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What distinguishes the

different Types &

Breeds of Rabbits

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Ears and Fur of Common Rabbit Breeds

If you have a rabbit that you bought from a pet store or a
private party and you have been learning more about rabbits,
you may now wonder what breed of rabbit you have.

That is actually a fairly hard question to answer. There are
at least forty-five recognized rabbit breeds in the United
States alone. Many purebred "pet quality" rabbits don't
conform to the standards for their breed in shape or color,
and many rabbits in the pet trade are actually mixes of
breeds, so your bunny might be very unique indeed, its own
private breed, in fact.

But there are some characteristics that are specific to
certain breeds, so you may be able to at least get an idea
of what breed or breeds your rabbit may be.


First look at your rabbit's ears. If they stand straight up
like the ears of most rabbits, you have some more research
to do. But if your bunny's ears hang down the side of its
head (called lopped ears), fall over its face, or stand out
to the side like helicopter vanes you will know that it has
a breed with the word Lop in it.

It might be Velveteen Lop, Holland Lop, French Lop, English
Lop, Mini Lop, or American Fuzzy Lop. The English Lop has
very long ears that may even drag on the ground, so if your
rabbit's ears are that long, that is a very good clue that
your bunny is at least part English Lop.

Type of Fur

a. Long fur would mean one of the Angora breeds, either
Jersey Wooly, American Fuzzy Lop, French Angora, Giant
Angora, or Satin Angora.

b. Medium fur is most common, so you still have more
research to do.

c. Very short, velvety fur would probably mean a Rex breed
like the Velveteen Lop, Rex or Mini Rex.

- Body Types of Rabbits

Body Shape

According to the American Rabbit Breeders Association
(ARBA), there are five basic body shapes in rabbits:

1. Full Arch - Rabbits with a full arch body shape have an
arched back that starts at the nape of the neck and arches
to the tail, and their bodies are higher than they are wide.

Breeds with full arch bodies include the Belgian Hare,
Checkered Giant, English Spot, Rhinelander and Britiannia

2. Semi-Arch or Mandolin Type - Rabbits with semi-arch body
types have arched backs that start at the back of the
shoulders and arch to the tail.

Semi-arch breeds include the Flemish Giant, Giant
Chinchilla, Beveren, American, and English Lop.

3. Compact - Compact rabbits are lighter and shorter in
length than the breeds used for meat, and are popular as
show or pet rabbits.

Some popular compact breeds are the Netherland Dwarf, Dutch,
Jersey Wooley, American Fuzzy Lop, Polish, Holland Lop,
Lilac, Mini Lop, Silver, English Angora, Florida White, and
Dwarf Hotot.

4. Cylindrical - Rabbits with a cylindrical body type are
long, thin and round-bodied, with small bones and a long
slender head. The breed with the cylindrical body type is
the Himalayan.

5. Commercial - Commercial rabbits are medium in size, and
their bodies are usually as wide as they are deep.

These breeds were developed as meat or fur rabbits and
include the French Angora, Crème d'Argent, French Lop, Giant
Angora, Rex, American Chinchilla, American Sable, Satin,
Satin Angora, Silver Fox, Silver Martin, Californian,
Cinnamon, Harlequin, Palomino, Hotot, and New Zealand White.

The General Types of Rabbits

Meat Rabbits

Meat rabbits are large in size. Breeds such as the New Zealand
and the Californian are most frequently utilized for meat in
commercial rabbitries. These rabbit breeds have efficient metabolisms
and grow quickly; they are ready for slaughter by approximately
eight to twelve weeks of age. Rabbit meat may be prepared in a
variety of ways and to some it tastes like white meat chicken.

Fur Rabbits

Fur rabbit breeds come in many sizes; some fur rabbits are also
meat rabbits. The rex and mini-rex are examples of common fur
rabbit breeds. These rabbits are bred to have particularly soft
and thick fur that can be used to make fur coats or trim on

Wool Rabbits

Some rabbits, such as the Angoras and Jersey woolies, produce
wool in the same manner that a sheep does. They are sheared or
"plucked" (gently pulling loose wool from the body) to harvest
the wool; this use of the rabbit does not involve slaughtering
the animal. The wool can then be spun into yarn and used to make
a variety of products. Angora wool sweaters can be purchased in
many clothing stores.

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