Variety COD Standards
COD Holders Info
Cage Riser Instructions
Flying with Rabbits
Bob Whitman Memorial
Jo Anne Statler Memorial
Kim Croak Memorial
to the Lionhead Breed
Over in Europe...
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.
Here in 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 following 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 also imported Lionheads from Europe. These imports, along with hybridizations made throughout the
United States have produced the American version of the Lionhead Rabbit as we know it
The five Lionheads that were first brought into Northern Minnesota
were of very different varieties: 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
The North American Lionhead Rabbit Club was born...
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.
The first NALRC National Exhibition Show was held...
The first NALRC National Lionhead Exhibition 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
Every year since the first show in 2003, the NALRC
continued to hold an annual National Lionhead Exhibition Show on the first Saturday in May, in Columbus, OH in conjunction with the Ohio State Rabbit Breeders Association (OSRBA) annual show. Varieties on COD were judged individually, and all competed for Best of Breed. Results for each annual show can be found in our show archives.
NALRC will continue to hold a national breed show in the Spring every year, but with the recognition of the breed came the ability for ARBA chartered clubs to bid to host the specialty in other areas of the country. Stay tuned to our website for details about the current upcoming National show!
JOIN OUR CLUB AND JOIN IN THE FUN!