The Checkered Giant rabbit
In the 1800s in France and Germany, there were large, spotted rabbits. When breeders added Flemish Giants and French Lops, among other breeds, the Checkered Giant got its start. At first, it was a giant-sized rabbit that reminded one of an English Spot, other than its size and the fact it had no butterfly or nose marking. Years of careful breeding resulted in the Checkered Giants gaining the missing butterfly and a very strict set of markings.
The two recognized colors of breed are white with black markings and white with blue markings. Tri-colored rabbits, rabbits with a white base coat and two colors of spots are not recognized by the ARBA, the American Rabbit Breeders Association. The markings on the Checkered Giant are the butterfly on the nose and solid-colored ears. There are side markings which consist of two spots or groups of spots on each side. Cheek spots consist of a single round spot on each cheek.
The eyes should be surrounded by circles of color with no joining of any other marking. The placement of the spots is important in the show ring or selecting breeding stock. They need to be balanced and of an equal proportion. There is a spine marking which is a solid line of color from the base of the ears to the tip of the tail. Aside from the eye circles, the cheek spots and the butterfly, the head should have not other markings. In addition, the legs should have no color at all on any of them. This is a breed that is judged heavily on the correctness of its markings.
The Checkered Giant really is a giant in the rabbit world. It is a six class rabbit under ARBA rabbit show rules. The senior buck has a minimum weight of 11 pounds, while the senior doe weighs in with a minimum of 12 pounds. Senior class rabbits are those over eight months of age in this breed. The intermediate or 6-8 bucks and does are between the age of six to eight months and have a minimum of nine pounds. Junior bucks and does are under the age of six months of age and weigh at least six pounds. Checkered Giants must be shown according to their age and can not be shown in a younger or older age group.
The Checkered Giant is one of the few breeds that have a full arch body type. The others are the Belgian Hare, the Britannia Petite, the English Spot, the Rhinelander and the Tan. With the exception of the Britannia Petite, these breeds are judged while moving. Each rabbit will be placed on the show table and encouraged to move back and forth across in front of the judge. The judge is checking for body confirmation and ease of movement. The Checkered Giant is quite a sight as it moves back and forth. You get the impression of pure energy in its movements.
Cages for this breed should be large enough for the rabbit to move very freely. A solid platform of untreated wood or drywall should be place in the cage as an added preventative measure against sore hocks. Because of the large size of the rabbit, there is a lot of weight on the hocks or feet of the rabbits. It is always preferable to prevent sore hocks than to treat them. Checkered Giants also enjoy having access to a running cage for exercise.
A running cage can be made by using rabbit cage wire to build a cage that is roughly five to six feet long, three feet wide, and three feet high. The rabbits can be rotated into the cage to help develop their hindquarters and keep them in shape. For added benefit for the rabbit, place thin pieces of pvc pipe through the cage for the rabbit to leap over. The pipes should be placed through the wire holes of the cage at intervals of 18 to 24 inches and about six inches off the bottom of the cage. The rabbit doesn’t need to live in the cage and one cage can be used for all of your full arch breeds.
Most breeders do not think this breed a good choice for inexperienced rabbit owners or children. As a rule, Checkered Giants are considered highly temperamental with a tendency to bite. They are known to startle easily and are quite fast if they escape. If you think that you would be interested in the breed, take time to talk to breeders. Visit rabbit shows and listen to the judge as he or she goes through the rabbits and tells what is good or bad about that rabbit. Checkered Giants can be a challenge, but their owners will tell you that they are worth it.