To help understand the Giant Continental rabbit, the breed details are divided in to the following categories:
These beautiful giant rabbits are recognised by the BRC (British Rabbit Council) but not the ARBA, (American Rabbit Breeders Association).
Also known as the German Giant rabbit and have the nickname 'Conti'.
Continental Giant, Coloured
Continental Giant, White
Head & Ears...20
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The Continental is one of the largest and oldest breeds of rabbit, with documentary records suggesting that they may have been around as far back as the mid-16th Century.
Most Continentals are descended from the even more ancient Flemish Giant, a breed
that originated in Ghent, Belgium. It’s thought that the Flemish Giant
was created by breeding larger examples of fur and meat breeds together. These breeds may have been the Steenkonijn or Stone Rabbit - named because it was said
to weigh as much as an old Belgian stone, about 8.5lb - and the
Patagonian, an old European breed that is now sadly extinct.
Note: The European Patagonian was bred in France and Germany and was not related to the Argentinian Patagonian rabbit, which was a small, wild species that weighed around two pounds. Nor is the European Patagonian related to the Patagonian Hare, a separate species that is more closely related to cavy-type rodents that cannot interbreed with rabbits.
The first show standards for Continental Giants were written in 1893 and the breed shares a common heritage with many other rabbit breeds, including the Belgian Hare, which was brought to the UK in the middle of the 19th Century. The Flemish and Continental Giants were sent to the US from Britain and Europe in the late 19th Century to improve the size of the meat animals there during the infamous ‘Rabbit Boom’.
Shortly after their arrival in America the Giant breeds began to appear at small livestock shows and quickly became popular as pets because of their docile nature. They were also useful as show, meat and fur animals.
There are two varieties of Continental Giants, the coloured continental and the white continental.
These giants are of course classed as a 'giant' breed and have been known to weigh more than 35lbs.
Worlds Heaviest Rabbit:
Four-year-old Ralph, a Continental Giant from the UK, weighs a little over 53lbs! He eats average of £50 worth of food a week.
In March 2013 he weighed a massive 3st 8lbs, which beat his nemesis Darius by 3lbs, who took the title off him in 2010.
Coloured Continental Weight:
This is one of the few breeds that receive more points on the show table the more they weigh. Rabbits weighing more than 15.8 lb (7.0kg) are granted the full 10 points allocated for weight.
White Continental Weight:
The maximum 10 points for weight are granted at 'just' 6.5 kg (14.4 lb) or more.
The Continental Giant is a semi-arch breed. This means that the arch of its back begins at the shoulder and stretches all the way back to the base of the tail. This gives the animal a ‘mandolin’ shape.
Coloured Continental Giant Shape:
This is a big solid rabbit giving an impression of power. It should be posed in the Continental style, standing up at the front.
The body should be long, minimum length 65cm (26in) with a strong back gently rising to broad, powerful, well-rounded hindquarters. Any less would be classed as a serious fault.
The underline of the body should not show a hare like arch. Front legs are as sturdy as possible, well proportioned and straight. A flat shaped body is also classed as a serious fault.
White Continental Giant Shape:
The general impression is similar to the Coloured Continental Giant. However it can be finer boned and more elegant in appearance.
Continental Giant Ears (White & Coloured):
As the ears are so closely effected by the head, I'll describe the rest of the head here also.
The Continental Giant should have well developed cheeks and round, bright, wide open eyes.
Male examples of the breed have a large, wide head that’s much bigger than the doe’s. Female examples have a pronounced, evenly spread dewlap.
The large robust thick ears are held upright, well covered and rounded. Ear length should be about 25% of the body length, minimum 16cm (7in). Any less would be classed as a serious fault.
Coloured Continental Giant Colours:
Black - A deep solid black carried well down the hair shaft with blue/black undercolour. Eyes hazel or black.
Dark Steel - Dark steel grey merging to a slate blue undercolour, the whole interspersed with black guard hairs. Extreme tips of the fur to be tipped withgre y. The mixture to carry well down the sides, flanks and hind feet. Belly colour may be a duller and lighter shade. Ears to match body. Eyes deep hazel.
Light Steel - A medium grey merging to a sandy/brown band with a grey/blue undercolour going down to the skin, the whole interspersed with grey guardhairs. Extreme tips of the fur to be tipped with gold/brown. The mixture to carry well down the sides, flanks and hind feet. Belly colour may be a duller and lighter shade. Ears to match body. Eyes deep hazel.
Agouti - A rich chestnut shade with black ticking over an intermediate orange band and dark slate undercolour. Ears laced black, eye circles, underside of tail and belly white with slate undercolour.
Red Agouti - A rich deep chestnut red shade with black ticking. The under colour to have an intermediate orange band with a dark slate under colour. The under side of the tail on the belly to be cream with a slate under colour.
Opal - Top colour a pale shade of blue over an intermediate fawn band and slate undercolour. Ears laced blue. Eye circles, underside of tail and belly to be white with a slate undercolour.
Yellow - Top colour is a uniform pure yellow, which covers the visible body in an even shade. Colour extends onto the front legs, pelvis and thigh area. Nostrils, eye and jaw line light to cream colour. Belly colour white/cream with yellow groin patches, underside of tail white/cream. Undercolour is white for approximately 6mm and then increases to a yellow shade and finishes intensively under the top coat.
White Continental Giant Colour:
White - Immaculate white, eyes pink or blue. Nails un-pigmented. A serious fault would be coloured nails or fur.
The fur of the Giant is thick and glossy with roll back, shiny and dense fur from 3.5 to 4cm (1.1/4" to 1.1/2") with very visible guard hairs.
The undercoat is abundant and soft, with good density.
The coat should reflect the overall good health of the rabbit, which should appear alert and vigorous.
When showing these rabbits points are deducted for faults such as the following:
The average life span of a Giant Continental is anywhere from 4 to 5 years. Large breeds struggle to reach beyond that however Continental giants can reach up to 7 years where their care and diet has been exceptional.
With most owners treating their giant rabbits like dogs, with a superb diet, excellent vet care, indoor housing, regular exercise and play-time stimulation, these gentle giants can live a relatively long and happy life.
These rabbits are gentle giants, friendly and very
intelligent. In fact, many people say they act more like dogs than
rabbits. They are easy to train and can be encouraged to play games, use
a litter tray and even come when their name is called, with relative
In order for the Giant to be relaxed in human company he must be handled gently and frequently when young. If this is carried out (most reputable breeders will ensure their kits are used to human company before they leave for their new homes), then you should take delivery of a happy, playful and gentle pet.
Originally bred for their meat and fur they have endured the test of time because of their docile and friendly natures, making them ideal pets. They are also very popular and beautiful specimens for the show table with their weight having no limit.
Both the coloured Continental and the white Continental Giant rabbit are not endangered, nor are they classed as a rare breed. There are many professional breeders in the UK, the US and worldwide.
The Giant makes a fantastic house rabbit and a large dog crate will provide the perfect hideaway if he needs some peace and quiet. Cables, wires, shoes, papers and anything important should be kept out of his way or he’ll chew them with abandon. He should also be taught how to use a litter tray.
If you’re going to keep your Giant in a hutch it should be no smaller than 6’ x 2’ and preferably larger. A dedicated garden shed would be ideal providing it’s secure, well ventilated and has plenty of natural light. It should be cleaned out weekly and droppings should be removed daily.
He should be fed a diet of high-quality hay and good pellets, as well as fibrous vegetables.
A continental giant must be groomed regularly to keep his coat in good condition. This is also a good opportuntiy to check for illness or injury as rabbits are very good at hiding anything that may be wrong.
Big bunnies sometimes have problems keeping themselves clean as they are not
so dextrous as smaller rabbits and cannot reach their lower quarters to groom,
especially as they get older. Becoming over weight can also exacerbate grooming
Large rabbits have a lot more fur to moult so be prepared for a lot of lose fluff during moults. Giving a vitamin supplement can help speed up the moult.
Just as you wouldn't attempt to pick up a medium sized dog as it wouldn't feel secure and relaxed, a continental giant rabbit is the same. Any reckless or irresponsible handling could result in spinal injury or injury to the handler. Any rabbit that is fearful or in pain may struggle and kick out and this would almost certainly cause injuries to both parties.
Because of its size and strength the Giant is not perhaps an ideal pet for inexperienced owners or children.
They require lots of food and produce a lot of waste so the care they need is quite significant. Anybody considering giving a home to a Giant rabbit should think carefully about whether or not they can meet its needs.
Whether he’s a house rabbit or a hutch rabbit he should also have access to the outdoors – either in a large run or in a secure area of garden.
Here is a list of resources to help you care for your rabbits…
Continental Giant Rabbit Breeders – locate Continental Giant breeders using the online rabbit breeders directory, search or submit your own rabbitry.
National Continental Giant Rabbit Club - new members cordially invited. Help us to keep this club alive! Subscription fee £5. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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