The Dong Tao chicken is unmistakable—and you can probably see why at a glance. It has enlarged, scaly feet that look like something out of a legend. That’s why this rare breed of chicken is also called the Dragon chicken. Dong Tao chicken feet and legs are an expensive delicacy in Vietnam, and their finicky breeding habits mean they’ll probably stay that way.

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Quick Facts about Dong Tao Chickens

Dong Tao Chicken outside
Image Credit: Johnwoodkim Phuong, Shutterstock
Breed Name:Dong Tao, Dragon Chicken
Place of Origin:Vietnam
Bull (Male) Size:Up to 13 lbs
Cow (Female) Size:Up to 10 lbs
Color:Multi-colored (rooster), White or white/brown (hen)
Lifespan:2 years
Climate Tolerance:Struggles with climate fluctuations
Care Level:High
Production:60 eggs a year

Dong Tao Chicken Origins

It’s unknown how the first Dragon chickens were bred or when they developed their unusual feet, but it’s pretty likely that it was a chance mutation that’s since been bred into a small population. At some point, they became the chicken of choice for ritual offerings and royal meals in Vietnam. Today, these chickens are incredibly rare, but they are still eaten as luxury foods and often sold at festivals for high prices.

Dong Tao Chicken Characteristics

Although Dong Tao chickens are highly prized, they are extremely difficult to breed and remain rare in Vietnam and internationally. They require stable, steady weather to lay consistently, and although some of these chickens can adapt to cooler weather, productivity falls. Even at peak productivity, hens only lay around 60 eggs a year. They also generally require careful monitoring and incubation as eggs left in the coop are likely to be crushed. They also grow slowly, requiring about eight months to reach maturity.


Despite the difficulty in breeding and raising Dong Tao chickens, they are still sought after because of their delicious meat. Although the light meat of the chicken is excellent, it’s really the dark meat that drives up demand. Their rich, oversized thighs and drumsticks are said to be incredibly delicious and have a perfect texture, while the large feet are considered a delicacy.

Appearance & Varieties

Dong Tao chickens are very large, with roosters reaching up to 13 pounds and hens ending up around 10 pounds. Both males and females have enlarged feet and legs covered with reddish scales, and males tend to have even more dramatic enlargement.

Female Dong Taos are generally pure white or white with brown speckles. Chicks have white down and black wings. Roosters can come in multiple colors—a red or auburn with a black breast is the most common. Auburn with a smattering of black, white, and gray feathers is also common, and occasionally roosters are white or mostly white. Both males and females have bright red pea combs and wattles.

Population and Habitat

Dong Tao chickens are one of the rarest breeds in the world. There are likely only a few thousand in their native Vietnam and even fewer in the US and other countries.

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Are Dong Tao Chicken Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Even if you can find a Dong Tao chicken for sale (difficult in the US), it’s generally not going to be a good choice for home farms. These chickens require a great deal of care and do best in stable temperatures, so experienced farmers living in year-round warm environments might enjoy the challenge of raising a few “dragons” of their very own, but raising these chickens is more likely to be a labor of love than anything else.

Featured Image Credit: Hoang Quoc Phuong, Shutterstock