A Belgian Hare is not actually a hare, but a variety of
domesticated rabbit that originated in Belgium and was
deliberately bred to resemble a hare. After the breed was
taken to England the breed was refined still more in the
1870's by the Lumb brothers, who bred for the "wild hare"
appearance of the Belgian Hares of today. England also
developed the first show standard for the breed.
Compared to most domestic rabbit breeds, Belgian Hares have
long, sleek, wiry bodies, with thin bones, long ears, and
longer back feet. Because of their long legged, thin bodies,
Belgian Hares have been called the "race horses of rabbitry"
or "the poor man's racehorse."
The first Belgian Hares were bred in the Nineteenth Century
and introduced in Great Britain in 1874. Not much later they
were brought to North America where they inspired Belgian
Hare clubs and sold for prices up to the thousands of
dollars. The popularity of this breed was the foundation for
the rabbit shows and standards of today. Now, however,
perhaps because their popularity made them seem common, they
are one of the rarer breeds.
The only coat color for Belgian Hares that is accepted by
the American Rabbit Breeders Association is deep red, but
Belgian Hares also are found with black and tan, all black
and red-eyed white, which of course are fine as pets even if
they can't be show rabbits in the United States.
Belgian Hares are one of the smartest rabbit breeds, and are
said to make good companion rabbits, although they can be
somewhat skittish. They are a fairly large breed, some
weighing over nine pounds (four kilograms). Belgian Hares
also eat a little more than other rabbits of the same size
due to their faster metabolism and high activity needs.
If you are considering Belgian Hares as pet rabbits, you
should take into consideration that their bones are thinner
and so more fragile than some other rabbit breeds, they
require plenty of exercise (preferably outdoors) for good
health, and they have special dietary needs. But breeders
and keepers of Belgian Hares are usually devoted to the
species, so if this breed appeals to you, expect to fall in
love with them too.
Belgian Hares must be kept in sturdy hutches with solid
floors rather than screen. Cage size for an adult Belgian
Hare should be over four by two by two feet (122 by 61 by 61
centimeters). Keep a good layer of substrate such as straw
on the floor, and provide the normal things rabbits need
such has constant fresh water, unlimited grass hay along
with their pellets and fresh green snacks.
* Belgian Hares need plenty of exercise, but young hares
under six months old should have less space so they don't
overdo it. Make sure also that the play space has good
traction to avoid falls and possible injury to their growing
Belgian Hares matures slowly and does should not be bred
before they reach eight months old, preferably not before
eleven months. Bucks can be bred once they are breeding
mature at about four months old.
Difference between Hares and Rabbits