Flemish Giants (Rabbit Breed Info + Free Care Guide)

The Flemish Giant rabbit is a very large breed of domestic rabbit that originated in Belgium during the 16th century. Standing up to 30 inches tall and weighing over 20 pounds, the Flemish Giant is an impressive animal that requires dedicated care and attention from rabbit owners. While the sheer size of Flemish Giants may intimidate some potential owners, the breed is known for having a docile, friendly temperament that makes them good pets for families with children. Beyond companionship, many rabbit enthusiasts choose to show Flemish Giants competitively for their massive size, proportional body shape, and lustrous fur. Raising healthy, happy Flemish Giants for show or for pets takes knowledge, preparation, and patience.

This comprehensive book provides current and aspiring Flemish Giant owners with all the information needed to successfully acquire, care for, breed, and show this magnificent rabbit breed. Through clear guidance, illustrations, and expert advice, readers will gain the confidence to welcome Flemish Giants into their homes and lives. The following pages cover every aspect of Flemish Giant ownership, from choosing reputable breeders, housing needs, diet and grooming, breeding and kindling, showing techniques, and health considerations. Both experienced rabbit owners and newcomers to the hobby will find invaluable wisdom within this guidebook.

When raised and cared for properly, Flemish Giants can be wonderfully rewarding companions and show rabbits for many years. It is the hope that this book provides readers with the keys to forming a lasting, healthy bond with their Flemish Giant as a pet or show rabbit. The sheer elegance and stunning presence of the breed comes with great responsibility; but for those dedicated to putting in the time, work, and patience required, the Flemish Giant offers immense beauty and joy.

Breed History and Overview

The Flemish Giant as a defined breed traces its origins to the 16th century in the Flanders region of Belgium, where local rabbit breeders worked diligently to produce an unusually large rabbit. The large size was desirable both for meat production and the novelty of having massive yet docile rabbits. Through selective breeding over many generations, the Flemish Giants we know today were refined and stabilized by the late 19th century.

News of the huge Flemish Giants being bred in Belgium generated interest around Europe and the world. The first Flemish Giants were brought over to England in the 1890s and to America in the early 1900s. The breed was officially recognized in the United States in 1915 by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Today, Flemish Giants are bred and raised around the globe. However, Belgium remains the authority on ideal Flemish Giant traits and body type.

At weighing in over 20 pounds, the Flemish Giant is considered a “giant breed”, along with others like the French Lop, the English Lop, and the Giant Chinchilla. No other giants quite match the intimidating size of a healthy adult Flemish Giant buck, which can reach 30 inches long from the tip of its nose to its backend. Despite their hulking bodies, Flemish Giants have a mellow temperament and can be handled easily. This docile nature makes them suitable pets for children and well-suited for the show ring, where judges must examine them thoroughly.

While bred primarily for meat historically, most Flemish Giants today are raised by hobbyists as pets and show rabbits. Their stunning size and appearance attracts attention at rabbit shows, making them a popular show breed. However, caring for their large bodies and long fur requires dedication. This book delves into all aspects of selecting, housing, feeding, grooming, breeding, showing, and health considerations for Flemish Giants. Raising these imposing yet gentle rabbits is deeply rewarding for the properly prepared owner.

Goals of This Book

The primary goal of this book is to empower readers with the complete knowledge and guidance needed to successfully care for Flemish Giants as pets or show rabbits. Too often, newcomers are enchanted by the breed’s size and beauty without understanding the specific care and commitment required. This book will enable prospective owners to make an informed decision about bringing home a Flemish Giant and provide current owners with expert advice on optimal housing, feeding, grooming, health, breeding, and showing.

Within these pages, readers will learn how to:

  • Identify reputable Flemish Giant breeders and select a healthy rabbit with good temperament and conformation
  • Choose an appropriate indoor or outdoor housing setup tailored to the rabbit's size and enriched with proper furnishings
  • Feed a nutritionally balanced diet with the right amounts of hay, pellets, vegetables, and water
  • Establish a grooming routine to keep the coat and skin healthy
  • Recognize signs of illness and know when to seek veterinary help
  • House, feed, and care for does and bucks separately to prevent unwanted litters
  • Breed does and bucks intentionally and provide excellent care during and after kindling
  • Socialize young kits to become well-adjusted adult rabbits
  • Prepare a Flemish Giant for show from the grooming to the judging table
  • And much more…

With dedication to the guidance within this handbook, Flemish Giant owners will form rewarding, lifelong bonds with their rabbits as both Showroom Champions and loyal household companions. There are few experiences as satisfying as raising happy, healthy Flemish Giants from infancy through their senior years. This book will help owners overcome the challenges and savor the joys of the Flemish Giant breed.

An Overview of the Flemish Giant Breed

To fully appreciate the specific needs of Flemish Giants, it is important to understand what makes the breed unique beyond its sheer size. Here is an overview of the breed's general characteristics:

  • Adult size ranges from 14-22 pounds for does, 17-26 pounds for bucks. Exceptionally large rabbits may surpass 30 pounds.

  • Ideal shape is semi-arched and sturdy, with a broad head and thick limbs in proportion to the long trunk.

  • Fur is dense, glossy, and medium in length at around 2 inches. Seen in a wide variety of colors.

  • Lifespan averages 5-7 years, though 8-10 years is not uncommon.

  • Docile temperament ideal for households with children. Does can be territorial.

  • Requires lots of space for exercise and housing. Thrives better outdoors.

  • Eats significant amounts of hay and greens daily to maintain health.

  • Moderate shedding and grooming needs to prevent fur matting.

  • Prone to sore hocks, abscesses, and uterine cancer – health monitoring is key.

The Flemish Giant is a high maintenance breed compared to smaller rabbits, simply due to their sheer size and rapid growth rate. But what they require in dedicated care, they return tenfold in affection and enjoyment as gentle giants. This book will unravel all the intricacies of owning these fabulous rabbits.

Chapter 1 – Selecting Flemish Giants

Choosing the right Flemish Giant rabbit starts with locating responsible, ethical breeders who focus on health and temperament. Buying from breeders who emphasize show traits over welfare often leads to health issues and skittish personalities unsuited for pets. Do your research to find breeders who authentically care about bettering the breed. Build relationships with Flemish Giant enthusiasts in your area who can provide mentorship. Attend rabbit shows to meet breeders and get a sense of the ideal Flemish Giant conformation.

When ready to bring one home, be selective both in the breeder and individual rabbit. Visit the facility in-person to evaluate the operation. Observe the enclosures and the condition of rabbits. Ask questions about breeding practices and bloodlines. Then spend time handling and observing potential rabbits to assess health and temperament. An ideal Flemish Giant has bright eyes, clear nostrils, robust body condition, and relaxed demeanor. Make the choice carefully, as this rabbit may be part of your family for nearly a decade.

Selecting a Reputable Breeder

Finding a responsible, conscientious Flemish Giant breeder is the first critical step. Do diligent online research on breeders in your region. Look for those who have been breeding and showing Flemish Giants for many years and have a reputation for bettering the breed. Avoid breeders who appear to prioritize high sales volume and turnaround over rabbit health.

Reach out to a few potential breeders via email or phone with questions about their rabbitry. Some key questions to ask:

  • How long have you raised Flemish Giants specifically?

  • How many breeding bucks and does are in your facility?

  • Do you focus on show or pet qualities in your breeding program?

  • What specific bloodlines do you focus on developing?

  • May I visit your facility in-person before deciding to buy?

  • What health guarantees or return policies do you offer if issues arise?

  • Do you provide advice and support to new Flemish Giant owners after purchase?

Ideally, the breeder will welcome an in-person visit to their rabbitry before buying. This allows you to inspect the facility for cleanliness, the rabbit's living conditions, and the overall health of their rabbits. Meet the potential parent rabbits of your baby Flemish. A quality operation will gladly show you around.

Finally, ask for references from past clients and contact them. Get firsthand reviews of the breeder's reputation, ethics, rabbit health, and post-purchase support. Check for any complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.

Evaluating Bucks and Does

When browsing a breeder's current litter or upcoming pairings, keep the goals of your Flemish Giant ownership in mind. Think critically about which parent rabbits will produce ideal offspring.

If your primary goal is a high-quality show rabbit, carefully study the breed standard and select parents that excel in areas like body type, fur quality, and proper coloring. For a pet, focus less on show attributes and more on finding even-tempered rabbits. Discuss your needs with the breeder and let them suggest appropriate pairings.

Whether buying young kits, juveniles, or adult rabbits, spend ample time interacting with the individual rabbit. Gently pick it up and handle it, looking for any signs of illness or injury. Check that breathing is quiet and eyes/nose are clear. Run your hands over the coat feeling for parasites or skin issues. Observe as the rabbit moves around the enclosure. It should be mobile and inquisitive at any age.

Ideally, Flemish Giant personalities should be calm and tolerant of handling, even if somewhat skittish at first while adjusting to a new environment. Aggression or extreme shyness is problematic. Spend time petting and holding promising rabbits. Select an individual with an inquisitive yet relaxed demeanor. This temperament assessment is just as important as evaluating physical traits.

Understanding Pedigrees

Reputable breeders will provide a pedigree detailing the ancestral bloodlines of any rabbit purchased. Experienced Flemish Giant owners can look at pedigrees to predict offspring outcomes with reasonable accuracy. The pedigree reveals tendencies toward certain colors, body types, sizes, and health or temperament issues passed down genetically.

However, pedigrees are more useful for selecting parent rabbits for intentional breeding rather than choosing individual pet rabbits. For the beginner, focus less on ancestral details and more on observable traits of the actual rabbit you are taking home. As you gain experience with Flemish Giants, you can delve deeper into inherited traits and bloodlines to refine your breeding program.

Overall, a pedigree gives you confidence that the breeder is intentionally selecting for particular attributes over generations rather than haphazardly breeding. If a breeder does not provide or discuss pedigrees at all, it is worth investigating why. For any quality purebred rabbit, documented ancestry should be available.

Cost Considerations

As one of the larger rabbit breeds requiring substantial amounts of food, Flemish Giants generally have a higher purchase cost than smaller breeds. Average prices range from $50-$150 for young kits, $75-$250 for juveniles, up to $250-$500+ for mature bucks and bred does. Show-quality rabbits with an impressive pedigree sell at the higher end of those ranges.

Factors impacting price include bloodlines, show record, quality of breeder reputation, age, and location. Be wary of unusually cheap offers, as health and temperament are likely compromised. A high upfront cost from an exemplary breeder is well worth it to get a healthy, even-tempered Flemish Giant that will thrive for years.

Transportation is another cost if purchasing from an out-of-state breeder. Air travel in climate controlled cargo areas is safest. Some breeders may deliver rabbits themselves within a certain radius. Always use proper shipping carriers authorized to transport live rabbits.

Chapter 2 – Housing Flemish Giants

Proper housing for Flemish Giants requires ample space for their large size, enrichment to keep them engaged, and protection from temperature extremes. An indoor cage or hutch works well, provided it is roomy enough and kept clean. Outdoor hutches are also suitable in mild climates with shaded protection from heat. Every housing setup should contain clean bedding, litter boxes, hay feeders, toys, and hiding spots tailored specifically for giant breed rabbits.

Flemish Giants can become stressed or prone to health issues without appropriate housing conditions. It takes some preparation and adjustments to make indoor or outdoor enclosures suitably sized, enriched, and comfortable for these large rabbits. But once proper housing is established, Flemish Giants thrive in clean, roomy environments where their natural behaviors can flourish.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Housing

Flemish Giants require lots of exercise room which is easier to accommodate outdoors. But outdoor housing exposes them to temperature extremes, predators, and parasites. Indoor housing provides climate control and security at the expense of limited space. There are advantages to both approaches.

Outdoor hutches allow for spacious enclosures and natural sunlight. But sufficient protection from rain, wind, and drafts is crucial. Hutches should have an enclosed, insulated hutch area large enough for the rabbit to turnaround and lay stretched out. Attach a securely fenced outdoor run for exercise and grazing. Bring rabbits indoors if temperatures drop below 45°F or exceed 80°F. Check for insect infestations or signs of illness daily. Avoid housing outdoors if predators roam.

Indoor cages limit exposure to weather and predators. But housing a 20+ pound rabbit inside takes sizable cages, especially if two or more share space. Flemish Giants confined to small indoor cages long-term often develop behavior problems. Provide daily playtime in rabbit-proofed rooms. Enrich the cage with toys and activities. Offer access to natural sunlight. Monitor temperature and ventilation in the room. Overall, indoor cages require meticulous maintenance and cleaning.

Recommended Cage/Hutch Size

As a giant breed, Flemish Giants need ample housing width and height. Recommended minimum dimensions:

  • Single adult: 60" L x 36" W x 24" H
  • Pair of adults: 8' L x 3' W x 2' H

Giant breeds like Flemish require several more square feet of living space than typical rabbits. Err on the side of more room, not less. Hutches should be tall enough for rabbits to stand fully upright on hind legs without hitting their head. Floor space is key for rabbits who spend much of their day laying down stretched out.

Flemish Giants can be housed together or separately. Opposite sex pairs must be altered to prevent breeding. Never house intact bucks and does together. Monitor any pair for signs of aggression. Separate fighting rabbits immediately to avoid injury.

For outdoor hutches, attach sturdy exercise runs of at least 8' x 4', preferably larger. The more room provided, the better for these active giants. Rotate areas to give them new grazing turf.

Furnishings and Enrichment

Regardless of indoor or outdoor housing, every Flemish Giant environment needs:

  • Plentiful hay in racks to encourage eating
  • Large litter boxes with rabbit-safe litter
  • Hiding boxes/tunnels for privacy and security
  • Chew toys of wood, straw, paper to occupy them
  • Brushes and rocks for grooming fur and hooves
  • Ledges, ramps, tunnels etc to climb on and explore

Monitor furnishings for chewing/destruction and rotate new items in frequently to stave off boredom. Flemish Giants are most content when kept actively engaged. An enriched habitat prevents destructive or aggressive behaviors that arise from stress.

Essentials like Nutrition, Cleaning, and More

Proper nutrition, lighting, temperature, and sanitation are fundamental to housing Flemish Giants successfully. Key considerations include:

  • Keeping housing temperature between 55-75°F to prevent heat or cold stress.

  • Providing adequate ventilation without drafts to reduce airborne illness risks.

  • Letting in natural sunlight while avoiding direct sun which can cause heat stroke.

  • Feeding a hay-focused diet with ample fresh water in clean containers.

  • Following a strict cleaning routine – spot clean daily, full clean 1-2 times per week.

  • Removing soiled bedding promptly to prevent communicable diseases.

  • Monitoring for pests and predators if housing outdoors.

Flemish Giants are sensitive to hot, cold, and unhygienic housing conditions. Attentive owners will notice signs of discomfort and illness early and can correct issues promptly to maintain a healthy habitat. With conscientious daily and weekly care, Flemish Giants thrive in clean, enriched indoor cages or outdoor hutches.

Chapter 3 – Diet and Nutrition

Flemish Giants have specific dietary needs to support their rapid growth and large size. They require a high-fiber diet centered around hay, supplemented with measured amounts of pellets, vegetables, and limited fruits. Clean, unlimited water is also essential. Following proper nutritional guidelines will keep Flemish Giants healthy and prevent obesity and digestive issues.

Understanding the ingredients of a complete rabbit diet along with proportions suitable for giants breeds is key. Feeding inappropriate foods or overfeeding pellets and treats causes health problems. Flemish Giants are prone to obesity which stresses bones, joints, and organs. Establish a wholesome, balanced feeding routine right from the start to ensure a long, healthy life.

Overview of diet components

Here are the main elements of a Flemish Giant diet:

  • Grass hay – 80% of diet. Provides fiber for digestion and healthy teeth. Timithy, orchard, oat, brome hay work well. Offer fresh hay continuously in racks.

  • Leafy greens – 10% of diet. Dark lettuces, spring mixes, kale, parsley, cilantro, broccoli, etc. Provides nutrients and hydration.

  • Pellets – 5% of diet. Alfalfa pellets for young rabbits, timothy pellets for adults. Only 1/4 cup pellets per 5 lbs body weight daily.

  • Fruits – Occasional treat in small portions, not daily. Banana chunks, apple slices, berries. High in natural sugars.

  • Clean water – Unlimited access 24/7. Change water daily. Critical for hydration and digestion. Add electrolytes during heat waves.

  • Appropriate treats – Healthy chews, DIGESTIVE SUPPORT herbs, twigs

The ideal diet will be approximately 80% hay, 10% leafy greens, and 5% pellets. Limit high-sugar fruits to occasional treats. Keep fresh water abundantly available at all times.

Understanding Nutritional Needs by Life Stage

The dietary needs of Flemish Giants vary by age and life stage:

  • Kits 8-12 weeks – Alfalfa hay and pellets provide protein for rapid growth. Unlimited milk from mother. Gradually introduce greens.

  • Young rabbits 3-6 months – Transition from alfalfa to timothy hay and pellets for digestive development. Increase greens.

  • Adolescent 6-12 months – Mostly timothy hay, measured pellets, daily greens. Monitor weight closely, do not overfeed.

  • Adults 12+ months – Majority timothy hay. 1/4 cup pellets per 5 lbs body weight. Generous greens. Lean healthy body condition.

  • Senior rabbits 7+ years – Increased hay and greens may be needed to maintain weight. Add softer, fragrant hays. Reduce treats.

In summary, growing Flemish Giants need alfalfa-based feeds for protein and then should transition to timothy or orchard grass hay as adults. Greens and limited fruits provide additional nutrients. Pellet portions must be carefully measured to avoid obesity. Seniors may need diet adjustments if losing weight. Always feed high-quality ingredients.

The Importance of a Hay-Based Diet

Of all components, grass hay should make up the largest portion of a Flemish Giant's diet at approximately 80%. Hay provides the essential fiber needed for healthy digestion and wear down constantly growing teeth. Hay also satisfies natural grazing behaviors.

Offer a variety of grass hays like timothy, orchard, brome, and oat. Test different textures and aromas and feed the varieties each rabbit prefers. Use racks to keep hay clean and reduce waste. Refill racks multiple times daily so it is always available.

Flemish Giants may consume 6-8 ounces of hay per 5 lbs of body weight daily. Because they eat sizeable amounts, purchase hay in bulk or have it regularly delivered. Monitor chewing and stool habits to ensure adequate hay intake. Insufficient hay leads to digestion issues and malnourishment. Making hay the dietary cornerstone is critical to managing the health of giant breeds long-term.

Pellets, Vegetables, Fruits in Moderation

Commercial pellets provide important nutrients not found in hay, but only small measured amounts are necessary to complement a hay-centered diet. Overfeeding pellets can inhibit hay intake and cause obesity. Limit pellets to 1/4 cup daily per 5 lbs of body weight.

Leafy greens are essential for hydration and nutrition. Offer several cups of various greens daily. Lastly, fruits like berries and bananas make healthy occasional treats, but their high sugar content necessitates modest portions. A varied diet within appropriate proportions keeps Flemish Giants lean and healthy for years. Monitor weight routinely and adjust portions if needed.

Chapter 4 – Grooming and General Care

The large size and long fur coat of Flemish Giants requires diligent grooming and care. A consistent grooming routine prevents the fur from matting and shedding excessively. Proper techniques for brushing, bathing, nail trimming, and sanitizing delicate areas will keep the coat and skin healthy. General care also includes attentive inspections for illness, injuries, or signs of discomfort. Dedicated daily handling and grooming deepens the bond between Flemish Giant and owner.

Flemish Giants welcome gentle handling but their sheer size makes restraint challenging. Use slow movements and soothing voices to gain their trust. Reward them with treats during and after grooming sessions. With time, rabbits associate grooming time with positive attention. A relaxed rabbit will sit still for brushing and nail trims with minimal fuss. Patience and consistency are key to making grooming pleasant for both rabbit and owner.

The Importance of Regular Grooming

The medium-length fur of Flemish Giants requires regular grooming to prevent matted fur, shedding, and skin irritation. Shedding happens year-round and increases seasonally. Without brushing, loose hairs get trapped in the coat while new fur grows in. Matted clumps become uncomfortable and lead to skin overheating.

Aim to brush Flemish Giants at least twice per week. Daily is better during heavy sheds. Work over the entire body using short, gentle strokes. Use a slicker brush to penetrate the undercoat. Follow with a fine tooth comb to catch loose hairs. Give extra attention to the dewlap, hindquarters, and genital region where matting occurs quickly.

In addition to brushing, rub the coat vigorously with hands to dislodge hairs. Pluck out any seriously tangled clumps carefully to avoid pulling skin. Set up “grooming stations” with brushes, rocks, logs, or corner posts for rabbits to self-groom their bodies when out of the cage. Catching shedding early prevents severe matting.

Bathing Basics

Flemish Giants only need occasional baths every 2-3 months if housed indoors. Outdoor rabbits likely need more frequent cleaning. Avoid over-bathing which strips protective oils from the coat. Have supplies ready – shampoo formulated for rabbits, towels, cotton balls, dryer or fan. Carefully lower the rabbit into a few inches of lukewarm water in a sink or tub.

Use a small cup to gently pour water over the coat. Apply a dime-sized amount of rabbit shampoo and work into a lather over the body. Avoid getting water and soap near the eyes, nose, and ears. Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear. Wrap the rabbit in a towel and gently blot fur to absorb moisture. Use a blow dryer on low heat or fan to fully dry the dense coat.

Monitor for signs of stress during baths like rapid breathing or struggle to escape. End the bath promptly if the rabbit becomes fearful or agitated. With frequent positive associations, most Flemish Giants learn to tolerate baths fairly well. Follow up with a brushing once the coat is fully dry.

Trimming Nails Humanely

Flemish Giants have very long, thick nails that require regular trimming. If left untrimmed, nails can painfully twist and prevent the foot from properly touching the ground. Check nails weekly. Trim the tips off when nails extend 1/4 inch beyond the fur line. Just nip off the sharp points carefully.

The safest technique is having someone gently hold the rabbit while another person trims. Hold the foot steady and snip just the very tip of the nail above the pink quick. Cutting into the quick causes bleeding and pain. Use styptic powder and pressure to stop any bleeding promptly. Offer lots of praise and treats afterwards.

With practice and patience, Flemish Giants learn to tolerate short nail trimming sessions. Always trim in small increments over time rather than removing too much length at once. Preventing overgrown nails helps minimize foot problems in giant breeds.

Caring for the Sensitive Areas

Pay close attention to the sanitation and health of a Flemish Giant's backend including the tail, genitals, and scent glands. Soiled fur traps urine and feces leading to skin irritation. Dirty fur also causes embarrassing smells. Monitor the hindquarters daily.

Gently lift the tail and use damp cotton balls to wipe away any urine stains or clumped fur surrounding genitals. Clean the anal opening if soiled. Check for signs of redness or discomfort which may indicate a urinary tract infection needing veterinary attention. Spayed/neutered rabbits have fewer issues as hormones wane.

Flemish Giants also have two scent glands located inside the anus. Gently wipe these clean when needed to reduce odors. Overweight rabbits and unspayed does are prone to soiled backends. With daily attention and proper diet, Flemish Giants maintain clean healthy fur in these delicate areas.

Chapter 5 – Health and Common Issues

Flemish Giants are prone to certain health problems due to their rapid growth and substantial size. Common issues include sore hocks, malformed teeth, uterine cancer in unspayed does, and abscesses. Owners must monitor for signs of illness and be prepared to seek veterinary care when needed. Prevention and early treatment greatly impact the wellbeing of Flemish Giants.

Provide wellness checks every few days looking for any abnormalities. Weigh rabbits monthly to track growth and weight changes. Listen for congested breathing or coughing. Observe eating, drinking, urination, defecation, and activity levels for disruptions. Subtle changes in behavior or appetite can indicate illness before it advances. React to health concerns promptly, as rabbits are very adept at hiding symptoms until an issue becomes serious.

Sore Hocks

Sore hocks refer to open wounds on the back feet caused by ulcerated keratin from pressure and abrasions. Signs include redness, scabs, oozing, and fur loss on the heel. The back feet bear the weight of Flemish Giants as they hop and stand. Dirty cage floors, thin fur pads, obesity, and lack of exercise make them prone to sores.

Prevent sore hocks by using soft bedding, keeping floors clean and dry, placing resting boards in cages, and maintaining a healthy weight. Check feet daily for early redness. Apply antibiotic ointment and wrap wounds to promote healing. Regulate cage time and increase exercise until fully healed. Surgery may be needed for chronic extensive wounds. Untreated sore hocks cause severe pain and mobility impairment.


The large teeth of Flemish Giants can develop misalignments causing serious dental disease. Signs include drooling, mouth wounds, difficulty eating, loss of appetite, and dropping food. Rabbits with malocclusion cannot wear down teeth through normal chewing. Overgrown teeth create sharp points poking into the tongue and mouth.

Severe malocclusion requires a veterinary dentist to file or remove damaged teeth. Milder cases may be managed by offering abundant chew toys to wear down overgrown areas. Provide softer foods if chewing causes obvious pain. Check incisors weekly for alignment and trim down sharp points that develop using sterile clippers. Proper diet and dental care minimizes malocclusions.

Uterine Cancer

Unspayed female Flemish Giants have very high rates of uterine cancer by age four. Early spaying prevents this deadly disease. Signs include bloody urine, straining to urinate or defecate, lethargy, vomiting, and abdominal swelling. Rabbits are experts at hiding illness until cancer has reached advanced stages.

Prevent uterine cancer by scheduling spay surgery for does around 6 months old before the first heat cycle. Beyond prevention, be vigilant for any symptoms of illness in mature unspayed does. Uterine cancer is aggressive so early diagnosis and treatment is critical. Sadly, rates remain problematic despite early spaying. Yearly vet exams help detect cases sooner.


Abscesses are encapsulated pockets of infection occurring when bacteria enters tissue through a wound. Abscesses often form on the face, feet, legs, and shoulders – areas prone to scratches and bites. Signs include firm, swollen lumps that may ooze. Abscesses cause pain, fever, anorexia, and lethargy.

Seeking prompt veterinary drainage and antibiotics gives the best chance of resolving abscesses. Soaking the lump with warm compresses helps bring it to a head. Once open, gently flush with sterile saline twice daily until healed. Prevent abscesses through proper nail trimming and clean housing to avoid scratches. Monitor for bites if housing bonded pairs.

Overall, attentive owners who notice health changes early, seek veterinary guidance, and focus on prevention through proper care and diet will enjoy many healthy years with their Flemish Giants. Patience and partnership with an experienced rabbit-savvy vet provides the best health outcomes. Flemish Giants thrive when owners commit to their wellbeing long-term.

Chapter 6 – Breeding Flemish Giants

Breeding Flemish Giants requires dedication to raising healthy, well-socialized kits. Owners must understand rabbit reproductive anatomy, parenting behaviors, and hands-on care from breeding through weaning. Continuously monitor the buck, doe, and litter for any issues needing intervention. Kits require abundant feeding, gentle handling, and protection in their vulnerable first weeks.

Flemish Giants are prolific breeders, with does kindling 5-10 kits on average. First-time mothers need extra support since giant-breed pregnancies carry risks. Ensure parents are in peak health and condition before attempting litters. Provide an ideal kindling environment including secluded nesting areas, plentiful nutrition, and exercise for the doe. Breed thoughtfully and only if ready for significant hands-on work from breeding through kit placement.

Reproductive Anatomy and Puberty Age

Female and male Flemish Giants reach reproductive maturity between 4-7 months old. Does experience heat cycles recurring every 16 days where they are receptive to breeding. Does exhibit nesting behaviors like digging and gathering materials when hormones peak just before ovulation.

Males are sexually mature and able to breed by 5-6 months but may lack the drive and social skills at this tender age. Wait until bucks are 8-12+ months before using for mating. Some males never gain successful breeding abilities despite physical readiness. Only breed from bucks and does demonstrating natural reproductive behaviors at appropriate ages.

Bucks have obvious external testicles contained in a scrotum. The penis becomes enlarged and visible during mating sessions. Does have an internal uterus and ovaries with just the vulva exteriorly visible. The vulva swells and reddens during heat periods. Monitor genitals when health issues arise as reproductive organs are often affected.

Preparing Buck and Doe for Mating

Before introducing a breeding pair, ensure both rabbits are in optimal condition. Schedule matings during cooler months when fertility rates are higher. The doe should be a healthy weight and on a nutrition plan to support pregnancy and nursing. Some increase exercise a few weeks prior to kindling to tone muscles for labor.

The buck needs nourishment to support sperm production and active mating sessions. House bucks and does separately to prevent unplanned litters. Bring the pair together in a neutral space for breeding. Never introduce a doe to the buck’s territory, as competition can incite aggression.

Observe the rabbits’ interactions. The doe may act wily and make the buck “work” for mating through pursuit and attempted mounts. Monitor breeding attempts for signs of stress in either rabbit. Separate them if aggressive behaviors emerge. Multiple mounts may occur in quick succession when the doe is receptive.

Pregnancy Care and Preparing for Kindling

Pregnancy lasts 28-35 days typically, with larger litters arriving on day 31 or later. Prepare a nest box and secluded kindling area 1-2 weeks before the due date. The box should allow the doe to lay comfortably but prevent kits from wandering away. Line it with soft bedding that permits nest hollowing.

Continue feeding nutrient-rich foods to meet the dietary demands of late pregnancy and nursing. Limit stress and lower protein feed in the final week to avoid kindling complications. Monitor for decreased appetite, nesting behaviors, or lethargy indicating imminent kindling. Does like to kindle overnight, so ensure the nest is ready.

The Kindling Process

Actual kindling takes 1-2 hours from the onset of active labor to birthing the last kit. Does usually kindle lying down, sometimes standing up. Clear mucus signals labor is starting. Kits emerge every 5-15 minutes encased in a membrane they break out of. Does lick kits immediately to clear mucus so they can breathe.

Ensure kindling privacy but stay within earshot in case issues emerge. Kits should nurse quickly after birthing to receive vital antibodies. Collect any deceased kits found away from nest for later removal so the doe keeps nursing surviving young. Contact a vet if active labor exceeds 2 hours without kit progress.

Caring for Newborn Kits

Check the litter once mom finishes active birthing. Count kits, remove any deceased, make sure bellies feel full with milk. Weigh viable kits with a kitchen scale. Record each kit's markings to identify individuals. Expectant does may pull fur to line nests. Offer extra soft bedding if minimal fur pulling occurs.

Kits nurse frequently the first week. Supplement with kitten milk replacer if you notice diminished weight, dehydration, weakness, or crying that signals undernourishment. Does may ignore or shun weaker, deformed, or dead kits.

Handle newborn kits minimally. Do not remove for petting without returning quickly. Moving the nest risks maternal rejection. Kits open eyes around 7-10 days and are mobile by 2-3 weeks old. Focus care on ensuring the doe nurses frequently to satisfy all hungry young.

Weaning and Socializing

Wean kits between 8-12 weeks old. Provide pelleted feed and alfalfa hay at 5 weeks so kits start nibbling solids. Around week 6, begin offering greens and a water dish separate from the mother. By 8 weeks, kits should readily eat solid foods away from the doe.

Move weaned kits into their own enclosure by 12 weeks. Same sex siblings can stay together if bonded. Kits benefit from staying with mother longer, but prevent any inbreeding once sexually mature. Gently handle kits from a young age so they become comfortable with people. Well-socialized kits make friendly, trainable companion rabbits.

Determine if any offspring will be kept for breeding, showing, or as pets. Vet prospective homes thoroughly and turn away any with unprepared or questionable environments. Require spay/neuter of rabbits not kept for breeding. Send weaned kits to new homes between 10-12 weeks once eating solidly on their own.

Chapter 7 – Showing Flemish Giants

Showing Flemish Giants provides opportunities to share your prized rabbits, connect with fellow breed enthusiasts, and compete for awards. Attending shows takes preparation and an understanding of judging procedures, breed standards, and proper show ring etiquette. Ensure your rabbit is well-socialized and accustomed to handling, travel, and crowds before attempting a show.

Locate upcoming American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) sanctioned shows in your state and region. Shows range from small contests at county fairs to huge conventions. Read show rules thoroughly and register rabbits in the correct breed, age, and sex categories. Prepare all needed supplies for show day including carriers, grooming tools, veterinary paperwork, and recordkeeping materials.

The experience, camaraderie, and competitive spirit at rabbit shows make the demands of competing very rewarding. Flemish Giants capture attention with their massive frames and patient demeanors. While intimidating to newcomers, showing any rabbit breed becomes easier with experience. Follow the guidance in this chapter to successfully display your Flemish Giants on the judging table.

Show Requirements and Registration

All rabbits entering competition must meet health requirements including cleanliness, grooming, nail trimming, and disease testing set forth by ARBA and the specific show. Have your veterinarian verify your rabbit is in satisfactory condition for exhibition well in advance. Transport rabbits in secure, climate controlled carriers to reduce stress.

Upon arriving, submit required veterinary paperwork and show registrations. Register each rabbit in the proper breed, age group, and sex categories. Common groups include junior buck (6-8 months), senior buck, junior doe, and senior doe. There may be just one or two Flemish Giants at small shows, while bigger contests have 20+ in each category competing.

Familiarize yourself with the show schedule, rules, judging procedures, and protest policies. Locate the staging area to acclimate rabbits before their categories begin. Carefully label cages with rabbit info, water bowls, and feed. Avoid placing unneutered bucks and does near each other to prevent distractions.

Grooming for Perfection

In the weeks leading up to a show, increase your Flemish Giant's grooming regimen. Judges run hands over the entire body checking for ideal coat texture, length, and grooming. Use conditioners if fur feels dry or brittle. Check for any lingering mats which take time to gently brush out. Use whitening shampoo formulated for rabbits to brighten coats.

The day before the show, clip nails if needed for a uniform length. Clean the ears, genitals, anal area, and feet. Spritz coats lightly with oil sheen spray for added luster. Administer probiotics to support intestinal health if stress alters digestion. Transport groomed rabbits in clean carriers with minimal bedding to avoid dirtying fur.

At the show, do final touch ups to fur, whiskers, nails, etc right before judging. Use a lint roller on coats. Refresh water and feed so the rabbit is comfortable awaiting its time on the table. Stay nearby your rabbit’s staging cage to answer any questions from judges or officials.

Show Time Fundamentals

When your category is called, have your rabbit ready to carry gently to the judging tables. Set rabbits on the tables as directed so judges can methodically evaluate each one. Step away but stay close in case you must retrieve your rabbit once judged.

Judges will handle each rabbit extensively, looking at body condition, fur, ears, eyes, limbs, and more. Flemish Giants must allow this prolonged handling without fuss. Judges also consider overall health, grooming, temperament, and adherence to the ARBA breed standard for ideal features.

It is inappropriate to converse with judges during the contest. Allow them to work uninterrupted. After individually assessing each rabbit, the judges confer and decide category placements. Listen carefully for your name and rabbit’s call name if announced for a top placement. Collect your rabbit once dismissed.

After the Individual Judging

Remain at the show through all categories to see how your rabbit placed among the entire breed. Top rabbits in each age/sex category return for additional judging to determine the Best in Breed winner. This champion then competes for overall Best in Show across all breeds. Place ribbons on empty cages to display wins, if allowed by the show.

Shows often have a marketplace area where you can sell quality rabbits to other breeders or buyers seeking show or pet rabbits. Take notes on successful bloodlines you see at the show. Network with fellow Flemish Giant devotees. Volunteer to help clean up once the festivities conclude. Attending shows is tiring but highly educational for improving your own breeding and handling skills.


Raising happy, healthy Flemish Giant rabbits as pets and show rabbits is an intensely rewarding hobby when done properly. However, these imposing yet docile rabbits require significant time, effort, expense, and dedication from their owners. Flemish Giants have specific care needs far beyond typical small rabbit breeds due to their large size and rapid growth. Educating yourself thoroughly before welcoming your first Flemish Giant is critical.

Within this detailed guide, current and aspiring owners now have the comprehensive knowledge needed to make the monumental commitment to these fabulous rabbits. Follow the guidance provided on choosing reputable breeders, preparing their housing, feeding nutritious diets, maintaining their health, reproduction, showing, and everything in between. While demanding at times, the extraordinary beauty and companionship of Flemish Giants outweighs the extra needs of their care.

Summarizing Key Considerations

To recap, here are the most vital points to remember about successfully raising Flemish Giant rabbits:

  • Find an ethical, experienced breeder and evaluate pedigrees, facilities, and temperament before purchasing
  • House Flemish Giants in very large, enriching indoor or outdoor enclosures with ample exercise room
  • Feed a diet composed of 80% hay, 10% greens, 5% pellets, and unlimited water
  • Groom two times per week and check nails, feet, genitals, and rear daily for issues
  • Spay/neuter all rabbits not intended for thoughtful, selective breeding
  • Socialize kits extensively through 12 weeks for friendly adult temperaments
  • Show quality specimens at ARBA-sanctioned rabbit shows after thorough preparation
  • Monitor carefully for illness and understand common health issues in the breed
  • Enrich care routines and surroundings to keep these active, intelligent rabbits engaged

Following the guidelines throughout this book will help readers avoid common pitfalls and problems that plague many well-intentioned but underprepared owners. Flemish Giants require the very best care, veterinary support, nutrition, and socialization from birth through their senior years. Do not undertake this endeavor lightly. But for those with the resources and dedication to commit fully to raising them conscientiously, Flemish Giants return the investment exponentially in delightful companionship for years to come.

Importance of Dedication and Patience

Perhaps the most crucial prerequisites for Flemish Giant ownership are exceptional patience and unwavering dedication to their lifelong care. These docile, affectionate giants deserve attentive owners who put in the tremendous time and effort necessary to keep them healthy and content. Flemish Giants thrive when responsibly bred and thoughtfully placed in homes ready for their massive appetites, exercise needs, and decade-long lifespans.

Many underestimate the obligations of giant breed ownership until issues arise due to lack of preparation. Flemish Giants require stable, consistent housing and nutrition over their long lives – bouncing between homes or inadequate care may lead to emotional and physical problems. Take an honest self-assessment before committing to this breed. Providing the best lives possible for the rabbits must take precedence over personal enjoyment.

If prospective owners possess the requisite knowledge, resources, time, and dedication, Flemish Giants make profoundly rewarding companions. There are few endeavors as satisfying as nurturing these gentle giants from newborns into their senior years. Realistically assess the sacrifices required, and if in alignment, open your heart and home to the uniquely fulfilling experience of sharing life with Flemish Giants.

The Joys of Flemish Giant Companionship

The observant, sensitive nature of Flemish Giants enables deep bonds to develop between rabbit and owner. Their peaceful temperaments and affection for their people bring immense joy. For those who invest the time interacting with and understanding these imposing yet mild-mannered rabbits, a soulful relationship unfolds that is difficult to articulate.

There is something special about being trusted by an animal that weighs over 20 pounds but chooses gentleness and nuzzled kisses instead. As herd creatures, Flemish Giants crave connection. Shower them with patience, empathy and care – in return, receive the unconditional devotion and delight that only giant rabbit companionship can provide. Not everyone can commit to properly raising them, but for those who take up the challenge, the payoff is a truly extraordinary friendship spanning years.

Owning Flemish Giants is incredibly demanding, yet equally rewarding if done with diligence, passion and love. There is perhaps no rabbit more magnificent than a healthy, content Flemish Giant buck or doe. By providing the best possible care outlined in this book, owners will bask in the reflected glory of their happy rabbit's thundering presence. Here's to many prosperous years shared with these most fabulous of giant breeds – the Flemish Giant!