Flemish Giant Rabbit

  • COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Belgium
  • YEAR RECOGNIZED: 1914
  • USES: Show, meat
  • WEIGHT: 14 pounds (6.4 kg) and above, senior does
  • FUR TYPE: Rollback; bright, glossy, dense
  • BODY TYPE: Semi-arch
  • COLORS: Black, blue, fawn, light gray, sandy, steel gray, white
     THE FLEMISH GIANT IS TYPICALLY A GENTLE GIANT among rabbits, and it enjoys a good reputation as a pet. It can weigh between 15 and 20 pounds (6.8 and 9.1 kg), but show Giants tend to be a more svelte — and manageable — 10 to 14 pounds (4.5 to 6.4 kg). Does in excess of 20 pounds (9.1 kg) were once fairly common in Belgium, where the breed originated.
     Rabbit breeders in Belgium recorded so-called giant rabbits as far back as the 16th century. Over the years, it’s likely that those who wanted to standardize Flemish Giants used the not-so-giant Stone Rabbit as a foundation along with the hefty Patagonian Rabbit, a giant variety that had vanished by the close of the 19th century.
     At least six breed clubs had been established for Flemish Giants by 1850 in Belgium, all in the suburbs of Ghent, the epicenter of the breed. The first Flemish Giants were exported to the United States in the 1890s, commensurate with major importations of Belgian Hares.
     Among the four ARBA-recognized “giant” rabbit breeds, the Flemish shares its semi-arch conformation only with the Giant Chinchilla. Fortunately, for the sake of identification at least, the Flemish Giant occurs in several colors, but chinchilla, the only acceptable color for the Giant Chin, is not one of them.