Types of Rabbits
Rabbits fall into all sorts of categories; there are types of rabbits with upright ears and those with lop ears. There are small, medium, large and giant sizes. Some have shiny fur, some have short velvety fur and some have wool instead of normal fur.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) types rabbits by body type. There are five accepted body types for rabbits: Fully Arched, Semi-Arched, Compact, Commercial and Cylindrical.
A rabbit with a fully arched body looks alert. Their belly arches up away from the ground and it looks like they are always sitting up. You should be able to easily see daylight between their front feet and hind feet.
There are six breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association that fall under this category: the Belgian Hare, the Tan, the Britannia Petite, the Rhinelander, the Checkered Giant and the English Spot.
All of these breeds are known for their energetic personalities and many are actually run down the show table when being judged to show off their form. All of these types of rabbits have upright ears and many are spotted. The Tan is well known for its shiny fur.
Rabbits with a semi-arched body shape are said to have mandolin-shaped bodies. This shape makes them resemble a stuffed toy when they're relaxed. Semi-arched rabbits have the high point of their body on their hips.
Their shoulders are lower and their head is lower still. There are five breeds with this shape: the American, the Beveren, the English Lop, the Flemish Giant and the Giant Chinchilla.
As you can see, these types of rabbits are either large or giant breeds. They are all fairly calm rabbits and make excellent pets. Since they are so large, be prepared and offer housing that is reinforced to support their increased weight for some of these breeds.
Rabbits with a compact body type are either small or medium sized breeds. Their bodies are round or cobby. Their backs should curve gracefully from the neck upwards to the hips and then a nice rounded downward curve to their tail. They should look balanced.
There are lots of compact rabbit breeds, including the American Fuzzy Lop, the English Angora, the Dwarf Hotot, the Standard Chinchilla, the Dutch, the Florida White, the Jersey Wooly, the Holland Lop, the Lilac, the Mini Rex, the Mini Satin, the Mini Lop, the Netherland Dwarf, the Polish and the Silver.
Many of these breeds are popular pets. This group of rabbits offers a lot of variety in color and fur type.
Commercial types of rabbits look like larger versions of the compact types. They are called commercial because this body type produces meaty loins and rapid growth rates that make them ideal for meat rabbits.
The body is well-muscled throughout and is known for its gradual rise and fall up to the hips and down towards the tail. You should not see any daylight under their belly when they are at rest.
Many ARBA rabbit breeds fall under this category, including the French, Satin and Giant Angoras, the Champagne D'Argent, the Californian, the American Chinchilla, the Cinnamon, the Crème D'Argent, the Harlequin, the French Lop, the New Zealand, the Palomino, the Rex, the Satin, the American Sable, the Silver Fox and the Silver Marten.
While many commercial types of rabbits are bred for meat, many others are popular as show animals and pets. Being larger, they tend to be fairly calm tempered. Handling from an early age helps. Every fur type is represented in this group of breeds, including satin, wool, normal fur, flyback fur and rex.
Of the several types of rabbits, there is only one rabbit breed recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association that is classified as cylindrical, and that is the Himalayan. This unique rabbit breed was once raised for their silky fur, which was considered similar to ermine.
Today, the Himalayan is a wonderful show rabbit and pet. They are gentle and affectionate, making them an excellent choice for a pet or 4H project. When shown, the Himalayan is stretched out as long as possible on the table. There should be no discernible rise over their shoulders or hips. The body should be completely smooth.
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