Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chicken Breed Guide

You want a unique flock, yes? Well, there are only a few chicken breeds compare to the beautiful patterns and stylish hairdos of the Appenzeller Spitzhauben. With a dalmatian-like pattern on their features, inquisitive eyes, and a vivid personality, these are quirky little chickens that will also lay eggs throughout the week.

If you have been shopping around for chickens, our Appenzeller Spitzhauben chicken breed guide will give you all the facts. That way, you can decide if this is the right breed for your coop or flock.

Quick Facts About The Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chicken

Let’s take a quick glance at the Appenzeller Spitzhauben breed profile:

OriginSwitzerland
CategoryEgg-laying, showing, and pets
Meat qualityPoor
Egg-laying ability3-4 eggs a week
BroodinessModerate
TemperamentActive and curious
AggressionLow
Foraging abilityExcellent
Predator evasionGood
Noise levelHigh

Origins of the Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chicken

Hailing from the Appenzell region of Switzerland, this European egg-laying chicken is on the smaller side. Although there is no region of exactly when the breed was created, there is evidence that Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens existed around the 1500s or 1600s. The breed was on the brink of extinction during World War II but has since then made a come back.

Appenzeller Spitzhauben is a name that refers to the appearance of the chickens. They have a unique crown of feathers atop their head that looks a little like a faux-hawk. This hairdo is reminiscent of ceremonial lace bonnets used in Appenzell region.

When the breed was still young, the chickens were mainly kept a monasteries, where the population flourished. Local farms eventually started raising the chickens, as well. Soon, between the 1800s and 1900s, Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens were popping up around the world, far from their homeland.

It wasn’t until Kurt Fischer, a German man, started to import the Appenzeller Spitzhauben that the breed was recognized in Germany. Even today, the Appenzeller is not acknowledged by the American Poultry Association (APA), as it first landed in the US around the 1950s, thanks to Dr. Albert McGraw.

What Do Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chickens Look Like?

appenzeller spitzhauben chickens
Photo credit: pixabay

There are two varieties of Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens. The first is the well known Spitzhauben, or the “pointed bonnet.” The other variety is Appenzeller Barthuhner, meaning “bearded hen.” Both varieties are show breeds.

Today, we are only discussing the Spitzhauben variety.

Characteristically, the Appenzeller Spitzhauben is one classy looking bird. They usually have dark gray legs, white feathers, and black spotting, similar to a dalmatian. However, many fans of the breed refer to them as Cruella de Vil chickens, for their punk-like hairstyle.

The dalmatian coloring might be the most common, but there are other colors available. Historically, Appenzeller Spitzhauben was either silver spangled (dalmatian), black, or gold spangled, but blue and chamois have been added in more recent years.

In the US, the predominant coloring is silver spangled. Black and gold spangled are rare.

Aside from the distinct coloring and patterns of the feathers, Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens are petite in size yet very proportional, with a slanted crest, long wattles, deep nostrils, white earlobes, and red-rimmed eyes. Female chickens average around 3.5 pounds, while roosters weigh in around 4.5 lbs. You can also find miniature (bantam) varieties that weigh between 20-24 ounces!

Behavior and Temperament of Appenzeller Chickens

Being that the Appenzeller Spitzhauben was bred to deal with mountainous climates and terrain, they love adventure and will wander all around your yard if you let them. You can’t expect to keep them confined; if you try, these chickens will revolt. Be sure to give them space, and they will be friendly, yet reserved.

Many books on this breed claim that they are flighty, wild, and quiet. However, there is also plenty of anecdotal evidence out there that states the exact opposite. Many chicken keepers love their friendly and gentle Appenzellers. These personable chickens often follow their beloved owners inside to spend time lounging on the couch.

Does that sound wild to you?

Again, this discrepancy can be caused by breeding and nurturing. In the mountains, the more wild behaviors of these birds may be dominant; but it seems when raised lovingly by people, this breed becomes gregarious.

If you intend to bring some Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens into the flock, be prepared for either kind of personality. Some of the chickens might end up being flighty and energetic while others are poised and calm. If you don’t want to deal with wild birds, there are other breeds that are known for being exceptionally friendly, such as Silkies or Houdans.

Or, if you’re at the hatchery, you can talk to the breeder. Ask them about the temperaments of the parents or how their birds usually come out.

Keep in mind that if you actively handle chicks from a young age, even wild birds can become tame and docile.

Why are Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chickens So Clean?

One thing you will notice while watching Appenzeller chickens is their cleanliness. Chickens aren’t the most clean creatures on the planet, but the Appenzeller looks amazing and bright. Some chicken breeders and keepers have theorized that this breed is so clean because of their independence and energy level.

Because Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens would rather spend the majority of their time prowling around the yard in search of bugs, they don’t spend as much time in the coop. They are also lightweight and small, which also keeps them cleaner than larger breeds.

Are Appenzeller Chickens Noisy?

If you are looking for a silent breed, this isn’t it. Compared to other chicken breeds, the Appenzeller Spitzhauben is very chatty. This is a bonus for owners who love getting to know their chickens’ personalities, but it can be annoying for any neighbors close by.

Oh, and if you were hoping for the regular clucking of chickens, don’t expect it from Appenzellers. They make an Amazonian jungle bird cry instead.

Are Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chickens Aggressive?

Wondering if you should get an Appenzeller rooster or if the hens get territorial? Any breed of rooster has a chance to be aggressive, but Appenzeller Spitzhauben roosters tend to be more relaxed than other breeds. Interestingly, many breeders and chicken keepers claim that Appenzeller roosters are more than friendly. These roosters will follow you around, begging to be patted and rubbed.

On the flip side, since Appenzellers love to forage and can be flighty, there is a chance that your rooster could have zero interest in you.

Overall, Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens are not aggressive. The downside is that their small stature and outwardly timid nature makes them the target of bigger breeds. If you plan on mixing the breeds in the flock, try to get breeds around the same size. Otherwise, your Appenzeller hens are going to get bullied and pecked. Another option is to separate your small chickens from the bigger ones.

Worried about predators? Similar to how Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens deal with bullying, these agile birds are difficult for predators to get a hold of. That doesn’t mean they aren’t in danger, but they do tend to be highly evasive and alert.

Egg-Laying Habits of Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chickens

young white gray appenzeller chick
Photo credit: Depositphotos

While some chicken breeds have egg-laying periods throughout the year, Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens lay all year long. Even during the coldest months! The only time they stop laying eggs is when they annually molt.

The characteristics of their eggs:

  • Color: White
  • Size: Small or medium
  • Laying age: Females start laying around 5 months old
  • Eggs per week: 3-4 eggs
  • Eggs per year: 150-180

Now, how do Appenzeller Spitzhauben females act when laying their eggs? These hens tend to be excellent mothers, and they are moderately broody. They will want to sit on their eggs throughout the day, though the need to forage will get them up and moving, too.

Do Appenzeller Chickens Do Well in the Cold?

Since Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens were raised in the cold of Switzerland, they can do well in cooler weather. You will notice when looking at the breed that they have adapted to cold temperatures. The combs are smaller than average, protecting them from frostbite. Additionally, the crests keep the combs warm.

Appenzeller chickens love being outside, even when there is snow on the ground. Even around -22°F to -49°F  (-30°C to -45°C), female Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens will lay eggs. However, in those temperatures, these birds are still susceptible to frostbite. It’s recommended that you hang a Sweeter Heater or something similar within the coop for them to warm up.

Do Appenzeller Chickens Do Will in the Heat?

Yes, Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens also do well in the heat. Few breeds are as resilient to the highs and lows of seasons as these chickens. Appenzeller chickens also do well in hot and humid conditions.

Therefore, if you live in a region that has four seasons or tends to deal with extreme weather conditions, this is an ideal breed. They are hardy and adaptable, so you won’t have to worry about changing up their diet too much. Just make sure they have somewhere cool to hide and access to fresh water throughout the day.

Appenzeller Spitzhauben Care and Health Issues

The Appenzeller Spitzhauben chicken is a resilient bird. As long as you care for your feathered friends, you can expect Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens to live about 5-8 years, though some chickens have lived for longer. Whether you want a few chickens for pest control or are hoping to sell their eggs, keeping your chickens healthy should be a priority.

Even the slightest amount of negligence can cause illness among the flock, as well as loss of life. While Appenzeller Spitzhauben breed is hardy and doesn’t have many hereditary concerns, they can contract any common poultry virus. Get them vaccinated against diseases, if possible.

Another way to keep your Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens happy and healthy is to to give them space. You cannot keep Appenzeller chickens confined in a tiny coop. They are one of the breeds that require space to move about.

Appenzeller Spitzhauben Diet

Looking for an economical chicken that doesn’t cost much to feed? Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens might be for you! Being that these chickens are adapted to the outdoors and loathe being contained, they are also exceptional foragers. Nutritious, high protein pellets and calcium-rich grit are a must if you want your hens to lay plenty of eggs.

That said, most of their nutrition can came from foraging around the yard. Appenzeller Spitzhauben actively seek out grass, seeds, insects, and more. In the wintertime, you might want to assist in their foraging by scattering high protein feed around.

Feed them right, and your hens will produce gorgeous eggs with deep orange yolks.

Conclusion

Are you looking for a hardy, egg-laying chicken? Having read this Appenzeller Spitzhauben chicken breed guide, you might be itching to buy a few of these fabulously unique birds for your flock.  These chickens are docile and friendly birds who will thrive where they can forage, so if you have the setup and love a chatty bird, you’re going to love the Appenzeller Spitzhauben breed.

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