Lilac Rabbits

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

Lilac Rabbit

Distinguished for its rich dove-blue color, the Lilac rabbit breed is a domestic rabbit breed developed in the early years of the 20th century. The standard Lilac has a uniform pink shade of dove, which complements its eyes. In the year 1922, the breed started spreading all over the United States.

However, the dissemination of the breed did not result to significant numbers. Indeed, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy only listed the rabbit as a ‘breed to watch’. Later on, the British Rabbit Council and the American Rabbit Breeders Association recognized the breed.


Lilac Rabbit Facts

1. History

H. Onslow, a resident of Cambridge, England, is thought to be the first breeder of the lilac-colored rabbits. Onslow started exhibiting the Lilacs in London in the year 1913. In the same year, another rabbit breeder named Mabel Illington was able to produce the Lilacs through the successful crossing of Blue Imperials and Havana rabbits. These two successful breeding triggered the succeeding developments of the breed.

In the year 1917, C.H. Spruty, a resident of Gouda, Holland, crossed Blue Beverens with Havanas in a bid to create a larger Lilac. He called this Gouda or Gowenaar. 5 years after, a professor at the Cambridge University, R.C. Punnet, used Spruty’s crossbreeding model to create the Cambridge Blue.

The Lilac rabbit that we have today is a product of the mixing of the rabbits bred by Illingworth, Spruty and Punnet. The exact shade of color and size of the Lilac rabbit show a great variety as an effect of the number of bloodlines within the breed.

In the year 1922, the first set of exports was made from Britain to the US. 4 years after, additional rabbits were sent to America. Despite an overwhelming interest for Lilacs during this time especially in the West Coast, the breed never really reached significant popularity compared to the other breeds.

By the year 1940, the Lilacs are already being shown in ARBA national show. In the year 1944, the National Lilac Rabbit Club of America was formed. But despite the organization of the club, the popularity of the breed waned. This decline in popularity worsened in the succeeding year that the club and the breeders had become inactive.

It was in that year, 1951, when only six members were shown at the national rabbit show. This alarmed the members of the club, which lead to its reorganization in the year 1952. This marked an increase in the population of the club members. This Britain-based association is called the National Lilac Club.


2. Characteristics and Appearance

The Lilac rabbit breed is a mid-sized rabbit that weighs between 5.5 to 7.5 pounds (2.5 to 3.4 kg) for bucks and 6 to 8 pounds for does (2.7 to 3.6 kg). Despite the female Lilacs being good mothers, their litter sizes are still small, producing only 4 to 6 kits.

The body type of a Lilac rabbit is seen as consistent with the average look of the early 20th century rabbits. If compared with the popular rabbits that we have today, the body type of the early rabbits are not as deep. However, the recent developments to the breed made the rabbit ideal, with a rounder and deeper build.

Based on the British Standard of the Lilacs, they should have an even pink shade of dove color over the entire body of the rabbit. The color of the eyes should match the body’s shading. The American breeders are able to produce good Lilac rabbits. However, the British Standard is still being followed for achieving the desired coloration for Lilac rabbits. It’s also a factor to consider why a couple of people claim that British Lilacs have much better color than the Americans.

Some of the demerits during rabbit shows are the appearance of white hairs on the body (including the armpits) or toes, a blue cast to the coat, or a nose that is brown or ‘putty’ colored.

Lilacs are often under-appreciated. But it’s worth noting that there are Lilacs with impressive types and equally deserves a second look on the Best in Show table.


3. Personality and Traits

Lilacs are described as hardy, slow maturing and docile. As a rule, the Lilacs are considered as gentle rabbits. Indeed, they don’t need as much attention from their owners.

But certain precautions have to be remembered. For example, their coats must be kept out of direct sunlight to avoid fading.

As of this writing, the Lilacs are still under the ‘breed at watch’ status of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The ‘breed at watch’ status is given to rabbits whose global population is less than 2,000 and has less than 200 registrations in United States every year. This fading popularity caused the breed to be almost dropped from the ARBA standards.

The breed continues to face many issues. A couple of rabbit breeders would argue that Lilac is a breed that would never be developed in the current ages due to its unusual fur or body type. This assertion is based on the fact that the color lilac is already seen as a variety in many other different breeds.

Despite this status, the breeders of the Lilac continue to promote and develop the breed. Indeed, in the 21st century, the American Lilacs have won the Best in Show or Reserve Best in Show in a number of national and state all-breed rabbit shows.