About Lionhead Rabbits
Lionhead Rabbits... no, this is not something like the mouse that roared. Nor are these rabbits genetically modified. Lionhead Rabbits are a young breed of bunnies. They are recognized in the U.K., but have not yet become a registered breed in the United States by ARBA.net (American Rabbit Breeders Association). You can find them at the ARBA rabbit show each year classified as the proposed working standard. They made their first appearance in the ARBA show in 2006.
Lionhead rabbits are tiny cute furry creatures. They weigh less than 3 ¾ pounds and have a mane of wool around their head, reminiscent of the male lion’s mane. In the rabbit version, females and males have the mane. Fur covers the rest of their body, like all other rabbits.
Where Did Lionhead Rabbits Come From?
There is no definitive answer as to how lionhead rabbits came into existence. The two most popular versions are:
- the breed origins began in Belgium from crossbreeding the Swiss Fox Bunny Rabbit with a Belgian Dwarf. They were then crossbred with other smaller wool rabbits. Some say the Jersey Wooly, or the Dwarf Angora. In the U.S. there is no such breed as the Dwarf Angora. Some time later the breed was imported to the U.K. and crossbred again. with European rabbits which created the current Lionhead rabbit that exists in England today.
The other version is:
- The Lionhead rabbits came about from a genetic mutation in a litter of the Dwarf Angora bunny rabbits when European breeders were working with them. The mutation was spread throughout the breed of Dwarf Angora bunnies.The gene that causes the mane in the rabbits is a dominant gene. So if only one parent has the gene for a mane, it is enough to produce more Lionhead rabbits. Although not every Lionhead has a mane. If this version is correct, this is the first genetic mutation in rabbits since the beginning of the 1900’s. At that time the Satin fur resulted from a litter of Havana bunnies.
In France, the Lionhead Rabbits are called “Tete de Lion”, and are mainly bred in the U.K. and France. Another type of the Lionhead Rabbit is the Lop Eared Lionhead as a result of breeding, you guessed it, the Lionhead and the Lop Eared. This bunny has a mane with long ears.
Purebred and Hybrid Lionhead Rabbits
Since 1999, Lionhead Rabbits began to be imported from Europe to the United States. The first Lionhead arrived in northern Minnesota. The beautiful and unique breed soon caught on across the country. Many breeders started creating hybrid versions after breeding the Lionheads with Netherland Dwarfs Holland Lops and many other varieties.
Lionhead Rabbits have a wonderful disposition. They are friendly, train very easily and are excellent house pets. Overall, they have little health concerns, although there are some that are prone to epilepsy. The breeders are working on this genetic flaw. Lionheads do require some grooming, but it is not too difficult to manage their fur and mane. Lionhead rabbits love to play and can be litter boxed trained. They are loving, affectionate and enjoy the company of people.
It is difficult to tell the difference between purebred and hybrid Lionhead rabbits. Most males have a thicker mane than females. Be sure to be gentle when you are combing their mane so that you don’t pull out the wool of the mane.
Taking care of a Lionhead bunny is the same as taking care of any other rabbit.
Taking Care of Your Rabbit
More info about Lionhead Rabbits:
Lionhead Rabbits come in a variety of colors. Their lifespan is the same as other rabbits, approximately 7-9 years. The care a lionhead rabbit needs is the same as other rabbits. Just be sure to brush your bunny. They make wonderful pets. It is a good idea to spay or neuter your pet.