Lilac Rabbit

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Lilac Rabbit

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:

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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.

See varieties for more...

Breed Name
of Origin

BRC Standard of Perfection

Colour... 40

Coat... 30

Type... 30

Total Points....100

Full BRC Standard of Perfection

ARBA Schedule of Points

General Type....(45)

  • Body...35
  • Head...3
  • Ears...3
  • Eyes...2
  • Feet & Legs...2




Total Points....100

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History of the Lilac Rabbit

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.

BRC Recognition
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.

American Imports
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 exhibitors.   

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Lilac Varieties

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.

The Dutch Gouwenaar is another name for a Lilac rabbit with it's origins being from Holland, Belgium and the UK.

Gouwenaar Lilac Rabbit
Marburger Lilac Rabbit

Another breed, the Marburger, which is darker and more bluish than the Lilac, is recognized in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Finland.

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.

Perle de Halle Lilac rabbit

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.

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Size, Weight, Shape & Ears

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.

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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.

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Fur Type / Coat

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.

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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 playing outside!

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.

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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.

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Breed Status

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.

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Rabbit Care & Handling

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.

Sun Sensitive
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…

  • The Ultimate New Rabbit Checklist - The best place to start if you are thinking about raising any breed of rabbit.
  • How to Raise Rabbits – information and resources on the subject of raising pet rabbits.
  • Breeding Rabbits – more about how to successfully breed rabbits for fun, showing, or profit.
  • Rabbit Supplies – find rabbit supplies and equipment at astounding value.
  • Rabbit Health – up to date information & resources for ensuring your rabbit is in the best health.
  • Rabbits Diet - Extensive info about hay, water, safe foods, treats, weight management & FAQs on diet.

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Breeders, Clubs & Organizations

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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I was told my lion head mix was a male so I didn't separate him from my other two males. Then I saw 'him' nesting last Thursday and found out she's …

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I started out showing rabbits when I was 4 years old. My uncle got me into the lilac breed and I love them. They are so calm and they love to cuddle …

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