Dedicated to Raising Purebred Dutch & Purebred English Angora Rabbits To the ARBA American Standard of Perfection
Dutch Rabbits are said to have originated in Holland around the 1850's. They were imported to England in 1864 and from there they have been distributed around the world. Dutch rabbits are also considered one of the oldest breeds of pet rabbits, very well built and easy to handle. Another interesting fact is that the Dutch rabbit was a favorite among the Royalty in England. The Aristocrats were fond of small pets and rabbits during the 1800's time period, and this breed was one of the pet breeds they bred and kept. The Dutch were also originally raised for meat, but due to how long it takes for them to mature to 12 weeks, they are now often family pets.
General Physical Description
The Dutch rabbit is a fairly small compact rabbit, with ears that stand erect and back legs that are longer than the front legs. The Dutch rabbit is always white with the addition of another base color. They are considered one of the most popular pet breeds on the markets today, and are well liked among their owners. An Adult Dutch Rabbit will weigh between 3.5 to 5.5 pounds and on average will live 5 to 8 years. Longer life spans can be expected if the rabbits have been fixed. I personally think that a Dutch Rabbit can live up to 12 years, as long as it hasn't been bred, and have met and spoke with people who have had Dutch rabbits that have lived a healthy 11-12 yr lifetime.
As a rabbit owner and lover, I have tried many different breeds of rabbits. Lops, Mini Rexes, New Zealands, Californians, you name it, and have settled on the Dutch. They have a docile, easy-to-tame temperament, and are easy for the smallest children to handle. They are not commonly known for biting and intentionally scratching, but for having a sweet, loving disposition and a love for attention. I have never had a Dutch Rabbit that bites, excepting a female that had just given birth. It is natural for a mother of kits to be protective, but otherwise they trust me, and I have never had trouble with bad temperaments.
All rabbits can be easily startled and their natural response is to flee. Their powerful hind legs and lumbar muscles are designed for sudden and bounding escapes. These are disproportionately powerful to the delicate structure of their skeleton that makes up only 7 to 8% of the rabbits total body weight. If allowed to kick and thrash about when being held or restrained, their frantic kicking can easily result in lumbar vertebral fractures resulting in paralysis (or Breaking of the back). For this reason it is extremely important to support the rear end of the rabbit when picking them up. Besides heat, broken backs are another main rabbit killer. A rabbit can live with paralysis but they will most likely be in extreme pain, and can turn irritable and somewhat upset. If a rabbit does break its back, it is best to have it put down.
For the most part, they are easy to handle, and even small children can play with them. Our two year old and 7 year old love the bunnies, and the bunnies have such good temperaments and do great.
Standards of Perfection
Every 5 years the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) standards committee and board of directors publish what is called the Standards Of Perfection for each of the standard rabbit breeds recognized in the United States. This guide provides a standardization that is used by judges and breeders alike for evaluating rabbits and helps identify a quality show animal.
Below is a summary from a fellow breeder,
"In the search for perfection, probably few other rabbit breeds have the bar raised higher than it is for the Dutch. Considered the fancy rabbit, the pursuit of near perfection in its markings is a true test of patience and perseverance on the part of the breeder. In the case of the Dutch, it almost seems that if something can go wrong it will. From a cheek that is too long to stops that are uneven to a slight spot on the end of the nose, all are faults and imperfections that either can be a disqualification or at least points lost at the judging table. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint. On the contrary, it is a statement about what makes raising Dutch rabbits so challenging and interesting. If it were easy to raise the perfect Dutch Rabbits everyone would be doing it. And what personal satisfaction would there be in finding success at something that offers no challenge?" -Verlannahill Rabbitry
I would completely agree with this statement. In Fact, it is the most accurate account I have found on this subject. I strive for quality markings will all my bunnies, and even though everything won't always be perfect, actually quite the opposite of perfect, the challenge alone is worth striving for.
The Dutch breed is also recognized by the ADBA (American Dutch breeders Association) and the six colors recognized are: Blue, Black, Chocolate, Tortoise, Grey, and Steel. (See my "Colors" page for more info) There are also several unrecognized colors, Orange (fawn or yellow), Tricolor or Harlequin, Blue Steele, Lilac, & more.
The saddle, blaze, stops (or socks), neck and cheeks and belt (the belt is considered the even line where the saddle meets the base color behind the shoulders) play the part in the Correct standard markings. I find it important to get these markings correct and makes for a pretty Dutch rabbit.