Brahmas are calm, friendly birds that make good pets or exhibition fowl. They are not skittish or easily scared, making them a popular choice for families with children.

There has been considerable controversy over the origin of the Brahma. It appears to have developed in the United States from very large birds imported from the Chinese port of Shanghai, which were thus known as "Shanghai" birds. It is likely that limited cross-breeding with Chittigong chickens from what is now called Bangladesh gave the Brahma the distinctive characteristics of head shape and the pea comb that distinguish it from the Cochin, another breed that derives from the "Shanghai" birds.

The Brahma is a massive, stately bird, with an upright carriage and a large head. When standing, they should almost appear to form a V, and should stand fairly tall—males more than females. Feet should be strong, with feathers extending all the way down the middle toe, and plumage should be held more tightly than in the Cochin.

Weights average about 5.5 kg (12 lb) for cocks and 4.5 kg (9.9 lb) for hens.