- COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN: Belgium, England
- YEAR RECOGNIZED: 1922
- USES: Pet, show, meat
- WEIGHT: 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) max., senior bucks and does
- BODY TYPE: Compact
- FUR TYPE: Flyback; ARBA Commercial Normal Fur Standard; dense, short, lustrous
- COLORS: Black, blue, chinchilla, chocolate, gray, steel, or tortoiseshell on ears, sides of face, and saddle
IMAGINE AN ILLUSIONIST TAKING A PAIR OF SADDLE SHOES and turning them into a rabbit — that would be a Dutch, identified by its white face and wrap-around white saddle flanked by dark head, ears, and hindquarters. It has short, dense fur with sheen, and stocky ears that stand upright on its compact body.
Modern Dutch Rabbits originated in England, but their forebears were developed in Belgium, when Belgium and the Netherlands were a single country. Thousands of rabbits were shipped from Ostend, now part of Belgium, to London. These imported “Dutch Rabbits” of the 19th century came in a variety of colors, but they were apparently the ancestors of the modern white-saddled Dutch.
As interest in perfecting and improving livestock breeds gained momentum in 19th-century England, rabbit breeders selectively bred their Belgian imports until they developed consistently two-toned Dutch Rabbits in the 1880s. U.S. fanciers imported the breed early in the 20th century, and by 1922 the ARBA had recognized the Dutch.
The breed’s relatively small size — 3.5 to 5.5 pounds (1.6 to 2.5 kg) — attracts many fans, and its reputation for being hardy, adaptable, and robust makes it a popular pet. Female Dutch are generally good mothers and often used as foster mothers.