Domestic Duck Breeds: 17 APA Recognized Breeds

These 17 Duck Breeds Can Be Raised for Profit, Pleasure or Both

by Erin Snyder

Domestic duck breeds come in many colors and sizes. From tiny Call ducks to large Muscovy ducks, there is a breed to fit all your needs. So whether you raise ducks for eggs, meat or pets, these breeds have you covered. While other breeds of ducks are available in the United States, this article covers the 17 breeds recognized the American Poultry Association.

The APA divides duck breeds into four classes: bantam, light, medium and heavy. What weight class you choose largely depends on whether you raise ducks for eggs, meat, exhibition or pets. Let’s explore the breeds in each class to discover the best breed for your backyard.

Bantam Domestic Duck Breeds

Bantam ducks are usually raised for exhibition purposes or pets. While they lay a medium range of eggs, these ducks are primarily ornamental.


Call: With their big eyes and rubber duckstyle bodies, these delightful ducks have a large following. One of the two smallest duck breeds recognized the APA, Call ducks were originally bred to fit inside duck hunters’ pockets. With their loud, persistent quack, Call ducks acted as live decoys calling in wild waterfowl for the hunters to shoot.

After live decoys were banned from hunting practices, Call ducks gained popularity for exhibition and house pets. These ducks have a sweet, endearing personality and love interacting with their favorite human.

As show birds, these ducks should weigh less than 2 pounds. While Calls come in many colors, the APA only recognizes Blue Bibbed, Blue Fawn, Buff, Butterscotch, Chocolate, Gray, Pastel, Snowy and White.

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East Indie

East Indie: Often referred to as Black East Indies, this breed resembles a miniature Cayuga. Nicknamed the Labrador, Black East Indies have black plumage with iridescent shades of green, blue and purple.The bill, legs and feet are beetle black, and the eyes are dark brown.

As Black East Indie hens age, white feathers may appear. While an aging drake’s body remains black, it may sport white circles around the eyes. White feathering is a disqualification, so only young East Indies are used for showing purposes.

This breed has yet to gain the popularity many other breeds have due to their poor laying and difficulty breeding, and they’re only kept for exhibition purposes.

Black East Indies are strong fliers and need their wings trimmed to prevent flying. This breed enjoys foraging and swimming. The breed weighs in at 24 to 32 ounces.


Mallard: The largest of the three bantam breeds, Mallards are excellent mothers and fair layers, producing 60 to more than 100 tinted, blue or green eggs annually. Mallards are excellent fliers and will migrate if given the opportunity. Trimming wings and housing in enclosed runs are the best ways to keep these ducks from straying. Despite these characteristics, Mallards revert to captivity quickly and make friendly pets. Mallards weigh between 2 and 4 pounds and come in two recognized colors: Gray and Snowy.

Before acquiring Mallards, check with your local wildlife experts to see if a license is required to own, breed or sell Mallards in your state.

Lightweight Spotlight

Just like their name suggests, Runner ducks run rather than waddle. These delightful ducks are easy to herd and are the first livestock many herding dogs learn to herd before moving on to larger livestock.

Popular in the show ring, Runners come in several recognized colors: Black, Buff, Chocolate, Cumberland Blue, Fawn and White, Gray, Penciled and White.

Runner ducks can be nervous but make ideal family pets when kept in small numbers and handled frequently. Hens are good layers, averaging one hundred fifty to two hundred white eggs per duck.

Lightweight Domestic Duck Breeds

These breeds are the champion egg layers of the duck world, with drakes and hens weighing in between four and six pounds.

Khaki Campbell: The most prolific egg layer, this duck rivals the Leghorn chicken for egg-laying consistency. These lovely ducks are excellent foragers and love to eat insects. They tend to be nervous but can be tamed in small backyard flocks.

Campbells must be fed a complete well-balanced layer ration to produce a lot of eggs. Drakes are vigorous breeders, so keeping more than one drake per flock isn’t advised. This duck is only recognized in the breed’s original color, Khaki.


Magpie: Believed to descend from the Huttengem duck, Magpies are a beautiful breed known for their distinct coloring. The breed is recognized in two varieties: Black and White, and Blue and White. Drakes and hens sport white bodies with black or blue caps covering the top of their heads. The back is solid black/ blue from shoulders to wingtips. When viewed from above, the colored marking should resemble a heart.

Magpies are high-strung and startle easily. They can fly small distances when frightened, so their wings should be trimmed to prevent them from straying. Hens are good layers of 200 mainly white eggs annually.

Welsh Harlequin

Welsh Harlequin: The calmest of the lightweight breeds, Welsh Harlequin hens are good egg layers (averaging 100 to 200 eggs annually) and excellent mothers.

While the Welsh Harlequin can be found in two popular colors, silver and gold, the APA only recognizes the Silver variety. Silver drakes resemble Mallard drakes; hens are silvery white with black penciling and a blue wing speculum. This breed is calm and curious and loves interacting with their favorite human.

Middleweight Spotlight

Crested ducks can be easily recognized the giant pom poms on their heads. This crest of feathers is caused a mass of fatty tissue growing out of a hole in the duck’s skull. While a duck of any breed can be crested, breeders have carefully selected ducks to breed for this fancy feather-do.

Crested ducks are nervous and can be easily injured or bullied (especially the drakes) non-crested breeds. Avoid free-ranging, as predators can easily pick off these ducks.

Crested females are decent egg layers, producing an average of 120 creamed-colored eggs annually. The APA recognizes two varieties: Black and White.

Middleweight Domestic Duck Breeds

Medium-weight ducks are the dual-purpose breeds of the duck world. These hardy breeds are less nervous and lay fewer eggs than their lightweight cousins but don’t produce as much meat as the heavyweight class, with hens and drakes averaging 5 to 8 pounds.


Buff: Buff ducks are the only poultry breed recognized by the APA to be named after its only color. Buff ducks are excellent table birds and make reasonably good layers, producing an average of 100 white or tinted eggs annually.

Hens and drakes are friendly, docile, alert and intelligent. They don’t have any flying abilities and are ideal ducks to raise in a backyard.


Cayuga: The main meat duck in the United States in the mid-19th century, Cayugas are an excellent table bird for those looking for dark meat. With their black feathers, legs, bill and dark brown eyes, these delightful ducks look like giant versions of the Black East Indies.

Cayugas are quiet, hardy birds that love to forage. Hens are good layers, averaging 150 eggs annually. Eggs start black but quickly fade to white throughout the egg-laying season. They only come in a Black variety.


Swedish: Swedish ducks are an orchardist’s best friend. These ducks love to forage and are happiest when allowed to free-range in orchards and pastures, trimming weeds and grasses, and feasting on harmful pests. The downside to these ducks is that they can and will fly, so trimming their wings is necessary.

Swedish ducks produce superior tasting meat and are excellent table birds. Hens are good layers, averaging 150 white or greentinted eggs annually. Blue is the only standard variety, but you can also find them in black, silver and splashed color patterns.”

Heavyweight Domestic Duck Breeds

The draft horses of the duck world, the heavyweight class, are known for their superb meat, calm and friendly temperaments, and willingness to brood and raise young. Heavyweight breeds average between 7 and 14 pounds.


Aylesbury: Aylesbury ducks look like Pekins with pale bills. Aylesbury’s bills are pink instead of the bright orange bills most Pekins sport. These ducks are calm, love to eat and can easily become overweight. Hens are poor layers, averaging 30 to 100 white or green-tinted eggs annually. White is the only variety.

Heavyweight Spotlight

Often referred to as a Silver Appleyard, this duck is easily recognized by its chunky size and pastel Mallard coloring. Appleyards love to eat and can quickly become overweight. Allow ducks access to green pastures and avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity. If fed a good quality layer ration, hens are excellent layers of 150 white eggs annually. Appleyards are excellent mothers and make ideal family pets.

One of the most difficult ducks to breed, Aylesbury ducks need access to swimming water to breed. Never allow breeding stock to become obese.


Muscovy: The only domestic breed recognized the APA not to originate from the Mallard, Muscovies are an unusual duck. While most ducks quack, Muscovies hiss, croak and coo. Muscovy ducks are also the only ones with bare skin on their faces. This trait makes them susceptible to frostbite in colder climates. These ducks are known for their excellent meat qualities and brooding and mothering skills.

Muscovy ducks are an invasive species and have been banned in several states. Before acquiring Muscovy ducks, check with your local fish and wildlife department to see if it’s legal to own Muscovies in your area. Muscovies come in five recognized colors: Black, Blue, Chocolate, Silver and White.


Pekin: The “king of ducks,” Pekins have earned their popularity in egg and meat production. Pekins are fast growers and reach market size in 7 weeks. As egg layers, Pekin hens average 100 to 200 white or tinted extra-large eggs.

When choosing a family pet, it’s difficult to beat the Pekin. Gregarious, talkative, friendly and fun, these ducks imprint on their human family as ducklings, creating a bond that will last their entire life. Pekins come in one variety: White.


Rouen: Bred several hundred years ago in France, Rouens were once popular ducks raised for their superb quality dark meat. These days, this Gray breed is mainly kept for exhibition, egg production (hens lay an average of one hundred and fifty white, blue, or green eggs annually), and pets.

Rouens look like large Mallards with duller markings and come in two variety strains: Production and Exhibition. Production Rouens average 6 to 8 pounds, while exhibition Rouens tip the scale between 9 and 12 pounds. Both strains are calm, make good pets and require swimming water for successful breeding.


Saxony: Albert Franz bred Saxony ducks in the 1930s in East Germany to be fast-maturing table birds. While they are still considered a meat breed, Saxony ducks are mostly kept as egg layers and pets in backyard flocks. Hens are excellent egg layers, producing an average of 150 white to blue-green eggs annually.

Drakes and hens have calm, quiet, and gentle personalities and enjoy foraging. Saxony ducks are recognized in one unnamed variety.

Ducks are an excellent addition to any homestead or backyard flock. So whether you are raising ducks for pleasure or profit, consider trying one of these breeds recognized the APA.

This article about domestic duck breeds was written for Chickens magazine online. Click here to subscribe to Chickens magazine.

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