Many people get a little confused over the Lilac, wondering if it is a breed or just a rabbit colour. In fact it is both. It is a recognised breed of rabbit but the colour 'lilac' is found in many other rabbit breeds too.
To help understand the Lilac, the breed details are divided in to the following categories:
The Lilac is recognised by both the BRC (British Rabbit Council) and the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association).
The Lilac has been called the Essex Lavender and then the Cambridge Blue in the past.
It is also known as 'Gouda' and the Dutch Gouwenaar in Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, France and Germany.
The Lilac rabbit was developed in two different countries at about the same time.
In 1917 Mr. C.H. Spruty of the Netherlands is credited with having bred the first Lilac like breed of rabbit. The breed was called the Gouda and spread into France and Germany, where they are raised under the same name today. The Gouda is recognized as a fur and meat rabbit and weighs between seven and eight pounds.
In England the famous geneticist R.C. Punnet bred the first Lilacs in 1922. He crossed blue Beverens (dilute black) with Havanas (recessive chocolate). By combining these characters, the Cambridge Blue (dilute chocolate) was created. The British Rabbit Club recognized this rabbit as a new breed and called them Lilacs.
In America the Lilac had its beginnings in both English and Continental European imports. Between 1922 and 1926 many shipments were sent to the U.S. and there was a great deal of interest in the new breed.
The cover of the September 1925 Rabbitcraft (which became Small Stock Magazine) featured an English Lilac which had been exported to Canada. The 1928 American Standard of Perfection states that Lilacs were quite popular on the West Coast and were spreading into the rest of the country.
National Lilac Club
The English standard was adopted by the American fanciers. Through 1939-1944 no changes were made to the standard and a National Lilac Club was formed. In 1940, 25 Lilacs were shown at the ARBA National Convention. The breed had several admirers and was gaining in popularity.
By 1951, the Lilac Club had become inactive and the Lilac had lost most of its breeders; only 6 were shown at the National. In 1952, a few breeders reorganised the Lilac Club. Ken Fehrman, "Mr. Lilac", became secretary of the club and remained in office until his death in 1987. Orville Bloomquist became president and remained in office until his death in 1993.
The 1973 National Convention in Detroit, Michigan had 31 Lilacs
entered, which made it the largest shown by 8 exhibitors. The 1996 ARBA
National Convention was also a banner year with 36 Lilacs shown by 10
Mabel Illingworth, crossed a Blue Imperial and a Havana and called it the Essex Lavender.
Later, Professor R. C. Punnet crossed a Havana with a Blue Beveran and called it a Cambridge Blue.
There is also a Belgian breed of Lilac called the Gris Perle de Hal, or Perle De Halle, Grey Pearl of Halle, or Halle Perle Gray and is said to be a sport from the Havana but only weighs between 5 and 6 lbs and is a lighter greyish colour.
Lilacs in the United States, perhaps would be the same or a little darker than the Perle de Halle.
Although different breeders have merged all three varieties of the Lilac breed over the years, the British Rabbit council accepts one variety, simply known as Lilac and it doesn't matter where the blood line has come from.
However, the Dutch Gouwenaar breeders have the best colour, a true pinky lilac. The UK breed has lost this colour, and, probably, needs a new input of Havana colour.
Lilacs are classed as a medium sized rabbit (Ring Size D).
The UK breed standard states that adults should weigh between 5.5 lbs (2.494 kgs) to 7 lbs (3.17 kgs), however Lilacs can weigh up to 12 lbs.
Lilacs should be neat in shape with a cobby body, broad haunches, short head, well furred and with short short and straight legs.
The lilac's ears should be moderately short and upright measuring from 3.5 to 4 inches long.
The colour of the Lilac can appear more purplish or more grey depending on the lighting. Lilacs usually look more grey in a brightly lit room. Outside, in the shade, or in late afternoon sun, their fur can appear a beautiful pale lavender colour.
A huge 40 points is awarded to the colour of the Lilac rabbit with the BRC standard, which calls for an even pinky shade of dove colour throughout, carried down to the skin.the eyes are to match the fur in colour.
BRC standard breed faults would be too blue a shade, putty or brown nose, white hairs in armpits or on toes and body.
Their fur is about 1 inch long and is very pleasantly soft to the touch. The breed standard requires the coat to be exquisitely silky and intensely dense, not a fly back coat.
The life expectancy of a Lilac rabbit or Dutch Gouwenaar is anywhere between 9 and 12 years, dependent on the standard of care and strict attention to diet.
Lilacs have very friendly and 'sweet' personalities. They enjoy being petted,
exploring, and playing games. Among their favorite toys are cardboard
boxes, plastic baby key rings, plastic cat jingle bell toys and stuffed
animals. They also love
While every rabbit can have different likes and dislikes, female Lilacs generally are better lap bunnies and enjoy sitting on your lap for hours while you pet them. Females are usually pretty clean and like to arrange their toys and food dishes "neatly" in their cage. Male Lilacs like being petted as well but are usually more playful than females, and become more excited to come out of their cage to play. They can be messier though, and if they smell another rabbit's sent they may spray to cover it up. Lilacs in general are very sweet and friendly bunnies that enjoy attention and being held.
Lilacs were initially bred in Europe for their meat and fur, however in the UK and the US they are purely bred for being exceptional show rabbits and domestic pets.
The Lilac is becoming increasing popular all over the world. This is a breed to watch out for as their presence on the show table is increasing year on year. There are not so many breeders around but I'm sure that will change as their popularity grows.
Lilac rabbits are easy to care for. Their main diet should consist of rabbit
pellets, 1 oz of pellets for each pound the rabbit weighs, and about a
hand full of hay each day. They can be fed occasional treats such as
dried papaya, dried banana, carrots, parsley, spinach, clover, and
dandelion leaves. When they moult they should be brushed to remove the
loose fur but other then that, they don't require much grooming.
A Lilac rabbit's fur is very sensitive to direct sunlight, making them and ideal indoor rabbit. If their pen is outside where the sun can shine on them, even for just an hour, they can get sunburned fur and it will turn a brownish colour.
Here is a list of resources to help you care for your rabbits…
Lilac Rabbit Breeders – locate Lilac rabbit breeders using the online rabbit breeders directory, search or submit your own rabbitry.
NLRC - National Lilac Rabbit Club (UK) -
Miss L A Wray 01625 520647
NLRCA - National Lilac Rabbit Club of America.
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