Flemish Giant Rabbit

The Flemish Giant Rabbit is a breed of domestic rabbit which bears the scientific name Oryctolagus Cuniculus.  It is primarily known for its unusual large size and is one of the oldest breeds in existence.  It weighs about 15 pounds on the average, though the biggest can weigh up to 22 pounds and can measure about 32 inches long.   There are seven recognized varieties of this breed Sandy, Fawn, Light Gray, White, Black, Blue and Steel Gray.  All are of solid colors. However, there are some litters that have “broken patterns”, but they appear sparingly.

The Flemish Giant is thought to have originally been raised for fur and meat production.  However, due to its large bone density, rabbit raisers realized that it is not ideal for meat production and is now kept as a pet or is used in rabbit shows.

The Flemish Giant is a semi-arch type rabbit with its back arch starting in the back of the shoulders and carrying through to the base of the tail giving an almost perfect “mandolin” shape.  Its body is long and powerful, with relatively broad hindquarters.  Its fur is glossy, dense and soft to the touch.  When it is stroked from the hindquarters to the head, its fur will roll back to its original position.

Flemish Giant Rabbit

Photo: Josh More |Flickr

Behavior and Temperament

The Flemish Giant Rabbit is generally famous for its tame personality.  It is known to be amicable, friendly, calm, docile, and inquisitive.  It easily makes friends with its owners and other pets as well.  It is quite intelligent and is easily trainable, which is the reason why it is also often used in rabbit showmanship.   Because of its amiable characteristics, it can be a very good pet companion even for young children, as well as for the whole family.  It should be stressed, however, that like most of rabbit breeds, the Flemish Giant may also cause harm or minor injuries when agitated, startled or threatened due to its massive size. Extra caution must be given for family owners that have toddlers or infants.

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Health and Care

Because of its larger size compared to other rabbit breeds, caring for the Flemish Giant is quite different compared to much smaller breeds. It requires substantial living quarters that provide ample room for it to explore and enjoy.  As its size can be compared to a small dog, large dog crates are often more appropriate rather than just an average sized rabbit enclosure or small pet cages.  It also requires a substantial amount of quality diet consisting mainly of hay and pellets.  It is very important to provide this pet unlimited supply of fresh water, which can be done by using a pet dish or a readily available hanging water bottle.

In terms of its cage, it is advisable to acquire a small gauge wire or solid bottoms so as not to harm the feet of the Flemish Giant due to its increasing weight.   A resting board might be required to prevent sore hocks for a larger rabbit.

History and Background of the Flemish Giant Rabbit

Experts believe that the Flemish Giant Rabbit might have descended from related breeds such as the Stone Rabbit and the European Patagonian.  Both of these breeds, which were raised for fur and met purposes, are now extinct.  The first recorded reference to this breed was in the Flanders region in Belgium during the 16th century.  It was then exported from England into the United States in 1893.

Apparently, Flemish Giant Rabbit was almost unheard of until about 1910 when it started appearing at small livestock shows throughout the country.  Today, it is one of the most famous and most sought after breeds in rabbit shows because of its unusual large size, not to mention their varied solid colors.

The Flemish Giant Rabbit has earned numerous nicknames such as the “Gentle Giant” for its docile and submissive demeanor despite its gigantic stature. The other name it is often connected with is “Universal Rabbit” because it is used in various purposes such as pet shows, breeding, and meat and fur production.  It eventually became more popular when it was promoted by the National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders, which was formed in 1915.

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