Breeds

Blanc de Hotot

The Blanc de Hotot is a large white rabbit with black bands around each eye. The breed was developed in Hotot-en-Auge, Normandy near the port of Le Havre in northern France. The Blanc de Hotot, meaning White of Hotot, was created by Eugenie Bernhard, chatelaine du Calvados. She kept a large rabbitry of Flemish Giants, Géant Papillon Français (Checkered Giants), and Géant Noir de Hotot and is the second woman to ever be credited with developing a new breed of rabbit.

Bernhard’s breeding goal was a rabbit used for meat and fur, with a white coat and black eyes. Sometime around 1902, she crossed the Papillon with White Vienna and White Flemish Giants, but progress toward her goal was slow. She saved only the lightly marked animals that were the product of 500 crosses, and by 1912, was eventually able to produce the rabbit we have today. Bernhard continued to be troubled by the thin black eye bands.

The breed was shown for the first time in 1920 at Exposition Internationale d’Aviculture in Paris as the Geant (Giant) Blanc de Hotot. The French rabbit governing body recognized them as a breed on October 13, 1922. The first French standard doesn’t mention eye bands, but, instead, black eyelashes and lower eyelids that were more or less colored gray. The Blanc de Hotot was brought to America in 1921 to 1922, but they soon died out. Switzerland imported them in 1927, and it was the Swiss that appreciated the eye markings. During World War II the Blanc de Hotot nearly vanished in France, Holland, and Germany. However, even though the breed isn’t very common in Europe, its population continues to grow with approximately 111 Blanc de Hotot breeders documented in France in 2010 according to the Fédération française de Cuniculiculture.

In 1978, Bob Whitman of Texas imported 8 Blanc de Hotots from Fernand Eberli of France. The breed was recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association’s standards on March 5, 1979. Because of the very small gene pool and a body type that greatly needed improvement at the time, breeders began to cross Blanc de Hotots with Blue-Eyed White Beverens, White New Zealands, and White Satins. It was not until 2004 that additional Blanc de Hotots were imported into this country from Germany, Holland, and England. Though recent imports from Germany to the state of Washington in 2009 and from France to Nova Scotia, Canada in 2013, the Blanc de Hotot is an endangered breed in North America.

The breed is known for its lustrous fur, an abundance of guard hairs that gives the fur a frosty white sheen, and its striking black eye bands, which shouldn’t be over an eighth of an inch wide according to ARBA and not over 5mm in most European standards. Rigid selection is necessary to assure the proper markings. The Blanc de Hotot is a large rabbit with bucks weighing 8 to 10 pounds and mature does 9 to 11 pounds. They are an active, hardy breed and are easily raised in all wire cages. They are fairly good mothers, have good-size litters, and the young grow rather fast.

Though a recent import to the United States, the Blanc de Hotot is a globally endangered breed.

Dutch

The Dutch rabbit, also known as Hollander or Brabander is easily identifiable by its characteristic colour pattern, and was once the most popular of all rabbit breeds. However, after dwarf rabbits were developed, the popularity of the Dutch rabbit dwindled. Nevertheless, the Dutch rabbit remains one of the top ten most popular breeds worldwide.[1]

"Although the name suggests that the Dutch rabbit is from the Netherlands, it was actually developed in England. During the 1830s rabbits were imported to England from Ostend in Belgium every week for the meat market. Amongst these rabbits was a breed known as the Petit Brabançon, as it originated from Brabant in Flanders. The Petit Brabançon may still be found in paintings from the fifteenth century. The Dutch rabbit has its genetic roots in this old breed. The Petit Brabançon would often display Dutch markings, and breeders in England selected those with even markings, fixing those markings into the breed we know today."[2]

Dutch are popular both as pets and among show breeders.

English Lop

As the first lop breed, the English Lop was developed in England in the 19th century for exhibition as an early "fancy" breed—in response to the rising animal fancy of the time. During the Victorian era, the English Lop emerged as a mainstream household pet, marking a departure for such "fancy" breeds from the earlier role of the domesticated rabbit as a source of meat, fur, and wool production.

Florida Whites

The Florida White rabbit was accepted as a breed by the ARBA in 1967. The breed originator was ARBA Judge Orville Miliken. He crossed an albino Dutch, an albino Polish and a small but "typical" New Zealand white and through progressive selection and line breeding produced a strain of compact animals.

The Florida White was developed to provide a smaller rabbit for laboratory use and provide a small meat rabbit with good production and a favorable dress-out ratio for the personal consumption home breeder of today.

They produce as much meat as a Californian or New Zealand ( because of the high meat to bone ratio) given 4 more weeks and they eat half the food needed by the other meat breeds (16 as opposed to 12). Bob Bennett recommends the for family meat production in his book Raising Rabbits from Storey Press.

They have a compact body with firm flesh, small bones, small heads and small feet, excellent feed to meat conversion and a nearly 65% meat-to-bone ratio. This means there is very little waste at processing.

The Florida White is also an excellent show animal. The Florida White Standard of Perfection, which is available from the ARBA, describes the point system used to judge the Florida White. The number one consideration in showing the Florida White is the body or type which carries 65 points, though the condition of the rabbit which would include firm flesh and fur carries 35 points.

The fur is white with good density and texture, and they have a compact, meaty body, short neck, and small head. The ideal senior weight for the breed is 5 pounds, with an acceptable range from 4-6 pounds while the junior weighs 2.25-4.5 pounds.

Florida Whites are generally docile, good-natured, gentle and relaxed rabbits.This breed is generally hardy and healthy. They have an average lifespan of 5 to 8 years

Lionhead

The Lionhead rabbit originated in France and Belgium; although it is not recognized by the French Federation of Cuniculture. It is reported to have been produced by breeders trying to breed a long-coated dwarf rabbit by crossing a miniature Swiss Fox and a Netherland dwarf. This resulted in a genetic mutation causing wool to appear around the head and on the flanks. This gene has come to be known as the "mane" gene. There are many other reports similar to this, for example, that the lionhead has been bred from a Netherland Dwarf and a Jersey Wooly, but none have been substantiated, since the mane gene is separate from the gene that creates wool coats in wooled rabbits. The Lionhead rabbit continued to gain popularity in Europe, and Lionheads found their way to the United States in the late 1990s.

In the United Kingdom, the BRC has recognized the Lionhead breed since 2002.

In 2013 the Lionhead was accepted as a recognized breed by ARBA in two varieties: Tortoise and Ruby-Eyed White. As of 1 February 2014, Lionheads have been eligible to compete for Best in Show and to receive legs toward Grand Champion.

The North American Lionhead Rabbit Club (NALRC) holds its annual Lionhead Exhibition Specialty show in Columbus, Ohio. Typically, the Lionhead breed is represented by approximately 300-500 entries and 50-80 exhibitors from all over the United States and Canada.


Mini Lop

Bob Herschbach discovered the Mini Lop breed at a German National Rabbit Show in Essen, Germany in 1972, where it was known as a Klein Widder. These first Mini Lops were originated from the German Big Lop and the small Chinchilla. These two breeds came originally in Agouti and white colors.

German lops were about 8 pounds (3.6 kg), slender and large with thick ears. Herschbach, a Mini Lop promoter, achieved the first procreation of Mini Lops in the United States, mainly through breeding an agouti lop pair and a white female lop in 1972. Their first baby lops were solid colors. A second generation came with broken colors. As a result of the breeding process, they began to obtain a high standard of qualities Mini Lop.

In 1974, Herschbach's Mini Lop rabbits made their debut in an American Rabbit Breeders' Association (ARBA) convention held in Ventura, California. The outcome was that the breed needed to be downsized to a more compact, attractive size. In order to achieve this, Herschbach enlisted the assistance of other breeders by letting them breed more of his Mini Lops. One final touch resulted in changing the breed name from Klein Widders to "Mini Lop" to make it more appealing to the public.

In 1977 the Mini Lop breed was under new sponsorship; Herb Dyke was the person in charge of this task.

In 1978, Herschbach and Dyke created a correspondence club for the Mini Lops. Within a year, they had over 500 members who had contacted the ARBA with support for the Mini Lop rabbit. In 1980, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the National Rabbit Convention, this breed marked its success when it was recognized as an official rabbit breed sanctioned by ARBA.

Shortly after, the Mini Lop Club of America was founded to promote it.


Mini Rex

Mini Rex is a breed of domestic rabbit that was created in 1984 in Florida by the late Monna Berryhill of Texas. The Rex mutation, derived in France in the 19th century, is recessive and causes the hair to protrude outwards from the body, instead of lying flat, and the guard hairs to be shortened to the length of the undercoat.

The small size, plush coat and friendly personalities of Mini Rex rabbits make them one of the most popular rabbit breeds in the United States. They were first recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 1988, and have been very popular with exhibitors ever since. They weigh from 3.5 to 4 pounds when fully grown. They are short and rather close coupled. The ideal length of fur is 5/8 inch, and the fur has a lustrous appearance, good body, and a plush-like effect which offers a distinct springy resistance to the touch.


Silver

The Silver rabbit is one of the most ancient domestic rabbit breeds that still exist. Its true origin will never be known, but it’s likely that a rabbit with silver hairs appeared as a black sport (mutant) of the European wild rabbit hundreds of years ago.

Historians say that Silver rabbits were first found in large numbers in Siam. Sailors then brought them to Portugal where the breed spread throughout England and Europe. An early reference says that Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) introduced Silver Grey rabbits to the Nappa warren at Askrigg in North Yorkshire. From there, Silver Greys spread to a number of other warrens throughout England, with the greatest stronghold being in Lincolnshire. Records also show that Sir Walter Raleigh did sail to Portugal in 1592 and brought goods back to England.

Silver Greys were well represented in England by 1631 as Gervaise Markham writes of them in A Way To Wealth – The English Hus-wife. On May 13, 1778, when a fleet of 11 ships left Portsmouth, England under the command of Captain Arthur Philip to colonize Australia, there were, among other livestock, 5 rabbits that were likely Silver Greys. It took half a century before Silver rabbits were found in abundance in both Australia and New Zealand. Silvers have been known under many names: Millers, Silver Sprigs, Lincoln Silver, Lincolnshire Silver-Grey, and Riche, meaning valuable in French. Large numbers of skins were imported into China for a particular class of mandarins and the fur was highly prized by Russian royalty.

It’s not known exactly when the Silver arrived in the United States. They were in America during the Belgian Hare boom in the late 1890s. All three Silver varieties – Grey, Brown, and Fawn – were recognized into the first book of standards. A number of years later, the Grey variety was renamed Black. Although rare today on both sides of the Atlantic, only in the United Kingdom and the U.S. is the original type of Silver being bred.

Silvers are considered a small to medium-sized breed. Mature weight is 4 to 7 pounds, and they have a very tight and snappy coat. There should be an even distribution of silvering over the entire body, including the head, ears, feet, and tail. Silver is a hardy breed that is a seasonal breeder during Spring and Fall. Litter size is around 3 to 6. Silvers are active but non-aggressive rabbits and are easily kept in all wire cages. They may, however, be better suited to being bred in free-range systems – colonies or warrens – as they were kept two centuries ago.

Silver Fox

The Silver Fox is a large, docile breed that is excellent with children. Senior bucks should weigh 9–11 pounds and senior does should weigh 10–12 pounds. The breed is named for its dense, unique fur which is to closely resembles the pelt of the silver fox. The fur of the Silver Fox rabbit is unique in that it is classified as "stand up" fur; it stands on end until stroked back into place. The Silver Fox is the only breed accepted by ARBA that has stand up fur; by ARBA standard the fur is ideally 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in length.

The Silver Fox breed is classified as "Commercial" by ARBA. This means that the ideal shape of the Silver Fox is to provide the maximum amount of meat in the prime cuts of the carcass. Well-filled, wide, straight hindquarters; a deep profile which allows for a deep loin; body width equal to the depth of the hindquarters; and a short shoulder all are ideal components of any commercial breed, including the Silver Fox.

Currently, only black and chocolate Silver Foxes can be shown to win best of breed, but the breed comes in a variety of colors, such as blue, lilac, and white, which can be shown with permission from the show runners and with a working standard. Chocolate was recently accepted as an official variety as of the 2021 ARBA convention. As of December of 2021 they can be shown against black Silver Fox and win best of breed and best opposite sex. Blue was previously included in the breed standard, but was removed in the 1970s due to a decrease in the number of blue Silver Fox rabbits being shown. Currently, there is a "Certificate of Development" for blue Silver Foxes to be re-accepted into the ARBA. Blue silver fox can be shown in ARBA recognized shows for exhibition.

Silver Foxes are known to be friendly, enjoying attention and handling.