Belgian Hare Rabbits

Belgian Hare Rabbit – information and facts about the Belgian Hare Rabbit Breed. Learn more about Belgian Hare Rabbits in this article. Breed photos are included.

Belgian Hare Rabbits

Best known for distinctive body type and temperament, as well as being one of the most intelligent rabbits, Belgian Hare Rabbits have a very unique history to tell. Despite the fact that hares are not that popular today, they have a significant contribution in our culture of appreciation towards rabbits.

Rabbit Breeds List

1. History

Before 1890, rabbits are not really popular in America. And a few of them are raised for their meat. But in England, the rabbit show circuit is slowly taking the spotlight. In the year 1888, United States imported the first set of Belgian Hares. The most notable of which is when a Britain shipping firm transported 6000 hares to US between the years 1898 to 1901. It was the same instance with the ‘rabbit show bug’ also began in America, and people are slowly getting hooked to it. Rabbit enthusiasts all over the country gathered in these small rabbit shows and started to recognize the presence of Belgian Hares. Some companies then adopted the rabbit breed for further production and dispersion all over US.

As a result, different clubs sprung out all over American cities. Indeed, millionaires, including J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller indulged with their interest in promoting the hares. Because of this rising interest and demand for Belgian Hares, the prices of each rabbit soared up high. Imagine, one buck would cost $5000 way back in 1900. And supply wise, rabbit breeders in Los Angeles raised about 60,000 Belgian Hares. Later on, the market got saturated, and the prior skyrocketing interest slowly died down. Some other popular rabbit breeds slowly emerged and overtook the spotlight from the Belgian Hares.

There’s a major catch. The people who raised the Belgian Hares were able to develop different systems of rabbit housing, standards and tattooing. They founded the highly acclaimed club, ‘American Rabbit Breeders Association’, an organization with more than 23,000 members all over US, Canada and other countries, dedicated to the promotion, development, and improvement of the domestic rabbit and cavy.

Now, let’s try to look at why it was called ‘Belgian Hares’. The reason behind that is that before the breed came to America or even developed in England, it actually originated in Belgium. Belgian Hare is not a true hare, but it was bred to look like a hare. The fanciers chose the production of very long, thin body type, red-chestnut coat, and alert posture – that all make up the characteristics of the rabbit breed that we see today.

2. Appearance and Characteristics

Belgian Hares are large rabbits that weigh around 6-9 lb. Their size should have a say in the type of caging that would fit them best. They mainstay diet is composed of unlimited amounts of fresh hay, fresh fruits and vegetables, a well-balanced dry rabbit mix and a plenty of clean water.

The Belgian Hares can live up to 5 years or more. At 9 months of age, female Belgian Hares can start breeding, and the litter must be born before the doe reaches 1 year. This is due to the fact that after a year old, pelvic bones tend to fuse and the litters will not be born naturally. They should not have any litters after 3 years of age. They can produce large litters in the range of 5-12. Their gestation period is only 28-31 days and on average, they give birth at 30-32 days.

Belgian Hares have one standard color. They commonly appear red in color and have eyes that are hazel-colored. These rabbit hares have a dense and shorthaired coat. They are believed to be the only domestic breed featuring a deep red, rich chestnut color, joined by black ticking of a black wavy or blotchy appearance, which are extended down the sides.

As what I have said earlier, they have a very long and thin body type that has a muscular flank, with a red-chestnut coat. Their arched back has loins, and they have well-rounded hindquarters. They have a long head and a straight tail and its carries along with the backbone. Their forefeet is usually long and fine-boned and perfectly straight. Their hind feet, on the other hand, are long, fine and flat.And they appear large due to their long limbs.

Their posture looks like they are alert all the time. When the Belgian Hares are in proper position, they carry their body entirely off the table, and then standing with limbs extended.

3. Personality and Traits

Belgian hare is quite known for its good temperament, most especially if they are given with enough room and opportunity to exercise, such as when they have big cages. They are most active during morning and night. They’d rather sleep during the day than night.

Despite being categorized as a full-arch breed, along with the English Spot and Tan, the Belgian Hares are not trained to run in the show table. If they are not being evaluated, the judges just let them move naturally. And there are different methods in posing them.

Even if Belgian Hares possess these amazing characteristics and beautiful appearance, they are not ideal for raise by beginning breeders.

The rabbit breed is best known for limited fertility, delicate constitutions and flighty personalities. These suggest that the hares are not suitable for children because of their large size and speed. They don’t make good pets.

And also, for rabbit breeders that raise the rabbit for showing, it takes a lot of time and patience to get them to pose. But if you can do it, you can feel how worth it the reward is. A breeder named Shannon Kelly realized how rewarding it is when her Belgian Hare won the Best in Show at the Louisville ARBA Convention in 2008.

Despite that difficulty in getting them to pose, Belgian Hares are still being distinguished for being one of the most intelligent rabbits. They can be trained to learn their name, making them more intelligent than guinea pigs and hamsters.

And it’s not just that, interestingly, they can also be trained to go to the toilet when they need to defecate or urinate, which makes cleaning a lot easier after. Professional rabbit breeders can get them to do these abilities.

That completes our review of this interesting breed. With the unique history of Belgian Hares and its unique contribution in the formation of ARBA, sure enough, this breed will never be forgotten in the rabbit history.