Lionhead Rabbit – information and facts about the Lionhead Rabbit Breed. Learn more about Lionhead Rabbits in this article. Breed photos are included.
Lionhead is one of the new domestic rabbit breeds in the United States. It has just recently passed the presentation process of the American Rabbit Breeders Association, which is a requirement before the official acceptance of a breed. Its Tortoise and Ruby Eyed White varieties are eligible for the presentation process before the ARBA Standards Committee at the annual convention and show of the organization. Three successful presentations within five years are required in order for the breed to become recognized and have its inclusion in the ARBA Standard of Perfection.
Officially recognized breeds have the advantage of being able to show in rabbit shows and fairs, most especially the ARBA Convention held every year. As of February 1, 2014, Lionhead rabbits can already be shown for the Best in Show award. And similar to other accepted rabbits, it is also eligible to receive legs of Grand Champion.
Lionhead has an interesting name that briefly describes its appearance. It has a wool man that encircles its head, closely reminiscing that of a male lion. It also has other unique characteristics, such as its high head mount, compact and erect body type, short and well-furred ears that range from 2 inches to 3 inches, and weight that only ranges from 2 ½ pounds to a maximum of 3 ¾ pounds.
Lionhead Rabbit Facts
Originating from Belgium, the Lionhead rabbit is said to have been produced to create a long coated dwarf rabbit through a cross breeding process between a miniature Swiss Fox and a Netherland Dwarf. A genetic mutation resulted from the cross, causing the appearance of the wool around the breed’s head as well as on its flanks. Because of this, the gene responsible for this peculiar appearance was called the ‘mane’ gene.
There are other reports claiming for the origins of the mane gene. One other popular claim is the idea that the Lionhead comes from the crossbreeding of Netherland Dwarf and Jersey Wooly. However, this was not properly substantiated, as the mane gene is separate from the gene responsible for the creation of wool coats in wooled rabbits.
Despite the complex origins of the breed, many breeders agree that there is a dash of Angora or Swiss Fox in the breeding of the Lionhead.
Lionheads continued to gain game across Europe. In a no later date, it already had its first appearances in America in the late 1990’s, with the first Lionhead arriving in northern Minnesota. While the British Rabbit Council has recognized the breed since 2002, Lionhead is still in “Certificate of Development” status with the ARBA. The first appearance of the breed in the ARBA show is in 2006.
A breeder from Seattle, Washington named Thereasa Mueller is the current breed COD presenter of the Lionhead. For the recent years, about 300 to 500 entries and 50 to 80 exhibitors from all over the Northern America typically represent the Lionhead rabbit.
The Lionhead rabbit is called “Tete de Lion” in France. Today, it still is widely raised in France, as well as in the UK.
2. Characteristics and Appearance
The Lionhead rabbit is classified as a small rabbit with a weight range between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds. This weight shall not exceed 3 ¾ pounds. Ideally, a Lionhead at the age of seniority has a full-grown weight of 3.5 pounds. The breed has an average lifespan of 7 to 9 years. But this is still dependent on the care extended to the rabbit, especially in its diet.
The Lionhead rabbit’s body is small and compact. It bold and not well-rounded head is set to close to the body. Its muzzle is well developed. The breed also has medium-length legs and medium bone.
The maximum length of their ears is 3 inches. The minimum length of their mane is 2 inches. The mane forms a full circle around the breed’s head, which extends to a ‘V’ at the neck’s back. The mane may fall into a fringe between the ears which somehow creates a “wool cap”.
The medium-length coat of Lionheads is normal rollback. Some of the Lionhead breeds have “transitional” wool on their flanks. Also, some of them have remarkably longer wool on the cheeks and the chest.
The mane is described as thick, wooly and soft with some evidence of “crimping”. There are two types of mane for the breed, depending on the pair of genes that a breed receives. Lionhead can have a single mane (one mane gene) or a double mane (two mane genes). And the only way to identify if a rabbit is a single mane or double mane is when they are first born.
A double mane refers to the regular mane of wool that is found on the rabbit’s head with some transitional wool appearing on the hindquarters, tail and hips. The single mane, on the other hand, is the mane that appears around the breed’s head, ears, chin, and sometimes chest.
While a double mane can result in too much fur, a single mane commonly loses some of the mane as the breed reaches adulthood.
3. Personality and Traits
Many Lionhead breeders account that the rabbit is usually friendly, sociable, and well mannered. Lionhead rabbits are highly trainable, being intelligent animals. They are also active and playful, which prompts a need for the provision of a larger space for them to be able to move around.
Their outgoing personality makes them a popular pet in the United States. It’s a good idea for the pet owner to spay or neuter the breed.
4. Raising a Lionhead
While caring for a Lionhead is practically the same with the care given to the rest of the rabbit breeds, they are more prone to dental disease and also have the greater tendency to develop hairballs. These concerns need to be properly accounted to make sure that the pet is in its best condition.
A Lionhead should be purchased from a reputable breeder or a rescue center, and a proper assessment of the breed’s temperament shall be done.
Combing of the longer wool of the breed’s mane is necessary and should be done once a week in order to prevent matting. Moreover, daily grooming needs to be done on times of molting. Combing will be less required as they age.
Despite some of the minor issues that have to be considered in raising the breed, Lionhead is a good rabbit to raise. And with proper care extended, the beautiful breed can show its ideal characteristics that a pet lover is looking for.