Rhinelander Rabbits

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

Rhinelander Rabbit

Known for their unique “butterfly markings” found on their faces, the Rhinelander rabbits are beautiful domestic rabbits that have a European descent.


Rhinelander Rabbit Facts

1. History

Rhinelander rabbits originated from Germany around the first decade of the 20th century. More specifically, the breed was first seen in rabbit shows in the year 1902. They were developed in North-Rhine-Westphalia, coming from a cross between a male Harlequin and a gray female rabbit of unknown breeding.

A male bunny from the litter offspring bears the markings that Rhinelander is now popular of – the black and orange color, which is located on the chin, ears, and “butterfly markings” in black on one side and orange on the other.

This prompted for another breeding process, now between a Harlequin buck and a Checkered Giant doe. This process produced a doe with the desired markings.

Consequently, the male bunny from the first litter and the female bunny from the second litter were mated. The females from the resulting litter were later crossed with Harlequin bucks in order to create the Rhinelander breed.

In the year 1905, a German name “Rheinishe Schecke” was given to the German breed standard. And in the 1920s, the first wave of exportations of the breed to the rest of the world began. Indeed, in the year 1923, Rhinderlanders from Germany were exported to the United States. And after this, the National Breeders and Fanciers Association recognized the rabbit as a breed in the US. It was in 1924 when Rhinelanders made first appearances in Netherlands and England.

It’s notable how Rhinelanders were then very popular in Germany until 1930, when the popularity of the rabbits declined. The decline was mainly attributed to the inability of the breeders to perform selective breeding for color markings, which is a requirement for the breed standard. The athletic, rather than meat producing, conformation of the breed also resulted in this general decline of popularity. In the year 1932, none of the rabbits were recorded to be in existence.

But this did not mark the end for the breed. After the World War II, the Rhinelander rabbits became popular again. In the US, a 40-year absence of the breed happened between 1932 and1972. This is when an American breeder, who was visiting West Germany at that time, saw the Rhinelander at a show. He was so amazed by the features of the Rhinelander that he bought four Rhinelander rabbits. Then, he brought them with him to the United States.

And after the 40-year absence in America, the resurgence of the breed’s popularity paved way for the creation of the Rhinelander Rabbit Club of America in the year 1974. In the following year, 1975, the American Rabbit Breeders Association acknowledged the breed.
In other parts of the world, most especially in Germany, the popularity also skyrocketed, so much so that by 1978, it’s already considered the most popular spotted breed in Germany.

And in the following decades, importations from Netherlands and Germany happened to tackle the issues that the breed is facing, such as inbreeding among the little American population of the breed. In a bid to improve the stock of Rhinelanders, some breeders were seen crossing the breed with Harlequin and Checkered Giants. Remarkably, in the year 1994, the American breed standard for the Rhinelander was rewritten and clarified. This resulted to more mileage for the breed.

In status quo, an estimate of the global population of the Rhinelander rabbits by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy says that there are only less than 2000 of the species in existence. Atop from that, the breed also has less than 200 registrations in the US every year. This places the breed under the “watch” status. In Great Britain, the Rhinelanders are grouped with other rare rabbit breeds that are under the Rare Varieties Club.


2. Characteristics and Appearance

The Rhinelander is classified as a medium-sized rabbit breed of European rabbit. The American standard of the breed follows a weight range of 7 to 9 pounds (3.2 to 4.1 kg). However, the British standards would call for a 6 to 10 pounds (2..7 to 4.5 kg) range of the breed.

It is an arched rabbit breed, which means that when it is sitting or moving, light shows between the body and the ground. Rhinelanders have short legs, and its arch is less distinct when compared to the arch of its counterpart, the Checkered Giant breed.

The shape of the Rhinelander’s body is cylindrical, or somewhat similar to that of a barrel. This may be attributed to the fact that the rabbit’s body is of the same width from the shoulders to the hip area. This creates a smooth topline and sleek appearance for the rabbit. While having a well-rounded hindquarter is a requirement, there should not be any heaviness in the rabbit’s hip. Moreover, a good length of the breed’s body is also required. Short length bodies could be faulted.

In the nose and upper jaw, a shape that closely resembles a butterfly is found. This is called the “butterfly markings”.

The Rhinelanders are distinguished for having a unique coat pattern. The British Rabbit Council only recognizes the white base colour with black and yellow markings on the face and back of the rabbit. The American Rabbit Breeders Association, on the other hand, recognizes the blue and fawn spotting on a white background, as well as the black and yellow pattern.


3. Personality and Traits

Rhinelanders are accounted to have a laid-back personality, and not that active or aggressive compared to its counterpart Checkered Giant. Indeed, because arched rabbits have to move around during judging, getting them to run across the table could also be a problem. This is the reason why based on the standard, the breed should be allowed to move freely in its natural position.

The Rhinelanders are slowly achieving and constantly has a support base, despite not having this mainstream popularity. For the years, only the black-orange variety was acknowledged. But when the blue-fawn variety was shown during the 2012 ARBA, it claimed the Grand Championship. It was through the efforts of Lorea Ferchaud of Rough and Ready, California that this was realized. Lorena introduced the blue variety with the blue Japanese Harlequins, due to the fact that Rhinelanders are genetically broken Harlequins.

These kinds of efforts from loyal breeders of Rhinelanders may not put the Rhinelanders into an instant popularity. However, these can surely guarantee that the breed still has a long way to go in the future.