Fighting chickens have been bred to be extremely aggressive and have almost supernatural lengths of strength and endurance. The best fighting rooster breeds, also known as gamefowl, are also incredibly beautiful, meaning that you can introduce these birds to exhibitions and shows. As such, while cockfighting is banned in the US and many other countries around the world, it is by no means an end for gamefowl. Let’s cast a light on these breeds.
Also, please keep in mind that this is by no means an endorsement for fighting chickens.
- What are Gamefowl?
- Most Aggressive Roosters Chart
- 18 Best Fighting Rooster Breeds and Gamefowl
- 1. Hatch Chickens
- 2. Kelso
- 3. Peruvian Fighting Roosters
- 4. Shamo
- 5. Sweater
- 6. Hatch Twist Roosters
- 7. Spanish Gamefowl
- 8. American Gamefowl (Roundhead)
- 9. Malay Gamefowl
- 10. Old English Game
- 11. Asil/Aseel
- 12. Whitehackle
- 13. Radio Fighting Roosters
- 14. Lemon Fowl
- 15. Sumatra
- 16. Modern Game Chicken
- 17. Claret
- 18. Indian Game (Cornish)
- Final Thoughts on Gamefowl
What are Gamefowl?
When you hear the phrase “gamefowl,” it is generally used to describe a rooster that has been trained to cockfight. These roosters are going to be different from untrained roosters in a couple of ways. First, while they may be friendly towards humans, they are going to be extremely aggressive towards chickens, be they rooster or hen. As such, gamefowls are often best kept alone.
That said, there are some benefits to keeping fighting roosters and gamefowl. The hens are usually sharp and protective, making them excellent mothers to their baby chicks. Even the roosters will watch over their little ones fiercely.
Gamefowl are also ideal for yards and farms that have space for free ranging. These breeds are quick, vigilant, and know how to stay alive. As such, they are hard for predators to catch, and they are not afraid to defend themselves when necessary. Plus, allowing your gamefowl to free range can save you some money on chicken feed.
Most Aggressive Roosters Chart
To familiarize yourself with how aggressive some breeds can be, here is a chart that compares each of the 18 fighting rooster and gamefowl breeds that are discussed below (Hatch and Hatch Twist breeds are combined into one row in the table due to similar parameters):
|Breed Name||Aggressiveness Scale|
(5 = most violent)
|Malay||5||Exceptionally large size|
|Old English Game||5||Bred to fight and survive|
|Asil/Aseel||4.5||Extremely territorial and quick|
|Modern Game||4||Will fight beak and claw to win|
|Cornish (Indian Game)||4||Confident and methodical|
|Kelso||4||Highly intelligent fighting style|
|Peruvian||4||Most expensive fighting cock|
|American Gamefowl (Roundheads)||4||Strategic strikes and quickness|
|Hatch and Hatch Twist||4||Tremendous strength and stamina|
|Spanish||3.5||Seeks out fights and doesn’t retreat|
|Whitehackle||3.5||Endurance and shiftiness|
|Radio||3||Large and determined|
|Claret||3||Deadly, well-aimed strikes|
|Lemon Fowl||3||Hard-hitting and surgical|
|Sumatra||3||Strategic use of flying ability|
18 Best Fighting Rooster Breeds and Gamefowl
Now let’s learn more about some of the toughest, most battle ready birds around:
1. Hatch Chickens
One of the best known breeds of fighting chickens, the Hatch was developed in America to win whatever match it had. Hatch chickens are similar to Whitehackle gamefowl, being that they have a high level of gameness.
If you are having trouble deciding which gamefowl you are seeing, check out the legs. Hatch chickens will have featherless legs that are yellowish-green in color. This separates them from other breeds.
A defining characteristic of Hatch chickens is their speed and strength. Hatch roosters are known for their survivability, since they have excessive stamina, particularly when fighting on the ground.
The Kelso fighting chicken is one of the most classic breeds around. You will find these birds at most cockfighting venues, as they tend to be extremely good at attacking. The history of the Kelso breed begins with Walter A. Kelso of Oleander Gamefarm. The Kelso was originally a spin-off of the American Gamefowl. Once Kelso spotted producing fighting roosters, the Kelso breed made its way to the Philippines. Today, Biboy Enriquez, owner of Firebird Gamefarm, is known for producing the strongest, most aggressive Kelso chickens by blending the bloodlines with Lemon, Sweater, Hatch, and Roundheads.
Aesthetically, Kelso chickens are very beautiful. These are large birds (typically weighing between 6-8 pounds) with stunning plumage and iridescent tail feathers. The sleek head also gives this breed a more intelligent air. Kelso roosters and hens also make excellent show birds, due to their bright colors.
The Kelso may not be the strongest or the fastest bird on the battlefield, but that does not mean this gamefowl is at a disadvantage. The Kelso rooster is known for its in-and-out tactic, where the rooster side-steps before launching a decisive blow upon their enemy. This is one breed that knows how to grapple very well, rarely letting enemies take flight once they are within the Kelso’s grasp.
3. Peruvian Fighting Roosters
Known as one of the most expensive breeds in the world, the Peruvian Gamefowl is a highly sought-after rooster. Obtaining a trio costs about US$3,000 to $5,000. If you find it cheaper, it’s a crossbreed. Developed in Peru, this breed is among the oldest fighting chickens in history and is thought to have the perfect bloodline. Few roosters can hold their own against a Peruvian opponent.
These are large roosters with a bold stance. They are not as tall as Malay chickens, but they are tall, heavy, and well muscled. Some weigh more than 9 pounds when fully grown.
Peruvian Gamefowl are far more aggressive than most breeds. They are bred for gameness, for being ready to fight at a moment’s notice. These are birds that go in for the kill quickly, and so most fights against Peruvian roosters do not last long.
The Shamo breed has an interesting origin. Although the breed first appeared in Thailand, it gained popularity among the Japanese. Since then, the Shamo breed has thrived in Japan and continues to have a large population there. Several registered Shamo lines exist: Yakido/Yagido, Ehigo-Nankin-Shamo, Ko-Shamo, Kinpa, Nankin-Shamo, and Yamato-Shamo. There are also two unregistered breeds: Chu-Shamo and Chibi-Shamo.
One of the reasons you may want a Shamo or two of your own is the egg-laying ability of the hens. Though they cannot match a hybrid egger, Shamo hens will certainly keep you and your family well fed throughout the year.
Among most of the gamefowl on this list, few have an appearance like the Shamo. These birds look wild. Their posture is straight and long, keeping their body more vertical than domesticated breeds. Their shoulders are heavy and wide, their thighs muscular, and their feathers short. Shamo chickens have red earlobes and wattles, pear-shaped combs, and pearlescent eyes. You can find them with dark red, black, or black-and-red plumage.
Known for having a supreme dislike of all creatures feathered, Shamo chickens prefer the company of humans. They can be great companions when left alone. However, you cannot keep them with other chickens, because the Shamo will attack unfalteringly.
The Sweater breed was developed by Carol Nesmith, who was well known for raising gamefowl for cockfighting throughout Mexico and the Philippines. Many strong breeds have been built throughout the years. The Sweater rooster was in response to those other competitors.
Sweater roosters and hens look similar to Hatch, Kelso, and Radio gamefowl. They tend to weigh between 3-5 pounds, have long, not tall bodies, and have a medium-sized tail that curls slightly.
Sweater roosters trump other breeds with their agility and speed. In the ring, many people underestimate the size of Sweater roosters. However, they are not fearful birds. Sweaters will take on far bigger opponents and win, simply because they know how to use their size to their advantage.
6. Hatch Twist Roosters
The Hatch Twist is a variant of Hatch roosters that are slightly more elegant in appearance. Many breeders use Hatch Twist roosters or hens in an attempt to alter the bloodlines of other breeds. Hatch Twist roosters have instincts that make them popular as defenders of the flock.
Hatch Twist roosters have yellow or white feathers intermingling with the red of their neck. Some of their tail feathers are also white.
Like the original Hatch chicken, Hatch Twist roosters are quick fighters that have a lot of strength. Due to their large size, they tend to intimidate their enemies far more quickly than smaller aggressive roosters.
7. Spanish Gamefowl
The Spanish Gamefowl, also known as the Fighter in Spain, is an old breed. Interestingly, these birds were not originally bred in Spain. Instead, Spaniards imported them from the West Indies. You can find breeders that sell Spanish Gamefowl, so they are not as rare as some other breeds on this list.
Spanish game hens do not produce miraculous amounts of eggs, but they do a good job laying and raising their chickens. As such, these chickens are decent for your backyard.
This is one beautiful rooster. With an upright stance and long streaming tail feathers, the Spanish Gamefowl looks ready to either fight or head to a glamour photo shoot. They have white feathers around the head and neck, darker feathers over the back and wings, some spotting around the legs, and darker tips on their tails. Their yellow legs look strong.
Spanish fighting chickens are known for their dominating movements and aggressiveness. They will not run away once they have entered the fray. These roosters like grabbing at their prey with their feet.
8. American Gamefowl (Roundhead)
The American Gamefowl, also known as the Roundhead, is one breed that can be used for a variety of things. Their spectacular looks make them great for shows. Their aggression? For fighting. They also have delicious meat.
American Gamefowl cockerels are said to be so angry that they are called stags and have to be kept separate from their flocks until they reach maturity. If you let Roundhead cockerels mix, there is sure to be bloodshed. Yet, even American Gamefowl hens can be belligerent and noisy when other hens get too close.
American Gamefowl have five-pointed red combs, tiny red wattles and earlobes, and yellow eyes. Their beaks are long. Able-bodied and long, they are large chickens that use their agility to their advantage. Roundheads also have long sickle feathers. Roundheads are available in a variety of colors, including black, red, blue-red, brown-red, blue, silver, white, and gold.
Highly territorial, Roundheads have incredible fighting and survival skills. They will fight without stopping until their battle is won. During fights, they jump, fly, and remain active.
9. Malay Gamefowl
The Malay rooster tops the list in terms of aggressiveness and fighting capabilities. They stand tall, winning them the title of “tallest chicken breed” out there. Malay roosters are from Malaysia, but their origins are cloaked in mystery. Some believe that this breed has been around for at least 3,000 years. As such, they seemed to have retained some of the ferocity of their dinosaur ancestors.
Malay chickens do not lay loads of eggs, but they are passionate when it comes to protecting their young. If you plan on getting a Malay rooster and hen for your backyard, know that they are not tolerant to the cold. These chickens were made for the jungle, as such they need warmth to be the best they can be.
Although Malay chickens can be docile around humans, they are not recommended for inexperienced handlers or children. They are combative at times, even when other chickens are not around. Also, do not think to confine them — they will fly out of any cage.
A Malay rooster stands about 30 inches tall. They are powerful birds with long necks, intense eyes, bent beaks, cherry combs, small wattles, and firm, tight plumage. Their tails are short.
These birds are not to be taken lightly. Aside from their impressive size and weight, Malay chickens are fast, furious, and lethal. They go in for the kill with expert aim, and they do not stop fighting until their opponent stops moving.
This video gives you a good idea of what a Malay gamefowl looks and sounds like:
10. Old English Game
The Old English Game chicken is a British breed that has existed for many years. When cockfighting was banned in the UK during the 1950s, the love of this breed persisted, and so their purpose went from fighting to show. High maintenance and noisy, Old English Game chickens have loads of personality on top of pluckiness.
Old English Game roosters and hens are beautiful. There are many recognized colors, including black breasted red, blue brassy black, blue golden duckwing, Columbian, cuckoo, lemon blue, spangled, wheaten, and more. Old English Game roosters hold themselves high by puffing out their chests. Their necks are long, feathers glossy, and beaks curved. They have short legs that are sturdy and marked by four toes and curved talons.
Small yet feisty, Old English Game chickens have all the attitude of a Victorian lady who has gone without her afternoon tea.
The Asil, also known as Aseel, is a breed originating from Pakistan and India, around the area known as Punjab. Immensely popular in India and Pakistan, the Asil is also seen around Asia, Australia, and North America. They were bred for aggression and will start fighting among one another at a couple weeks old. That said, they are intelligent, trainable, and friendly towards people.
Asil chickens have one downfall: they require cooler climates.
Asil chickens look a bit like raptors in the way they stand and move. They are blessed with athleticism: long, strong legs, compact bodies, short tail feathers, and nonexistent combs and wattles. This gives them few weaknesses for other breeds to exploit. Many Asil chickens are white, but you can find rosters that are multi-colored, black, or gray.
Asil chickens act refined and civil around people, but they will quickly show their true colors around other chickens. They are ferocious. Even hens kill snakes that get too close to their brood. Beaks, talons, wings — Asil use it all to win.
Although they may not look it, Whitehackle chickens were bred solely for fighting. Interestingly, Whitehackles are known for being noisy and inquisitive when they are not trying to mess one another up.
The Whitehackle breed is disarming, because they look small and proper. Medium-sized and with brilliant plumage, Whitehackle chickens strut around the yard happily. The roosters have thick shoulders, a single straight comb, longer wattles, bright yellow eyes, and a sharp beak.
Chickens are known for being opportunistic. Well, the Whitehackle takes that to a whole other level. They are far more technical in their assault than some other breeds, as they prefer waiting for their enemy to come to them. When they get their chance, they unleash hits with supernatural speed.
Whitehackles come with either gray and white feathers, with the gray being the more aggressive of the two varieties.
13. Radio Fighting Roosters
The original Radio fowl was bred in 1962 as a combination of Whitehackle and Murphy (a Kelso-offshoot) breeds.
Straight comb, yellow legs, and of medium station, these are brawny little fighters. You will have a hard time telling Radios apart from Hatch and Kelso roosters. They have the same tail feathers, some white around the base of their tails, red saddle feathers and neck feathers, and some bluish-black around the chest.
Radio gamefowl are aggressive, as suggested by their bloodline. However, they are also not the most intelligent breed out there either. Most Radio roosters go in one direction and do not know when to stop. They will hit hard and true at first, but they tend to lose when the other rooster is far more agile and strategic in their movements.
14. Lemon Fowl
Some breeds on this list are well-known, but the Lemon Fowl is guaranteed to be one you haven’t heard of before. Lemon Fowl are new to the scene. Developed in Germany, Lemons are uniquely colored and have levels of aggression that rival that of the Malay.
Blended from Whitehackle, Claret, and Blue Face Hatch breeds, the Lemon Fowl looks similar to all three. They can either have a pea comb or straight comb, are light red in color, and either have yellow or white legs.
The Lemon Fowl may not have the speed or strength of some other breeds, but they do have cunning. Lemon Fowls are known for turning away from their opponents in a feint that leads to their enemy getting a little too close. When that happens, the Lemon Fowl whirls back around, hitting their opponent with a perfectly aimed strike.
The Sumatra hails from the Sumatra islands of Indonesia. Believed to be the result of crossing Kampong chickens with wild fowl, the Sumatra breed has a predatory appearance. Recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1883, the Sumatra chicken is rare but historic. They are generally friendly towards humans and kept as pets. Sumatra chickens can jump and fly well, meaning they are not a breed to be confined.
One quality of Sumatra chickens that sets them apart from many others is their iridescent greenish-black feathers. They have long tail feathers that are similar to Yokohama chickens. With black skin and shanks, they have an imposing look.
Sumatra chickens are excellent fliers, and they make use of that when engaging in combat with other chickens. They are quick to jump and evade their enemy.
16. Modern Game Chicken
In 1849, the British government launched its first attempt at prohibiting cockfighting. The Modern Game chicken was bred as a result of that period. The Modern Game breed is a leggy chicken with a small, densely feathered body. There are two versions: standard and bantam. Both are equally aggressive. However, you can mix these chickens with other breeds, especially when they have room to roam around the yard.
Modern Game chickens are like the Greyhounds of the chicken world. They have long necks and legs. Roosters hold themselves high. Their eyes, which are usually dark, are intense. Black skin and beaks add to their dominating look. However, when they get moving, they are a bit comical, as their tiny bodies do not seem to match the length of their legs.
In the US and UK, there are over 13 recognized color variations. Depending on the color, the skin and comb color may change.
Although the Modern Game chicken will not launch into war as soon as they see another chicken, the roosters will fight beak and talon for their flock. They are small but fierce, and they also know how to be lethal. As such, you do not want to let your guard down around this breed.
If you know a little bit about the history of cockfighting throughout the world, you may be familiar with the same Colonel John Madigin. Having bred numerous lines of gamefowl, Madigin developed the Claret to put an end to one of his rival’s top contenders. The Claret is known for being one of the deadliest fighting roosters. It doesn’t matter if they are fighting on the ground or in the air, the Claret is lethal.
The name Claret refers to a kind of red wine with the same name. As such, Claret chickens have red and black feathers, straight combs, and muscular bodies. It is also common to see white streaks on their wings and tail feathers.
Claret roosters are heavy hitters that like to use their flying abilities. They excel at timing deadly strikes. Though they do not attempt to hit often, Claret chickens will make sure the one hit they do make counts.
18. Indian Game (Cornish)
Here is another popular breed of fighting rooster. Known as either the Cornish or Indian Gamecock, these fowl are bred for domestic life but also for fighting. You may also hear these chickens referred to as Cornish Cross, due to their blend of Cornish and Plymouth White Rock bloodlines. They were imported into the UK thousands of years ago but have only undergone extensive breeding in more recent years for meat and eggs.
These are imposing roosters. Large, muscular, and with powerful legs and huge spurs, they are feisty when going toe-to-toe. Due to their size, Cornish chickens — both roosters and hens — need plenty of space to roam around. They should not be combined with other breeds.
Aggressive from a young age, Indian Gamefowl will do whatever it takes to win. Avoid keeping chicks together for too long. This breed is prone to cannibalism.
One notable disadvantage, however, is that these birds are slow compared to other gamefowl.
Final Thoughts on Gamefowl
There you have it: 18 of the best fighting rooster breeds out there. While more gamefowls exist, there are the ones that you will most likely hear about. These are aggressive breeds that can hold their own. However, most are docile with humans and make great companions. What do you think? Is a gamefowl worth adding to your flock?
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.