To help understand this admirable lop eared English rabbit, the breed details are divided in to the following categories:
This old and very distinctive breed is recognised by the British Rabbit Council (BRC) and the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA).
Also known as the "King of the Fancy."
Ear Substance & Carriage...10
Colour and Markings...10
Straight Feet & Tail...10
Colour & Markings...4
The English Lop originated in the hot and humid area of Africa, known as the Algiers, where winters were 60°F and summers reached 90°F. The heat of the equatorial Africa had a big impact on the development of the English Lop, especially on their ears, growing to compensate for the heat. (Rabbits cool down by pumping blood through their ears).
It is one of the oldest breeds of domestic rabbits known to man. Egyptian hieroglyphics show pictures of rabbits resembling the English Lop, so the King of the Fancy may have been around for a very long time.
The English Lop was one of the first fancy breeds of rabbit in England, in the 19th century. The term 'English' comes from the fact that England adopted the breed and domesticated it for show, as a response to rise of animal fancy and consequently the rabbit's emergence as a mainstream household pet during the Victorian era, marking a departure from the earlier role of domesticated rabbit breeding for meat, fur and wool production.
In 1914, the National Pet Stock (now known as the A.R.B.A., or the American Rabbit Breeders Association) adopted the English Lop as its 15th breed.
In the 1900's they were bred specifically for their ears and European breeders would raise their English in over heated buildings with heat lamps. They would also wax and even iron their ears to produce longer and longer ear lengths. They became so accustomed to the high temperatures that when they were taken out to be shown they would develop colds and pneumonia.
As demand grew around the world in the 50's, 60's, and 70's American breeders crossed in Flemish Giants to improve their bone structure but the end result was that they became so inbred many suffered from weak bone structure, bowed legs, snipey noses, pigeon breast and other genetic defects.
Dedicated breeders began to improve the breed and thankfully conditions for them improved too. The English Lop has been through some tough times in its development and popularity has decreased with the dwarf breeds becoming favourites. Ironically the breeds that are more popular now only exist because of the English Lop. The French Lop, (developed from breeding the English Lop with the Flemish Giant), the Holland Lop, which was in turn developed from the French Lop, also the Netherland Dwarf, Mini Lop, American Fuzzy Lop and the soon to be accepted Velveteen Lop.
It is unlikely that this amazing and beautiful rabbit will return to the peak of popularity that it enjoyed in the 1900's but due to the efforts of dedicated fanciers and breeders it still has a foothold in the hobby and is treated in a much kinder and more humane way.
When shown they have two different categories:
The colour varieties include black, fawn, white, golden fawn, and sooty fawn.
The size can be as large as possible, but not out of proportion. (Ring Size H)
The old English Lop was a huge creature weighing up to 20lbs or more.
Now the breed standard is as follows:
The head is to be bold, the whole body of the rabbit should resemble a mandolin, curved side uppermost.
The feet should be straight, the front feet not to be bow legged or bent. The tail should be straight and not screwed.
The eyes should be bold and bright, not dull.
There is no doubt that their trademark is their amazing ears, they are what makes the breed so unique.
Their ears evolved from their beginnings in equatorial Algiers, Africa. When a rabbit is hot, they
use their ears to cool down by circulating blood through
them. As the blood runs through the ears, it's cooled and returned to the bloodstream. Through each generation their ears became larger and larger to cope with their environment. The ears then started to 'fall over' due to the weight and the amount of blood that was pumping through them. Parents with
this new trait created a gene for lopping ears and passed it on to
The breed standard requires the ears to be well rounded at the tips and not trowel shaped. They are to be nice and thick like leather, not like thin paper, not to be carried, pricked in any way and with no pimples.
An English Lop's ears usually average from 20" (51cm) to 22" from tip to tip, some a can be bit longer and some a smaller. There have been lops with ears as long as 30".
With the ears being the most important factor, when they did not lop properly (i.e. horn lop, oar lop, or half lop), the rabbit usually wore a little leather cap with two slits. The ears went through the slits from the underside and the two ends were tied under the rabbit's chin to keep the ears in their proper lopping place; this was the brainchild of an American breeder.
The ears are fully grown by about 6 months of age. The males tend to have longer ears because of their wider head while females have a narrower skull so have shorter ears on average.
The Rabbit With The World’s Longest Ears is an English Lop called Nipper’s Geronimo.
In 2003, the American Rabbit Breeders Association National Show in Wichita awarded him and his owners the prize for having the longest ears ever seen.
The Guinness Book of World Records also confirmed the record on November 1st. With an ear length of 79 centimetres or 31.125 inches, he truly is a record breaker!
Any colour is permitted on the show table, but whatever the colour it must be good. i.e. black to be raven black, fawn to be a rich golden fawn or sooty-fawn and the shading is to be dense.
Marked specimens can be of any of these colours. The white markings around the nose to be such that leave a distinct butterfly smut or as the shading on the Sooty-Fawn. The white should extend upwards from the chin and chest over the shoulder with two spots, one each side on the shoulders called shoulder spots. No white to be present in the general body colouring. The belly to be white and similar to the tan on the Tan rabbit but not brindled up the sides of the body.
They are the only breed of lop to have short, flyback fur.
An English Lop can live on average from 5 to 7 years.
The majority of these beautiful rabbits are known for their excellent temperament, calm, placid and laid-back characters. They are a very amiable rabbit, with a friendly outgoing personalities, being more docile and gentle in comparison to other breeds.
English Lops are not popular just for their ears, they also have one of the best temperaments in the rabbit family. As kits, they are like any other kit, full of energy and very curious.
As adults, despite their size, are as kind and gentle as ever. They are willing to be held and are almost in a good mood.
English lop rabbits are very popular among pet breeders and owners alike. They are particularly gracious animals and have dominated rabbit shows for many years. They tend to be favoured by judges because of their winning personality and kind nature.
The English Lop before it was developed in the UK, was initially a meat rabbit and for tropical consumption it was crossed with the New Zealand White.
Now, of course, it is known as King of the Fancy and is still popular on the show table and gaining in popularity as a house rabbit and perfect companion pet.
The English Lop is not a rare breed any more as dedicated breeders have returned the breed back to it's original standard and popularity is returning.
English Lops are very intelligent and easy to litter-box train. They are fairly inactive and tend to be quite sedentary, so it’s very important that you don’t overfeed them. They need a lot of exercise but is vulnerable to cold so they make an ideal indoor rabbit.
If they are to be housed outside they must be given enough space to stop them being forced to stand on their ears and you have to watch out for things they could snag their ears on as they are easily torn.
The large surface area of its ears and body and the absence of a dense undercoat can result in greater heat loss, which can become a problem for outdoor rabbits in cold climates and winters and in the onset of these conditions, special measures should be taken to insulate the hutch, such as the provision of increased bedding and hay, and draft excluders. Provide a thick layer of shaving and straw to prevent any ear damage.
As they do not have good foot pad fur; a solid wood flooring with deep straw bedding is recommended for ear and foot protection.
As their ears are so long they do drag on the floor so it is essential you keep their nails trimmed and clipped to prevent them scratching their ears. The best routine to follow is to clip them down approximately every 3-4 weeks.
They are slightly more vulnerable to a number of health problems, particularly ear infections, so it's advised that the ears should be checked often, especially for excess wax build up in their deep ear canals.
The ideal age for the female English Lop rabbit to start breeding is 9 months of age. The female has excellent maternal instincts and is known to be particularly prolific, with rich milk and can produce large litters of between 5-12 babies, with a gestation period of between 28–31 days. On average they give birth at 30–32 days. It is during the first 16 weeks of an English Lop's life that its ears undergo its most rapid growth, and for this period, theirs ears will require special care and attention.
Although a baby is usually born with normal-sized ears, for a month, each week the ear size will double. At about four weeks old, the ears will be longer than the English Lop's body and they will be prone to accidents or injuries, such as tripping over their ears, or accidentally scratching them so more care should be given during this initial stage.
The data for the rate of growth of lop ears in a first-rate specimen is as follows:
4 weeks - 11 to 16 inches
6 weeks - 11 to 20 inches
8 weeks - 20 -to 22 inches
10 weeks - 22.5 to 24 inches
14 weeks - 24 to 25 inches
16 weeks - 25 to 26 inches
They do require a little extra care than a shorter lop eared rabbit would but the benefits of owning this breed far outweigh the additional care needed.
Here is a list of resources to help you care for your rabbits…
English Lop Rabbit Breeders – locate English Lop breeders using the online rabbit breeders directory, search or submit your own rabbitry.
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