New Zealand Rabbits

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

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

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

New Zealand Rabbit Breed Info

New Zealand Rabbit BreedRecognized colors: Black, Broken, Red, White

Size: 9-12 pounds

National Specialty Club:

New Zealand Rabbit Breed Photo Credit:

New Zealand Rabbit Information and History

Big white meat rabbit.  That’s the first thing that comes to mind when one considers the New Zealand.  True, this rabbit is used in meat production more than any other single breed worldwide.  But like the Californian, this breed also makes a very attractive show animal.  A tip-top New Zealand has no trouble hopping away with Best in Show; one even took home the trophy at the 2011 ARBA Convention, one of the largest rabbit shows in history.

A New Zealand’s body should be long enough to pack in plenty of meat, but not so long as to be out of balance with the depth of body.  Yes, balance is key.  The ears should balance in length with the head and body.  The width should balance with the depth at the shoulders, midsection, and hindquarters.  Flyback fur should be clean and set tightly in the pelt.  A New Zealand should be very firm of flesh.

White is the most valuable variety for commercial purposes, and therefore is the most highly developed, most commonly seen, and most competitive color.  It was not the first variety, however.  New Zealand Reds showed up first, and now black and broken are also recognized.  Blue is on its way to acceptance.

The New Zealand breed emerged here in America.  There’s a story that they came from imported wild rabbits of New Zealand, but that is very likely a myth.  The much more plausible theory is that fawn Flemish Giants were crossed to Belgian Hares, and eventually the New Zealand Red appeared around 1910.  Whites were developed independently, probably by W.S. Preshaw of Rippon, California.  He bred Angoras with white Americans and Flemish Giants to obtain a white rabbit of high commercial value for meat and fur.  There may have been other strains developing as well.

Many breeds were brought from England to America over the years, but this is one that crossed the Atlantic the other direction in 1916 (reds) and 1949 (whites).  Today the British Rabbit Council treats the New Zealand Red as a different breed than the white, blue, and black.   British New Zealands look quite a bit different from the American ones, retaining more of their original type.  Americans have bred them to a deeper and rounder body style.  In both countries, the breed is considered a prime commercial rabbit.  Some breeders report even better success with Californian x New Zealand crosses than with either breed used on its own.

New Zealand Rabbit Care

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

New Zealand Rabbit Resources

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

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