Do you know that there is a rabbit with a mane almost like that of a lion? The lionhead rabbit has a lot of fur that makes him look like the king of the jungle, although his attitude is “a little” less fierce. These beautiful lagomorphs emerged by pure chance in Belgium a long time ago, although it was not until recently that they became popular beyond European borders.
Do you want to know more about one of the hairiest rabbits you can find? Find out more about the history and characteristics of the lionhead rabbit.
History of the Lionhead Rabbit
Although the breed may not have been known around the world until relatively recently, the “Lionhead” or lion’s head rabbits in Spanish are a long-lived breed that arose in Belgium. This breed is the result of crossing dwarf Dutch rabbits and Swiss Fox rabbits, the first specimens to emerge with that particular lion’s mane.
Although the breed arose in Belgium, its development mainly occurred in the United Kingdom. It was in this country that the breed became official for the first time, in 1998. Currently, many other countries have also established an official standard for the lion-headed breed, although many others have not yet officially recognized them.
Characteristics of the Lionhead Rabbit
Lion-headed rabbits are small rabbits classified as a “toy” breed. Their weight ranges between 1.3 and 1.7 kg, although specimens that weigh up to 2 kilos have been found. For this reason, the dwarf Lionhead rabbit variety doesn’t even exist, as they all are. The average life expectancy of a lionhead rabbit is about 8 or 9 years.
The body of this rabbit is compact and short, with rounded features and a broad chest. What stands out the most, apart from its mane, are its long ears, which can measure about 7 cm. Its tail is straight and covered in dense fur. The muzzle is wider in males. They have round eyes that protrude slightly and are very bright.
However, the most notable feature of the lionhead rabbit is its mane. The fur is what has made them famous and is the breed’s trademark. That blanket of fur that covers their heads is noticeable when these rabbits are still young, but disappears when they reach adulthood. This means that its most characteristic feature is also the most ephemeral.
The hair of this rabbit is of medium length, except on the head. When hatched, it is extremely long and thick compared to the rest of the body, reaching 5-7 cm in length. As we’ve mentioned, this will only last until you are about 6 months old, at which point this hair begins to shorten and thin out over time. In very rare cases they grow back a little, but never like when they were born.
Lionhead Rabbit Colors
According to the different associations and official bodies, such as the British Rabbit Council or ARBA, in this breed all colors are accepted as long as they are recognized colors (that is, they do not accept new colors). Also, it is mandatory that the color of the outer layer of the hair is the same as that of the inner layer of the same area.
However, the most common colors and patterns of this rabbit are as follows: black, cream, chocolate, white, gray, orange, brown, tan, bicolor combined with white, and tricolor combined with white.