Last updated: January 20, 2006
In the book The American Dominique there was a small write-up on the Dominique game, however what is presented below is a much more detailed history. This was recently found in an old issue of The Game Fowl News magazine.
Typical Dominique Game stag - 1996 Photo courtesy Tony Perryman
It has been written that the Dominiques as we have them today were originated in this way: In the 1830s there was being bred on Rabbit Island, near New Orleans, La., some imported English-Spanish hens and a cock of the same. From this breeding came a stag that was different color markings from any that had ever before came from this mating. The owner took especial care of this stag, walked him well and when he was old enough took him to New Orleans and fought him.
When he was pitted the crowd laughed and called him a barn yard dung-hill. He was speckled yellow, blue and white, rose comb, yellow legs and beak. He walked in and made mince meat out of his opponent but everyone thought it was an accident. He was matched again and did the same work as before. His owner fought him time and again, always winning nicely. He was 3 years old and had never been bred from on account of his color.
Captain Warthall, an old river an, purchased him and brought him to Louisville, Ky., and gave him to two known well known cockers of that day. They saved him and bred him to some English hens. They saved all the pullets that came the color of the cock and bred the old cock back to them, and in this way in a few years they had a strain that was known all over the country as the Kentucky Dominiques.
The originals were yellow and blue Dominiques, yellow legs and beak, with the cocks generally having white tails, speckled with blue or yellow. The hens were either solid blue with dark eyes or mottled like a Plymouth Rock or pale blue or nearly white. In later years White Pyle was crossed on them and the rose comb bred off. At present they breed pure white, pale blue, mottled breast and hackle and saddle speckled. Some come pyle colors and some the regular Dominique color.
Tom O'Neal secured some of these fowl around 1886, and began to fight all comers.
In the early 80s [1880s] we never thought of a Dominique game fowl unless we thought of Tom O'Neal at the same time. As he was never an advertiser, and too as our country at that time had no game papers, you could readily imagine that their popularity was discovered through mains and the process of word of mouth and anxious ear.
When in the 80s [1880s] the first journal devoted wholly to pit games made its appearance Dr. J. B. Frymire was the leading advertiser of the Dominiques. It was not long before other men began taking up the advertising of other breeds, but Ohio, the Virginias and other states near Kentucky were hotbeds of Dominique breeders. In Kentucky the restraint concerning cock-fighting was synonymous with the sport of horse racing and fox hunting. Little or no opposition appeared, therefore the native sport state became the center of the Dominique breed, and its greatest activity.
Wingate won 20 out of 21 battles. In those days they fought for sport as well as for money and it was no uncommon thing to continue the fighting after one side had won a majority. It was at this main that Sid Taylor, who later was affiliated with O'Neal and Waddell was impressed by the almost inconvincible Heathwoods, and which blood finally went into the Sid Taylor breed of Doms.
Something else surely went into the O'Neal fowl later on, as they bred many shades of dom colors and had yellow, white and even white legs with dark spots on them. I have seen pure O'Neal Doms that were white as any Leghorn, with clear yellow legs and red eyes. I have seen others white in both hens and cocks whose only variation in color was a few pencil stripes of red, black or yellow in hackles. Others were exact duplicates of the domestic American Dominique. Some with black neck hackles; some with brown and some with golden hackles.
O'Neal was at one time ailed the Champion cocker of America, but so was Denny Mahoney, Chas. Brown, William Morgan, Michael Kearney and Anthony Greene. Championships in these days rests but lightly with the laurelled brow - too many better ones in better fix than they were before are appearing and a championship that holds more than a year or two is one not often obtained, so let us only say that the Doms were champions of their day.
Some of us see the tournaments, but the majority have to content ourselves with reading about them. In these events a certain breed may win, but more often there are several bloods and colors in the winning entry, so that it is unfair to say that John Smith's “Bear Cats” won the tournament, when in truth John used three Bear Cats and more of other breeds whose breeding was not known to John himself. Mr. J. D. Gays breeding won two or three Orlando tournaments, and there as not the slightest hesitancy on his part to say that not all were Sid Taylors or not all were Doms. Both entered into the winning although I recall that the Sids were used the majority of the times. That Mr. Law chose the side Taylors does not detract from the rating of the good old O'Neal blood which can show more gameness. Fancier or better cutters than the Taylors were difficult to locate. So it remained a dark horse breed to run in under the Madigan entry at the next tournament, and the next tournament, and the next also which was won by the same blood under another name, and they were far from a uniform lot of cocks. They had condition and won, and they were exclusively short heel cocks bred in a short heel country and had no right to win according to the controversial disturbances among the long and short gaff enthusiasts.
I believe it was the Doms who by their steady work held both events for Law at Orlando; those old O'Neal Dom bloods sent this end of the U.S. by Mr. Gay are about as near one-style performers as cocks get to be. They will step in and show as pretty a bit of sparring as is rarely seen. They can get out of a tight corner with a wicked shuffle and go as high in a break as is necessary. I am not writing to uphold the merits of individual fowl, but rather the species.