ARBA Sanctions Explained

By Laurie Stroupe

 I believe there are a few misconceptions about rabbit show sanctions. Truthfully, I hear little discussion about it. So here goes one.

Sanctioned Breeds

When you see “sanctioned breeds” on a show catalog, what do you think that means? Do you think those are the only rabbits that can be shown? If the show is an ARBA-sanctioned all-breed show, then those breeds listed are the ones that are sanctioned also by the national specialty club. All breeds are sanctioned by ARBA in an ARBA-sanctioned all-breed show.


If you show a rabbit at an ARBA all-breed sanctioned show, you can earn ARBA legs, whether or not the sponsoring club sanctioned your breed through the national specialty club. Legs are an ARBA thing. Grand champion certificates are issued by ARBA. Best in Show certificates are issued by ARBA.

If you want to participate in the national sweepstakes sponsored by your national specialty club, that’s when the breed sanction becomes important. If you want sweepstakes points, or herdsman points, or quality points, you must participate in specialty club sanctioned shows.

Now for your Holland lops, that’s generally not a problem. I’ve never seen an ARBA-sanctioned all-breed show that did not also sanction Hollands with the Holland Lop Rabbit Specialty Club (HLRSC). But many exhibitors show more than one breed. That’s when this information becomes important. And, many of us belong to clubs that sponsor shows. That information is also important for show planning.

If you do not see your breed listed as sanctioned for an ARBA-sanctioned all breed show, here are some things you can do:

   1. If you do not participate in the national sweepstakes or do not think you are ready to be nationally competitive in that breed, just show without the specialty sanction. You can still earn legs if there are at least two other exhibitors and five rabbits. You can still have a chance to compete for the Best in Show award.

   2. Ask the club to sanction your breed. Sometimes a club is not aware of the interest.

   3. Talk to others who show your breed and encourage them to show with you. The more interest there is the more likely a club will be to sanction your breed.

   4. Offer to pay the sanction fee if there are less than x number of entries. That way, if you can get enough interest up, the club would pay just like they do for the other breeds. But if there’s little interest, you are guaranteed to have your breed sanctioned with the national specialty club.

   5. Offer to pay the sanction fee yourself. Find other breeders to share the cost, if necessary. Get involved early enough that your breed can be advertised in the show catalog.

Regardless of your choice, be sure to talk to the sponsoring club early. Not all club sponsors understand the difference in the sanctions and may need a little time to adjust their thinking. And, the show superintendent needs to know about additional breeds to schedule judges’ times so that things run smoothly on the day of the show.

Working Standard Breeds/Varieties

If you wish to show a rabbit that has a working standard but is not yet fully sanctioned, be sure to talk to the show superintendent and/or show secretary early about these entries as well. Even though a show does not have to allow other breeds still working on their first presentation, if you talk with the superintendent early and explain your interest you may be able to enter those rabbits for an unofficial competition and a judge’s feedback. Rabbits shown under working standards may not earn legs or compete for the Best in Show award. 

You must bring a copy of the working standard with you. And you should not show varieties with working standards as part of your sanctioned breed entry. For example, if you want to show a broken satin angora, do not enter it with your other satin angoras. Mark it as an exhibition-only entry to be shown under a working standard.