The Belgian is actually a rabbit, although with its long legs and slender body it looks like a hare. It stands with its arched body completely off the ground, giving it a very alert appearance.
History, Temperament, and Common Uses:
Belgian hares helped make the rabbit fancy what it is today. When they were first imported to America from England in 1888, rabbits in America were primarily used to feed the family. The popularity of the Belgians skyrocketed, and Americans became interested in showing rabbits. Rabbit breeders began developing better methods of housing rabbits, breed standards, and tattooing. The club that would eventually become the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) was formed.
The Belgian hare is a beautiful animal, but it may not be suited for beginning rabbit breeders. They may be delicate in health and may not be as fertile as other breeds. Some strains have flighty temperaments, while others are very playful and loving. It pays to research the breed and find out about a breeder’s line before you make a purchase.
Belgians are primarily show rabbits, though they are sometimes kept as pets. They excel in the becoming-popular sports of rabbit hopping and rabbit agility. Their striking appearance makes quite an impression the show table. A Belgian hare owned by Shannon Kelly won Best In Show at the ARBA convention in Louisville in 2008.
The Belgian’s long legs can make it difficult to handle until you are accustomed to it. Because of their build, they are very well suited to rabbit hopping and rabbit agility.
Grooming, Care, and Additional Notes:
Belgian hares have stiff, flyback fur that requires minimal grooming. All you need to do is run slightly moistened hands over the rabbit, following the direction of the fur. This will remove loose hairs and static.
Belgian hares need a quiet place to live without loud noises that could frighten them into a panicked run. They need lots of space to move around. A cage with at least 24″X 48″ floor space and 24″ high is needed for each rabbit. Refer to the breed club for more information on this unique breed.
Belgian Hare At A Glance…
The Belgian hare is only recognized in one standard variety. It is a rich chestnut red, ticked with black. Black ear lacing.
ARBA Body Type:
6 to 9 1/2 pounds.
Important Things to Look for When Buying Show Stock:
Long, narrow body that has a full arch from the shoulders to the tail. Tight, muscled body. Long, narrow head. Thin, erect ears. Large eyes. Long, slender legs. Stiff, flyback fur. Rich color. Even black ticking over back and hips.
Things to Avoid:
Chopped or square look to hindquarters. Broad hips. Blocky head. Thick ears. Short legs. Grayness in coat. Any eye color other than brown is a disqualification. No ticking is a disqualification.