Californian Rabbit

  • COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States
  • USES: Fur, meat
  • WEIGHT: 10.5 pounds (4.8 kg) max., senior does
  • BODY TYPE: Commercial
  • FUR TYPE: Flyback; ARBA Commercial Normal Fur Standard
  • COLORS: White with near-black nose, ears, feet, and tail

The Californian was developed as both a fur- and meat-producing rabbit by George S. West in Lynnwood, California, starting in 1923. West raised New Zealand Whites, a well-known fur-and-meat breed, but he was frustrated by the number of atypical “woolies” that turned up in his litters. Rabbit pelts were marketed primarily at the time for the production of felt in hats; the fur of the woolies was almost useless. West wanted a breed that would more consistently yield fine fur as well as meat.

He experimented with Himalayan and Standard Chinchilla Rabbits, later adding New Zealand Whites. With the help of breeders Roy Fisher and Wesley Dixon, the Californian — originally known as the Cochinella — became a popular and distinct new breed.

In the United States, the Californian is a white rabbit with nearly black points (nose, ears, feet, and tail). It has similar markings to the Himalayan Rabbit but is more than twice the size of the 4.5-pound (2 kg) Himalayan. Californians are plump, firm, long-bodied rabbits with erect ears, short legs, and a dense coat. The breed has an unusually high yield of muscle, important to commercial meat producers.

was not concerned about the Californian’s personality, but the breed does make an attractive and good-natured pet.