Show Rabbits 101

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

We all know that dogs are one of the most popular show pets – groomed to perfection and judged both on their appearance and physical prowess. But did you know that the rabbit is another popular show pet? That’s right, show rabbits hold a special place in professional competitions. Most beginner rabbit owners never even suspect that their pet can win over a host of judges – especially if it is a special breed. Who knows, perhaps your fluffy pet has all the needed attributes to become a champion? But before you and your pet go on winning medals, here is what you need to know about show rabbits.

Why Show Your Rabbit?

Some rabbit owners might be questioning the purpose of these exhibitions, so let’s try and answer this question – why show your rabbit in the first place? Rabbit shows are a great way to enter a world of like-minded rabbit enthusiasts. Not only will you get to meet other rabbit lovers, but you can also learn a lot about raising your rabbit right, from the first-hand experience of seasoned owners. Exchange your experiences with other breeders, and learn the tips and tricks of breeding, molting, grooming, behavior, diet, and many other aspects of rabbit care. Winning is only a bonus – you need only participate to have all the fun!

What Is a Show Rabbit? 

To enter one of these competitions, your rabbit needs to have “show qualities” to begin with. In simplest terms, this means that your bunny needs to be as close to “genetic perfection” as possible. If you have a superb and pretty rabbit specimen, they might just be a champion stock! In competition terms, a show quality rabbit is one that does not have any non-genetic or genetic disqualifications. So, any slight imperfections that your rabbit might have, can potentially ruin their chances in a competition. Crooked legs, discoloration, obesity, abnormalities, imperfect tail, eye discoloration, and similar “imperfections” are enough to categorize your bunny as a non-show rabbit. 

But that is not all. Show rabbits need to belong to one of the ARBA-recognized rabbit breeds. There are numerous special rabbit breeds that are on the ARBA list, and most of them are unique in their appearance, and often hard to acquire. Some of these breeds are American Rabbit, English Lop, Dwarf Papillon, Checkered Giant, Giant Angora, Lionhead, Silver Marten, and many others – currently, 50 rabbit breeds are recognized by this organization. So, before you try and enter the lists, check out your bunny’s pedigree and their breed’s standard.

How to Show Rabbits 

So, you made it to the exhibition. You made sure your rabbit is socialized, used to handling, healthy, and recognized by the ARBA. But how do you show your rabbit properly? First, you will want them to be cleaned properly – from head to toe. Clip their toenails too, and clean any dirt spots you see. Groom them at home, and brush them gently just before the judging show. You’ll want their fur smooth and presentable (depending on the breed). Of course, you will want to give your bunny plenty of water before the show starts, and to make sure they are accustomed to being handled. When the judge appears, pose your rabbit as instructed by the judge. The usual pose has to have eyes and front legs aligned, and hind legs and hips also. The tail also needs to be shown. Once the judge is finished, place your bunny back in its enclosure, as to avoid confusion during the judging process. And keep your fingers crossed – maybe you’re going home with a medal! 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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