King Pigeon Breed Spotlight

The King Pigeon is also known as the Utility Pigeon and was originally bred in the United States for the food market. 

king pigeon pair

History Of The King Pigeon

Like all domestic pigeons, the King Pigeon is a descendant of the Rock Pigeon.

This particular kind of pigeon was developed in the United States by selectively cross-breeding other breeds.

This was back in the 1890s when pigeon farming was in full swing.

They were bred to be the best producers of eggs and live squabs. 

Pigeons reproduce rapidly but aren’t known for their abundance of flesh.

It is the squabs that commercial pigeon breeders want, and King pigeons produce the plumpest squabs.


The four different types of pigeons which were cross-bred to create the king pigeon are:

It is said that the Duchess was chosen for its grace, the Homer for its alertness and intelligence, the Maltese for its compact body and style and the Runt for its physique and size.

The original Duchess birds were shipped from Europe and are believed to be Mondains, possibly an Italian variety.

As they were bought in either Holland or Germany, the words Dutch or Deutsch were probably variously misspelled, and Duchess eventually became their American name.

  • The Homer is quite common and probably arrived from Belgium or England as at the time, both these countries were leaders in the breeding and racing of homing pigeons.
  • The Maltese has nothing to do with the island. It is a crossbreed between German and French varieties. It is unique in the fact that it has straight legs, a long slender neck and a compact cubiform body.
  • The American Giant Runt was itself the result of various cross bleedings. It was bred to develop a more compact body with greater mass.
  • The Dragoon, an English import and a crossbreed between Horsemen and Tumbler pigeons were also said to have a part in the cross-breeding programme to develop the King Pigeon. 

There is also a further breed known as Show King which were specially bred for exhibition purposes. 

King Pigeon Appearance

King pigeons are considered by many pigeon fanciers as the most beautiful of pigeon breeds which is why they also became show pigeons as well as farmed pigeons.

They are particularly revered as show birds in the USA but also garner a global appreciation. 

a king pigeon

Their appearance makes them seem large and plump, but it is really their height that sets them apart.

They are taller than the average pigeon.

That is why they were named King Pigeons in the same way that King and Emperor penguins are set apart from other penguin breeds.  

They are very attractive to look at because they have compact, but well-rounded bodies.

They weigh between 20-32 ounces.

As with most pigeon breeds, it is quite hard to visually sex a pigeon, but a fairly accurate gender identification can be made by observing their behaviour and interactions. 

Despite the difficulty in sexing a King Pigeon, when it comes to shows and exhibitions, females are expected to look feminine and males are expected to look noble and masculine.

Birds that do not preen to show themselves off or are unkempt easily lose points.

King Pigeon Characteristics

It is said that they are very calm birds that give the appearance of serenity.

This majestic trait may be another reason that they were named King Pigeons.

They are considered to be excellent pets.

King pigeons come in many different colours, but the pure white breeds are the most stunning.

white king pigeon

Show Kings are not able to survive in the wild but can tolerate most climates and are reasonable flyers.


The King Pigeon is a selectively bred pigeon that was bred as a utility pigeon during the pigeon meat production heyday of the 19th century.

Now that kind of production has fallen off or has gone small scale, this beautiful breed of bird is more likely to be seen as a show pigeon or pet.


Dan has been fascinated with pigeons since his youth when he used to feed them breadcrumbs at the local park. With a background in SEO Dan noticed a few years ago that there were very few websites around dedicated to his favorite bird so he set out to change that by starting Pigeonpedia.

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