Types of Rabbits
Across the world, shows and exhibitions are held to display different types of rabbits. Organizations like the American Rabbit Breeders' Association (ARBA) or the British Rabbit Council observe the rabbits displayed at such events and distinguish the breeds accordingly.
Following are some of the popular rabbit breeds:
American Sable Rabbit
There are two varieties of Sable, the Siamese and the Marten. In each variety there are three colours, light, medium, and Clark. The Siamese is a self-rabbit, which carries the factors for light Chinch illation, whilst the Marten Sable is a tan pattern rabbit (the tan however being replaced by white) also carrying the factors of light Chinch illation. Both varieties are shaded. The Sables occurred at various times in litters of Chinchillas following the early importations. They were at first considered valueless and were discarded. Then they were kept and the name Mara was suggested for them. The Marten Sables most frequently occurred, and later Siamese Sables were produced in litters of Martens. The names by which they are now known were given to the two breeds as the Siamese resembled the Siamese cat, and the Marten, the wild Stone Marten.
The colouring of the Sables is a rich sepia saddle shading to a lighter sepia on the flanks and sides. The Marten flanks and rump should be well ticked with longer white hairs, and the belly white.
The pelts of the light shades are not much sought after by the fur trade, the furrier much preferring the medium colour. The coats are of a highs quality and the Sables are for this reason one of the most useful normal fur breeds from a commercial standpoint. The weight is from 5 to 7 lb.
The Angora is one of the oldest known breeds of domestic rabbit, and has in fact been kept for its wool for many hundreds of years. It is the only breed from whirls wool for spinning can be obtained. Until the mid-1920's the major world supply was produced in France, but at that time Eastern European and Japanese production became extensive. In this country too there was a certain amount of commercial production, but at the present time there is little, and that on a small scale. The English Angora has a much finer coat and is smaller than its Continental counterpart, although the wool yield is rather less. The breed undoubtedly requires more attention than other breeds, for it needs to be groomed to ensure that the coat does not matt. The breed weighs some6 lb. and although twelve different colours are recognized, the majority of Angoras bred are white (i.e. albinos). As a reed the Angora has considerable exhibition success and often achieves supreme honours at shows.
The Belgian hare is one of the early Fancy breeds, and is now used exclusively for exhibition purposes, although at one time it was used a fair amount for meat production, and during the last war as a cross with other breeds for the same purpose. Genetically it is of the wild Agouti co lour, much modified by additional genes to give it a rich deep red of a tan or chestnut shade. The breed has been selected always for extreme length, fineness and gracefulness, and compares very well with a wild hare rattler than a rabbit, a fact which hassled many to believe that it is a hare, which of course it is not. The myth that it can be crossed with a wild hare is equally erroneous.
The origin of the Belgian Hare is obscure, although there is a good deal of evidence to show that it was selected from an old breed known as the Patagonian, which was also the progenitor of the Flemish Giant, although both breeds differ greatly from the original.
The Blue Beveren originated in Belgium, in the district of that name, during the 1890's. It is thought that they we reproduced from crosses of the St. Nicolas Giant and the Blue Vienna, neither of which are now kept in this country. There were in fact two types of rabbits imported into this country in 1915, one being a rabbit of about the type of a Dutch) known as the Balancing type whilst the other, the Blue Vienna derivative, was the breed which was first named the Giant Blue Beverens. It is interesting to note that the producer of the Blue Vienna, which gave so much to the Blue Beverens, and was itself produced from crosses involving the Belgian Giant (almost certainly a straits of the Patagonian) for size, the French Lop for type and hardiness, and the Blue Lorraine Giant for the co lour, gave his intention as being to produce an animal which was as suitable for exhibition as it was for the butcher and furrier. The Beverens follows this ideal to-day as well as most breeds, and better than many.
The Blue Beverens is genetically a blue rabbit, that is a dilute black, and the Black Beverens (originally known as the Sit ka) was produced in 1919 by a cross with a black rabbit of unknown breed. The White Beverens, which differs from nearly all the other white breeds of rabbit, in being a blue-eyed white (following the genetic al pattern of the Vienna White) was produced some years later. The original White Beverens were however, Albinos, and not blue-eyed. It was not until some ten years later that the Brown Beverens was first exhibited. The Beverens was one of the first and major fur breeds. It has a coat which is silky, dense, and lustrous, and is between1 and sib inches in lengths. As a table rabbit the breed is good.
The first introduction of the Californian into Great Britain took place in 1958, but it was not until 1960 that substantial numbers were imported. In that year over 400 Californians arrived, largely due to the interests of commercial rabbit farmers, the breed having been developed in America for its commercially desirable characteristics.
In essence it is a Himalayan pointed white land breed which, since its introduction as a commercial variety, has proved a popular fancy rabbit. It is recognized in two colours, Normal (black points) and Chocolate. Adults weigh around 8 lbs.
The intention in the production of the Chinchilla Gigante, in the early 1920's by Chris. Wren was to produce a large graceful rabbit, with good meat qualities, and a good pelt with Chinchilla colouring. That this has succeeded is shown by the fact that many authorities consider the breed to be the ideal meat and fur breed, and the most valuable normal fur breed from a commercial point of view. The co lour is very similar to the Chinchilla, although being perhaps rather starker. The coat is also usually rather less silky, but pelts of excellent size are produced, and meat qualities and growth rate arc excellent. The weight must not exceed t it lb .Genetically the co lour is the same as the Chinchilla, that is wild agouti co lour with the yellow replaced by pearl gray.
The Lilac was first produced by the geneticist Professor. C. Unmet at Cambridge during 1922. A Blue Beveren (a dilute black) was mated to a Havana (a brown recessive to black). All the progeny were black in appearance, but carried the factors for the recessive brown and dilution. On mating these black rabbits amongst them, blacks, blues, browns and lilacs were produced in the ratio of 93: 3 as, the lilac rabbits being diluted browns. The original name given to the breed was Cambridge blue ' but this was later changed to Lilac.
In the same way, lilacs were produced on the Consistent just prior to 1920, and were then given the names Gouda (from the district in which it was first produced) or Mar burger orator (from the district in which it was next produced).The fur is a most pleasing dove gray, and usually of very good quality from the furriers point of view. It is therefore curious that it has not achieved more popularity in this direction. Weighting approximately 61, lb. the breed has useful carcass, and is also one of the more docile.
The Lop Rabbit
The Lop shares the distinction of being one of the oldest fancy breeds, although specimens of a hundred or more years ago were very different from those of the present day. The ear length, width, shape and texture are the features, for which the fancier breeds, and some considerable success has been achieved in this direction for an ear span of up to 27 inches or even more is attainable. The breed, at one time certainly the most popular of all fancy rabbits, has now lost most of its popularity. It is essentially an exhibition breed, although it has some uses, pure or as a cross bred, in laboratory work, the large ear facilitating research procedures.
At one time it was considered imperative to keep the animal sin a warm atmosphere, as it was thought that this would improve the ears. This idea is quite erroneous, and the practice should be condemned.
This is a neat, compact and sprightly rabbit weighing between 22 and 32 lb. Their origin is unknown, but it is probable that they were first bred from Dutch or Himalayans. Some Polish were certainly produced in this way in England during the 1860s and 7.0s, although at the same time a very similar breed occurred on the Continent. At this time they were a good deal larger than the present breed, weighing between 31 and 41 lb.
Although no one at the present time would consider the Polish a utility animal, some 40 or 5o years ago they were in great demand on the Continent, particularly in Belgium, as an epicurean luxury, the rabbits for this purpose being fed largely on milk and meal.
The Red-Eyed White Polish is of course an albino, whilst the Luc-Eyed White carries the factor for Vienna White .Although from time to time coloured Polish appeared, they were not recognized until a few years ago.
The Netherlands Dwarf
The Netherlands Dwarf was developed in Holland from the Polish rabbit, but the selection of the breeding stock was such that there should be little relationship between the two breeds. Their development as a separate breed started prior to the last war but was interrupted by the German occupation of Holland, and it was not until 1950 that Netherlands Dwarfs were introduced into this country. Since that time they have become very popular, and in fact they are the most popular of fancy breeds except for Dutch and English. They have now been produced in a number of colors, including white (the most popular) sable, black, brown, smoke pearl and even chinchilla. The Netherlands Dwarf is entirely an exhibition rabbit, and undoubtedly makes the best pet for a small child, being cob by and compact and so small as to be easily handled. The breed suffered initially from poor breeding characteristics, but this problem is rapidly being overcome. 'The maximum weight is 2z lb. as an adult.
The Tan Rabbit
The Tan rabbit was first produced in a warren containing wild stock into which some domestic animals had been introduced. The distinctive pattern of the Tan is due to amputation from the wild Agouti. The basic pattern is a self back with a light coloured belly and yellow flanks .Improvement consists in extending the yellow or tan colour the entire belly, cars, nostrils and feet, and improving the colour thereof.
The first Tans were found in the i880's, and were blacks. The dilution factor was later introduced by using a sooty-fawn animal, and thus the blues were produced. The chocolates came next, being the recessives to the blacks, and when the dilution factor was introduced into the chocolates the Lilacs evolved.
The Tan is one of the more popular fancy breeds, and although at one time it was thought that the pelts might be popular in the fur trade, this has never been achieved.
Sabina Rabbit Breed
The distinctive feature of the Satin breeds is an exquisite satin-like texture and sheen which is produced by a peculiar modification of the hair, the scales being much flattened and the central hollow cells found in other fur types being either partly or completely absent. The mutation producing these structural modifications is completely recessive to the normal coat.
The mutation as first established in 1930 in America, and was only imported into this country in 1947. Since then there have been several further importations. The original importations were of Ivory (albino) Satins and this still remains by farther most popular co lour, although some other colors have been established. The coat is of a roll back nature and the fur length 1 to t4 inches. Although it is at present too early to decide whether the pelt will be of lasting value, there is ascertain demand for good quality Satin pelts, and in fact at times they are in rather greater demand than are the pelts of the normal fur breeds. The adult weight is 6 to 8 lbs.
The Satin texture and sheen has been combined with the rex coat to give Satin Rees, but there are few of these at the present time.
The Siberian was produced in 1930, and is a modern normal fur breed and not to be confused with the Himalayan pointed Angora once called the Siberian but now never seen. The breed was made for the purpose of producing uniform skins which would be easy to match. The self coloured rabbits produced when breeding English formed a large part of the make up of the Siberian, which became quite popular during the war, but now is less so. The pelts are not a great deal sought after by the fur trade, for the colours are not entirely to their liking. The quality of the fur also requires much improvement for commercial value.
Smoke Pearl Rabbit
The first specimens of this breed were produced from Sable sin the late 1920's in boils the Marten and the Siamese patterns. They are in fact Sables carrying the factor for dilution. At first the breed was known as the Smoke Beige, but the name was changed to the present one in 1932 when the Standard was first adopted by the British Fur Rabbit Society.
The saddle is smoke in colour shading to a pearly grey beige on the flanks, with the Marten type having the chest, flanks and rump ticked with longer white hairs, and a white belly. The weight is between 5 and 7 lb.
Other Rabbit types are Silver Rabbit, The New Zealand Red, Flemish Giant Rabbit, The New Zealand Rabbit, Champagne Argente Rabbit, Chinchilla, and Dutch Rabbit.