Animals are not usually blue in color, especially rabbits. But, if you imagine a Blue Rabbit what would it look like?The American Blue!
It’s sometimes referred to as:
- The American Blue Rabbit,
- American Blue,
- The American White Rabbit,
- American White,
- The Blue American,
- The White American,
- The German Blue Vienna,
- The Pasadena Blue Rabbit,
- The Mandolin-shaped Rabbit
- True Blue Rabbit
The American Rabbit is a mellow and friendly, medium-size breed of rabbit.
It’s now considered one of the rarest breeds of rabbit and has been used for rabbit breeding purposes to develop many other well-known rabbit breeds.
There are two varieties of the American Rabbit – Blue and White – the American Blue and the American White Rabbit; both are sweet, but hardy, and have an amazing mandolin body shape (like a semi arch).
The American Rabbit was originally bred for its beautiful solid color fur (pelt) and for meat production and is recognized by the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association (ARBA), in the United States. Baby American Rabbits are born in large litters.
The American bunny has erect ears, not lops, and makes a lovable pet rabbit.
A brief history of the American Rabbit: a domestic rabbit breed
Domestic rabbits only became popular in the United States in the early 1900s. It is believed that all domesticated rabbits came from a single species; the European Rabbit. Within rabbit breeding communities in North America, blue breeds of rabbits were always of interest. Many rabbit breeders attempted to create a perfect blue color coat.
In 1917, an American rabbit breeder, Lewis Hammond Salisbury (known as Lewis h. Salisbury), in Pasadena, California was credited with developing a multi-purpose blue rabbit with a dark slate blue tone for fur and meat production.
It was difficult, as some were produced with brown patches and others had white hairs throughout the coat, but eventually, he produced his blue standard of perfection.
This new breed of rabbit was considered the best version of an American Blue rabbit and was originally named the German Blue Vienna Rabbit. It was quickly recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, ARBA, (formerly known as the National Breeders and Fanciers Association of America), in 1918, as a new breed of domestic rabbit.
The ARBA publishes its breed standards in a guide called the Standard of Perfection.
The American rabbit was awarded an official standard for its mandolin body shape (a semi-arch shaped back), and exceptional dark-blue fur (pelt).
Lewis h. Salisbury kept details of the actual bloodline of this blue rabbit, developed in Pasadena, his secret.
However, from its coloring, coat, and shape, it was believed that created it by mixing Blue Vienna Rabbits, Beveren Rabbits, Blue Imperial rabbits*, and the Flemish Giant Rabbit.
FACT: The Imperial breed of rabbit (including the blue imperial) is now extinct!
This American bred rabbit originally was named the German Blue Vienna, however after World War I, there were sensitivities using ‘German’ as a description, so it was renamed to reflect where it had been developed, and the color; American Blue
The ARBA standard recognizes the mandolin body shape (or semi-arch shape) and a long loin, not the more common ‘commercial’ or rounded shape typical of good quality meat production rabbits like the Californian rabbit, New Zealand rabbit, French Lop or French Angora.
It became known simply as The American Rabbit breed, in two varieties – Blue and White; the American Blue Rabbit and the American White Rabbit.
The Blue Variety
The blue coat color, which should be – uniform and rich, in a dark slate blue tone and free from white hairs, sandy or rust color.
The Blue American is still considered to have the darkest and deepest rich blue coat color of all the blue and grey breeds of rabbit.
The white variety
Salisbury then developed a white variety of the American rabbit breed.
Again the actual mix was kept a secret but he probably selected white-colored ‘sports’ rabbits from the litters (Sports is a term used when a rabbit is not true to the characteristics of the breed, like a mutant), and mixed them with White Flemish Giant rabbits (a red-eyed, albino)
FACT: The Albino variety of rabbits is known as a ‘red-eyed white’, as all albino rabbits lack pigment in their hair they are always a white color, and their eyes are red-colored.
In 1925, the white variety with red-eyes named the American White Rabbit was recognized by the ARBA.
Some blue-eyed whites do appear in litters but they are considered ‘sports’ in the American Rabbit breed of rabbit and are not permitted to be shown. The blue eye color is not an ARBA standard color for this American breed of rabbit.
It is argued that the American Rabbit is the oldest breed of rabbit developed in the US, but others challenge this and say that the New Zealand Red may predate it.
How did the American rabbit breed develop? – What happened next?
The American Rabbit is a hardy breed but a rare breed according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC).
It was popular up until the 1950s and was regularly listed in the top 6 most popular breeds for fur and meat production.
However, importation of more commercial rabbit breeds increases, such as the Californian Rabbit and the New Zealand Rabbit breeds, forcing the popularity of the American Rabbit into decline.
This coincided with the collapse of the domestic fur trade in the United States, and the American rabbit breed was then ignored for commercial breeding.
A rare breed
By the 1980s, the population of the America Rabbit had reduced to the point it was considered a rare breed.
Numbers of the white variety of the American Rabbit fell away considerably and as it was not being presented at the annual ARBA conventions, it was dropped from the ARBA active list in 2004.
In 2005, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy added the American Rabbit to its ‘critical’ category.
American rabbit breeders then made a dedicated effort to ship breeding stock of this rare breed, across North America in an attempt to rescue the decline of the breed.
A White line of American rabbits was then discovered in a ‘Hutterite’ Brethren community in Alberta, in Canada, which added to the population numbers.
With numbers on the increase, the American Rabbit breed was downgraded from the ALBC ‘Critical’ category to the less endangered category ‘Threatened’.
Double meaning of the name ‘American’ Rabbit
The term ‘American’ is also used to refer to a ‘mutt’ or ‘mixed-breed’ rabbit. In the same way, you would refer to a ‘mongrel’ dog, some refer to this type of rabbit as an ‘American’.
FACT: Randomly mixing two breeds to create a litter of mixed ‘mutt’ rabbits is not recommended outside of proper breeding programs as it could create numerous health problems.
This can be confusing as The American Rabbit is a name officially recognized by the ARBA as a particular breed of rabbit.
The American rabbit had competition from:
- New Zealand rabbit
- Californian rabbit (one of the most common meat producing rabbit breeds, a bigger and meatier version)
- Other White rabbit breeds
There were other white rabbits imported into North America by the 1920s that were in competition with the White American; like the White Hotot a French medium-sized rabbit that’s compact, thickset, and white in color with spectacle-like black rings around each dark eye.
There is also a Dwarf Hotot breed of domestic rabbit.
The American rabbit appearance: What does it look like?
There are two recognized varieties of the American rabbit -the Blue and White. It is also possible to find a black colored American rabbit but this color is not recognized by the ARBA.
The American rabbit is medium-sized and has a body shape like a mandolin, or semi-arch back and erect ears (not lop ears).
The American Fuzzy lop breed is a different breed with lop ears and sometimes confused with the American Rabbit.
FACT: Rabbits can be classified into different categories. One category is Body type. There are 5 body types:
- Commercial – Californians, New Zealand, Palomino, French Lop, Rex, French Angora
- Full Arch – English Spot, Checkered Giant, Belgian Hare, Tan
- Semi-Arch – American, Beveren, Flemish Giant, English Lop, Giant Chinchilla
- Compact – Netherland Dwarf, Mini Rex, American Fuzzy Lop, Mini Lop, English Angora
- Cylindrical – Himalayans
The American rabbit has a long loin but doesn’t have the commercial shape of top production breeds like the Californian rabbit or New Zealand rabbit.
The white rabbit variety usually has red-eyes (albino-type), but sometimes blue.
What are the main characteristics?
The American rabbit is a normal breed of rabbit; it is not a dwarf rabbit.
An American rabbit is friendly and laid-back, which makes it suitable to be handled and stroked by even a novice owner.
This is one of the oldest known breeds of rabbits in the United States.
It is now considered one of the rarest rabbit breeds, listed as a ‘threatened breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
It’s calm and friendly, making it an ideal pet rabbit as it’s not known to be aggressive.
They became popular in America for their beautiful blue fur. However, as more commercial meat and fur rabbits were imported they had competition. The demise of the fur trade reduced their popularity for pelt.
Intelligence and trainability:
The American rabbit breed is quite intelligent, friendly, and biddable.
This breed of rabbit is friendly and likes human interaction so it will make an ideal pet rabbit for gentle children.
It is important to socialize it early and get it used to being handled if it’s to be a family pet or even used as a fancier’s show rabbit.
Today they are mainly bred as show rabbits or home rabbits and make wonderful gentle-natured pets. They suit both indoor and outdoor living but in proper secure hutches. The American Does make good mothers.
This is a laid-back rabbit breed that is low maintenance and not aggressive.
Remember rabbits are natural prey animals with acute senses and ever watchful for potential predators, and easily startled by sudden noises or unexpected movements; this may cause them to become skittish.
Physical Characteristics of the American Rabbit
Size: Medium to Large
Weight: 8.8-12lb (4-5.4kg) for male 10-12lb (4.4-5.5kg) for female
Life expectancy: 8-12 years
Litter size: around 6+ Kittens (Kits)/litter
Coat color: Blue and White, occasionally Black, always a solid color
Coat type: A short, smooth but dense, silky feel coat, with flyback fur
It is not hypoallergenic; there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic rabbit.
Ears: upright ears like the majority of all rabbit breeds, not lop ears.
Eye Color: red-eyes, occasionally pink or blue eyes
An American rabbit is a very calm and easy-going rabbit, which makes it an ideal pet rabbit. It’s friendly when socialized early. It is not known to be aggressive.
Types of training required:
1) Crate – All rabbits need a hutch or cage to live in. It is important to get your rabbit used to going into its hutch as it will become its nest and it will sleep there and just hang out in there to relax.
You will have to lock the hutch in the early days so it knows it is supposed to live and sleep in there and it will also be a useful experience should you ever need to transport your pet.
This rabbit is suited to outdoor or indoor living, with a suitable hutch for each. If mainly living outdoors the hutch must be raised off the ground, with no rough edges and secure to protect it from possible predators.
2) Potty training – This rabbit is moderately easy to potty train. You will need to start early and take the rabbit and its droppings back to the cage or hutch each time and put the droppings on the litter shavings, or in a litter box, each time so it will recognize the place to go by odor and habit.
FACT: A Rabbit may produce slightly softer-type stools overnight and it will then eat them in the morning to help with its digestion. This is not pleasant to watch but it is perfectly normal.
Any hutch or cage should be cleaned out at least once a week, with litter shavings and hay replaced regularly and fresh food and clean water provided daily.
3) Walking on a leash – believe it or not, you can actually buy rabbit leashes and teach your rabbit to go for a walk with you. Not too far though and be careful of its paws when very young, or on the hot ground.
Health problems and health issues
This medium breed of rabbit is generally quite healthy, but it has a longer life expectancy than many other breeds of rabbit at around 8-12 years, but it needs to be checked regularly to prevent:
Flystrike – Flystrike (also known as Myiasis) occurs when a fly lands on a rabbit’s skin and lays their eggs in the rabbit’s skin (usually around a dirty bottom, wet fur, or a wound).
These eggs hatch quickly and the maggots then chew their way into the rabbit’s skin. This can happen within hours and become fatal.
Teeth – A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing so it is very important that it has enough hay to gnaw on. 70% of the rabbit’s food intake should come from hay and chewing hay will help keep the teeth from over-growing.
A rabbit’s teeth must not be allowed to grow too long as they can grow into their jaws and face. This can be both painful and prevent them from eating properly. Overgrown teeth must be filed down by a Vet.
Rabbits need to eat regularly and stay hydrated so make sure there is enough clean water, food, and shade available in the rabbit hutch.
Caring for an American rabbit – what’s needed?
Feed as a medium-sized rabbit. 70% of a rabbit’s food intake should be from hay, the rest should be formulated rabbit food.
The amount you should feed your rabbit will depend on its weight and energy level; add some leafy green vegetables into the diet too.
Do not give your rabbit iceberg lettuce as it has too much Lanandum which can be dangerous to eat or sugary foods!
An American rabbit has short flyback fur, so it’s low maintenance. It will shed more during the spring and fall seasons and will therefore need to be brushed more regularly until the shedding slows again.
It will lick its own paws and clean its face and ears thoroughly and then display some interesting stretches to clean the rest of its body. Rabbits are by nature very clean animals.
FACT: When a rabbit rubs its face and whiskers for you to see it means it feels at home where it is.
Check around the rabbit’s bottom regularly to make sure it has does not have flystrike evidence.
Tick and flea repellents are available for rabbits that mainly live outside to protect it against bites.
There are a variety of soft and wire hair-brushes which will help keep your bunny’s shed under control. (Best check out what’s recommended on Google or Amazon or Wikipedia for further facts.)
Remember, do not bathe a rabbit, it’s too stressful for them. They will self-clean their fur.
Cleaning teeth, nails, and ears
Check their teeth to prevent over-growth, by making sure they have enough rough food and toys to chew and play with.
Nails grow quickly and need to be trimmed regularly. If this breed of rabbit is allowed to run around, especially in a large enclosed area outside, they will wear their nails down slightly. If not they need to be checked, say once a month for length and infection.
A Rabbit’s nails should not be trimmed past where the white end of the nail meets the pink part!
Despite the rabbit regularly cleaning its own ears, their ears still need to be checked for dirt build-up, mites or infection regularly, especially if they are kept outdoors.
What’s life like for an American rabbit?
An American rabbit that is kept as a house pet will be gentle and easy-going. It is suitable for any experience or rabbit owner.
It is friendly but not overly active and needs to be stimulated; otherwise, it may run about its hutch in frustration if it lacks something interesting to do.
Be careful if the rabbit is housed outside, that the hutch or cage is raised off the ground and sealed with fine mesh or wire to protect it from predators.
Whether your American rabbit is an indoor or outdoor pet you must ensure it has enough space in its cage to stretch out completely, stand up, rest, or sleep, and enough room to keep its food away from where it sleeps or its litter box.
Positives and Negatives of ownership
- Beautiful smooth and soft fur, easy maintenance
- Popular as pet rabbits
- Likes being handled and stroked
- Sweet-natured and loving, not aggressive
- Very clean and easy to potty train
- Suits indoor or outdoor living
- A rare breed now endangered
- Large size, no longer very popular
- Will need sufficient stimulation or will bite at cage contents
- Needs lots of exercises and a large enclosure to roam in
Commonly Asked Questions:
Q. How much does an American rabbit cost?
A. From $25-$100, from a reputable American rabbit breeder
Do your research before you buy and check the breeder or seller, its health history, and any characteristics that might give cause for concern. The American Rabbit Breeders Association can help with any information about finding, adopting, or keeping American rabbits.
Food and litter material will cost around $20-25 per month, plus Vets fees, vaccinations, and accessories all need to be factored into the cost of owning your rabbit. Then factor in accessories, toys, vets bills, and care products. (Check Wikipedia for training and stimulation tips).