Red Dorking cockerel - Sharon Smith Belle the Dorking hen - Sharon Smith

Key Characteristics

Dorkings make great pets. They are calm, docile birds with good fertility.


  • Named after the town of Dorking in Surrey, this is an ancient breed, described by a Roman author almost 2000 years ago
  • It is not clear whether the Romans brought them to England, or found them already here when they arrived
  • The Dorking was the bird of choice in the London markets for several centuries until eventually replaced by the Sussex
  • From the 1930s until the 1960s the Dorking breed was only kept going by a few dedicated breeders, until a new generation of poultry breed enthusiasts took them up, and reformed the Dorking Club in 1970.


  • Dorkings have a rectangular shaped body with short legs and five toes.
  • There are 5 recognised plumage colours; Dark, White, Cuckoo, Silver Grey and Red.
  • The Silver Grey is the most popular colour whilst the rarest is the White



They lay around 150 medium sized white or tinted eggs per year although number varies depending on strain.


They can be a good meat bird but are slow to mature.

Did you know?

Dorkings have long been known for their fifth toe. They were even described by a farming expert back in the Roman times. There is no particular purpose for the toe but it is an important breed characteristic.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants and donations from the public to raise the £700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare UK native breeds of farm animals. Visit to see how you can help.

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