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Author Topic: Duck breed temperament  (Read 641 times)


  • Joined Apr 2022
Duck breed temperament
« on: January 29, 2023, 01:08:34 pm »
I hope we will soon have some ducks. Iíve made most things ready over winter - stable to house them and a secure outdoor run.

I want a primarily laying variety and am leaning towards Welsh Harlequins. Iíve read they are supposed to be fairly calm and manageable.

The critical thing here is one of our dogs, a collie. She would not deliberately attack them but is triggered by sudden movement. We have a cat and she is perfectly fine with him because the cat basically ignores her. Iíve ruled out Runner Ducks because she would just find it irresistible.

So are Harlequins fairly quiet and calm?
And would I be best getting them from day old if possible so they are more accustomed to seeing dogs? Of course I realise that means slightly more difficulty in needing to have a heater etc.


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
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Re: Duck breed temperament
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2023, 03:51:52 pm »
Whatever age you get your ducks is less important than not allowing your dog to annoy/chase and potentially kill them

I had ducks until 3 years ago when I moved, and my gundogs often jumped the fence into their run. But being soft mouthed and trained to the whistle they would either stop if I saw them in time, then recall back over the fence, or if they caught a duck would just hold it across the middle of its body and bring it to me.  They weren't killers and to be honest the ducks became used to the dogs and never ran away from them - which probably helped.

So teach your collie not to chase
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age


  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Duck breed temperament
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2023, 07:57:07 am »
The only drawback to day olds is not being able to sex them for ages - I can't usually tell till they are 6 - 8 weeks old. So you will need a plan for surplus males. Probably better to buy in say 4 ducks 1 drake already sexed from a reputable breeder. Never kept Harlequins but they are pretty. Get a breed you like looking at!


  • Joined Apr 2022
Re: Duck breed temperament
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2023, 10:45:25 am »
She's not interested in ducks or birds per se. In parks and on walks she wouldn't go out of her way to chase a bird, whereas she would sprint half a mile to run down a squirrel or rabbit. As I said, she doesn't hassle our cat, because he largely ignores her.
It's just the sudden movement, and it is particularly hard-wired into her. We've tried to control it for years but I will never completely and reliably eradicate it so I have to plan for that.

@Richmond Well apparently that is another advantage of Harlequins. They can be sexed very early - not 100% but reasonably well. Drakes have a dark bill and ducks are yellow/orange.


  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Duck breed temperament
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2023, 10:57:19 am »
All ducks are panicky. We have some Welsh Harlequins (great ducks BTW), and they'll make a run for it if we get too close, just like the other breeds.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett


  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Duck breed temperament
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2023, 01:58:38 pm »
I hatched out duck eggs ( Saxony ) I ended up with 4 males and one female. Males kepted trying to drown each other so had to rehome. The female I gave to a friend as soon as I knew she was the only girl. Her life would have been terrible otherwise.


  • Joined Apr 2022
Duck Update
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2023, 08:44:01 am »
Update... I have my ducks now.

Ended up with Khaki Campbells, mainly because there was a place near us that did day-old chicks. Options were Runners, Cayugas and something else so the Campbells were the best laying option.

So reactions from the other animals have been:
Collie - on an emotional roller-coaster. Seems to vary between thinking she should chase them or worried they are going to chase her.
Puppy (Toller) - loves them all and just wants to say hello and be near them. I've been letting him watch them to get them used to it.
Older Toller - completely ignores them, like they don't exist.
Horse 1 - bit wary and snorty but sort of interested.
Horse 2 - OMFG they may be small but they are deadly (which is sort of funny given he's over 17 hands but also, not funny when he is spooking in the yard because they are in the stable next to his).

« Last Edit: March 14, 2023, 12:42:20 pm by KirinChris »


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Duck breed temperament
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2023, 10:07:09 am »
My girls were KCs, and I had a Swedish Blue drake, they had three young daughters between them - fox got them all one night

I know David said all ducks are skittish but these weren't so I was very upset when that happened. They used to let Allez, my Brittany champion, pick them up and bring them to me.  I sent him out into the bushes round my property, and he brought all the bodies back bar one - not eaten, just broken necks and feathers missing. I HATE foxes. They kill for fun!

A few years later I was given some black ducks - don't know what breed. Cayuga maybe, or black Swedish.  I gave them to a friend when I moved as I had realised my new grumpy neighbour would probably complain at the quacking.  They weren't skittish either.  Fed from my hand, never ran from the dogs.

Maybe I'll get a donkey and REALLY annoy him  :roflanim: :roflanim: :roflanim:
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age


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