Harlequin Rabbits

Learn more about the Harlequin Rabbit Breed. Discover cool facts, pictures, resources and find information about caring for Harlequin Rabbits.

This rabbit breed information page is part of our rabbit breeds article series.

Harlequin Rabbit Resource Links: Free Rabbit Breeders Newsletter | Harlequin Rabbit Breed Info | Harlequin Rabbit Information and History | Harlequin Rabbit Care | Harlequin Rabbit Resources

Harlequin Rabbit Breed Info

Harlequin Rabbit BreedRecognized colors: Japanese and Magpie groups  

Size: Ideal weight 7.5 pounds

National Specialty Club:

Harlequin Rabbit Breed Photo Credit: rightpet.com

Harlequin Rabbit Information and History

What a funny looking bunny!  Or wait – is it really a bumblebee?  No, it’s just a Harlequin: a medium-sized rabbit wearing one of the most interesting color patterns in the bunny world.

Color and markings together take up 75 out of 100 points in the Standard, leaving fur with only 15, condition with only 5, and general type with only 10.  Compare this to other marked breeds such as the English Spot which places 38 points on type and 44 on markings, or non-marked breeds such as the Mini Lop which places 80 points on general type.  As a result, body type has been neglected in some Harlequin lines to the point where it can be damaging to the breed’s health and vitality.  The temptation to focus only on markings and color has left some strains of the breed with reduced health and vigor.

The ideal pattern has 5-7 bars or bands of alternating colors on the body.  The face color should be split down the center, and the ears and feet should also alternate colors.  Of course, the perfect pattern is virtually impossible to attain.  Rabbits are judged not only on the alteration of color, but also the definition of the markings and the quality of the color.  The Harlequin breed is split into two color groups, Japanese and Magpie. Both groups have four varieties: black, blue, chocolate, and lilac.   Japanese colors alternate a base variety with orange or fawn, and Magpie colors alternate a base variety with white.

The Harlequin color is found in a few other breeds.  The British Rabbit Council recognizes some of them, but at present the ARBA does not.  One the most beautiful is the Harlequin Dutch – a striking rabbit to look at, but such a challenge to perfect that it will probably never be recognized.  Genetically, the Harlie is a solid version of the tricolored variety that is found in the Rex, Mini Rex, and some lop breeds.  Tri’s throw solid sports; these are called harlequin or brindle, depending on the clarity of the markings.  Though they are useful to a tri breeding program, they cannot be shown.

The Harlequin first appeared in France in the 1880’s and has been known in America since the 1920’s.  The original name for the breed was the Japanese, but that was quickly dropped at the time of the World Wars.  Today the breed captures many people’s attention, but struggles to maintain a following of dedicated breeders.

Harlequin Rabbit Care

Here is a list of resources to help you care for your harlequin rabbits…

Harlequin Rabbit Resources

Here is a listing of harlequin rabbit resources to help you out with your rabbit project…

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