in the UK and Canada.
Sussex is a very productive fowl and an exemplary all-around farm breed, with quality chicken meat and hens of some strains producing up to 250 eggs per year. They are alert, good foragers, and easy to handle. Hens will go broody regularly and are great mothers.
|Use||Eggs, meat, feathers (historic)|
|Weight||Cock: 7 lbs. Hen: 5 lbs|
|Eggs||Light-brown, medium, 230-270 yearly|
|Characteristics||Hardy, good-tempered, adapts well to hot, humid climates.|
The Dominique is a special breed because it’s officially the first and the oldest American chicken breed, with several theories of its origin. This medium-sized fowl is well-known for its striking barred plumage color, also known as hawk-colored or cuckoo-patterned. Besides looking pretty, it makes Dominique less vulnerable to predators – think optical illusions!
Besides being a good medium-sized table (meat) chicken, Dominique is an excellent egg producer, making it a true dual-purpose breed. Historically, it has been a multi-purpose breed. Due to the firm yet fluffy structure, the feathers also got used for stuffing pillows.
8. Russian Orloff
|Breed Name||Russan Orloff|
|Weight||Cock: 8 lbs. Hen: 6.5 lbs|
|Eggs||Light-brown, small, ~100 yearly|
|Characteristics||Game-like, tall, calm, non-broody|
If you seek chickens with headgear, here’s another one. Thought to originate from ancient Persia, Russian Orloffs got named after the Russan count Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov, who fiercely promoted the breed in the 19th century and (supposedly) made it cold hardy by crossing it with other game-like chickens.
Today, Orloff is used primarily for yummy chicken meat but doesn’t have an exceptional growth rate and matures slowly. Thus, it is not immensely popular and is a Threatened breed.
As a layer, it produces only about 100 eggs per year. However, its plumage makes it a lovely ornamental breed. Also, they have a calm temperament (but aren’t considered docile) and like to forage, making them suitable for free-ranging. However, they also handle confinement.
Note that the spangled Orloff variety (with splashes of brown) is the most common. Black and white mixtures include Cockoo and Black molted.
9. Thüringian Chicken
|Breed Name||Thüringian or Thuringian|
|Use||Ornamental, Exhibition; Meat, eggs (historical mostly)|
|Weight||Cock: 4.5-5.5 lbs. Hen: 3.5-4.5 lbs|
|Eggs||White, 140 -180 yearly|
|Characteristics||Cold hardy, good foragers, friendly|
An old breed hailing from the German Thuringer forest, Thuringian is a rare beauty with a small and undeniably elegant body. And a distinct feathery beard and ear muffs. The specific facial expression due to the beard earned them a cute nickname – chubby cheeks.
Once used as a dual-purpose breed for tasty chicken meat and eggs, today, Thuringian is mostly an exhibition breed, popular with keepers interested in rare breed conservation. They are good foragers, suitable for free-range keeping, but can also stand confinement if large enough.
Thuringians come in several varieties – the black and white include cuckoo, silver-spangled, and the majestic all-black Thuringian.
10. Iowa Blue
|Breed Name||Iowa Blue|
|Origin||United States (Decorah, Iowa)|
|Weight||Cock: 7 lbs. Hen: 6 lbs|
|Eggs||Brown, ~180 yearly|
|Characteristics||Good foragers, bit skittish, flock guardians|
Iowa Blue is an early 20th-century species that originated around Decorah, Iowa. This chicken is not blue, as the name suggests. It comes in four varieties: Silver, Charcoal, Smoky, and Birchen. All are black and white but may have a slightly brownish tint.
This breed has a reputation as a dual-purpose chicken. A handful of local enthusiasts have brought it back from the brink of extinction – although it’s still insanely rare. Strangely, Iowa Blue hasn’t been recognized by any relevant national poultry association (for now), so its conservation status is unknown; however, there is the Iowa Blue Chicken Club, petitioning for the breed’s recognition.
11. Appenzeller Spitzhauben
|Breed Name||Appenzeller Spitzhauben|
|Weight||Cock: 3.3 lbs. Hen: 2.2 lbs|
|Eggs||White, ~55g, 150 per year|
|Characteristics||Light, good forager, will roost in trees|
If you’re not a German speaker, prepare for some tongue-twisting.
The Appenzeller Spitzhauben is one of the few Swiss heritage breeds. It has a distinct pointy V-comb and a feather crest, making it probably the most punk-looking chicken on this list. Although it comes in multiple color varieties, the black and white silver-spangled is the most common.
To break some mystery, the word Spitzhauben comes from a pointed ceremonial hat worn by Appenzeller region women.
Appenzeller Spitzhauben is a light chicken. A good forager, it doesn’t fare well when confined. So it’s best-kept-free rage. It is a tremendously rare breed, saved from the brink of extinction in the 1980s. Even rarer in North America, the Appenzeller is currently not recognized by national registries such as the American Poultry Association.
|Weight||Cock: 6 lbs. Hen:4.5 lbs|
|Eggs||Large, white, 220 yearly|
|Characteristics||Active, hardy, prolific; the rooster’s large combs can suffer frostbites|
An ancient Mediterranean breed from the Ancona region of Italy, Ancona is an elegant chicken breed that was once a primary egg producer in neighboring parts of Europe. Today, they are still praised for their laying abilities, hardiness, and foraging skills, but also as an exhibition breed.
Coming primarily in mottled patterns, Anconas have a highly detailed and strict standard, making it challenging to produce a high-quality exhibition chicken. The plumage color is distinct – black ground color-mottled white – with v-shaped specks. The birds with one in five feathers tipped white is considered ideal. The mottles will likely get more sizeable as they age, making older birds more white – as if they were going grey. (It happens to the best of us!)
|Use||Meat and eggs|
|Weight||Cock: 8 lbs. Hen:4.5 lbs|
|Eggs||Tinted, medium to large, 170-190 yearly|
|Characteristics||Good foragers, Friendly, Very tasty meat|
The Dorking breed is said to have ancient roots that trace back to the Roman conquering of Britain. Since Roman times, Dorking ancestors and the modern English version have enjoyed high demand for the exquisitely tasty chicken meat. They have an additional perk. Dorking chickens also have decent laying abilities, making Dorking an ideal dual-purpose breed that takes well to free-ranging. They are friendly and submissive chickens, and hens make great mothers.
Dorking roosters are large, with deep chests, and are silver-laced/black and white. Hens are differently colored – lighter and fine-laced, and also with brown-white chest and belly instead of the black and white pattern typical of males.
14. Plymouth Rock
|Breed Name||Plymouth Rock|
|Use||Eggs and meat|
|Weight||Cock: 9.5 lbs. Hen:7.5 lbs|
|Eggs||Tinted or brown, large, ~200 yearly|
|Characteristics||Hardy, docile, good producer|
This old-school barred darling is still one of the favorite all-around farm chickens. It is a prolific egg producer, an excellent, large-bodied meat bird, and a great family backyard chicken due to its great temperament. Also, it was one of the most common farm chicken breeds up to World War Two.
Ironically, Plymouth rock chicken contributed to the industrial leap that has made many heritage breeds rare or extinct – it was one of the breeds used for creating Broiler chickens.
Depending on whether you wish to emphasize meat production or egg production, ask the breeders if they can recommend a particular Plymouth strain – different strains excel at various aspects of production. As for the colors, black-and-white barred was the original variety – others developed later.
|Weight||Cock: 5 lbs. Hen:4 lbs|
|Eggs||White, 150-200 yearly|
|Characteristics||Active, alert, predator-savvy, great foragers|
If you are looking for a black-and-white chicken on the wild side, look to the mighty Hamburg. Despite its name, it doesn’t originate from Germany but most likely from the Netherlands, although the origins are murky.
This elegant bird is an excellent forager, alert, flighty (with strong long-distance flying abilities), and highly predator-aware, making them great for free-range keeping. When you consider its lean body shape and the bird’s temperament, you could say they are unquestionably wild.
Of all the color varieties, the most blatant black-and-white ones are Silver Spangled and Silver Penciled.
16. Egyptian Fayoumi
|Weight||Cock: 4.5 lbs. Hen: 3.5 lbs|
|Eggs||Small, cream or white, 150-200 yearly|
|Characteristics||Tall and lean, hardy, heat-tolerant; quality eggs|
Fayoumi is an ancient Egyptian breed that didn’t reach the West until the 1940s (USA) and 1980s (UK). It gets characterized by its tall neck, large eyes, and tail held high. The typical color pattern appears penciled, with a silver variety (black and white chickens everywhere!) and a golden Fayoumi chicken.
Fayoumi is a hardy and healthy chicken, well-adapted to hot climates (but doesn’t fare well in the cold). Because they are excellent foragers, athletic and alert, they are perfect for free-range management. They get kept mostly for laying abilities. The eggs are on the smaller side but are said to be of superb taste with lower cholesterol.
|Use||Meat, eggs, exhibition|
|Weight||Cock: 11 lbs. Hen: 8.5 lbs|
|Eggs||Brown, medium, up to 200 yearly|
|Characteristics||Very large, slow to mature, docile, hardy, need large quantities of feed.|
This list ends with a heavyweight champion of black-and-white chickens and one of the most popular black-and-white farm breeds.
The Brahma is a gentle giant of the chicken world, with cocks weighing as much as 11 pounds!
Their size makes them excellent table birds! But they are shunned by the industry due to their slow maturation. The Brahma doesn’t stall with laying either and can produce up to 200 medium-sized eggs yearly.
The breed is also cold-hardy, and the feathered feet help them keep the warmth even during frosty weather. On the other hand, they don’t tolerate hot weather well.
Besides utility uses, their intricate color patterns and elegant disposition have made them a fave among ornamental poultry fanciers.
Last but not least, the docile temperament of the Brahma. They are said to be gentle with children, although they may look scary to the youngest ones due to their size!
We believe not even Coco Chanel could deny the vivacious delight and bountiful beauty of these black and white chicken breeds.
Do you agree?
If so – which black and white chickens are your favorite?
Or, perhaps we overlooked your favorite white and black-feathered breeds?
Let us know!
And thanks again for reading.
Have a great day!