The Checkered Giant is one of the largest rabbit breeds, easily recognised by its distinctive coloured markings. They are active, energetic rabbits and can be very playful.
The Checkered Giant originated in the Lorraine region of France towards the end of the nineteenth century and is known there as the Great Lorrainese. Bred from Flemish Giants, large French lop-eared rabbits and spotted rabbits, they were initially multi-coloured or natural wild coloured but further development produced the characteristic 'butterfly' markings that have made the breed popular since the 1920s. Exported to the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century, they are known there as the Checkered Giant, and in Britain as the Giant Papillon. They are considered the same breed, although the Checkered Giant has been selectively bred to a type distinctly different from the Giant Papillon.
The Checkered Giant is one of the largest breeds with a minimum weight of 5kg (11lbs) and many weighing over 6kg (13lbs).
The Checkered Giant has a slender, muscular build. The hare-like body has a long, arched back, long, powerful legs and a wide head with large, broad ears held firmly upright.
Checkered giants have a white coat with coloured markings. They have coloured ears, rings around the eyes, cheek flashes and a butterfly-shaped marking on the nose. A dorsal stripe (herringbone) runs down the spine from ears to tail, with coloured patches on the haunches.
Breeding well-marked Checkered Giants is not straightforward. In most litters around half the young will have good markings, there are usually self-coloured (one plain colour) and partially marked young as well. Rabbits with partial markings are often called 'Charlies', this is thought to stem from the partial butterfly marking on the nose which looks like a 'Charlie Chaplin' moustache.
Checkered Giants have smooth, short hair.
Checkered Giants have a fairly calm temperament and are generally good-natured. They are active, energetic rabbits and can be very playful. Checkered Giants need plenty of exercise.
They are sometimes said to be prone to aggressive behaviour.
Choose a rabbit with a good temperament, from a reputable breeder.