Have you ever heard of the German Pekin duck? In the United States, these ducks are known as the American Pekin. However, the German Pekin and the American Pekin are two separate breeds, but they are related. Sadly, the German Pekin is endangered, but they deserve to have their stories told. In this article, we’ll explain the traits and characteristics of these large and friendly ducks.


Quick Facts About the German Pekin Duck

Breed Name:German Pekin
Place of Origin:China and Japan
Uses:Meat and eggs
Drakes (Male) Size:9 pounds
Hens (Female) Size:8 pounds
Color:White plumage with yellow sheen
Lifespan:5–10 years
Climate Tolerance:All climates
Care Level:Easily adaptable, low maintenance
Production:Meat, eggs, dual-purpose, game bird
Height:20 inches

German Pekin Duck Origins

The German Pekin duck originated in China, despite its name, way back in the 1800s. Not to be confused with the American Pekin, they are related to the American Pekin but are two separate breeds, both originating from the same Chinese livestock.

In the United States, the Pekin is referred to as “Donald Duck” due to its appearance, and their docile behavior influenced Walt Disney to create his Donald Duck stories.

In Europe and the UK, Pekins are known as the German Pekin, which is believed to have been imported into the UK in 1970. Although rare and endangered, you can still find them scattered across the globe.

close up German Peking Duck head
Image Credit: Nicolette_Wollentin, Shutterstock

German Pekin Characteristics

The German Pekin is a tall and upright duck that cannot fly more than a few feet. They are docile, gentle, friendly, and can adapt to pretty much any climate. They are tall ducks, averaging 20 inches in height, and their webbed feet allow them to waddle rather than walk.

They can swim very well, and they have a special feature—waterproof feathers1. If they dive underwater, the underlayers of their feathers will stay completely dry.

They grow to be roughly 13 inches long, and they love small bodies of water. Instead of diving for food, they forage at the edges of ponds, lakes, land, or any type of muddy terrain. They are omnivores and eat a varied diet that consists of water insects, snails, and crabs.

These ducks are friendly, affectionate, and can adapt to pretty much any climate. Their vertical, upright stance differentiates them from the American Pekin, which has a more horizontal stance. Their upright stance stems from cross-breeding white ducks brought from Japan by Dutch ships in the late 1800s.


These ducks were initially used for meat. Today, they are mainly an exhibition breed. The German Pekin is also on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST)2. They have a large egg production, usually laying between 50–80 large eggs a year. They were initially bred as table birds for their lean meat. Even though they are endangered, they had an influential hand in the commercial market for manufacturing meat for the table.

close up week old german pekin ducklings
Image Credit: Dobromir Kalenikov, Shutterstock

Appearance & Varieties

The German Pekin’s plumage is white, with the young males possessing a yellowish sheen, and they have orange bills. They are tall, upright ducks with a vertical stance, averaging 20 inches in height. Their webbed feet allow them to waddle rather than walk.

These ducks are broad and round with dark blue eyes. Their legs and feet are orange, and they have long and soft feathers. The wings rest closely to their sides, and their necks are short and thick. The cheeks are bulky, and they have large heads with short bills.


As we’ve mentioned, these beautiful ducks are on the endangered list, but you can find breeders around the globe where you can buy their eggs or livestock. They are mainly used for exhibition purposes, but if you want to purchase German Pekin ducks, keep an eye out for breeders.

a flock of german pekin ducks in the ground
Image Credit: Konovalova Mariya, Shutterstock

Are German Pekin Ducks Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Yes, you could use these ducks for small-scale farming. They do well with free-range, and you’ll need a water source for them, such as a pond or lake. They are pretty noisy, but the egg production is worth the noise. They are fertile, strong, and outgoing birds that would be a pleasure to have on your land.



These ducks make for pleasant livestock if you’re so inclined. It is a little difficult finding them, but with extensive research, you can find a breeder, and you’ll be helping to preserve these unique, affectionate, and outgoing ducks.

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Featured Image Credit: kenkon, Shutterstock