The Top 4 Pet Duck Breeds

the-top-4-pet-duck-breeds

Pet Duck Craze

Raising poultry like chickens and waterfowl is becoming an increasingly popular hobby in the United States.  However, many people who want to embark on the endeavor of pet duck or flock ownership have no idea where to start in choosing their breed.

Breeding ducks has been a pursuit of many devoted farmers and bird enthusiasts for hundreds of years, yielding a wide variety of ducks with varying characteristics and traits.  Some ducks produce more eggs than others, some are excellent birds for their meat.  Which ducks make the best pets?  Meaning which birds are well behaved, the most adaptable, the friendliest, and the most aesthetically pleasing.

Top Pet Duck Breeds

Here is a run down of the four most popular duck breeds, along with their basic Pros and Cons –

1. Pekin Ducks

Pekin Ducks are the large white ducks (think Aflac commercials), they have a calm demeanor and relaxed temperament. Pekin ducklings are the soft, yellow ducklings that you probably see most often in photo shoots, television, and across the internet.  They are the most popular breed of domestic duck in the United States and most likely the most commonly raised breed of duck in the world. Not only are they one of the best pet duck breeds, but they are also very commonly raised for eggs and meat.

Jumbo Pekin Ducks
Pekins are the popular, large, white breed of ducks.
  • Pekin Pros – calm, sociable, very adaptable, unable to fly, easy to purchase, good layer.
  • Pekin Cons – unexciting coloration, can be loud

2. Rouen Ducks

Rouen Ducks are larger cousins of the mallard ducks, having the exact same beautiful coloration while packing a few extra pounds that make them ideal for backyards or farms.  They are very calm and sociable, and bred to be a pet duck or farm duck.  They key difference between a Mallard and a Rouen is that Rouens are too large to fly, and you won’t have to worry about clipping wings.

Rouen Ducks
A Rouen Duck Male
  • Rouen Pros – beautiful feather coloration, calm, sociable, too large to fly, easy to purchase
  • Rouen Cons – Rouens are very heavy and can have a cumbersome stature

3. Cayuga Ducks

Cayuga Ducks are medium sized ducks (still too large to fly), which have a very unique iridescent green plumage.  Usually appearing black, when in the right sunlight, they’re feathers will show iridescent green and sometimes purplish hues. They are said to be the quietest pet ducks, and are often the choice for people who live in close proximity to their neighbors. However, as they are still ducks, we can’t guarantee they will be the quietest of pets.

fowl pox
A group of Cayugas – notice the iridescent green coloration.
  • Cayuga Pros – very unique iridescent plumage, great stature, very quiet
  • Cayuga Cons – can be harder to find

4. Buff Ducks

Buff Ducks sometimes also referred to as Buff Orpington Ducks, are also a very popular duck species for backyards. Great egg layers, and traditionally raised as a dual purpose meat bird as well, the Buff has a fairly calm demeanor and provides a great variety of color to your flock. The Buff Duck is also a medium weight duck breed with beautiful golden “buff” plumage.

Buff Ducks
A group of Buff Ducks
  • Buff Pros – beautiful golden “buff” plumage, medium frame with great stature, calm demeanor, great egg layer
  • Buff Cons – popular and harder to find

Runner Up Duck Breeds

5. Khaki Campbell Ducks

Khaki Campbell Ducks are one of the best egg laying heritage duck breeds. Sometimes rivaling the best chicken egg layers, the Khaki Campbell can lay up to 250+ eggs per year. For this reason, it has become more popular as a backyard or pet for many families.

khaki campbell
A male Khaki Campbell
  • Khaki Campbell Pros – prolific layer of duck eggs, smaller medium weight duck
  • Khaki Campbell Cons – can be “flighty” or less calm, not as great with children

6. Swedish Ducks

Swedish Ducks are most commonly found in Blue and Black varieties and have become one of the more popular backyard duck breeds as they are becoming more available. Similar in demeanor to the Pekin Duck, they Swedish is a large bread with a unique “bibbed” plumage pattern. A good layer of eggs, Swedish made an excellent addition to the backyard flock.

garden ducks
Daffy Duck is modeled after a Black Swedish Duck

Where do I find Pet Ducks?

If you’re looking for pet ducks, it shouldn’t be too tough to find some of these more common and popular breeds at your local farm supply or feed store. Some of the more uncommon breeds like Cayuga, Buff, and Swedish can be found online. They will be shipped directly to your local post office!  Check out eFowl to see what our partner hatcheries have available to ship in the next few weeks!

UPDATE on 06/19/17: I wrote this blog post in 2009, and it has been the most popular post on eFowl (by far) over the years.  We no longer facilitate poultry transactions directly, but rather direct you to the best hatcheries and farms to find the breeds and genetics you are looking for.  Generally speaking, Metzer Farms in CA is the best hatchery for pet ducks when it comes to pricing, availability, and shipping skill.  What would your top 4 pet duck breeds be?  Let us know in the comments!

45 thoughts on “The Top 4 Pet Duck Breeds

  1. Starla says:

    I had a female mallard I got as a duckling & she was very loyal to me. She never had her wings clipped in her life, she just never wanted to leave. She was fully able to fly, just never did. She laid eggs regularly & was mostly outside in the back yard & in a kennel inside @ night. Was afraid something might get her. Had her for 2 years, before neighbor’s dog got into our yard & killed her. Broke my heart. I cried for weeks over losing her. I now have a drake Rouen duck, he’s about 6-7 weeks old now. My husband bought him for me trying to make me feel better after losing my girl. Dexter’s nothing like my girl, but he has his own personality that makes him unique & I’m rather attached to him now. He was 2 days old when I got him, so he’s been with me going on 2 months. Still miss my girl everyday though.

  2. Elena says:

    I have 4 male Muscovy, 2 females and 4 babies that live in my backyard they are not mine but they think im their human and each one of them fly except the babies. They aren’t small ducks either but they take off and land perfectly. They do chase each other around and bully each other sometimes. I’ve broken up a couple of fights between the boys they usually just run or fly away but they are still good boys for the most part. They do poop alot im constantly washing off the sidewalks and they love to eat. There was several girls at one time but they were killed while they were nesting it was very sad. Only one of the original girls remains I think she’s afraid to lay eggs because of what happened to the other girls now she’s a tomboy . A newcomer arrived a couple months ago with 15 ducklings now 4 remain and are doing amazing. They haven’t learned to fly yet as their wings are still small. I know they are waiting for that day. They are very sweet and quiet ducks and would make great pets

  3. Shelby says:

    I have a male Buff duck that a friend gave me. He was only a week old when I received him. I have done nothing but love Quack-a-doodles and he is so mean. He chases the cat and the dog. Worse yet, my 3 year old granddaughter is terrified to go outside if he’s in the yard and not his coop. I have given him tons of love and attention. He spends a great deal of time in our home (as long as he has his diaper on) and he’s still mean. I was told that he behaves that way because he’s lonely. I was told to get him a duck friend and that may help calm him down. Any suggestions?

  4. Tim says:

    I have a black runner duck that I bought from Murray McMurray hatcheries. I had bought an assortment of ducklings.. (2 brown, 2 black and 2 slate blue).. and purposely kept one “for me” as a pet because i’ve heard so many people tell me how ducks actually make great pets.

    Well, fast forward about 7 months later.. (I had gotten them all around May 10th if I remember correctly)… and Billie.. (Yes, I named her Billie… after Billie Piper (Rose Tyler) from Dr Who, because i’m a “whovian” lol).. is basically my best friend, lol. She imprinted on me from the get go, and stuck by my side ever since. She’s now a grown up and will be laying eggs come spring, if not sooner. Since she thinks she’s a human and is actually afraid of the other ducks, I will be taking her eggs as she lays them, and using them for cooking. If you’ve never had duck eggs… have them. Soooo delicious! And they’re excellent for baking, better for a rising agent.. (IE: cakes, brownies, etc, etc)

    But yeah, she’s great.. She’s always so happy to see me and gets super excited. I live on a farm, so this was a lot easier to do than if I had been living in a home or apartment, or in the city. I have an instagram account for her that I recently made if anyone wants to see pictures and videos of her. All of the picture of her growing up since she was a duckling, are on MY instagram though. You can take a look if you’d like.

    Billie’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/billiebacalhau/
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/timothy_crow/

    I’ll be uploading many more pictures and videos to her account.

  5. Debbie says:

    I Have 4 ducks that are absolutely beautifully colored. Don’t know what kind they are exactly but 3 of them have all the same coloring brownish body & feathers that have the white/bluish/purpleish undertones – but all 3 of them have green beaks. The 4th one is completely different, mostly black with large white under neck..also green beak – beautiful colors. Feathers underneath black also white/blueish/purpleish. Wonder what kind they are

    • Crystal says:

      Muscovy are beautiful i have some with very little carnacles
      They put their hair up in a spike its adorable their coloring wonderful!
      They are quiet, little chirps as they talk you cannot help but fall in love their calm demeanour mind you i have not gotten mine to LOVE me yet and this is how they are
      I am nice and talk to me have bought some babies some older and in between so they have been wonderful!!!!!

      I cannot wait to have some hatch at home or in a incubator and see how they are to me after i have them from day one considering how wonderful they are still new to me and my family!

      Yes i even got an older one who flew away or so i thought she hung around though!
      I bought her and one male and she hung out for a day or two hiding in a tree my roof or our rv but she did not leave and now she stays with all the other ducks and we have an understanding….

      I may be crazy but they are beautiful comical amazing creatures whom i have fallen in love with!
      I do not regret having them in my live nor do i ever want to be without them
      Plus they have much better odds against predators and that too i have plenty of experiance with
      All but 12 of 100 chickens gone overnight!
      If you buy them and disagree i will adopt them!
      No but really i wil!

      • Lyn hegarty says:

        I love mine too my big drake waddles around his so big got two sitting at the moment on eggs one has readily accepted food from container will still on eggs the other is more cautous but considering they are sitting on eggs are very good

  6. Fish says:

    All my buff ducks are jerks :( I’ve have over 10 from hatcheries and all of them have been afraid of us. I hatched 2 and they liked me for a bit but then started to hate me. One of my ducks also have 7 babies and the babies didn’t like me either.

  7. Diana Cohen Robinson says:

    I have two Pekin ducks and live in the center of San Francisco. My female, Peaches, quacks a bit loudly when she gets excited, but I have never had a neighbor complain and there a houses all around my garden. Piotr, my male Pekin, once in a while gives a big quack but again, it has never been an issue. Peaches lays one egg every morning and I use them for baking. They have a sturdy duck house with a ramp and I close them away at night to avoid a risk with raccoons. Piotr was carried across the garden two years ago by a raccoon but fortunately I came out, went ballistic at the sight, and the raccoon let him go. Right away I had a wire enclosure built where I can safely leave them when I am not at home.

  8. Tracey says:

    Is there a gender that is more calm/friendly as a pet? We are purchasing a farm and looking forward to having ducks! They aren’t like roosters where you can only really have one male are they?

    • Alan Stone says:

      Hi Tracey,

      Males won’t often fight with each other as long as they have enough space. However, they are similar to chickens in that you want to have a good ratio of males to females. Typically, you do not want to have more than 1 male for ever 4 female ducks. We usually recommend getting females if you are just having them as pets.

  9. faye says:

    i’m getting a pet duck. I want one that grows slow, dosen’t fly,and is quiet. which one should i get?

    Personaly i would get a male Muscovy duck although they arent very pretty they are quiet and dont fly they grow medium fast

    • Yogi Sprague says:

      Mascovys can fly. If you get them younger it takes awhile before they start. They will usually come back to the food and water area. when mine got bigger they fly less , just to get up to roost.

    • Lyn hegarty says:

      I was never keen on muscovy’s because of the red skin on the head but I got ducklings and as they grew and slowly developed the redness I became accustomed to them and now don’t even notice what I once thought was ugly I love them the most of all my ducks I have four or five different breeds I love my big male he has so much character when flies short distances is like a jumbo taking off the girls are more delicate

    • Hazel says:

      Muscovy ducks are powerful flyers! I chased my female around the neighbourhood for 4 weeks before I got her back … I have four – 2 pairs, and have to clip their wings.. otherwise, they’d be gone.

  10. Marie says:

    You forgot to list Muscovy Ducks!! :) They are the absolute quietest and if they are hand-raised they are absolutely awesome pets. They can be hard to find, but well worth the search.

  11. Pappas says:

    I am trying to decide what type of ducklings to get. We have 11 acres and a nice pond, so seemingly a great environment for them. However, we had mallards and 1 rouen before, and one by one they were picked off by predators. :-( I know it’s nature, but it was heart-breaking. Now – we didn’t have a coop – they just lived naturally here. We plan to build a coop this time. Question – What if I get Pekin or Rouen – I know they cannot fly – doesn’t this make them more vulnerable to predators? I don’t want to create a “sitting duck” situation – sorry for the lousy pun, but it’s all I could think of. Thanks, in advance!

    • Alan Stone says:

      If you have some kind of protected area or coop for them at night, that will be very helpful. They are most vulnerable then. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to protect them during the day other than get a few protective geese to help ward off predators. Guinea Fowl are also great “watch birds”.

  12. Krista says:

    I have three rouen, one pekin, one swedish, and one mixed breed duck! Their names, respectively, are Kiwi, Mango, Coconut, Nipper, Shania, and Skipper! I love them all to death and they all are extremely tame and sociable!

  13. dan says:

    please send name of a duck breed bred by a Brit to be “most beautiful breed. I have some and forgot th namr!!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am looking forward to purchasing a duck for a pet. My pond in my backyard will be converted into a great habitat for it. The rouen ducks are very friendly with humans and that’s the one I want to find for sale.

  15. tina c says:

    We live in the California desert, its getting cold out. We have a total of 3 ducks what can I do to help keep them warm? We’ve tried putting them in the garage but they run out.

    • Diana Cohen Robinson says:

      How about building a duck house with a door that folds up and down as a ramp, that you can close them in at night and give them food and water inside?

  16. tina c says:

    I can’t figure out what breed of duck I have. He’s about 13 years old, has a green head black body with a bluish purple on his wings. Also at times he’s very tempermental. Any ideas?

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