The American was originally known as the German Blue Vienna but was renamed during America’s conflict with Germany in World War I.
- COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States
- YEAR RECOGNIZED: 1918
- USES: Fur, meat
- WEIGHT: 12 pounds (5.5 kg) max., senior does
- BODY TYPE: Semi-arch
- FUR TYPE: Flyback; ARBA Commercial Normal Fur Standard
- COLORS: Blue, white
ONE OF THE FIRST TRUE AMERICAN BREEDS, the American was developed in the early 1900s by Lewis H. Salisbury in Pasadena, California. Salisbury was close-mouthed about the breeds he used in establishing the American, but it’s likely he incorporated several bluepelted breeds, including the Beveren, Blue Vienna, Flemish Giant, and Imperial. Salisbury met his objective to produce a rabbit that would be popular for both its meat and its fur. The breed commanded $2 for fine pelts and $25 and up for pedigreed does in 1920.
Because of the European breeds used in establishing the American, the animal was originally called the German Blue Vienna. America’s conflict with Germany in World War I rendered the name politically incorrect, however, and the breed was renamed American.
That the American is now a threatened breed is testament to its decline in popularity as a commercial meat or fur animal. Nevertheless, a few score breeders nationwide, fond of the American’s beautiful white or blue coat, its tasty meat, or its show qualities, have helped the breed rebound nicely since 1990, when a scant dozen breeders were keeping it alive.