The Old Danish chicken dog is another name for the Old Danish bird dog, Old Danish pointer or Gammal Dansk Honsehund. No matter what you call it, it a very rare breed from Denmark. There has been some confusion in the English-speaking world whether this breed is the same as the Danish/Swedish Farmdog. They are actually different breeds.
So, what is an Old Danish chicken dog? The dog does not suffer from a lack of courage nor is prone to hunting chickens. This is a hunting dog bred to excel at hunting birds. But Old Danish bird dog is a name that does not seem to stick in the memory as much as Old Danish chicken dog.
The breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club because of the small numbers. However, it is recognized by the Dog Registry of America, Incorporated, with Danish registries and with the international head of dog shows and breed registries, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI.)
Old Danish chicken dogs look a lot like Pointers in body shape and coloration. Their fur is short, prone to shedding, but is very dense. Even though they are short-haired, they are surprisingly fearless of the elements and usually love to swim.
They are often mostly white with brown or liver-colored spots scattered about the body. Many have brown heads with perhaps a white blaze going down the nose. Some spots are very sharply defined against the white body while some seem to blend into the coat (called “ticking”.) Some dogs may be born mostly brown with some white markings, as shown in a champion specimen that showed in 1915.
Old Danish chicken dogs have long, floppy ears and long, thin tail. They aren’t as sleek as a Pointer, but are athletic in build, combining muscle with speed. The males are usually much heavier than the females. The males average about 65 – 77 pounds, while the females only tip the scales at 55 – 68 pounds. These are large, strong and exuberant dogs. They need plenty of daily exercise or they will develop bad habits.
The breed is thought to have originated with a man by the name of Morten Bak who, in the early 1700s, bred hunting dogs. He took the best of the native farm dogs and crossed them with Spanish pointers acquired from passing gypsies (or so the story goes). At first, the name Bakhound was given to them, but it just didn’t catch on. They were then christened Bloodhounds, but when the fame of the English Bloodhounds went across Europe, they were finally given their strange name.
World War II devastated animals and humans. The Old Danish chicken dog was nearly wiped out, but somehow the breed has managed to hang on. They have a small but loyal number of admirers on both sides of the Atlantic, although the breed does not seem to have a North American breed association.
Wikipedia. “Old Danish Pointer.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Danish_Pointer
Dansk Kennel Club. “FCI Breed Standard for Gammel Dansk Honeshund. (In Danish)” http://www.dansk-kennel-klub.dk/files/pdf/Gldansk.PDF http://www.dansk-kennel-klub.dk/files/pdf/Gldansk.PDF
Dog Breed Info. “Old Danish Chicken Dog.” http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/o/olddanishchickendog.htm