Flemish Giant rabbits
The Flemish Giant is the largest breed of rabbit in the world today. Known to be gentle giants, they weigh a minimum of five kg and can live into their teens, although five is the average age.
The Flemish Giant, as it’s name implies, comes from the Flemish area of Belgium and was known to be in existence as early as the 16th century. The breed is thought to the product of union between the Steenkonjin (Stone – referring to a weight – Rabbit) and a European breed of Patagonian rabbit (not actually from Patagonia) which is now extinct. These two breeds were meat and fur animals and already bred to be large. Unsurprising, the offspring verged on the enormous. Breed standards for the Flemish Giant were first recorded in the 1800s and it is favoured today for its great size and variety of colours.
Flemish Giants have what is known as a ‘mandolin’ shape, the arch of their back beginning at the back of the shoulders and leading to the base of the tail. They are a muscular breed with large rear ends. Males have much larger heads than females and the females may have what is known as a dewlap under the chin.
Their fur is thick and shiny and will easily return to its normal state even when brushed backward. The Flemish Giant has a standard of seven fur colours – blue, black, sandy, light grey, steel grey, fawn and white. The average weight for the breed is around 14-15 lbs but they can get up to 22 lbs and more.
The breed is split into six different classes for showing purposes. Three classes for bucks (males) and three for does (females). The classes are Junior – Bucks and does under six months – Intermediate – Bucks and does six to eight months and Senior bucks and does of eight months and over. The minimum show weight for Senior bucks and does is 13 and 14 lbs respectively.
These are very large rabbits and they require a lot of room. It is often recommended that the rabbits are kept inside the home, either in a very large pen or in rooms set aside for the purpose. A minimum cage size of 30 x 48 inches is expected, but the larger the better. This also depends on the size of the individual rabbit. If buying a Flemish Giant it should be a given that they will require a larger than average cage.
Flemish Giants are known for being docile and accepting of handling. Rabbits are by nature clean when it comes to toileting and will choose one particular spot to use as their personal toilet. This makes it easy to keep them inside as pets.
These gentle giants have their own national federation. Formed in 1915 by four breeders in Denver, Colorado, the National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders (NFFGRB) is still going strong and, in these modern electronic times, they have their own website which can be found at this link.
The site covers the history of the federation, advice and articles about choosing, showing, buying and breeding Flemish Giants, pictures of these gorgeous bunnies, show results, youth news and much more. If you fancy a Flemish, this is the place to get all your information.