Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but here goes: the Holland Lop is my favorite breed of rabbit.
I fully appreciate the fact that there are nearly fifty recognized rabbit breeds in the United States, all brimming with marvelous characteristics, varying fur types, and personality galore. But as far as I'm concerned (and even considering its diminutive stature), the Holland Lop towers above the rest.
If you aren't already familiar with this enchanting little rabbit, meet the Holland Lop.
The Holland Lop is a dwarf breed. Dwarf rabbits possess a dwarfing gene that causes them to have smaller ears and shorter limbs than non-dwarf rabbits, and this is the case with Holland Lops.
Holland Lops typically weigh between two and four pounds (the maximum size for exhibition is four pounds), making them a bit larger than petite dwarf breeds like the Netherland Dwarf and Polish. Despite its small size, the Holland Lop is a substantial and solid-looking rabbit with impressive bone and quality. The breed's official Standard of Perfection describes the Holland Lop's body as "short, massive, and thick set."
The breed’s beauty is accentuated by its exquisite face: big cheeks and huge eyes framed by lopped ears and a delightful expression of curiosity. Holland Lops exhibit what is known as the "compact" shape, but they are posed for exhibition a little differently than the other compact rabbit breeds at American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) shows.
Aside from the Holland Lop's beauty, perhaps the most endearing attribute of the Holland Lop is its charming personality. Every rabbit is an individual, of course, but the Holland Lops in my life have been exceptionally personable—eager to explore the world, equipped with insatiable interest in their surroundings, and blessed with an appetite for fun.
My Holland Lops have loved toys, new experiences, and people. More than one has made blissful "purring" sounds, not unlike a cat's, especially when contented or hungry. Unlike some rabbits who seem satisfied to fill their days with eating and sleeping, Holland Lops enthusiastically explore anything that's just a little out of the ordinary.
· They're immensely popular. Holland Lops are my favorite breed, but I’m not the only one. Holland Lops are one of the most popular rabbit breeds in the United States, along with the Mini Rex and the Netherland Dwarf.
· They are incredibly fancy rabbits for show. Holland Lops are one of the top five breeds (based on exhibition numbers) shown at American Rabbit Breeders Association shows (ARBA). In 2017, nearly 800 Holland Lop rabbits were shown by adult exhibitors at the ARBA National Convention, and more than 200 were shown by youth exhibitors.
· They hail from the Netherlands. Holland Lops were developed in the 1950s and 1960s by crossing the larger English and French Lops with Netherland Dwarf rabbits in an attempt to achieve a smaller lop-eared rabbit.
· They may not be for everyone. Dwarf rabbits in general have a reputation for being excitable and unpredictable and some people suggest that they are not the most suitable choice for a child's pet. (In my experience, however, Holland Lops tend to be gentle and lovable. But every rabbit is an individual, of course.)
· They're relatively new in the United States. Compared to some of the other rabbit breeds with long histories in the United States (Belgian hares, for example, have been in the U.S. since the 1880s), the Holland Lop is still a relative newcomer. The first ones arrived in the U.S. in the 1970s and the ARBA recognized the breed a few years later.
· They're colorful. The ARBA recognizes eight distinct color patterns for Holland Lops (agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, tan, ticked, and wide band), with dozens of individual colors.
If you'd like to further explore the world of Holland Lops, here are a few good places to start:
· Join the ARBA. Membership in the American Rabbit Breeders Association is a great way to begin learning more about rabbits. With 23,000 members and sanctioned rabbit shows all across the country, you can find helpful information on all aspects of keeping rabbits. Learn more at www.arba.net .
· Join the HLRSC. The Holland Lop Rabbit Specialty Club is devoted to "providing education to help owners obtain and care for healthy Holland Lops" and offers a wealth of information to anyone seeking to learn more about this delightful breed. Join the fun at www.hlrsc.com .
· The ARBA Standard of Perfection. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in raising rabbits. Look for the latest edition (dated 2016–2020) for the most up-to-date information on recognized colors in the Holland Lop.