Gà Nòi

A pure, distinguished fighting bloodline

Viet Nam, home of Gà Nòi

The origin of gà nòi is unknown. Its history cannot be traced due to the lack of documentation. The 30 years civil war ended in 1975 that killed millions and ruined the whole country further contributed to the lack of information.

Cockfighting in Viet Nam is an old tradition dating back at least 700 years. Gà Nòi is believed to be native of Viet Nam as there is no credible evidence of its origination from elsewhere. Gà nòi have been exported to neighboring countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia in recent decades. Vietnamese cockers living in the United States had also brought gà nòi to the States. Fowls bearing physical resemblance to ga noi can also be found in the Reunion Island.

For people who are interested in researching the origin of ga noi, a recent study conducted by a Japanese team on the origin of all chickens in the world can be found at www.accessexcellence.org. The new findings by the Japanese researchers suggest that domestication took place more than 8,000 years ago in what is now Thailand and Vietnam, the region in which the red jungle fowl is found today. You can click on this PROTOCHICKEN link to read more about the study.


According to "Đại Nam Quốc Âm Tự Vị" a linguistic research book in Vietnamese language, published by a scholar named Huỳnh Tịnh Của (Volume II, in 1896 - page 155), the word "Nòi" means:

Nòi = bloodline, breed. (Vietnamese writing uses diacritical mark)
Gà Nòi = A special type of chicken people breed for fighting purpose.
Rặt Nòi (entirely nòi) = A pure breed, no cross-breeding with the unknown type

Vương Hồng Sển, a respected author who told stories of cockfighting in 1915 in his book "Phong Lưu Cũ Mới", published in 1961, gave another definition of "Nòi" as:
  • Race
  • An ancestral line
  • A distinguish ancestry
  • A recorded purity of breed of an individual or strain
The DICTIONNAIRE ANNAMITE-FRANCAIS prepared and edited by Gnibrel, J-F-M published in 1898 also gave similar definition as above.

The term gà nòi refers to two separate breeds of fighting fowls. They are gà đòn (short for gà nòi đòn) and gà cựa (short for gà nòi cựa).
Đòn = hitting, whipping, caning, thrashing.
Cựa = Spur

Gà Đòn

Gà đòn is the naked-neck type of fowl use in tape-boxing fight. There are two major breeds of gà đòn. They are Mã lại (hennie) and Mã chỉ (regular). There are numerous bloodlines within each breed of gà đòn. Vietnamese cockers generally breed a fowl to maintain or enhance its fighting ability, and not paying particular attention to any physical standard. Consequently, the fowls produced range widely in their physical appearance.

  Spur of a 9 months old gà đòn  

General characteristics

Gà đòn is described in many cockfighting manuals as the type of fowl that has no spur. Such a description refers to fowls that have no spur or very low protruding spurs from the Central.

According to the Author Vương Hồng Sển, in Central Viet Nam where money was hard to earn, the life of a fowl is considered valuable. It's more economic to fight spurless fowl to lessen the chance of death and injury. People of the Central preferred gà đòn over gà cựa and has developed spurless type of fowl for endurance fights. They called this type of fowl gà đòn. Today, the term gà đòn is also used to describe all tape boxing fowls regardless of their spur's length. (The majority of gà đòn in the South have long spurs)

In general, the fighting technique of Gà đòn differ from Gà cựa. Gà đòn tends to use its shanks and feet to whip opponent while gà cựa punctures and cuts with its spurs. Gà cựa also grows its spurs at a faster rate in comparison to Gà đòn.

Traditionally, people fight gà đòn with blunted spurs or cut them so that the only combative weapon is the whipping legs.

Head and facial expression
The skull of a gà nòi is large, with a flat top. The face is broad, with large, raised cheekbones. Gà nòi can shows many different emotions with its facial expressions. When it is being fed by their owner, gà nòi shows a happy face expression. When a stranger comes near, it display a curious, wide-eyes staring look. When placed near an opponent, it shows a mean, daring look. The thick eyes lids, deep eyes socket, high cheekbones and cold staring of gà nòi set it apart from a regular chicken.

Click here to see a collection of gà nòi heads.

  Wrinkle neck skin  
Large neck with thick, wrinkle skin.
Gà nòi has a large and powerful neck. The neck is medium in length.
Neck bones are huge and tightly joined.
The thick neck skin is wrinkled. They form multiple wavy layers.

  Naked up to 1 year.  
A question that many people have asked about gà nòi is whether or not its neck and head are naked naturally or trimmed. The answer is both. Some breeds of gà nòi are naked naturally, some have more feathers than other but most will be naked up to one year of age if raised in the hot climate of Viet Nam. The neck and thigh's feathers may or may not grow back in the second year. Factors such as bloodline and climate will determine how much these feathers may grow in the second year. The constant washing of the bird neck can toughen the neck skin and the feathers may not grow back.
In the United States, g nòi can adapts to the cold climate and may possess full feathers at an earlier age. Most could have full feathers at 9 months of age when raised in the U.S.

Cockers do trim the head, neck, thigh and underwing portions of a gà nòi for fighting. (Please see the cockfighting section for more information on trimming.)

To learn about the slow feather development process of gà nòi chicks, please see the Feather Development page.

The 10 months old blue stag shown here is raised in Viet Nam. All the red skin are naturally naked as the feathers are still growing.

  Frog eye.  
Frog eyes
Some gà nòi have frog eyes. Big eyes are not good for fighting, but frog eyes belong to a special class. The eyes are big and raised like the eyes of a frog. Gà nòi that has frog eyes in combination with green legs is known to fight to its death instead of running.

Leg color
30 years ago, cockers in South Viet Nam did not like ganoi with yellow legs. Yellow legs were either seen as inferior or as a crossed fowl with Chinese chickens used for meat. Yellow legs are probably more acceptable today than in the past. Please click here to see a collection of gà nòi legs.

Most gà nòi have two rows of scales forming a zig zag line in the center. Three or four rows of scales in gà nòi are not common.

Other characteristics:
  • Thighs: Muscular. The thigh are usually longer than the shank.
  • Feet: Medium to tall. Mostly square and triangular shanks in the old day. Today, round shanks are also plentiful.
  • Trunk: Firmly muscled, moderately long. Belly portion undeveloped.
  • Skin: Skin turns red when exposed to plenty of sun light.
  • Flesh: Tough. Very tough to chew on their meat even after you've cooked them.
  • Bone: Large and heavy
  • Tail: Short, closed, rather narrowly set, low carried. Mã chỉ type has long tail and sickles.
  • Spurs: From two to six. Six spurs are called "lục đinh".
  • Feathers: Not too many feathers on head, neck, and thighs. Feathers are crude and brittle.
  • Color intensity: The feathers color is very intense and distinctive.
  • Weight: Between 6 lbs. to 11 lbs. (2.8 kg. to 5 kg.)
  • Crowing: Gà đòn crows relatively little compare to other type of fowls. The crowing sound is deep and low.
  • Personality: Possess lot of valor, defiance, indomitableness, and prowess.
  • Location: Gà đòn can be found in the following provinces:
    Northern Viet Nam: The provinces of Lang Son, Bac Giang (formerly Ha Bac), Ha Noi.
    Central Viet Nam: The provinces of Da Nang, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan.
    Southern Viet Nam: Ba Ria, Dong Nai, Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon), Long An .

Click here for a provincial map of Viet Nam
(Viet Nam is divided into three main regions: North, Central and South. The Central begin with the province of Thanh Hoá and end with the provinces of Dac Lak, Lâm Đồng and Bình Thuận.)

Gà Cựa

Gà cựa is the smaller and lighter type of gamefowl that has full feathers and long, sharp spurs. Gà cựa is native to the Southern part of Viet Nam and is not popular in the Central and the North.
Traditionally, gà cựa was fought in sharpened, natural spurs. Today, Gà cựa is fought in gaff.

In general, most gà cựa share the following characteristics:
  • Face: Handsome, thinner skin compare to gà đòn
  • Eyes: Round, thin eye lid.
  • Neck: Short, much smaller neck than gà đòn.
  • Feet: Short, small shanks
  • Spurs: Long and sharp.
  • Feathers: Full feathers, long hackle and saddle feathers.
  • Tail: Wide, rather bushy, low carried. Sickles are narrow and long.
  • Weight: Between 5 lbs. to 7 lbs

Gà Chọi, Gà Đá, Gà Nòi

Due to the variation of language usage in Viet Nam, Gà nòi is also known as Gà chọi in the North and Gà đá in the Central. The word chọi means fighting. The word "đá" means kicking. In the South, people prefer to use the term Gà nòi". Vietnamese understand that all three terms mean the same thing. The choice for using a particular term is a regional preference.

In South Viet Nam where gà cựa are plentiful, breeders generally specialize in either Gà đòn or Gà cựa but not both. Still, people continue using the common term Gà nòi to refer to both types even though there are fundamental differences in physical appearances and fighting techniques. Customarily, the breeders of Gà đòn do not associate with the "Gà cựa" counterparts because each type of fowl has different fighting styles requiring different method of caring and training.

Note to our readers
As a popular preference, the term Gà nòi when used on this website refers to Gà nòi đòn. The other type of Gà nòi, Gà nòi Cựa, will simply be called Gà cựa.

This document was prepared by members of the Vietnamese Ganoi Association. Due to our limited access to information, the document still lacks important details about gà nòi. This limited document will be updated as we learn more about gà nòi.

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