Flemish Giant Rabbit – information and facts about the Flemish Giant Rabbit Breed. Learn more about Flemish Giant Rabbits in this article. Breed photos are included.
If there’s one aspect that easily distinguishes Flemish Giants from the rest of domestic rabbits, it’s definitely their size. Giants as they are, they also have a very lovable personality that could capture anyone’s heart, thanks for their cuddliness.
Flemish Giant Rabbit Facts
Having originated in Flanders, the Flemish Giant was bred as early as 16th century near the city of Ghent in Belgium. It’s even believed by some as the second oldest breed in the United States. Flemish Giants are believed to be descendants of many fur and meat rabbit breeds. These include the Sttenkonjin (Stone Rabbit), which refers to the old Belgian weight size of one stone – equivalent to 3.76 kg (8 lb 5 oz); as well as the now extinct “Patagonian” breed, which originated from Europe.
This “Patagonian” rabbit was not related to rabbits of the same name that are found in Argentina, the Sylvilagusbrasiliensis, which is a separate wild species that weighs less than 2 pounds (about 1 kg). This Patagonian is also not related to Patagonian Hare (Dolichotispatagonum), which is a species in the cavy family of rabbits that can’t interbreed with rabbit. We are referring to the large breed of rabbit that was once bred in the European countries, Belgium and France.
In 1893, the first standards for the Flemish Giant were written. It is known that Flemish Giant is an ancestor of many rabbit breeds all over the world. One of those ancestral breeds is the Belgian Hare, which was imported into England in the mid-19th century. During this time, the coloring of a Flemish Giant was iron-grey color, complemented with sandy or white bar markings on the legs and long, bent tipped, ears.
Around 1890s, the Flemish Giant was exported from England and Belgium to America. One of the major reasons behind the exportation is to improve the size of meat rabbits at the peak of the great ‘rabbit boom’.
However, the Flemish Giants were not as popular then and only had little attention. But in the year 1910, the giant rabbits started appearing at small livestock shows all over the country. Since then, the Flemish Giants became one of the most popular breeds that they are today. Their size can be highly attributed for this popularity. Aside from the size, their varying colors also amuse many rabbit enthusiasts all over the world.
The National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders, formed in the year 1915, promotes the Flemish Giants. Because of its popularity, the rabbit breed was called with many nicknames. The nickname, “Gentle Giant”, is formed because of the rabbit’s docile personality. Aside from that, the breed is also called “Universal Rabbit” for different purposes – pet, show, breeding, meat and fur animal.
2. Characteristics and Appearance
The Flemish Giant is one of the largest domestic rabbit breeds. At the age of maturity, a senior doe can have a minimum weight of 14 lbs (about 6.4 kg), while that of the buck would be 13 pounds (about 5.9 kg). It takes a year for a female Flemish Giant to reach the maturity stage. And as strange as it may sound to other breeds, it’s not unusual to see a 22-lb Flemish Giant weighing (around 10 kilos).
Its body is semi-arched with the back arch starting at the back of the shoulders and carrying through to the base of the tail. This projection gives the rabbit a shape of a “mandolin”. This long and powerful body is also coupled with relatively broad hindquarters. Its full length can run up to 32 inches (80 cm). It has a white underside with a dark base coloring.
The ears of a Flemish Giant are around 8 inches (20 cm) long and are standing erect. Light rings may also be found around the eyes of this gentle giant.
Male Flemish Giants have a broader and more massive head when compared with their female counterparts. But when it comes to their dewlap, the skinfold found under the rabbit’s chins, the does have it larger, more full and evenly carried.
As described by many, the Flemish Giant’s fur is well known for its glossiness and being dense. And when one strikes the rabbit from the hindquarters to the Gentle Giant’s head, the fur will easily roll back to its original position.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes seven different colors for the breed – the black, fawn, light gray, sandy, steel gray and white.
3. Personality, Traits and Handling
The Flemish Giants have a good personality towards its owners. They are gentle, intelligent, calm and well tempered. They’re not as lively as compared to its smaller breeds. They can be docile and tolerant to the way it is being managed, especially when it’s already used to it. In order to achieve this, the rabbit needs to be constantly exposed to humans for interaction.
Similar to other rabbits, Flemish Giants can become fearful most especially with a perceived threat. They can also be very aggressive if triggered because of irresponsible handling. When handling a Flemish Giant, a special attention should be given to their larger frame or the spine alignment.
It is therefor very important for people who want to raise Flemish Giants the different factors to consider – their large size, larger housing requirements, food requirements, etc. A Flemish Giant can be at best with a responsible owner who will really spare time for his pet. However, this breed is not ideal for children or immature owners.
Moreover, special consideration of the requirements of the caging should be given proper attention. A hutch may not be ideal in many levels. But an owner may wish to have a hutch that is customized to have a large door. This is for easy access to the hutch. Aside from this, a dog crate can also be an option.
And it’s also worth noting that Flemish Giants have short hairs, so they don’t need much attention in the aspect of grooming. Their diet is also just the same as the diet of any other rabbit breed, it’s just that they also consume more because of their size.
4. Raising for Pets, Profit ad Substance
Once in a while, it’s important that the Flemish Giants are acquainted to handling. When they aren’t used to it, problems may arise especially when there’s a need to pick them up or examine them. Remember, when these giants are already at mature age, they tend to be very heavy and it may be difficult to lift them.
In status quo, the size of a rabbit is not the sole bearing for meat’s consideration. Indeed, younger rabbits that are usually around the 70 days of age are much preferred in the commercial rabbit because of their muscles. While big in size, the greater portion of the Flemish Giant’s size is attributed to its developing bone mass, rather than the muscle.
However, when they are raised to roasting (under 6 months) and stewing (over 6 months), their size then becomes desirable. This concern is slowly getting addressed as successive crossbreeding with other meat rabbits such as the New Zealand continue to exist. The goal of these developmental breeding is to increase both meat-to-one ratio as well as the litter size.