Harlequin Rabbits

Harlequin Rabbit – information and facts about the Harlequin Rabbit Breed. Learn more about Harlequin Rabbits in this article. Breed photos are included.

Harlequin Rabbit

While many people think that they are funny-looking, the Harlequins carry one of the most interesting color patterns among all the rabbits. Considered as ‘clown of the rabbits’ and ‘royal jester’, Harlequin is a colorful breed that is based on coloration and markings, rather than fur and body type.


Harlequin Rabbit Facts

1. History

The Harlequins are known to first appear around 1880’s in France. It is accounted that the rabbits were developed from semi-wild Tortoise Shell Dutch Rabbits. They were first exhibited in Paris in the year 1887. After this, they were imported to England.

And around 1920’s, the first appearance of Harlies in America was recorded. During this time, Harlequins were then called ‘Japanese’. But because of the World War, the name was dropped. At the peak of the World War II, the Harlequins were used as meat rabbits.

It was only on this period when the traditional Harlequins are mixes of black or other color (without silvering), and part white or orange (with the brighter one being preferred). These two colors should be evenly mixed all over and should have a half-and-half coloration in the head area. The second color’s appearance as white rather than orange is called ‘magpie’.

Today, while the breed continues to capture attention most especially during shows, it still does not have a strong following from the breeders.


2. Characteristics and Appearance

The ideal weight of a Harlequin rabbit is between 6.5 to 8 pounds (2-3 kilograms). Male Harlequins would usually weigh around 6. 5 to 9, while their female counterparts weigh around 7 to 9.5. These rabbits can live in average up to 5 years or more.

About 5 to 7 bars or bands of alternating colors are found in the ideal pattern of the body. The color of the rabbit’s face is split down the center. The ears and the feet of the Harlequin also have alternating colors. But their bellies can either be orange or white. The hind feet are seen alternating with the front feet. The markings of the Harlequin can either be bars, bands, or a combination of bars and bands. The absence of markings on the rabbit’s face can be seen as a ground for disqualification.

Perfect pattern is deemed ‘virtually impossible’ to attain. In this case, it’s important to note that rabbits are not only judged on the basis of their color alterations. The definition of their markings, as well as the quality of color, is also being considered.

The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes two breeds for this breed – the Japanese and the Magpie groups. Both of these groups have four varieties – black, blue, chocolate and lilac. An alteration of a base variety with orange or fawn is found in the Japanese groups, while Magpie have an alteration of the base variety with the white color.

While the color of the Harlequin is found in some other rabbit breeds, the ARBA does not recognize them. However, British Rabbit Council recognizes some of them. The Harlequin Dutch, one of the most beautiful of all the breeds, captures the attention of many rabbit enthusiasts. However, because of the big challenge to perfect the breed, the possibility of it being recognized by ARBA might never materialize.

If we account the genetic history of the Harlequin, the breed is a solid version of a tricolored variety that appears in Rex, Mini Rex, and some other lop breeds. And despite the breed’s use to a tri breeding program, it still cannot be shown.

In the standardization of the Harlequin, 75 out of 100 points are attributed to the rabbit’s color and markings. This leaves the fur with only 15, condition with 5 and general type with 10. The pointing system for the English Spot as well as the Mini Lop could be used as a point of reference. It could be accounted that the English Spot places 38 points on the type and 44 on the markings. For the non-marked breed, Mini Lop, 80 points are attributed to the general type. Obviously, this comparison suggests that body type is quite undermined in the pointing system of the Harlequin. As an effect of this focus on markings and colors, the breeders tend to neglect giving attention to the body type of the rabbit, resulting to damage in health and vitality.


3. Personality and Traits

The Harlequin is a playful, docile and smart rabbit. And similar to other rabbits, the Harlie can also recognize its name and get trained with a litter box. Harlies are deemed as ideal pets for the children because of their gentleness.

Moreover, just like the other rabbit breeds, the Harlequins’ development also face some issues. As a matter of fact, some of the rabbit experts contend that the Harlequin is not a rabbit breed, but rather just a color type. Other experts refute this by saying that it is a rabbit breed with a unique color scheme. This is still being continually discussed in the current times.