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Gold Onagadori.jpg
Conservation statusendangered[1]:152
Country of originJapan
Useexhibition breed
Skin colouryellow[citation needed]
Egg colourlight brown[citation needed]
Comb typesingle
Black-breasted red cock

The Onagadori (Japanese: 尾長鶏, "long-tailed chicken") is a historic Japanese breed of chicken, characterised by an exceptionally long tail. It was bred in the seventeenth century in Kōchi Prefecture, on Shikoku island in southern Japan, and was designated a Japanese National Natural Treasure in 1952. It is one of the ancestors of the German Phoenix breed.[2]


The Onagadori was bred in the seventeenth century in Tosa Province, the area that is now Kōchi Prefecture, on Shikoku island in the south-eastern part of the country. It is reared only in that area,[3]:329 mainly in Nankoku.[4]:989 It is believed to have derived from other long-tailed Japanese breeds including the Shokoku, the Totenko and perhaps the Minohiki.[2]

The Onagadori was designated a Special Natural Treasure in 1952.[4]:989 Of the seventeen chicken breeds considered Japanese national treasures, it is the only one to have "special" status.[5]:11[6]:91

In 2007 the conservation status of the breed, as reported to the FAO, was "endangered".[1]:152 In Japan, approximately 250 of the birds are kept by about a dozen breeders.[4]:989


The principal characteristic of the Onagadori is its exceptionally long tail, which exceeds 1.5 metres, and has been known to reach 12 m. The tail consists of about 16–18 feathers, which under the right conditions never moult, and grow rapidly, gaining some 0.7–1.3 m per year.[3]:329[4]:989 The saddle hackles also grow to a considerable length.[3]:329

Three colour varieties are recognised: black-breasted white, black-breasted red, and white. Genetic study suggests that the black-breasted white was the original type, and that the others were created by cross-breeding with birds of other breeds.[4]:991

The comb is single, the eyes are a reddish brown, and the ear-lobes are white.[3]:329


The Onagadori is kept for ornamental purposes only. Japanese breeders through the centuries have gone to great pains in the creation and perpetuation of the breed, and provide special hutches with perches well above the ground, where the tails are kept clean and in good condition.[7]


  1. ^ a b Barbara Rischkowsky, D. Pilling (eds.) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed May 2014.
  2. ^ a b Phoenix Chicken. The Livestock Conservancy. Accessed September 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Victoria Roberts (2008). British poultry standards: complete specifications and judging points of all standardized breeds and varieties of poultry as compiled by the specialist breed clubs and recognised by the Poultry Club of Great Britain. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 9781405156424.
  4. ^ a b c d e R. Tadano, M. Nishibori, M. Tsudzuki (2009). Genetic structure and differentiation of the Japanese extremely long-tailed chicken breed (Onagadori), associated with plumage colour variation: suggestions for its management and conservation. Animal Genetics 40 (6): 989–992. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2052.2009.01955.x. (subscription required).
  5. ^ [Editorial Committee Office of the Japanese Country Report, Animal Genetic Resources Laboratory, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Japan] ([n.d.]). Country Report (For FAO State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources Process); annex to: Barbara Rischkowsky, D. Pilling (editors) (2007). The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed September 2018.
  6. ^ Masaoki Tsudzuki (2003). Japanese native chickens. In: Hsiu-Luan Chang, Yu-chia Huang (editors) (2003). The Relationship between Indigenous Animals and Humans in APEC Region. Taipei: Chinese Society of Animal Science. Pages 91-116.
  7. ^ American Poultry Association, Standard of Perfection 2001