COD Holders Info
Cage Riser Instructions
Flying with Rabbits
Bob Whitman Memorial
Jo Anne Statler Memorial
Kim Croak Memorial
to the Lionhead Breed
And In the Beginning......
There has been a lot of speculation on how the Lionhead rabbit began. Bob Whitman, (click here for the Bob Whitman Memorial Page )who was a very knowledgable rabbit history buff and enthusiast, spent many hours
researching the beginnings of this breed. He believed that the precursor
of the Lionhead dated back decades earlier than first thought. Another
widely held belief holds that they originated in Belgium in a litter of bunnies
that was the result of the crossbreeding of the Swiss Fox and a Belgian
Dwarf in which a genetic mutation produced an early version of the mane we have come to recognize on todays' Lionhead. Other crosses to a smaller wool type breed may have also been included
in the crossbreeding. Some sources list the Jersey Wooly, although more accurately it would be the european Dwarf Angora (in the USA we have no Dwarf Angora so the name Jersey
Wooly was added here). Later, the breed was imported into England where
continued crossbreeding of small breed rabbits and additional wool
breeds were done. These crossbreedings made in Europe and in England
created the current EUROPEAN LIONHEAD RABBIT. The one thing that we
know for sure is that the result of the Lionhead, however they came
about, was the first true gene mutation since the 1930's.
Coming to America.......
The first Lionheads that were used as a basis for any concentrated breeding
programs in the United States were imported in 2000 by the late JoAnne Statler
of Minnesota. In the next couple years, other breeders brought additional
stock into this country. Tom Coats of Maryland, Theresa Mueller and Cheryl
Rafoth of Washington State, Toni Tubbs, also of Washington and the late Bob Whitman
of Rare Bits & Pieces in Texas. These imports, along with hybridization made throughout the
United States have produced the American version of the Lionhead Rabbit as we know it
Born in the USA........
The five Lionheads that were first brought into Northern Minnesota
included, a Silver Tipped Steel doe, a dark Siamese Sable buck(carrier
of the Harlequin and Steel) a Harlequin (Black/Orange) doe, a Broken
Chestnut Agouti buck and a Black sport buck (with a Dutch blaze, a
carrier of the Vienna/BEW gene). In an attempt to broaden the gene pool,
several Minnesota breeders began crossing the Lionheads to various
other small breeds such as Netherland Dwarf, Britannia Petite, Polish,
and Florida White. Holland Lops have also been used by some in the Lionhead
There are currently 6 ARBA Certificates of Development for Lionhead Varieties:
Joe Horacek & Nita Shannon.....CA/WA
Koelyn Hooper, Joe Horacek, Lydia West & Nita Shannon.....CA/WA
Keniethea Roy & Chrissy Schell.....CA/WA
Keniethea Roy & Kitty Lynch....NC
Click here to read about the COD holders
Current Varieties on COD: Black, Blue Point, Chocolate, Pointed White(all 4 colors), Sable Point, Seal, Siamese Sable and Smoke Pearl.
The North American Lionhead Rabbit Club
The North American Lionhead Rabbit Club (NALRC) was founded on September 29th, 2001 at the Minnesota State Rabbit Breeders Association State Show held in Elk River, Minnesota. Since then, we have grown to a club of over 300 members. The NALRC hosts a National Lionhead Rabbit show the first weekend in May in Columbus, Ohio each year. The club publishes an information packed quarterly Newsletter called the Mane Musings, and all new members receive a Guidebook and membership card. Each calendar year, the NALRC sponsors a Lionhead Sweepstakes contest. To join, fill out a membership application.
We are the Champions
The first NALRC Exhibition National Lionhead Show was held in May of
2003 in Columbus Ohio. The show was judged by Eric Bengtson. The show had
an overwhelming entry of 204 Lionheads. At that first show, Lionheads
were shown the same way as the Netherland Dwarf breed with varieties judged
first, followed by selection of best in each group.
This type of judging was used in hopes of persuading the ARBA
to revisit the question of allowing the Lionhead Breed to
enter the ARBA Standard Book as a breed shown in groups and
not varieties. When the ARBA Standards Committee
met during the 2003 ARBA Convention, a formal request made by Bob Whitman
to make that change was denied.
of Breed - 2003
Blue Junior doe
owned by Cathy Denman
of Opposite Sex - 2003
Chestnut Agouti Junior buck
owned by Dawn Guth
Our journey to official ARBA breed recognition...
Three successful presentations are required within five years in order to make the Lionhead breed an official ARBA recognized breed, at which point the variety/varieties that it has passed successfully will be the only officially recognized varieties until others pass the same recognition process.
Realistically, it could take many years for all of the varieties currently held by other COD holders to be added to the breed standard.
Like her predecessors Arden Wetzel and Gail Gibbons, Theresa Mueller is currently on the quest for ARBA Lionhead breed recognition. Theresa made a successful first presentation of the breed in the varieties of Black, REW and Tortoise at the 2010 ARBA Convention in Minneapolis, MN. The following year in Indianapolis, IN at the 2011 ARBA Convention,
all three varieties failed to pass the Standards Committee. However, Theresa's 2nd attempt at 2nd Presentation in Wichita, Kansas in 2012 was successful in Tortoise and REW. Black failed the 2nd attempt at 2nd presentation due to a small white spot on the lower hip of one of the junior bucks, so Theresa was not able to make further presentation attempts in Black. However, she did successfully present for a third time in both Tortoise and REW at the ARBA Convention in Harrisburg, PA on October 22, 2013. This means that due to her successful presentation in both varieties, Lionheads are an ARBA recognized breed in the varieties of Tortoise (all 4 colors) and REW effective February 1, 2014. The Lionhead hobby owes a huge debt of gratitude to Theresa Mueller for all of her hard work and tireless dedication to bringing our breed to ARBA recognition.
UNTIL FEBRUARY 1, 2014, ARBA show secretaries will continue to only be obligated to accept entries in REW and Tortoise according to the ARBA Official Show Rules. Therefore, we recommend that you contact the show secretary prior to each show to determine if Lionheads in varieties other than REW and Tortoise will be accepted for exhibition. In any case, the exhibitor must bring a copy of the ARBA approved proposed working standard to the show for the judge, since the breed standard will not be included in the ARBA Standard of Perfection until the breed is officially recognized.
As a Lionhead exhibitor, we sincerely hope that you do your very best to be an ambassador to our lovely breed, and be courteous and gracious at all times at ARBA events. The Lionhead breed truly needs the support of each and every exhibitor to do their part to promote and portray our breed in the best light possible.
After February 1, 2014, Lionheads in Tortoise and REW will be eligible for ARBA legs of Grand Champion, and to compete for Best In Show awards at all ARBA sanctioned shows! It has been a long time coming, but we are finally here!!
JOIN OUR CLUB AND JOIN IN THE FUN!