One of the most exciting aspects of pet ownership is being able to choose the right breed for you. There’s something exciting about being able to choose between the enormous difference between golden retrievers, Labradors, shih-tzus, and Scottish terriers, and Great Danes, and a ton of other types of dogs, or tabbies, Siamese, Persians, Abyssinians, Maine Coons, and other beautiful cat breeds.
Ducks are no exception, and no less various. There are a ton of different duck breeds that can and are bred to be pets.
But what should you look for in a pet duck breed, and which ones are right for you?
What to Look for
Not all duck breeds are created equal, nor are they equally suited to being pets. You shouldn’t just go out into the woods, find a wild duckling, and bring it home with you. Besides the trauma you could cause it and its mother by separating them unexpectedly, wild ducks aren’t always suitable pets. In addition, you never know what diseases a wild duck may have. Instead, you should purchase a pet duck from an accredited duck farm or pet seller.
Some qualities to look for in duck pets include:
- Docility: Ducks can have a temper – just look at Daffy and Donald! While it may be fun to laugh at those comedic cartoon masterpieces, there’s nothing funny about an angry duck chasing and biting you. Most of the best pet duck breeds are thus very calm.
- Easy to Feed: This is pretty straightforward. Pets shouldn’t be picky eaters. The best duck breeds should be happy to eat duck feed, fruit, veggies, and whatever else you give them.
- Egg Production: If you want your ducks to produce eggs, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a very “productive” breed.
- Weight and Size: Make sure that whatever duck breed you choose can fit the space you have set aside for it.
- Noise and Energy: On the one hand, you don’t want to pay for a pet that simply sits around and never wants to walk around and play. On the other hand, you may not want a duck that’s constantly quacking at all hours or acts hyperactive.
Top 10 Pet Duck Breeds
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the duck breeds that are best suited for pets.
1. Peking Ducks
As the name would imply, this duck breed originally comes from China. There is evidence for it having been bred there as far back as 2500 B.C.
They are a very calm breed, so you don’t have to worry about them quacking up a storm. They are also pretty hardy, which is definitely good if you don’t want a high maintenance breed. What’s more, at 8 to 9 lbs on average, these ducks are on the heavier side, which makes sense given that Chinese farms typically produce them for consumption. That’s reinforced by the fact they can lay a couple hundred eggs per year under the right conditions.
Still, they can make jovial plump egg-producing pets. Given their weight, they’re typically too heavy to fly away, so you don’t have to worry about that, and they’ll eat pretty much anything you feed them.
2. Saxony Ducks
Once again, the name is a giveaway of where this breed is from, namely the Saxony region of Germany. They are rarer than some other duck breeds listed here, primarily available through private breeders. Bred from Pekin, Pomeranian, and Rouen breeds in the 1930s, the breed spread through Europe post-WWII and made its way to the United States by 1984.
As with Pekin ducks, they’re not picky eaters and prodigious egg layers, though they are a bit lighter at about 7 to 8 lbs. Males have a bright burgundy coat paired with silver-blue wings, while females have a more brown-and-white feather color scheme.
3. Swedish Ducks
Once more, the clue’s in the name – these ducks are found in Sweden. Though some consider them a “heavy” breed, they’re much lighter than Pekin and Saxony ducks, with an average weight around 5 to 6 lbs. It’s another prodigious egg layer, capable of producing up to around 180 eggs per year. This breed is identifiable by its black, blue, and silver coat. These ducks are among the calmest on this list, making them a good choice for beginners who don’t want to deal with duck divas.
4. Mallard Ducks
One of the most common duck breeds in North America, these breeds are among the easiest to obtain and the least expensive to maintain for US and Canadian duck owners. They are among the lightest ducks on this list as well, tipping the scales at just around 2.5 lbs, and unlike the portlier Pekin duck, are fast, agile, and good flyers. If you’re going to keep a mallard, therefore, it’s advisable that you keep them in a covered cage or coop.
Females are identifiable by bluish wing tips, and males by their green head. They aren’t as big of an egg producing breed as other breeds, laying “only” around 60 to 120 eggs per year. On the other hand, their eggs are a distinct green color.
They are among the most energetic and playful breeds. If you buy one, you can count on a lot of waddling, running, and swimming “quack”-tivity.
5. Indian Runner Ducks
With its origins in Indonesia – where farmers sometimes use them as insect control on their rice paddies – this is another breed on the lighter side, weighting in at around 3.5 to 5.5 lbs. They come in many colors, from blues to greys to chocolate browns and beyond. Given that background, it should be no surprise that they are among the best foragers and least picky eaters on this list. On the flip side, while they may appreciate an occasional bath, they’re not big swimmers, so if you’re looking for a breed that doesn’t require a lot of water space, this might be one to consider.
6. Khaki Campbell Ducks
Originating in England, this breed is a blend of mallards, Runners, and Rouen ducks. They have a light brown feathered coat, with females identifiable by their blue-green bill and males by their orange bill. These ducks aren’t as maternal as others, but they are by far one of the biggest egg layers, capable of laying more than 300 eggs per year under the right conditions. If you are looking to own a pet that doubles as your own private egg provider, this is a great breed to consider. They are on the lighter side at around 3.5 to 5.5 lbs. Personality-wise, they’re a bit more reserved and cautious than other breeds listed here, but they are still friendly once they’re comfortable.
7. Bantam Ducks
Related to mallards, these ducks originate from the Netherlands. They are on the smaller side weighing only a few pounds, making them a good choice if you are looking for a duck that won’t be heavy to carry or take up too much space.
Among bantams, Call ducks are among the most popular, in no small part because they’re among the most active and friendly. If you purchase one, be prepared to hear a lot of quacking. That may not be ideal for city living, but if you have plenty of open space out in the countryside, watching these ducks run and flap around can be a joy.
They aren’t big egg producers, laying “only” around a hundred eggs per year. On the other hand, they come in a wide range of colors, from white to yellow to chocolate to apricot and so much more.
8. Cayuga Ducks
This breed originates from New York, where it was first crossbred from a couple black ducks in 1809. That said, this is also a breed that is on the rarer side. While that doesn’t make them impossible to find, you’ll probably have to pay a pretty penny to some private breeder. However, all that might be worth it given that this breed has an incredibly vibrant greenish-black coat. Even among the other colorful ducks on this list, they definitely stand out.
They can produce between 100 and 150 eggs per year. Unlike New York stereotypes, they’re quiet and tame, but true to their New York roots they’re tough and active.
9. Muscovy Ducks
These ducks are on the heavier side, weighing several pounds. They don’t produce too many eggs, around 60 to 140 per year. Unlike other ducks on this list, they have sharp claws for perching on branches.
10. Welsh Harlequin Ducks
Once again, the name is a dead giveaway that these ducks hail from Wales. It was first bred in 1949 from two differently-colored Khaki Campbell ducklings. They are moderate egg layers, but their big attraction comes from their fantastic personalities, as they’re both calm as well as curious. Welsh Harlequins are active enough to be interesting without making a fuss. What’s more, as natural foragers, they aren’t too picky food-wise.
Reviewing this list can give you a good idea of what to expect from different pet ducks and which ones are right for you.