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!

27 thoughts on “The Top 4 Pet Duck Breeds

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. faye says:

    im getting a pet duck. I want one that grows slow, dosent 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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”.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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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