I’ve always been a sucker for pretty bunnies. Particularly fond of colors with exotic-sounding names like smoke pearl, siamese sables and the unusually-marked harlequin breed, it’s always nice to see a rabbit with striking color do well on the show tables. Needless to say, when I saw the Sallander, my eyes about popped out of my head. I literally had to do a double-take to see if my eyes were deceiving me.
Meet the Sallander
Once upon a time, there was a rich red and sooty-colored European rabbit known as the Thuringer (don’t worry, he still exists). In Holland, back in the mid ’70s, they took this sooty red rabbit and tried crossing it with the agouti-patterned Chinchilla breed. The end result was a rabbit with coloring, so strikingly unique, that he actually looks like a canvas that’s been swept with the talented watercolor brush of a skilled artist.
The Sallander has quite a following over in Europe and the Sallander coloration is now appearing in other breeds, such as the lop eared rabbits and the adorable lion head breed. Unfortunately, they are not commonly seen in the United States and are not recognized by the A.R.B.A. (American Rabbit Breeder’s Association). As with many other breeds that have made the journey across the puddle, we hope to one day see the beautiful Sallander grow in popularity in the United States as well.
The Sallander Appearance
Weighing anywhere from 5.8 to 9.6 pounds as mature seniors (adults), the Sallander breed is a well-rounded and fairly muscular rabbit of medium build. They possess a short neck with a well-developed head and a broad muzzle. The ears of the Sallander are thick and fairly large, averaging about 4-5 inches in length and they have dark eyes that hold a very bright and alert expression. The toenails of the Sallander are either a dark grey or dark horn in color.
The overall type of a Sallander rabbit should show good muscling throughout with solid bone, giving them a very stocky appearance. The legs are short yet powerful, also adding to their compact look. While the Sallander rabbit is usually posed in a sitting up and more alert position (as opposed to the compacted pose that is popular for many breeds in the United States), they still have a very nice roundness over the hindquarters and should finish well at the table rather than pinching in.
Also important to note is that dewlaps are often seen in mature does of this breed (while most describe the dewlap as looking like a double chin, it does not mean the rabbit is obese).
The Unique Coloration of the Sallander
At first glance, you might be tempted to think that the Sallander is a variation on the popular Sable shade, commonly seen in Netherland Dwarf rabbits. There is a slight difference, however, in that the Sallander coloration is actually considered to be caused by presence of the chinchilla dark, or chd, gene. The sable point is the result of the chinchilla light, or chl, gene.
The overall coloration of the Sallander rabbit should be a very light grey that shades down into a deeper medium grey along the belly, cheeks and flank area. The points (ears, nose, feet and tail) of the Sallander are a dark steel grey which makes for a very striking contrast to the rabbit’s overall light dove grey body shade. At first glance, these beautiful bunnies look as if they were painted on, their coat designed in a swirling pattern, rather than being a real color.
Some UK rabbit breeders and judges describe the Sallander rabbit as a “sooty fawn that’s been chinchillaed,” while others classify them simply as “iron grey.” Whatever your preference, these rabbits are truly a sight to behold.
The Sallander Personality
Despite his unique coloration, the Sallander rabbit is not generally known as a pet breed, though there are obviously pet Sallanders out there. On the whole, they are a very active and lively breed, often making them a bit too much rabbit for young children. Additionally, one must also bear in mind that rabbits of all breeds can have their downfalls – Males that have not been neutered are prone to spraying, particularly if there are other rabbits about, though they are usually the more docile of the two genders. Female rabbits can often become moody when in heat and have a strong tendency to be territorial.
Personal experience as a rabbit breeder
http://www.hazelriggrabbits.co.uk/sallander.htm – A Salander breeder with good photos and information
http://albc-usa.org/cpl/americanchinchilla.html – Information on the Chinchilla breed, foundation stock
http://wildlife1.wildlifeinformation.org/S/0MLagomorph/Leporidae/Oryctolagus/Oryctolagus_cuniculus/Img_O_cuniculus_dom/BRC51-60p05_Sallander.htm – More information on the Sallander breed
http://www.threelittleladiesrabbitry.com/breedingcolorchart.php – A good chart showing rabbit coat color genetics
http://www.thebrc.org/iron.html – Information on the Sallander coloration