Breed History


The Old Dutch Capuchine is an ancient breed dating back to the early fourteenth century when it was taken to Holland by Dutch sailors returning from India and the Middle East; it has a long and fascinating history. In appearance the breed has a well developed crest with a tightly filled mane and elliptically shaped rosettes on either side of the neck, forming a defined chain when viewed from the front. The feather is compact with well-defined webbing and there should be no tendency to soft loose feathering.

Modern History

The Old Dutch Capuchine has a long history but as a result of the two World wars which ravaged Holland and the 'Low Countries' the breed almost disappeared. It is thanks to the work and dedication of Dutch breeder and judge H. Th. G. Moezelaar that the breed is still with us. 

Henk Moezelaar was born in 1900 in Deventer, in the Dutch province of Overijssel. In the early 1950's he came across two birds in the Amsterdam Noordermarkt resembling the Kapucijnen, or 'Capuchins', he had known as a child in the park; needless to say he bought the two birds! Unfortunately they were both cocks. Moezelaar was subsequently visited by a young Fancier who owned two hens; he was able to acquire one and so was able to commence a breeding programme. Some months later, while travelling on business in West-Brabant, Moezelaar came across a colony of more than thirty red,  yellow,black and tiger Kapucijnen on a farm; that they had survived in a recognisable form is thanks to the fact that the owner had culled any birds not typical of the breed. Moezelaar was in heaven!

Moezelaar acquired some of the birds and set out to re-establish the breed he had first seen as a youngster before the onset of the Great War. By judicious matings, including out-crosses to the Nun, he succeeded in re-working the breed into the form which we now have, and from this stage became known as 'Old Dutch Capuchine'. In 1959 H. Th. G  Moezelaar formed the Oud Hollandse Kapucijnenfokkers Club and wrote the  breed standard which has been used, largely unchanged, around the world since that time.

Henk Moezelaar
Photo taken by his son

The other influential Dutch breeder of the time was L. H.Fles who worked closely with Moezelaar. He lived in Aalten close to the German border and played an important role in taking quality birds into Germany and ensuring that the breed developed there in line with those in Holland. Here in Great Britain we are indebted to L. H. Fles for exporting the first Old Dutch Capuchines to England. He believed that only the best examples of the breed should be exported, and provided strong foundations for the breed in Great Britain. In the mid 60's additional birds from the lofts  of Moezelaar and Fles were imported into Britain.

When Moezelaar died in 1987 the breed was well established not only in Holland but around the World with three clubs,in  addition to the Dutch Breeders Club, looking after the interests of the breed worldwide; these Althollandischer Kapuziner Club  formed in 1966 in Germany; The British Old Dutch Capuchine Society in 1972; and The Northamerican Capuchine Club in 1984 in USA, and as recently as 2007 the Club Francais des Capucins Hollandais was formed in France. In all countries where the breed is accepted there seems to be a universal intent that the breed should not diverge into regional variations but should remain as described in Moezelaar's original standard. Almost forty years on and the interests of the breed in Britain are  still looked after by The British Old Dutch Capuchine Society. Around the World the other three clubs are thriving andworldwide the best examples of the breed still retain the same type and feather quality.

The ideal Old Dutch Capuchine is a specimen which excels equally in hood, mane, rosettes, chain, type, stance, markings and colour; Moezelaar and Fles stressed the need for overall balance and the absence of exaggeration in any one point ..... today this still holds true.

NPA 70 A 2740
Owner/Breeder John S Harrison

History in Britain

In 1966 John Tucker from Bridgwater in Somerset imported several pairs of Red, Yellow and Black Old Dutch Capuchines from Holland and established the breed here in the UK. Until this time the 'modern' Old Dutch Capuchine had not been seen by the Pigeon Fancy in Britain.

However this may not have been the first time they arrived in Britain. Chris Wilkinson was told by a Mrs Green from Ipswich that she had purchased two pairs from Harrods in London just after World War II.

The birds imported from L H Fles bred very well in the first breeding season here in Britain and John Tucker was able to let some go to other breeders. One of the first to have some was Tom Forshaw who was a patron of the 'Rare Variety' breeds. Tom was fascinated by colourful breeds and at his home in Anglesey had large lofts full of all manner of breeds, they were
not kept for show but purely to fly free around the gardens. What was unknown by most people in the pigeon fancy was that Tom was High Sheriff of Anglesey, and owner of  Burtonwood Brewery in Lancashire. He also had a large collection of paintings by Charles Tunnicliffe,   including a large watercolour of a group of Old Dutch Capuchines.

In 1967 John Harrison saw the Old Dutch Capuchines at Tom Forshaw's home and was determined to have some! He wrote to John Tucker and bought a Yellow cock and a Red hen for the grand sum  of £6/10/- (or £6.50 post decimalisation). Today this seems a paltry sum, but in those days it was about half the average weekly pay. At about the same time Ralph White, renowned for his Dragoons, had some birds from John Tucker. From these three breeders the breed spread fairly quickly and within a few years began to dominate the AV CL RVPC classes at shows.

At the 1970 RVPC Show there were two classes for the breed and the first NPA Certificate was awarded, this being to a Red cock owned and bred by John S Harrison. In January 1971 at RVPC Club Show held in Reading the first NPA Champion in the breed gained its title, this being a Yellow Cock also owned and bred by John Harrison.

De Kippenhof - Jan Steen

Origins of the Old Dutch Capuchine

It is generally accepted that the original Capuchines were taken to Holland from India, supposedly from Mumbai (Bombay) by Dutch sailors around 1500. Unfortunately this cannot be substantiated, though there is no reason to doubt it. What can however be substantiated is that in the 1600's the breed was quite common in Holland and appeared in the paintings of Jan Steen (1626 - 1679) and Melchior d'Hondecoeter (1636 - 1695). 

The first known book to include descriptions of various forms of pigeons was "Ayeen Akbery". This was written in Persian in 1455 by Abdul Furjool, courtier to the great Mughul Emperor Akbar, also known as Akbar Khan and Akbar the Great.

Fancy pigeons were much valued by Akbar, and he may well have been one of the first  'Pigeon Fanciers' : he was interested in pigeons not just for practical purposes but also for their beauty and of the seventeen varieties he had in his collection more than half were 'Fancy Pigeons', and there were frequent gifts  merchants brought valuable collections. According to Abdul Furjool :

"The monarch of Iran andTuran sent him some very rare breeds. His Majesty, by crossing the breeds,which method was never practised before, has improved them astonishingly"

Of the birds described in 'Ayeen Akberry' one bears strong resemblance to the Old Dutch Capuchine, lending weight to the view that the breed came to Europe from  India.

Akbar was a complex individual having Akbar being both warlord and artist, collecting around him not only art and literature, but also a menagerie, as well as all the implements or war. It is reported that 20,000 birds were carried about with Akbar's court which moved about from place to place. In the 1570's a new permanent court ( a small city even!) was built at Fatehpur Sikri and it was from here that he ruled his empire, and all the collections found a permanent home. Unfortunately due to water shortages the court was, within ten years moved to Lahore, and ten years after that to Agra, from where he made the short journey to Fatepur Sikri where he died in 1605. Fatephur Sikri was deserted and still, today, remains a place of very great beauty and one can easily imagine the pigeons of Akbar sitting on the roofs around the many palaces and courtyards.

Fatepur Sikkri in 2006

In 1590 the Italian Professor Ulysses Aldrovandus, in his "Ornithology" published in Bologna described a hooded pigeon in
Cyprus which he named 'Colomba Cypria Cucullata' which he  describes as being either "naked or feathered of feet". The illustration depicts a bird which could either be a Capuchine or a Jacobin.

By the seventeenth century a hooded bird existed which was known by two names; in Holland the Capuchin(e) after the Franciscan Friars, and in England the Jacobin after the Dominican Monks.In 1678 Willoughby published an "Ornithology" edited by John Rae, the most eminent naturalist of the day. In this he stated:

"Jacobins are called by the Low Dutch, Cappers because the hinder part of the head, or nape of the neck, certain feathers reflect upwards encompass the head behind, almost after the fashion of a monk's hood" 

In 1683 in Randall Holme’s "Academy of Armory" the one breed was again called by two names after the style of Willoughby: 

 "The Jacobines or Coppers, or Cop-headed pigeons were so called because they have in the hinder part of their head or neck certain feathers reflected upwards encompassing the head behind almost like a monk's hood. These also vary in colour and have rough legs, others ruff feeted"

So up to the eighteenth century it seems clear that the one breed went under an assortment of names of which Capuchine and Jacobin, both of various spellings, are the most consistent.

In 1735 the Englishman John Moore published his "Columbarium" and adds considerable confusion to the problem! He
states as follows of the breed which was generally known as the Jacobin in England and the Capuchine in the Low Countries:

 Moore however seems to take the Capuchin(e) as being a separate though similar variety to the Jacobin, he continues thus: 

 "Some will assert it to be a distinct species but I am more inclined to imagine it is only a bastard breed from a Jacobine and another pigeon"

So then it would seem that Moore's writing gives some credence to the view that the Capuchin(e) was an inferior form of Jacobin(e). It is important to remember that at the time Moore wrote his work there was considerable commercial and maritime rivalry between Holland and England and all Dutch things were discredited by the English.

To confuse the issue a little more, Moore introduced another breed onto the stage, this being the "Ruff" of which he

"The Ruff is larger than the true original Jacobin,though in shape and make much the same. The strain of Jacobin has been much vitiated by matching them to this pigeon in order to improve their chain by the length of the Ruff's feathers, but instead of this the Jack is bred larger, longer beak, looser in its hood and chain, and in short, worsted in all its original properties"

If this is the case then it  would seem that what Moore knew as the Jacobin(e), we today know as the Old Dutch Capuchine, and what Moore knew as a Ruff cross Jacobin(e) we today know as the Jacobin!! 

In Tegetemeir's "Pigeons" B. T. Brent who lived in Germany for many years and was well acquainted with Continental breeds is quoted as saying:

"The common Jacobine pigeons are well known on the Continent; the Germans call them 'Zopf', 'Peruken', or'Schlier-Tauben' as also Kapuziner. The hood and chain constitute the chief      characteristics of the breed, and give the breed an interesting appearance forming a frill round the head in resemblance of Queen Bess"

'Kapuziner' is of course the name used for the present day (Old Dutch) Capuchine in Germany. This gives more weight to the view that the Old Dutch Capuchine is the forerunner of the Modern Jacobin. A look at any picture of Elizabeth I will show that her ruff certainly bears no resemblance to the Jacobin, but does resemble the Old Dutch Capuchine.

Whilst the Old Dutch Capuchine has remained much as it was in the early 1700's the Jacobin (in the modern sense) has developed out of all recognition. If one looks at pictures of the Jacobin in the last century this transformation is easy to see, those before 1850 being closer to the Old Dutch Capuchine than the modern Jacobin.

Whilst the Old Dutch Capuchine has remained much as it was in the early 1700's the Jacobin (in the modern sense) has developed out of all recognition. If one looks at pictures of the Jacobin in the 19th century this transformation is easy to see, those before 1850 being closer to the Old Dutch Capuchine than the modern Jacobin. 

By 1870 there was a marked change, especially in build, though even in 1868 the head was still visible from the side as is shown in the drawings by Harrison Weir in Tegetmeir's "Pigeons". By 1885 the length of feather had greatly increased, and  the birds far removed from the original pre-Ruff cross so as to be considered a completely different breed to the (Old Dutch) Capuchine.

In 1886 "The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication" was published by Charles Darwin containing great detail of almost every kind of bird, animal and plant known to man. In the following extract he describes the Jacobin of the 1880's :

Feathers of the neck forming a hood; wings and tail long; beak moderately short. [This pigeon can at once be recognised by its hood, almost enclosing the head and meeting in front of the neck. The hood seems to be merely an exaggeration of the crest of reversed feathers on the back of the head, which is common to many sub-varieties, and which in the Latztaube (5/20.Neumeister 'Taubenzucht' tab 4. figure 1.) is in a nearly intermediate state between a hood and a crest.

The feathers of the hood are elongated. Both the wings and tail are likewise much elongated; thus the folded wing of the Jacobin, though a  somewhat smaller bird, is fully 11 ¼ inch longer than in the rock-pigeon. Taking the length of the body without the tail as the standard of comparison, the folded wing, proportionally with the wings of the rock-pigeon, is 2 ¼ inches too long, and the two wings, from tip to tip, 5 ¼ inches too long. In disposition this bird is singularly quiet, seldom flying or moving about, as Bechstein and  Riedel have likewise remarked in Germany. (5/21. Riedel 'Die Taubenzucht' 1824 s. 26. Bechstein 'Naturgeschichte Deutschlands' b. 4 s. 36 1795) The latter author also notices the length of the wings and tail. The beak is nearly .2 of an inch shorter in proportion to the size of the body than in the rock-pigeon;but the internal gape of the mouth is considerably wider.]

Having described the Jacobin of  his day, Darwin then makes the following observations:

This breed existed before 1600, but the hood, judging from the figure given by Aldrovandi, did not enclose the head nearly so perfectly as at present: nor was the head then white; nor were the wings and tail so long, but this last character might have been overlooked by the rude artist. In Moore's time, in 1735, the Jacobin was considered the smallest kind of pigeon, and the bill is said to be very short. Hence either the Jacobin, or the other kinds with which it was then compared, must since that time have been considerably modified; for Moore's description (and it must be remembered that  he was a first-rate judge) is clearly not applicable, as far as size of body and length of beak are concerned, to our present Jacobins. In 1795, judging from Bechstein, the breed had assumed its present character."   

and continued:

"Now, if this same person could have viewed the pigeons kept before 1600 by Akber Khan in India and by Aldrovandi in Europe, he would have seen the Jacobin with a less perfect hood"

During the 1880's there was considerable disagreement on the Jacobin and two types were bred, these being the "Real Jacobin" and the "Hog Maned Jacobin"; the former finally being deposed by the latter. In 1885 George Ure wrote of the Hog Maned (modern) Jacobin as :

"an unsightly nondescript without a single claim to the family title"

and continued:

"The inventor ought to have found a new name for this composite mongrel and left the word Jacobin to stand for what it represents"

So then it would seem clear that the modern Jacobin was developed from the original (Old Dutch) Capuchine or Jacobin of the 1700's. As the Jacobin developed the (Old Dutch) Capuchine became somewhat neglected being overshadowed by it's much more showy and impressive son.

However being a hardy virile breed, with no real   physical impediment, it was kept on many large estates in the Low Countries as a decorative breed. The Great War, which caused such devastation in the area almost succeeded in exterminating the breed. To all intents and purposes the breed would have become extinct but for the vision of H. Th. G. Moezelaar ... and so the breed was  saved from obscurity 





Modern History

History in Britain

Origins of the Breed