Posted in: Animal News

Lionhead Rabbits Growing In Popularity, Still Not Recognized By Breeders Association

lionhead rabbits

Lionhead rabbits may not be recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association just yet but that doesn’t mean that the animal isn’t growing in popularity. A recent bunny beauty contest in Shelbyville, Indiana, featured several Lionheads.

The 2013 Shelby County Fair’s 4-H Rabbit Show featured five different breeds including a couple of Lionhead rabbits.

According to, the unique breed is already a recognized breed in England but it has not been formerly recognized by the ARBA. The bunny can be shown at ARBA shows but the rabbit is not eligible for the Best In Show award. That could change soon, however, as several animal owners are pressuring the ARBA to recognize the lionhead.

There are currently 14 COD varieties but only 2 are allowed in presentations. Most contests will allow all varieties, however, since Lionhead rabbits are becoming so popular. writes: “At this time, ARBA sanctioned shows are only required to accept Lionhead entries in the 2 varieties which have passed presentation (Tortoise & REW), however most shows continue to allow all COD varieties due to the breed’s enormous popularity.”

The ARBA will take another look at the breed this October at a convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Here’s a video about the breed.

The Lionhead Rabbit first appeared in Belgium after breeders tried to cross a long coated dwarf rabbit, a miniature Swiss Fox, and a Belgian dwarf. A genetic mutation occurred and the Lionhead, with a fluffy wool mane around its head, was born.

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16 Responses to “Lionhead Rabbits Growing In Popularity, Still Not Recognized By Breeders Association”

  1. Anonymous

    TERRIBLE AWFUL DEADLY ARTICLE! I'm no vegetarian hippie, but I do know quite a bit about animal rescue, especially rabbits (I have four – all of whom were abandoned because rabbits aren't great pets). When irresponsible articles like this fail to mention the true challenges of having a pet rabbit, here's what happens: well-intentioned folks purchase a super-cute bunny rabbit but then soon see its a one-trick pony (so to speak), who reallly just eats, pees, and poops. So then the rabbit lives outside by itself, because most folks don't know how to bond multiple rabbits together (and they'll literally kill each other when not properly introduced). The lonely rabbit then spends the rest of its days in isolation and fear (rabbits are prey animals who constantly feel vulnerable). Many die from pure fear or simple neglect. In fact, the majority of rabbits purchased in a pet store will die lonely and painful deaths. And this is from a guy who loves his steak and dislikes PETA. But its articles like this that are really bad. Seriously: this author just condemned many lion-head rabbits to a painful existence.

  2. Crystal Dymock Farmer

    I couldn't have said it better. I adopt rescue guinea pigs and I know the challenge trying to educate people on small animals and rescues. Most of the time it just boils down to people not caring. People like to base worth on size and it's so sad. Guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, etc. are seen as disposable pets because of their size. But most people would make someone feel like a monster if they neglected a great dane. Having a Lionhead recognized by a breeders association will just make the death rate higher for these poor rabbits.

  3. Mark Trent

    As a animal rescue supporter/volunteer with many years of experience in rabbits and other exotic animals, I recommend to all reading this "PLEASE DO NOT" go out and buy a rabbit as a spurious purchase! Rabbits are complicated animals and high maintenance. They are for DEDICATED pet owners only. Further, if you are going to get one, go to a local animal RESCUER and NEVER TO THE PET STORE OR BREEDERS! They abuse these animals and sell them like disposable toys. Tens of thousands end up in shelters and are destroyed every year due to spurious buyers who waste money and get bored with them while the evil breeders get rich and create more pain and suffering every year! Rabbits never get the attention and support of dog and cat wellfare organizations or the media.

    For more info, look up the "House Rabbit Society." They will tell you all you will ever need to know on the animal and help you decide if a rabbit is for you and where to get a healthy one.

    Thank You!

  4. Lyrics Lark

    I owned a lovely lionhead rabbit for about a year. She was given to me by a woman who also owned her for about a year. It took me three full months to locate a responsible person to adopt her when I had to move to another apartment where they would not accept rabbits. PLEASE, do not adopt a rabbit. My rabbit was a lovely animal and I fed her the best food and played with her during the day (I work at home) but it only took me three months to figure out that rabbits are not good pets and belong in the wild. Rabbits have very special dietary needs and they poop constantly. Their poop is small but there are dozens upon dozens of poop pellets that have to be cleaned up. It's hard to have other pets if you have a rabbit because they are prey to lots of animals and very fearful. They chew on everything so you have to cover your wires and other household items and they also like to dig, so watch out for your carpets. If you have a terrier or hunting dog, the dog will consider your rabbit prey.

    I could go on and on and on about how hard it is to keep a rabbit because the list is so long. A dog is easier to maintain and I've had very active dogs! I've also adopted cats and they are easier pets than rabbits.

    I once read that most rabbits in captivity only live about a year because most people don't feed them a proper diet. Pet stores sell a lot of junk rabbit food and dangerous rabbit toys. Rabbits require a special floor pen unlike the cages most people keep them in. They should not be kept in small tanks like you see in the pet store! The should not be kept in closed cages all day either. Or, in noisy school classrooms because they hate noise and prefer quiet settings. I almost cried once when I saw a sad looking rabbit sitting in a small smelly fish tank in a pet store. That's not the life Nature intended rabbits to live.

    The good news is that my rabbit was two and a half years old and in great condition when I adopted her to a woman I vetted by calling her vet to see how well she took care of her other animals. The rabbit I adopted was luckier than most and she'd been through four owners in her young life–the breeder, the first owner, myself, and the fourth (and I hope) final adopter. I hope she is alive and doing well…although the odds are against it. She was a cutie and that is why people were still lining up to adopt her at almost three years old. Most rabbits aren't that lucky. There are always tons of new young rabbits being born so older pet rabbits are usually left in the woods to freeze to death or starve when their owners get tired of taking care of them.

    Forget how cute the lionhead looks. DO NOT ADD TO THE RABBIT PROBLEM by buying a lionhead rabbit.



  5. Janelle Dixon

    Very cool video. and vey educational about owning lion head show rabbits. Anyone interested in owning a pet rabbit should visit the American rabbit breeders association website for accurate information on breeding, showing, and keeping them as pets.

  6. Franco Rios

    I've watching the development of the Lionhead Breed in USA for many years now. The furry manes make them darlings on the show tables. If you are interested in Lionheads or other purebred rabbits please visit the American Rabbit Breeders Association website for more information.

  7. Hillbilly Homesteader

    When ya show a lionhead you get looks that could kill. I got 1st in an AOV grouping once and there was a mini satin in that group, when the judge said first I thought that mini satin's owner was gonna tear my eyeballs out. But I just smiled anyway. 😀

  8. Prairie Flower

    I raised and showed Lionheads for awhile some years back, but they just couldn't seem to get recognized and it wasn't any fun not getting to show them. They're such a cute breed if well bred.

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