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All in the Family: Fuzzy Hollands

Dr. Carol Green

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HLRSC Guidebook -7th Edition

Most Holland Lop breeders have had this experience. Your favorite kit in the litter is looking very good and you are picturing future wins with him, until you notice that his head is really starting to “bloom”, and suddenly you realize, with a sinking feeling—oh no! He has wool. This very event, the appearance of an unwanted wooled rabbit in a litter of Holland Lops, was the origin of the American Fuzzy Lop rabbit, which has been shown as an ARBA recognized breed since 1989.

But does the fact that the American Fuzzy Lop was developed from “sports” of Holland Lops mean that the fuzzy Hollands are Fuzzy Lops? After all both breeds have the same genetic make-up. I have an easy way to answer that question. Open your Standard of Perfection (2011-2015 edition) to page 60 (American Fuzzy Lop) and page 138 (Holland Lop) and compare the photographs on those pages. Both pictures show an excellent example of their respective breed, but I don’t think any of us would confuse the two. The pictured American Fuzzy Lop has a medium headset with the topline peaking mid-loin and a dense, flowing coat of wool while the Holland Lop has a distinctively high headset, with the high point of the topline at the shoulders and a head topped with a well-defined crown. Yes, there are strong similarities in the head, ear, and cobby bodies of both, but Fuzzies and Hollands are cousins or siblings, not identical twins.

Hollands and Fuzzies started at the same place, but over the years, breeders of both have worked hard to produce consistent high quality show rabbits, and that effort led to a divergence. There are other breeds that “popped” out of an already established breed, which are now clearly and distinctly different from the original “parent”, e.g. Silver Martens from Chinchillas and Lilacs from Havanas. When you think about it this way, it shouldn’t be a surprise that after 23 years, we prefer American Fuzzy Lops to be seen as a distinct, competitive, beautiful rabbit breed, not an accident that appeared in a Holland Lop litter!

The American Fuzzy Lop Rabbit Club has published the club’s position in the breed guidebook: “The American Fuzzy Lop Rabbit Club does not promote or endorse the intentional interbreeding of the Fuzzy Lop and Holland Lop breeds. The quality of Fuzzy Lops now available nationwide is such that no advantage can be gained by this practice. However, it must be recognized that any animal meeting the breed requirements listed in the ARBA Standard of Perfection is allowable on the show table. A purebred
pedigree is not required for exhibition in an ARBA show. Therefore, an animal produced from the interbreeding of Holland Lops and American Fuzzy Lops or a Fuzzy Lop produced from two Holland Lops is permitted to compete in any ARBA sanctioned show, local or national. Any variation in breed background of an animal must be noted on its pedigree and any breeder selling such animals must not misrepresent them to a prospective buyer as being purebred American Fuzzy Lops.” (American Fuzzy Lop Club Breed Guidebook, ed. 2003)

Many AFLRC members are “purists” who do not allow fuzzy Hollands in their breeding program, while others are open to trying a fuzzy Holland with decent wool and AFL type. All of us object to the sale of fuzzy Hollands as “American Fuzzy Lops”; please label these rabbits correctly so that the less experienced folks
are not misled and confused. There is room on the show table for these different opinions but honesty is absolutely required. Many of us who show AFLs have both breeds or have had the other breed at one time. For example, my family started out showing Holland Lops. We had never even heard of American Fuzzy Lops until we saw a fellow exhibitor have a fuzzy Holland in one of her litters. We loved the look of both HLs and AFLs, but that wool and the huge heads of Fuzzies won us over.

Our experience isn’t unusual--some of the most dedicated Fuzzy Lop breeders came over to the “wool” side from Holland Lops, and breeders of Hollands and Fuzzies share a love of compact, lop eared rabbits with great heads and body type. So if you are a Holland Lop breeder who is tempted by Fuzzies, then come show rabbits with us. All we ask is that you support AFLRC, study and breed to the Standard, and promote the breed, American Fuzzy Lops. You are welcome to join the fun. Just be prepared for a little extra grooming (did we tell you about junior coats?), cleaning wool off the cage bottoms (buy a blow torch and a lot of wire brushes), and donate all your black clothes to a worthy charity (lint brushes can be purchased in bulk from Costco).

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