Monday, April 18, 2011
Breed of the Day: American Fuzzy Lop
The American fuzzy lop is a medium sized, woolen rabbit resembling the Holland lop in body shape and temperament. Their coats are much easier to care for than that of the angoras; great for someone looking for a longer haired rabbit who may not have the time to dedicate to grooming. Acceptable varieties include agouti (chestnut, chinchilla, lynx, opal and squirrel), broken (any color), pointed white (black, blue, chocolate and lilac), self (black, blue, blue-eyed white, chocolate, lilac and ruby-eyed white), shaded (sable point, Siamese sable, Siamese smoke pearl and tortoiseshell) and wide-band (fawn and orange).
The background of the American fuzzy lop is interwoven with the history of the Holland lop. When first introduced, the Holland lop was only available in solid colors, and some breeders wanted to add the broken pattern to the Holland lop gene pool. To do this, they bred their Holland lops to English spot rabbits. While they achieved the goal of producing broken patterned rabbits, they failed to keep the rollback fur that the Holland must have. The offspring instead had the flyback fur of the English spot. The breeders then bred Holland lops to French angoras, a breed that has a very gentle rollback coat. The result of these breedings was that the wool gene was also introduced into the Holland lop gene pool and a Holland lop with long wool was occasionally found in Holland lop litters. These were generally sold to people were enchanted with a small, woolen and lop-eared rabbit.
The pioneer American fuzzy lop breeders, including Patty Greene-Karl and Gary Fellers of the east coast of the US and Kim Landry and Margaret Miller of the west coast, noted the marketability of the fuzzy Hollands. Patty Greene-Karl is credited with realizing that the fuzzy gene was recessive, so that breeding two Holland carrying this gene resulted in a percentage of the offspring (theoretically 25%) with wool. Patty decided to develop these rabbits as a new breed, named the American fuzzy lop. After working for four years on the development of fuzzies, she presented her rabbits to the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) for the first showing of the breed at the 1985 ARBA convention in Huston, Texas. Three separate standards for woolen lops were recieved from three different individuals, but only the American fuzzy lop presented by Patty was granted a working standard.
The original standard called for a maximum weight of 4 3/4 pounds with the ideal weight being 3 3/4 pounds, and a rabbit designed to have the body type, ear carriage and size of a Holland lop combined with short, easily maintained wool. At the 1986 ARBA convention in Columbus, Ohio, the American fuzzy lop was presented for its second showing, and again passed. However, at its third showing a the 1987 ARBA convention in Portland, Oregon, the ARBA standards committee did not approve the breed because of a lack of uniformity from one animal to another. A new working standard. A new working standard was written by Jeff Hardin at the request of Patty, which was accepted. The revised standard basically described a woolen Holland, calling for a maximum weight of four pounds, and an ideal weight of 3 1/2. In 1988, ARBA requested only the breed's sponsor be allowed to bring fuzzy lops to a convention in Madison, Wisconsin because of limited cage space. The American fuzzy lop had to pass that year to become a recognized breed or else its proponents would have to start the procedure all over again. Fortunately, Patty's presentation passed at the convention, and the American fuzzy lop became a new recognized breeds. In 1989 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Helen McKie's "Herbie" was selected for the Best of Breed (BOB) American fuzzy lop at that years ARBA convention. Herbie's picture graced the ARBA's Standard of Perfection book from 1991 to 1995, representing the fuzzies well.