Pouter Pigeon: Breed Details | Origin | Breeding & Raising | Types

Almost all continents and countries of the world have pigeons flying and gracing their skies. We are innately habituated to this domesticated bird.

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Intro Video - Backtobirds

They are popular as messengers and carriers of letters and notes in the era when telephones and the internet were a faraway dream. It is also popular as a symbol of love and peace.  

However, for most of us, pigeons are of just one variety, i.e., the one we see around us.

But do you know that there are about 30 different species of pigeons? Amongst them, one of the jazziest breeds is the pouter pigeon.

Here, we introduce the bird to you and showcase some interesting details. Read on! 

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Introducing Pouter Pigeon 

All pigeon varieties are divided primarily into two types- domesticated and feral. The domesticated pigeons can be trained, domesticated, and kept as pets or hobbies.

In contrast, you cannot do any such thing with feral pigeons. They live in wild and urban surroundings and are well adapted to survive in that environment.  

The pouter pigeon is a type of domesticated pigeon that is a descendant from the rock pigeon and is a variety of the rock dove, the Columbia Livia. It is called so because of its characteristic very large inflatable crop and their ability to puff out their chest called pouters.  

The English pouter pigeon originated first in England after many years of selective breeding. William Bernhardt Tegetmeier stated its evolution was due to the cross-breeding of pigeon breeds like Dutch Cropper, Uploper, and the Parisian Pouter.

However, John Moore suggested its evolution as a cross-breeding of a cropper pigeon and a horseman pigeon. Both are varieties of pigeons found in the 18th century.  

Going by history, the pouter pigeons have been bred in Europe for over 400 years. They were then popularly called Pouting Horseman because of their links with the Horseman breed.

Even Charles Darwin talked about this pigeon in his book, ‘The Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication,’ where he defined the breed as, “perhaps the most distinct of all domesticated breeds.” 

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Physical Features of Pouter Pigeon (English Pouter) 

Because of their striking and attractive appearance, pouter birds are reared as ornamental or fancy birds. They are quite slim but the tallest amongst all pigeon varieties.

They have almost never-ending strong and high-stepping legs with more length between the foot and the knee. They can stand around sixteen inches tall on them. 

As already stated, their hallmark characteristic is the large inflated crop and the chest alias pouter that can be puffed out. They appear in a plethora of colors and patterns with a soft and well-aligned feathering.

Primary colors include black, blue, black check, blue check, silver, yellow, red, and dun. Their head is dove-shaped and small when compared to their body size.

It’s long narrow, and V-shaped waste constitutes about one-third of its length. Overall, they look elegant and aristocratic but delicate. Moreover, they carry themselves in a very dignified and graceful manner.  

They are calm and quiet birds by nature and usually display good behavior.  

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Sub-Varieties or Breeds of Pouter Pigeons 

There are many sub-varieties of equally famous pouter pigeons. A few of them are: 

Brunner Pouter 

One of the most popular blower breeds, the Brunner Pouter, was developed after many years of selective breeding in the Brunn area of the Czech Republic. It is also the smallest amongst all breeds of pouter pigeons.  

Dutch Cropper  

This pouter pigeon originated in the Netherlands and is its oldest and largest National fancy pigeon breed. Developed in the 16th century, it is related to the Pomeranian and Ghent Croppers. It is also the parent breed of English Pouter pigeon and one of the largest blower croppers.  

Elster Cropper  

Originating in Germany and developed around the early to mid-nineteenth century, it is popularly called the German Magpie Cropper pigeon but also known by names like Boulant Pie, Gozzuto Pica, Elsterkropfer.

A particularly popular pet species in Bohemia, Silesia, Saxony Anhalt, and Saxony; it is also commonly bred in several countries like Denmark, Austria, Poland, Scotland, Francis, Netherlands, U.S., etc.  

English Pouter  

It is a breed that we have taken as our standard to talk about pouter pigeon. Its distinctiveness has already been described above.  

Ghent Cropper 

Originating in the Netherlands and Flanders and primarily near the city of Ghent, this pouter bird is hailed as the ‘pearl’ of all pouters.

Historically, it is also called a ‘Striker’ because it is an excellent airman and can smack real hard with its wings together, especially during flights. Their paintings can be traced back to 1400 century.  

Related to the Dutch and Pomeranian pouter; it is a massive, powerful, and stocky pouter with an exceptionally large globe and strong foot feathering. These sweet-tempered birds cannot sit still. They are still only when they are sleeping.  

Gaditano Pouter  

Originated in Spain, they are medium-sized and slightly erected birds. They are quite heavy and also have a significantly big globe. 

Granadino Pouter 

Originated in the Andalusia, Cadiz region of Spain, these pouters are also popularly known as Granadino Kröpfer, Buchon Granadino, and Boulant Granadino in their native place. They are believed to have developed around the 18th century.  

They are big and wide pigeons with a slightly erected posture and very heavy wraths on its nose. Its head is massive and slightly square, while its chest is broad. Its crop is big and hanging, and its legs are long and featherless. 

Flying in a slow and elegant manner; these pouters exhibit excellent flying ability. While flying, they inflate their cache, extend their tail, and lift it slightly upward to form a perfect V and float around beautifully. 

Holle Cropper 

Popularly also called Amsterdam Balloon Cropper, the breed was developed in Holland, specifically, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

While its origin is unknown, it is an old breed since its paintings can be traced back to the sixteenth century.  

A variety of pigmy pouter pigeons; is a short and symmetric medium-sized bird. It looks much smaller than it actually is. Its globe is well-inflated, well-rounded, and proportional to its body.

It has slightly feathered feet, and its neck has a loose and easy motion while strutting. The bird can stand on tip-toe and tilt back, almost like the Fantails. It is a popular pet bird.  

Horseman Thief Pouter 

With its history dating back to around the 17th century, the bird was developed first in Spain and then spread to other parts of the globe.

It reached North America in 2004. Now considered a Scottish breed, it is touted to be developed from a cross-breed of the Pouter and the now extinct Horseman breed (it looked halfway between a dragoon and a carrier).

This breed has a proper structure of an upright stance, slightly longer legs, and an upright and round globe. They flaunt a streamlined look, not as extreme as other pouters. They are medium-sized birds of an average height of about 10 inches.  

These birds are of three types based on their uses- show, flying, and working. They are most sought for the popular Spanish game as a ‘working thief pigeon.

As lively birds, they are responsive to human chat and are also called ‘pushy’, as they tend to coo, bow and work at other people and birds.

They are terrific fliers and can effortlessly entertain a crowd with their puffing, clapping, and show-boating in the air. 

Their body is not too large, and they have a proportionate globe. They have featherless legs and hard and tight feathering over their body.  

Marchenero Pouter 

One of the oldest pouter breeds that developed in Spain almost a thousand years ago, the bird grabs the limelight because of its unusual method of flying.

While its history is not too clear, it is believed that its race was imported from outside, specifically its ancestor, the Calitejo dove.  

It has a stunning appearance, flies in a unique way by flaring its tail, and loves to strut around the loft and open spaces.

It looks like a substantially built bird but is actually not so as it has a well-developed body but loose feathering.

Its crop is well-inflated but not overly so. It is carried loosely but does not look pendulous. They have medium to short legs.  

Norwich Cropper 

Developed in the Norfolk area of England, the breed is believed to have developed from the Dutch breed, the Oploper. This medium to large-sized bird flaunts a slim and erect body that can stand on tiptoes.

It can hold its inflated crop for extended periods of time. Its large and round globe can stand out from its body at right angles. The inflated crop and its erect stance are distinctive and identifying characteristics.  

They have proportionally smaller heads and medium-length wings held close to their body.

Their feathers are hard, silky, and tightly fitted, especially in the thigh and the vent areas. They have clean legs, and their average body height is around 38 cm. It is smaller than the English Pouter but larger than the pygmy pouter. 

These pouters display a good and calm temperament with a friendly disposition. They are loved for their delightful and attention-loving personalities.  

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Old German Cropper 

Touted as the longest breed of the pigeon; it was developed via selective breeding and originated in Germany and Hungary. It is also known as Altdeutscher Kropfer in its place of origin.

The breed is supposed to be as old as the Old Holland Pouter. Its ancestry is believed to be the same as that of the Hungarian Giant Cropper.  

The pigeon has a semi-erect stance in the front, and the rest of the body is carried close but parallel to the ground. Its wings are exceptionally long and extend beyond their tails.

The feathers are well-closed and do not display any ‘sail-like effect.’ Despite their short legs, they look like large, powerful pigeons because of their extreme feather development.

Their feather is smooth and neat but not too tight. They are also classified as light birds and sought primarily for exhibition and ornamental purposes.  

Pigmy Pouter 

Though this pigeon was developed in England, it is generally considered to be from the United Kingdom.  

The breed is considered a miniature version of the original English Pouter pigeon. It comes across as an odd and delicate little bird. However, it is not too significantly shorter than the Brunner.

With less than 12 inches in height, it flaunts the same pride and eagerness to show off personality like its larger version.  

Compared to the English Pouter pigeon, working with the pygmy pouter is much easier. It is used both as pets and for exhibition purposes.  

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Pomeranian Pouter 

A direct descendant of the Old Dutch Cropper, the breed is believed to have originated about two hundred to three hundred years ago in the Pomerania section of Germany. 

It is a massive pouter that stands erect. Its globe is huge but proportioned, and a massive body with long and powerful legs. Combined with its huge muffs, the breed oozes a look of pure power.

The wings are long and held tightly against the body. The flights are neatly folded with no signs of sails. The pouter walks with an upright carriage, with its angle to the station being about 60 to 80 degrees.

However, it is not as erect as the English Pouter.  

Reverse-wing Pouter 

Also, popular as Reversewing Cropper, the bird originated in Germany, specifically Saxony and Thuringia. It was developed in the early 19th century.  

Even though it looks medium-sized, it counts amongst the tallest breed of pigeons. With a slim look and very long legs; the bird is about sixteen inches tall.

Not only is it heavily muffed; it also has quite long feathers in its legs. With an upright body like the Indian Runner Ducks, it has a rounded globe and crop in the front.

It looks quite beautiful with its interesting but somewhat comic appearance.  

Voorburg Shield Cropper 

A recent breed from the Netherlands, it was developed by C.S.T Van Gink in 1935.

Dreaming of developing a breed with White Croppers with colored breasts, Van spent a few years in the U.S. to improve his technique of painting and drawing. Finally, he became successful in 1929. 

The pigeon is medium-sized with a tall, slender, and upright appearance. Its medium-sized globe is well rounded and rises smoothly from the waist and shoulders. The noticeable back globe is distinctive.

The globe is not over-inflated and hence, is easy and comfortable to handle during the bird’s movement. 

Unconstrained, playful, highly curious, and smooth, the bird moves gracefully in an upright manner with its eyes directly over the center of its feet. They also show a distinctive pattern during courting.

While at it, the male moves in a hopping motion with its tail spread like a fan. The females often also behave similarly.  

When in flight, both birds clap their wings above their backs. Responsive to human voices, these birds give an active and constant performance. You need to rear and train them young if you desire to have them as pets.  

Uses of Pouter Pigeons  

As evident, almost all varieties of the pouter pigeons are used for ornamental and exhibition purposes. A few of its varieties can also be kept as pets.  

We hope that you enjoyed learning all about pouter pigeons. In our final section, we try to address a few frequently asked questions that might be lingering in your mind.  

Can pouter pigeons fly? 

Pouter pigeons can fly though they do not excel at it like the homers. The showy pouters can fly better than chicken but not very well. However, the flier pouters like the Gaditano pouter, Marchenero pouter, etc., can fly quite well.  

Related Read: Do pigeons fly at night?

What is the price of pouter pigeon? 

The price of a pouter pigeon starts at $150 and can rise to $500 to $1000, depending on its characteristics and other features.  

Are pouter pigeons good pets? 

Most pouter pigeons have a calm, friendly and responsive disposition. If reared and taken care of correctly, they make excellent pets.