Black Ring Around Each Eye
Many people have heard of the Dwarf Hotot rabbit, but very few know that a larger version was developed first and it still exists. The Hotot, sometimes known as the Blanc de Hotot, originated in France. It is a large breed that matures between seven and ten pounds in weight. They are solid white except for a black ring around each eye. Still rare in the United States, they are a wonderful all-purpose rabbit.
Hotots were first introduced to the United States in 1978 when Bob Whitman imported them. They were first developed by Madame Eugenie Bernhardt of France.
She began her breeding program around 1902. Several breeds were incorporated to create this white rabbit with black eyes.
Her hard work managed to remove all other markings that would normally appear. Today, some litters have throwback sports that may have dark ears or a spine marking. These animals are not showable, though they can make wonderful pets.
By the 1920s, she began to exhibit her rabbits. There was no mention of the black eyebands the breed is known for today, only black eyelashes and lower lids. The breed nearly disappeared during World War II. A few who had been imported to Switzerland in the late 1920s survived, and it was here that the breed really took off.
Frederick Joppich began raising them in the 1930s, but after the war, he and his rabbits were stuck in Eastern Germany. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly before the Wall was torn down. Another breeder began raising them in the 1960s, and he spread them throughout the German Republic. In 1970, there were 62 Blanc de Hotots exhibited in Stuttgart.
Today's Hotot rabbit has a thick, well rounded body with a full hindquarter. This breed has been successful as a meat rabbit, a show rabbit and a fur rabbit. Its white fur has no other markings on it, making it more valuable commercially than colored fur. The fur is also unique. It is slightly longer with a frosted white sheen. This comes from the breed's ancestry with the Beveren breed. It is well muscled and dresses out well for meat.
As a show animal, they are still very rare. They were once more numerous in the United States, but they fell out of favor when the smaller, dwarf variety became popular. There are only a few breeders in the States now, and they are working hard to build up this breed in the minds of rabbit fanciers so it can thrive once more.
Hotots have a docile temperament and make an excellent family pet. Their unique markings make them stand out from other breeds.
When breeding the Hotot rabbit, you should get a majority of babies with the classic Hotot markings. Occasionally a Boxer appears (it only has one eyeband) or a Silver Piebald appears (they look a lot like a mismarked Dutch rabbit, but the black portions silver out like in Silver Fox or Champagne D'Argents). Mismarked animals are not used in any breeding programs.
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