Breed profile of the Flemish Giant, the largest breed of rabbit in the world, weighing around 7-8kg (15-18lbs). Popular for their large size and very laid-back, calm temperament, these gentle giants make great pets.
The Flemish Giant originated in Belgium and is thought to derive from the large rabbits of Flanders and the Patagonian rabbit, (imported from Argentina by 16th century traders and once common in France and Belgium before becoming extinct). They were bred for meat and fur and the Flemish Giant became one of the most popular utility breeds in Europe. As early as the nineteenth century, they were bred to a fairly strict pedigree,originally in the natural wild (agouti) colouring and steel grey. Further cross-breeding with other large breeds has since resulted in a much wider variation in colours.
The Flemish Giant is the largest breed of rabbit in the world, weighing around 7-8kg (15-18lbs) and measuring around 80cm long.
Flemish Giants have long bodies and a wide back with well-rounded and solid-fleshed hindquarters. The strong, muscular legs are of average length; the head is wide with full cheeks; the ears large (approx 20cm long) and held in a Vee-shape above the head. Males have a broader, more imposing head than females, but females can often outweigh the males.
Flemish Giants have smooth medium length hair with a glossy sheen and a dense undercoat.
The Flemish Giant was originally bred in its natural wild (agouti) colouring, the undercoat grey, brown or red, with the tips of the hairs (ticking) black or blue. The resulting base colour can be light brown to reddish brown or light grey to a dark steel grey. The tummy, insides of the legs and underside of the tail are of a lighter colour, with light rings also around the eyes.
Self-coloured varieties have coats of entirely one colour with no ticking or variation in shading, the main colours are blue, black and white (albino)
(In Britain, the breed standard is only recognised in steel grey and is smaller at about 5.5-6.5kg / 12-14lbs)
Flemish Giants are calm and docile rabbits and not as active as many smaller breeds, preferring to laze around rather then run and jump much of the time. They are friendly and good natured and can make very good childrens pets as they are too large to pick up and unlikely to nip or become aggressive. They really are gentle giants and their personality has been compared to the most gentle of dog breeds. They generally get on well with other pets too.