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.
History 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.
Behavior 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.