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Belgian Hare

Belgian Hare

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Breed Organizations

American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA)
The British Rabbit Council (BRC)
The House Rabbit Society

Native Country
Other Names
Fur Type
ARBA Registry Accepted:
Ear Type
BRC Registry Accepted:

Breed Appearance
Belgian Hares are a very racy and fine-boned breed of rabbit, with a deep rich red color that has black-waved ticking to the fur. The type and fur qualities are lost when crossed with other breeds. While not considered the hardiest of breeds, they are an active rabbit that typically requires wooden floored hutches heavily bedded with shavings and straw. Belgian Hares do not do well with extremely high humidity or heat. They are fair mothers and litters will average 4 to 8 kits. Youngsters are slow to mature. Mature bucks and does will weigh 6 to 9 lbs.

Breed Description
Body: Long, fine with muscular flank well tucked up. Back distinctly arched with loins and hindquarters well rounded. Head long and fine, chest tight and free from fullness. Tail straight and carried in line with the backbone. Fore feet long, fine in bone and perfectly straight. Hind feet long, fine and flat. (The term 'feet' to mean from the junction of the fore feet to the body and from the toes on the hind feet to the hock joint). General appearance to be graceful and of a racy alert nature.
Color: Rich, deep chestnut red, well extended down the sides. Black ticking of a wavy or blotchy appearance, plentiful on body; chest and face free.
Feet: Color to be solid, free from ticking, pale bars, or blotches.
Ears: Color to match body and to be carried well inside at the edges, deeply laced with black at the tips, approximately 5 inches in length, well set on and sloping backwards.
Coat & Condition: The coat to be of good quality, short and of a stiffish texture. Condition firm in flesh and free from any looseness or ungainliness.
Eyes: Bold and bright with deep hazel iris.

The first Belgian Hares were bred in Belgium in the early 18th century out of selective breeding between domestic and wild European rabbits, with the intent of creating a practical meat rabbit. In 1874, they were imported to England and called the "Belgian Hare." English breeders made the Belgian Hare appear more spirited, like wild English rabbits. By 1877 the first Belgian Hares were shown in America, where it immediately rose in popularity, giving rise to thousands of Belgian Hare clubs around the country, thousands were bred, and some sold for as much as 1,000 US dollars.

The first of these clubs was known as the "American Belgian Hare Association". With a wide and scattered membership the club lasted not much more than a year. In 1897 the "National Belgian Hare Club" was formed. Twelve years after the formation of the National Belgian Hare Club of America, and as additional breeds were introduced in the US, a new "all-breed" club, the "National Pet Stock Association" was formed. After several name changes, the National Pet Stock Association became the American Rabbit Breeders Association As years passed, the National Belgian Hare club of America also passed from existence. In June, 1972, a group of Belgian Hare breeders gathered together to apply for a specialty club charter from the American Rabbit Breeders Association to replace the National Belgian Hare Club of America. In July, 1972, the charter was granted and the last, and most prominent of these groups, the "American Belgian Hare Club" was established, that continues to exist to this day.

In 1917, their popularity began to fade away, and one of the reasons attributed to this decline is the failed attempt by many breeders to turn the Belgian Hare, a naturally race rabbit, into a meat rabbit, a role to which they were physically and behaviourally unsuited. However, today, true Belgian Hares are rare, due partly to the degree of difficulty many have had in breeding them.

The Belgian Hare is one of the most intelligent and energetic rabbits. Rabbits can become trained to learn their name. Due to their active nature and alert temperament, they can very easily be startled by sudden noise or movement, and a recommended practice by owners of this breed is to have a radio constantly playing near them, so they can get used to noise. As a result of their active personality, they have been called "the poor man's racehorse". The Belgian Hare is known to be responsive to handling, particularly when trained from an early age, however, it is recommended that the Belgian Hare should not be handled by children mainly due to their large size and speed that may cause injury. Older children and teenagers usually have the maturity required to care for a rabbit. Rabbits may grunt, lunge and even bite or scratch. Usually they do not bite hard enough to break skin. Rabbits become aggressive when they feel threatened or are cornered.