Several years ago, I saw a woman walking her pet through a park. From a distance, the animal looked like a plump, medium-sized dog; its haunches were higher than her knees. As I got closer, I saw that the animal wasn’t a dog at all, but an extremely large rabbit. According to his owner, this gigantic bunny weighed in at nearly twenty pounds– nearly five times the size of an average rabbit.
There are several giant breeds of rabbit available as show-rabbits, pets and livestock. Here are a few of the most popular giant rabbit breeds.
One of the oldest and most remarkable breeds of rabbit, the Flemish giant is a true Goliath among bunnies. Flemish giant rabbits were originally bred in Belgium for their meat and fur. In its ancestry are the Steenkonijn, or “stone rabbit” breed and the now-extinct European “patagonian” breed. Flemish giants are very friendly and docile and will tolerate a large amount of handling. They are known for their dense, glossy fur and broad, muscular builds.
Known as the giant papillon in Europe, the checkered giant rabbit breed is only slightly smaller than the Flemish giant. Checkerd giants usually weigh about 12 pounds and exhibit a distinctive coat-pattern that can be either “blue” (cool gray) or black. American checkered giants differ slightly from their European cousins, but the breed standard is the same for both. Checkered giants do not provide quality meat; they are bred almost exclusively as show rabbits and pets.
Produced by breeding the Flemish giant with the English lop, French lops are one of the most undeniably hug-able giant breeds of rabbit. These stout bunnies weigh in at about ten pounds and have long, floppy ears that hang by the side of their heads. Its coat is dense and soft. Breeders and showers accept two varieties of the French lop– solid and broken. These house-bunnies have very relaxed temperaments can can learn to get along with children, cats, and even dogs.
Giant chinchilla rabbits weigh 12-16 pounds and result in a cross between Flemish giants and the chincilla rabbit breed. Giant chinchilla rabbits are sold primarily as meat rabbits, but they can also be excellent pets if kept properly. Its name refers to the similarity between the breed’s fur and that of a chinchilla. The giant chinchilla is extremely dense; it carries strong muscles and thick, stocky bones.
If you are interested in owning a giant breed of rabbit, make sure that you have the proper accommodations to humanely house them. A giant breed of rabbit can not live in a “normal” rabbit cage; they require plenty of open space to roam freely. Consult a professional breeder for more help choosing a rabbit breed.