Lion Head Rabbit
The Lion Head rabbit is a very popular pet. It is a very small dwarf breed with a few distinctive characteristics. The Lion Head is similar to a Jersey Wooly, but instead of having a wooled body, one which meets the breed standard has a long mane like a lion and a short skirt around its hindquarters.
The exact origin of the breed is cloudy. There are several versions of how this breed developed, though the one thing that can be agreed upon is that it originated in Europe. There were several attempts made to establish this new breed that was to be called Tete De Lion. Except for a small pet market, all attempts failed to create interest in the breed.
The mutation that creates the Lion Head rabbit coat pattern is the first known major mutation in rabbits since the early 1900s, when satin fur was found in a Havana litter. The mane gene is dominant, so only one parent is required to pass it on to the offspring. Both lop eared and erect eared Lion Heads are bred in Europe. In 2002, the erect eared variety was accepted by the British Rabbit Council.
This breed was imported to the United States beginning in 1999. Several colors were under development, but the first presentation to the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) failed in 2004. The next year, only the Tortoise color passed. With each presentation since then, breeders have had various failures and successes.
In 2010, Tortoise and Black passed their first showing with yet another breeder holding the certificate of development. If these colors pass two more years out of five, the Lion Head rabbit will finally be an accepted breed with ARBA.
In the meantime, Lionheads can be shown at ARBA shows under the accepted working standard in those colors. They cannot compete yet for Best in Show. They are also becoming very popular pets.
The adorable look of a tiny rabbit with a tuft of fluffy wool around their neck is very appealing. Lion Heads have a lot of personality, and any of them can make a great pet, regardless of their color. You can find this breed in almost any color found in the rabbit population.
There are a few things to learn about this breed. Not all purebreds will exhibit the mane. If a purebred is born without the mane gene, it will look like a Netherland Dwarf. Rabbits with one or two mane genes will grow a mane eventually.
Rabbits with two mane genes will look different at birth. They will have large areas with no fur or hair color. Hair will grow very slowing in these areas, often not filling in completely until the rabbit is more than a month old. They may eventually look like tiny angoras, with wool all over their body, but most will shed out a large portion of the longer hairs eventually until only a skirt remains.
When breeding Lion Head rabbits, the best way to get a completely maned litter is to cross a Lion Head with no mane with one carrying a double mane gene.
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