American Chinchilla Rabbit

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The American Chinchilla RabbitThe American Chinchilla Rabbit

To help understand the Chinchilla Rabbit, the breed details are divided in to the following categories:

The American Chinchilla is not recognised by the BRC (British Rabbit Council) but the normal standard and the giant chinchilla are.

The ARBA recognise the American Chinchilla and have it on the rare and endangered list.

Breed Name
of Origin
American Chinchilla
United States

ARBA Schedule of Points

General Type....(45)

  • Body....30
  • Head & Ears....8
  • Eyes....2
  • Feet & Legs....5



  • Under Colour....5
  • Ring Colour & Definition....8
  • Surface Colour....


Total Points....100

Full ARBA Schedule of Points

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History of the American Chinchilla Rabbit

Chinchilla Rabbit History Around the World
The first Chinchilla rabbits were created by a French engineer M.J. Dybowski and were shown for the first time in April 1913 at Saint-Maur, France.

M. J. Dybowski first imported the Chinchilla rabbit to FranceM. J. Dybowski and his little Congo monkey

The new breed took the rabbit world by storm as the ideal fur rabbit, which so greatly resembled the South American Chinchilla lanigera, a rodent with thick, dense, velvet-like fur and a popular choice for the fashion industry.

Chinchilla LanigeraChinchilla Lanigera

A Mrs. Haidee Lacy-Hulbert of Mitcham Surrey, imported the first of the chinchilla rabbit breed to England in the summer of 1917.

A British exhibitor presented a shipment at the New York State Fair in 1919. After the show, he sold all the stock to Edward H. Stahl and Jack Harris.

Oneonta, New York State Fair Program & Guide Book 1919Oneonta, New York State Fair Program & Guide Book 1919

The original Chinchillas were rather small at 5 to 7 1/2 pounds, and American breeders set out to produce a larger animal that would be better suited for meat and pelts.

The American Chinchilla rabbit is one of the few breeds that originated in the United States. However the breeding credit doesn't go to just one breeder, but several. Each of which wanted to produce a larger bodied rabbit, than that of the Standard Chinchilla.

The Heavyweight Chinchilla
Through selective breeding for larger size, fine bones, and a good dress-out percentage, a breed standard was issued for the Heavyweight Chinchilla. It was a larger form of the Standard Chinchilla – the same shape, colour, and general make up.

In 1924, both Chinchilla breeds were adopted into the standards book and shortly thereafter, the Heavyweight Chinchilla was renamed the American Chinchilla. The smaller, original Chinchilla rabbit was named the American Standard Chinchilla Rabbit.

American Chinchilla Rabbit Breeders Association was formed in 1925 to promote the American Chinchilla Rabbit.

Between November 1928 and November 1929, no less than 17,328 Chinchillas were registered through the American Rabbit & Cavy Breeders Association (American Rabbit Breeders Association, Inc.) – a record that has yet to be broken.

Other Breed Development
The Chinchilla rabbit has contributed to the development of more breeds and varieties of rabbit worldwide than any other breed of domestic rabbit. Sports from the Chinchilla have created the Silver Martens and American Sables in the United States, and the Siamese Sable and Sallander breeds abroad.

Rare & Endangered
The American Chinchilla is now regarded by the ARBA to be the most rare of the Chinchilla breeds. Its small population is largely due to the demise of the rabbit fur industry of the late 1940’s. Despite the breed’s fine meat producing qualities, producers of today prefer an all white rabbit for the meat market.

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Chinchilla Rabbit Varieties

Chinchilla rabbits are lagomorphs and have been bred for a coat that resembles that of chinchillas.

They are not related to and cannot interbreed with chinchillas, which are a species of rodent.

Chinchilla RodentsChinchilla Rodents

Chinchilla rabbits are part of a group of three rabbit breeds;

  1. The Standard Chinchilla
  2. The American Chinchilla
  3. The Giant Chinchilla

Standard Chinchilla adults range in weight from 5-8 pounds. They are generally the size of typical rabbits. This smaller breed was the original Chinchilla rabbit and was renamed the American Standard Chinchilla Rabbit in 1924.

You can find out more about the Standard Chinchilla here.

American Chinchilla adults range in weight from 9 to 12 pounds.

The name was changed from 'Heavyweight Chinchilla' to 'American Chinchilla' in 1924.

The Giant Chinchilla rabbit can range from 10-16 pounds, and are very friendly, docile, family pet favourites.

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Size, Weight, Shape & Ears


Large Heavyweight breed


4 to 5.5kg (9-12lbs).


Medium build, with a compact body, short neck and fairly broad head.


Short & Erect with black laced colour.


Grey, Blue or Light Brown/Grey

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Rabbit fur typesDifferent rabbit fur types

Chinchilla or Silver Agouti
The fur should look silver with a black 'ticking' and have a bluish colour undercoat.

When you blow into the fur you should see prominent rings like those on the right. This is caused by the banded hair shaft of an agouti. The rings should be off white and slate gray.

Inside of the ears, feet, ring around eyes and nose should be pearl white. Underside of the tail and belly should be white or silver.

All Chinchilla colours include banded hair shafts of slate blue, pearl and black in an Agouti pattern.

Chinchilla colouring is also found in a number of other breeds.

Note for showing: 

Animals are faulted for having faded colour, scattered white hairs, or a light undercolour.

Animals are disqualified if they have extreme dark or light colour, brown patches of colour, or extreme brownish tinge in ring colour.

Animals without black lacing on the ears are also disqualified.

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Fur Type / Coat


The American Chinchilla should have a lengthy rollback fur with an ideal length of 1 ¼ inches. 

Coats under 1 inch in length are faulted in a show competition, as well as coats that are so long they resemble wool. 

The fur is to be smooth and glossy.

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Average lifespan of the American Chinchilla rabbit is 7 to 9 years but as with any of the domestic rabbit breeds,  their age is dependent on their care and more importantly, their diet.



The American Chinchilla rabbit temperaments can differ between breeders depending on the parent breeds used to produce each line.

If you intend to buy a American chinchilla rabbit, buy from a reputable breeder or rescue centre and observe the rabbit's temperament also enquire as to any hereditary dental concerns.


Generally American chinchillas are easy to train as they are very smart creatures. They can comprehend certain orders like come, and play, eat etc and will respond to their own name. They are also very easy to litter box train and for that reason make very good house rabbits and home companions.


In most cases the American chinchilla is friendly and have a very good, playful nature. Most are lively, sociable and gentle.

NB - American chinchillas are a relatively large breed, so they will need plenty of space to hop and stretch.

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The Chinchilla rabbit was initially bred for the fashion industry and fur trade to be a cheaper alternative to the chinchilla rodent pelt which became extremely popular and valuable from 1913.

The first breed, the standard Chinchilla, were only 5 to 7 lbs, so by 1919, breeders had developed a larger more useful breed, they called the 'heavyweight chinchilla' which met the demand for fur and meat. This breed was then renamed the 'American Chinchilla' in 1924.

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Breed Status

Large commercial operations were set up to produce and sell these rabbits in mass but by 1940 the fur industry began to slow down and now the American Chinchilla is considered rare by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, but it still remains a popular breed among show breeders.

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Rabbit Care & Handling

Here is a list of resources to help you care for your rabbits…

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Breeders, Clubs & Organizations

American Chinchilla Rabbit Breeders – locate standard chinchilla rabbit breeders using the online rabbit breeders directory, search or submit your own rabbitry.

ACRBA - The American Chinchilla Rabbit Breeders Association was formed in 1925 to promote the American Chinchilla Rabbit Breed. They can help with all aspects of raising American Chinchillas from all aspects of the Show Table, Youth Activities, Rabbit Jumping, Heritage Rabbit Raising and Colony Raising Rabbits.

ASARBA - The American Standard Chinchilla Rabbit Breeders Association is an organisation for all Standard Chinchilla rabbit enthusiasts in the US. They place a great deal of emphasis on education and helping those who are new to raising rabbits. Several members have been raising rabbits for more than 20 years at state and national levels.

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