What Are the Breeds of Canaries

  • Date: November 29, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Need some information about canaries? We go over a few of the more popular breeds of canaries and see how they differ from each other.

Most people who don’t know probably think that the canary is just one type of bird, like the bald eagle or something like that. In truth, however, there are actually more than 200 canary breeds that exist today. Most of these breeds have a specific physical characteristic or behavioral trait that sets them apart from other canary types. 

Being that there are so many different breeds of canaries out there, we certainly won’t be covering all of them in this article. We will, however, be giving you an overview of canaries as a whole, and then going over some of the more popular canary breeds and explaining why they stand out.

Canary Overview

If you don’t know that much about canaries, allow us to get you oriented. Canaries are one of the most popular pet birds and have been since breeders began breeding them in captivity in the 17th century. Canaries originally hail from the Canary Islands, as their name suggests.

Canaries are popular pet birds for a few reasons; for one, they’re generally pretty easy to take care of, as they don’t require a ton of attention or specific care practices, compared to other birds like parrots. In addition, canaries are pretty intelligent and can be trained to perform simple tricks.

Canaries enjoy being around other people, but they don’t like being handled as much as other birds like parrots or budgies. In addition, canaries can be kept either by themselves or with other canaries (but don’t house two male canaries in the same cage together, otherwise they’ll fight).

Despite their small size, canaries live surprisingly long lives. It’s not uncommon to see canaries live for 10 years or more.

Popular Canary Breeds

As we’ve mentioned, there are over 200 breeds of canary that currently exist. Today, however, we’ll be taking a look at just a few of the more popular ones. By no means is this an extensive list, but it does cover plenty of common canary breeds.

If you’re thinking about getting a canary of your own, here are some of the breeds you might want to consider:

American Singer

The American Singer, as its name implies, originates from the States and loves to sing. American Singer canaries are very melodic and enjoy interacting with others; as such, they’re a great pet bird to have if you’ve got kids.

American Singer canaries come in a variety of colors, including green, white, yellow, fawn, and blue.

Belgian Fancy

Belgian Fancy canaries are one of the oldest canary breeds. Belgian Fancies were primarily bred for their physical characteristics, and they are one of the smallest canary breeds that exist. Belgian Fancy canaries have been used as the basis to develop several other popular canary breeds.

Belgian Fancy canaries also come in numerous colors, including green, yellow, white, buff, or multicolored.

Border Fancy

Border Fancy canaries are named after the border region between England and Scotland, where this breed comes from. Border Fancy canaries are always yellow in color, although some may also have small white markings mixed in.

Border Fancy canaries used to be called “Wee Gem” canaries, which is somewhat ironic as Border Fancies are actually among the largest of all canary breeds.


Crested canaries are named as such because of the distinctive crest of feathers on their heads. These feathers hang down, giving them an appearance slightly similar to that of Moe from The Three Stooges

Crested canaries were first developed by crossbreeding Lancashire and Norwich canaries. These canaries are found in all different sorts of colors.

Fife Fancy

The Fife Fancy is essentially just a smaller version of the Border Fancy. The Fife Fancy is actually the smallest canary breed there is, and they don’t grow more than about 4 1/2 inches long or so


Frilled canaries are named for their feathers, which always have an unkempt appearance. This effect is most noticeable on the canary’s back and chest.

Frilled canaries are known for being quite melodic and friendly, and are definitely one of the more unique-looking canary breeds out there.


The Gloster canary used to be called the Gloucester canary, owing to its area of origin. However, breeders outside of England had a hard time pronouncing “Gloucester”, so the breed was renamed as the Gloster canary.

Many Gloster canaries also have a crest of feathers on their heads, similar to Crested canaries


Jaspe canaries are among the newest of all canary breeds, having only been developed in the last decade or so. Jaspe canaries were initially the result of crossbreeding three other bird breeds, but are now a standalone, self-sustaining breed.


Lancashire canaries are among the tallest canaries that exist, with some examples growing up to 9 inches long. Also known as Manchester Fancy canaries, Lancashire canaries are often bred with other canaries when trying to produce larger birds.


Lizard canaries are one of the oldest selectively-bred canary breeds in the world, having originated from France in the 17th century. Despite the longevity of this breed, it nearly became extinct shortly after World War II but was revived thanks to renewed efforts from breeders.

Lizard canaries don’t sing as impressively as other canary breeds, but what sets them apart from others is their coloration. Lizard canaries get their name from the black crescent shapes that appear on their breasts and backs. However, these shapes fade a little after every time this canary molts. 


Norwich canaries were the original breed to feature the distinctive crest of feathers on their heads that is characteristic of a few other breeds (although not every Norwich canary has this crest). Norwich canaries are typically a bit larger than other canary breeds.

Scotch Fancy

Scotch Fancy or Scottish fancy canaries stand out pretty well, mainly due to their unusual hunchbacked posture that they have as a result of selective breeding. As such, they’re not the most popular canary breed, but they still have their share of dedicated breeders who work to keep this breed going.


Finally, we have the Yorkshire canary. These canaries are bred to have an alert, upright stance, which helps this breed earn its nickname of “The Guardsman”. The Yorkshire canary is one of the most popular canary breeds, and also one of the largest; they usually get up to about 6 inches long when fully grown.

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