By Julia Keeling

The Shamo is a naked heel game bird from Japan.  The breed was originally brought into Japan from Thailand in the seventeenth century – the name referring to Siam, the old name for Thailand. In Japan it was developed into a distinctive fighting bird of courage and ferocity.
Its posture is very upright, with prominent shoulders, powerful bone structure, muscular athletic build and sparse hard feather, which all together make it an impressive and striking bird.
The term ‘Shamo’ covers all examples of the large fowl, but they can be further divided by weight into Chu Shamo (adult male weight above 3kg/6.6lbs) and O Shamo (adult male weight 4kg/8.8lbs and above). There is a huge weight range in this breed – from a little hen of 4.9lbs to a huge cock of 12lbs or more.
Breeders in Japan name their own lines after themselves or their areas, but names such as ‘Makino’, ‘Osaka’, ‘Teramoto’ etc, often used in Europe, have no relevance once the line has left Japan. Different conditions, breeding choices and breeders mean that they should not continue to carry such names. All are Shamo.
The breed can be found throughout Japan and although occasionally shown they are kept there primarily as fighting birds, with character and attitude being the vital attributes. Cockfighting is legal in Japan, although betting on the outcome is not.
Colour is of no importance in this breed, although the plumage colour most commonly seen is black/red (bbr) and variations; beak – yellow or horn; legs and feet – yellow (with blackish over-colour being normal in some dark coloured birds); face – red; and eyes silver or gold.



The main thing to remember when keeping Shamo is that they should mature slowly. A bird of either sex is not adult until about two years old. The stag of ten months will look a different bird after another year. The problems this can bring are:
• The bones can develop slower than the body mass, so if the bird is fed too much protein and/or does not have enough fresh air and exercise as he grows, his body will get too heavy for his legs and result in serious leg problems.
• For the same reason, the breastbone can become bent if a young bird rests on too narrow a perch, and the legs and feet can become damaged from jumping down from too high a perch. Adult birds continue to need wide perches to accommodate long legs and bodies.
• Stags and pullets can run happily together when young, but as soon as they start to mature, maybe as late as seven or eight months old in bigger birds, they can turn on each other. Stags and pullets can quickly kill each other.
So – low protein food and lots of fresh air and exercise; wide, low perches, or none at all; and vigilance at all times re separating birds as soon as necessary.

Despite the aggressive, arrogant bearing, they should be calm and confident with their keepers and easy to handle. The aggression should only be towards other birds. Birds may well occasionally greet their keeper with a ‘friendly’ peck, but this is certainly not man-fighting!



Shamo take so long to mature that it doesn’t really matter what time of year they are hatched. They will eventually reach their potential, even if they develop slowly over the winter.
Shamo are a broody breed, but as hens are heavy and bony they can be clumsy with eggs. Usually better to remove eggs and let another hen hatch them.
Running loose, a hen and cock can have their own space and live in harmony. However, if confined, they may fight. More than one hen with a cock may well fight each other, as well as it then being impossible to maintain accurate breeding records if not breeding one to one. Even if they live in apparent harmony, a heavy cock may seriously damage a hen with his spurs/claws. She should be examined regularly under her wings as she will show no signs of being hurt until wounds are really serious or become badly infected.
This is a breed developed to fight and it is the most important characteristic of the breed, and this is what they will do!


16 Responses to “Shamo”

  1. 1 Icarus
    December 11, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Thank you for the article Julia. Well written and informative. I also very much enjoyed your delivery, direct and concise.
    ‘Seems to remind me of the look in a certain birds eye. Icarus

  2. 2 shamolady
    December 11, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Thank you Icarus.

    I wrote it quite quickly, so if there is anything I have forgotten or any questions that readers would like me to answer, just ask. I will always talk Shamo!

  3. 3 Ferdi
    December 16, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Very good info on Shamos.
    I enjoyed the article.
    Is there a breed of Shamo that is fought heeled in Japan?

  4. 4 shamolady
    December 16, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks Ferdi – the large Shamo are just one breed which comes in a variety of sizes, and they are never fought with weapons in their native country Japan. The only birds bred there to fight with weapons are Satsumadori.

  5. December 16, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    More tips :A hen will not fight a cock under any circumstances and a cock should not beat a hen up.Females run together for a period of time can generally live in perfect harmony for the rest of their lives with the exception of a few.It is only the males you have to separate.There is a vast difference between exhibition shamo and the fighting variety although they may look similar.It only takes a few generations to spoil the breed by selecting them for exhibition purposes which is the case in Europe.

  6. 7 shamolady
    December 16, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Sorry to contradict you Oleg, but some Shamo females will most definitely fight a male!
    Males will not normally fight a hen, but if he is being attacked he will put the hen in her place.
    Also, females will not always live together I assure you. I have just had to separate two 5 month old pullets which have nearly killed each other, even though they were hatched together and have never been separated!
    The comments you make are rather sweeping and misleading.

  7. 8 shamolady
    December 17, 2008 at 9:30 am

    In Japan they see no conflict between show and work, and breed for beauty and ability. So do many in the West. But although I met many in Japan who worked their birds and also showed, I met no-one who showed their birds and did not work them.
    So, Oleg, I do agree with you 100% that these birds should never ever be bred for looks alone.
    Any bird without the essential Shamo character and attitude – is not a Shamo!

  8. December 19, 2008 at 12:39 am

    I would like to take a second to thank Julia for writing this article for us! 🙂

  9. 10 keith
    February 22, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    i wont eggs of di shamo male form malta ok for you plis

  10. 11 mehdi
    April 30, 2009 at 5:49 am

    who have fertile eggs?

  11. 12 robert m spiers
    November 18, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    who sells oh shamo game fowl in te eastern united states .
    I would like to have some just for pets.
    robert m spiers

  12. 14 Jared
    January 2, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Are shamos cold hardy?

  13. 16 paul
    June 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    i have shamo eggs haw much youlike my friend

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