One of the oldest poultry breeds, the Dorking chicken is popular for its meat and eggs. It technically originated in England, but there’s a bit of mystery about whether it truly had its origins in Italy during the Roman Empire time period.

The Dorking has many positive attributes, so if you would like to learn more about this ancient breed, read on, as we cover the Dorking’s appearance, productivity, and other characteristics.

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Quick Facts About the Dorking Chicken

Dorking Chicken
Dorking Chicken (Image Credit: Tunderaos, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)
Breed Name:Dorking
Place of Origin:England
Uses:Eggs and meat
Cock (Male) Weight:9 lbs.
Hen (Female) Weight:7 lbs.
Colors:White, silver gray, red, and colored
Lifespan:Up to 7 years
Climate Tolerance:Most climates
Care Level:Easy
Production:Good meat and egg production

Dorking Chicken Origins

red dorking chicken
Image Credit: Eric Buermeyer, Shutterstock

While the Dorking was named after the town of Dorking, located in Surrey in southeast England, chickens with the same characteristic five toes as Dorkings were written about by agricultural writer Columella in ancient Rome.

It’s believed that the Romans might have brought the Dorking’s ancestors with them when they invaded Britain in 43 A.D. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. What is certain is that these chickens have been in England for centuries. In 1683, they were documented at a market in Dorking.

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Dorking Chicken Characteristics

In the 1800s, the Dorking was thought of as a fast-growing chicken, but by today’s standards, it’s considered a slow grower.

These are relatively quiet and hardy birds and need plenty of space for foraging. They tend to be quite active, and they can become undersized and scrawny without the appropriate amount of space. They also tend to stay close to home while foraging and are happy to roost in trees on occasion.

The Dorking takes longer to mature than most other breeds – up to 2 years – and lives an average of about 7 years. These are beautiful birds that are quite broody, and the hens make great mothers. They are even known to take care of chicks that are not their own and tend to their chicks longer than the average hen.

They are friendly and docile birds that are easy to handle and tend to be quite gentle. They are also quite sturdy and hardy birds that are excellent foragers. They’ll make short work of the insects and weeds in your yard.

They are also typically submissive birds and will usually end up at the bottom of the pecking order with other chicken breeds. So, if you have more aggressive birds in your flock, you’ll need to keep this in mind.

dorking chickens on the grass
Image Credit: Chris Watson, Shutterstock


Dorking chickens are dual-purpose poultry, meaning they are used for their meat and eggs. They have white skin, and their meat is considered one of the most flavorful and delicious among chicken breeds because it tends to be quite light and tender.

Dorking hens lay lightly tinted or white medium to large eggs, at about 170 to 190 eggs every year. They are even known to lay during the winter, when eggs from other breeds are usually a little scarcer.

Dorkings might be most popular for their meat, but they can also be used for show. They are beautiful birds that are easy to handle.

Appearance & Varieties

The Dorking chicken is a large bird that can weigh 7 to 9 pounds. It has a somewhat rectangular-shaped body, but what really sets these chickens apart from others is that they have five toes.

The Dorking also has a single comb and red earlobes, and its tail feathers are long. It comes in several different color varieties, including white (which is rare now), silver-gray, colored/dark, cuckoo, and red, and there are also bantam Dorkings.

Dorking Hen
Dorking Hen (Image Credit: 3268zauber, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)


While the Dorking has been around for a long time, it has fallen out of favor and is rare poultry these days. It has ended up on the Livestock Conservancy List under the “Watch” category, which means it’s on the cusp of becoming a threatened species.

It’s typically found in Europe, particularly the U.K., as well as North America. The Dorking has been recognized by the American Poultry Association as far back as 1874.

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Are Dorking Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Dorkings are among the best chickens out there and would be ideal for small-scale farming. It’s just a matter of finding breeders, given that it isn’t a common breed.

It’s believed that Dorkings fell out of favor because of the public’s need for everything to be faster. Dorkings tend to be slow growers, so they don’t fit modern-day standards.

But Dorking chickens do quite well in most climates and are fine in wet and cold weather. Their hardiness, their foraging capabilities, and even temperaments make these birds among the best chickens for anyone’s small farm!

Featured Image Credit: Alicia Cooper, shutterstock