Many animal breeds are commonly known by place names and Poland is no exception. Among the better-known animals with Polish place names are chickens, hogs, rabbits and horses.
The Polish Hen or Chicken is one of the most popular show chickens in the world. Attend any large county or state fair and you will see them displayed (here on the left picture). They are beautifully distinctive with a topknot of feathers growing from the head and falling downward, perhaps resembling a cartoonish long-haired orchestra conductor. The origin of the breed goes back to sixteenth century Poland, specifically the Podole region, now part of Ukraine, where breeders perfected the strain. Eventually, they were imported into England where they became known as Poland Fowls. During Poland's period of partition they became known as Russian Fowls because they were exported from the Russian occupied sector. Some sources say the name Polish Hen also refers to similarity to the famed Polish Hussars cavalry's feathered helmets and winged armor.
The Poland China Hog did not originate in Poland, but in America. In 1816 a group of Shakers bought three pigs in Philadelphia, of the Big China breed which had originated in the Far East, and brought them home to Ohio. They developed a hog unlike any seen before, big-framed, long and lean. A nearby Polish farmer named Asher Asher convinced the Shakers to sell him three pigs, thereby breaking their monopoly on the excellent animals. By the 1860s the hog had spread across the country and was known as the Poland China Hog, in reference to Asher Asher, and became recognized as a separate breed. In the 1920s the animal was honored in Warren County, Ohio, its place of origin, with a granite statue of one of the pigs, and it still stands today. Currently, the breed leads the United States in pounds of hog produced per sow per year.
Among dog breeds with a Polish origin are the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, the Polish Mountain Dog, or Tatra Shepherd (on the photo), and the Polish Hound. The Pomeranian breed was established in Pomerania province of Prussia by the Germans, which is now part of northwestern Poland.
The American Polish Rabbit and the English Polish Rabbit are popular breeds of very small rabbits and they make good pets for those inclined to adopt a rabbit. Their country of origin is Belgium, not Poland, and it is not known how or why they came to be referred to as Polish.
Poland has a long history and relationship with the horse, including the Arabian, the Konik and Przewalski's Horse. Check the next article about Poland's Horses - Arabian Horses, Polish Pony and Przewalski Horse.
Written by Martin S. Nowak. The article was published originally in Polish-American Journal