What has huge ears that flop over and are bigger than its head? An English Lop!
It’s sometimes referred to as:
- The lop-eared rabbit,
- The English Lop-eared rabbit,
- The Fawn Lop,
- The ‘King of Fancy’ Rabbit,
- The lazy ‘Dog of the Rabbit World’
- or The Lopsy Bunny
The English Lop Rabbit is an adorable, large-sized rabbit breed with huge floppy ears from England, United Kingdom. It has long ears, with rounded tips, that hang down the side of its head and are so long that they can touch the ground; making the English lop’s ears the longest ears of any breed of rabbit.
An English Lop’s body is long and slender and it has a big head with lovely wide-set eyes that glisten in the light. It was originally bred as a fancy breed of domestic rabbit; ideal for rabbit shows and exhibitions with its beautiful short coat with soft flyback fur (pelt), large and long ears, and a long mandolin shaped body.
The English Lop breed has large litters with up to 12 bunnies. By the time they are 4 months of age their long floppy ears are fully grown.
English Lop bunnies are very friendly with a great personality and make wonderful pet rabbits.
A brief history of the English Lop: a domestic rabbit breed
It is believed that all domesticated rabbits came from a single species; the European Wild Rabbit.
Domestic rabbits have been popular in England, since the 1800s but only appeared in the United States in the early 1900s. Lop-eared rabbits have been represented in drawings in China back in the 1500s and can be dated back to the 1700s in England, which makes it one of the oldest breeds of rabbits.
The English Lop is believed to have been developed in England in the 19th century through selective breeding as a fancy breed; possibly the first breed of lop-eared rabbit ever developed by humans.
It was during the Victorian era, (in England, from 1837-1901, that marked the reign of England’s Queen Victoria) when rabbit breeds became popular and were kept indoors as house rabbits, as people began to realize that they made wonderful pets. Before the Victorian era, fancy rabbit breeds were mainly produced for meat, pelt, wool, or for rabbit shows, but not as pet rabbits.
The English Lop rabbit was a hugely popular rabbit breed at that time, and quite unique, as the first of the Lop breeds. The floppy ears were deemed an attractive and unusual feature in a rabbit breed. Details of the exact origin of this rabbit breed, with its large ears, are vague and some experts think it may even have originated as far away as Algiers, in North Africa or even Asia, many centuries ago.
However, whether lop rabbits originated in Algiers or not, the English Lop is still considered as the original Lop rabbit. It has led the way for cross-breeding with other rabbits to produce new lop breeds; with their classic large ears.
Other Lop varieties developed include:
- The French Lop – a cross between the English Lop and the Flemish Giant (the ancient Butterfly rabbit)
- The Holland Lop – a cross between the English Lop and the French Lop
- The Miniature Lop – a cross between dwarf Holland lops, and the French lop, and then selectively bred in England, finally recognized by the BRC in 1994
The English Lop breed rabbit is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest ears of all breeds of rabbit.
A Lop Rabbit called Nipper’s Geronimo achieved this feat with ears measuring a staggering 31 inches (79cm), at the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ABRA), National Convention in Wichita, Kansas, in the United States, in 2003.
Recognition of the English Lop rabbit breed
The English Lop has been recognized by many rabbit associations and rabbit clubs and must conform to strict standards to be able to participate in specific rabbit shows:
The British Rabbit Council (BRC) in England, United Kingdom
The British Rabbit Council (BRC) was established in 1934 to represent the interests of British rabbit breeders and rabbit enthusiasts. Its aim is still to help protect, develop, and coordinate the interests of all proper rabbit breeders.
English lop rabbits come in a wide variety of colors that meet the standards set out by the BRC. The standard short coat of the English Lop breed can have either a solid color or broken coloring with white markings.
According to BRC, English lop rabbits can be any of the following colors:
- Black, Orange/Fawn
- Black tort
- Agouti/ Opal
- Sooty fawn
- Red-eyes white
- Chinchilla (grey)
American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in America
English Lops arrived in America from England by ship. The breed became popular and was recognized by the ARBA, (formerly known as the National Breeders and Fanciers Association of America), as a new Lop breed of domestic rabbit.
American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) allows for all of the British recognized colors to be shown, in a solid color or broken patterns, except for the ‘pointed whites’ variety. The ARBA also recognizes the following single colors for the English Lop breed:
The ARBA publishes its breed standards in a guide called the Standard of Perfection.
For English Lops, apart from color and patterns, the coat should be soft and short with flyback fur. Its large ears should be furry with a silky feel when touched.
The Lop Rabbit Club of America
The Lop Rabbit Club of America, LRCA, (previously known as the National Lop Rabbit Club of America, established in 1971), represents the interests, standards, and development of the Lop rabbit breed; of which the English Lop breed is one that is represented.
Lop rabbit breeding stock was imported from several European countries including, Holland, Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland in the early 1970s into America.
The American Standard recognized the English Lop and other lop breeds, such as the Holland Lop. Lop breeders worked hard at this time to promote the breed and its popularity increased, in America.
This gene pool of good breeding stock lop rabbits provided a strong base for future generations of Lop rabbits in America; particularly the English Lops, Holland Lops, and French Lops. The official recognized standard for an English Lop rabbit requires a mandolin shaped body, (a semi-arch shaped back), and soft fur on its ears and over the rest of its coat, a big head, and glistening eyes that sparkle on the light.
The English lop is to this day still considered to have the longest ears of any breed of rabbit.
The English Lop rabbit: What does it look like?
The English lop is a large breed rabbit with a body shape like a mandolin, or semi-arch back, and long lop ears (not erect ears).
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 Rabbit
- Semi-Arch – American, Beveren, Flemish Giant, English Lop, Giant Chinchilla
- Compact – Netherland Dwarf, Holland Lop, Mini Rex, American Fuzzy Lop, Mini Lop, English Angora
- Cylindrical – Himalayans
What are the main characteristics of an English Lop rabbit?
The English Lop is a normal breed of rabbit; it is not a dwarf rabbit.
It’s friendly, curious, and quite placid (some would say lazy) which earns it the nickname ‘the dog of the rabbit world’.
This is one of the oldest known lop breeds of rabbit.
It is recognized as having the longest ears of any rabbit breed. In the early days of breeding this lop-eared rabbit, some breeders used to pull the rabbits’ ears to make them longer! Fortunately, animal rights protection laws have put a stop to that cruel cosmetic process for rabbits.
It’s calm and friendly, making it a wonderful pet rabbit as it’s not known to be aggressive.
They became a popular fancy breed rabbit in America for their beautiful and unusual long floppy ears and soft fur. The English Lop breed even earned itself the title of the ‘King of the Fancy’ as it continued to win prizes at rabbit shows.
Intelligence and trainability:
The English Lop rabbit breed is quite intelligent and biddable. It can be taught to recognize its name and come when called for food.
It’s laid-back, affectionate, and enjoys interaction as well as relaxing. It’s a big rabbit and naturally curious so would make a wonderful pet rabbit for children that could understand its ears are delicate and could get injured easily.
It will sit peaceably for a long time having the area behind its ears scratched gently. It needs socialization and handling experience early if it’s to become a family pet or a fancier’s show rabbit.
Today they are mainly bred as show rabbits or home rabbits and make docile companions. They suit indoor conditions more than outdoor living but can survive in either as long as it has a large hutch that’s secure against predators and cold conditions.
The English Lop Does make great mothers, as they are prolific breeders, and produce rich milk, for their large litters.
This is a docile (almost lazy) rabbit breed that’s sociable and non-aggressive.
Physical Characteristics of the English Lop
Size: Large size
Weight: 9-12lb (4-5.4kg) for Male 10-15lb (4.5-6.8kg) for Female
Life expectancy: 5-7 years
Litter size: 6-12 Kittens (Kits)/litter
Coat color: solid or broken pattern in Black, Orange Fawn, Agouti, Opal, Chinchilla, Red-eyed-White, Blue, Blank Tort, White, Sooty Fawn
Coat type: A short coat, that’s soft and silky to touch with flyback fur
It is not hypoallergenic; there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic rabbit.
Ears: English Lop’s ears are long and floppy and hang so low down the side of its face that they can touch the ground.
Temperament: An English Lop is a calm and easy-going rabbit, which makes it an ideal pet rabbit.
Types of training required:
1) Crate – English Lop rabbits need a large 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.
This rabbit is better suited to indoor living with free run-around time. It can adapt to outdoor living but its large hutch must be raised off the ground, no rough edges and secured 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, 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 these nutrient-rich stools in the morning to help 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 ears as they can get in the way which limits its mobility.
Health problems and health issues
This large breed of rabbit is generally healthy but has a shorter life expectancy than many other breeds of rabbit at only 5-7 years, so check 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.
The risks of having overlong ears
The English Lop rabbit (and other lop rabbits) can have additional health issues because of the long length and shape of their ears.
The selective breeding that produced the abnormally long ear length of lop rabbits restricts their agility and mobility and could lead to obesity. Their large ears are too big to be erect, so they flop or lop.
Rabbits’ ears control their body temperature, but as this breed of rabbit has such large ears it needs to protect them from accidental damage, dirt build-up which could lead to infection or a build-up of wax.
Frostbite – This rabbit’s ears are vulnerable to frostbite in very cold or wet conditions, which causes extreme pain.
Head tilt – Head tilt is where the rabbit’s head flops or tilts over to one side, this can be the result of injury, illness, cancer, or a stroke or infection build-up, bacterial, or an infestation. This is serious and needs a Vet to investigate the cause.
It’s common for Lop-eared rabbits to develop infections of the external ear canal (otitis externa). This happens because the shape of the ear canal is narrowed, flattened, and obstructed as the ears are bent over in a Lop position.
Overgrown 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, Chewing hay will help prevent teeth from over-growing.
Overgrown teeth for a rabbit must not be allowed to happen as the teeth 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.
Caring for an English Lop – what’s needed?
Feed as a large-sized rabbit. 70% of a rabbit’s food intake should be from hay, the rest should be formulated quality pellets. 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! Rabbits need access to lots of water. This rabbit’s ears get in the way in many activities, so the water should be in a water bottle, not a crock, to stop the rabbit’s ears getting in the way or wet.
Find out more about what a rabbit can and can’t eat.
An English Lop rabbit has short flyback fur, so it’s low maintenance. It will lick its own paws and clean its face and ears thoroughly. 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
Be careful with their special ears not to allow damage or the development of ear infections or even a build-up of wax. Check their teeth to prevent over-growth, and provide rough food and toys to chew and play with.
Toenails grow quickly and need trimming regularly; as the English Lop cannot risk damaging its precious ears when it is scratching or cleaning itself. A Rabbit’s toenails should not be trimmed past where the white end of the nail meets the pink part!
What’s life like for an English Lop rabbit?
A rabbit is now considered the third most popular domestic pet, after cats and dogs. Their huge floppy ears prohibit certain activities and they will need a big hutch to run around and stretch out in. An English Lops will engage but it’s docile so needs to be stimulated with out-of-hutch time.
Be careful if the rabbit is housed outside, that its large hutch is raised off the ground and sealed, with fine mesh or wire, to protect it from predators and cold weather or damp.
Whether your English Lop rabbit is an indoor or outdoor pet you must ensure it has enough space in its cage to stretch out completely, and not catch its long ears on any part of the hutch materials.
Positives and Negatives of owning an English Lop Rabbit
- Beautiful, unique with very large ears
- Smooth, short, soft flyback fur, easy maintenance
- Popular as a fancy rabbit breed and pet rabbits
- Likes being handled and stroked, but with care
- Sweet-natured and loving, not aggressive
- Very clean and easy to potty train
- Suits indoor or outdoor living
- A rare breed that needs special care because of its large ears
- Large size that needs space in a large hutch
- Will need sufficient stimulation or will bite at cage contents
- Needs lots of exercises to avoid obesity
Commonly Asked Questions:
Q. How much does an English Lop cost?
A. From $75-$125, from a reputable Lop rabbit breeder or specific English Lop 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. ARBA and BRC can help provide information about finding, adopting, or keeping English Lop 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).