Breed: Belgian Hare
Description: The Belgian hare at one time was the most popular fancy rabbit. It was responsible for bringing the domestic rabbit to the attention of thousands of people both in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Although called a hare, it is in fact a rabbit. It was once believed that the Belgian could be successfully crossed with a true wild hare, but this is not true.
The Belgian originated in Flanders and there is evidence to indicate it was bred down from a now-extinct breed known as the Patagonian. The Patagonian, incidentally, was the forerunner of the Flemish giant. The early Belgians were nothing like they are today. They were much more heavily built and much less graceful.
The Belgian was imported to England where it was selectively bred until the present-day form was produced. The Belgian generated much interest; during its boom period, the Belgian was bred for both its exhibition properties and its meat-producing qualities.
The genetic color of the Belgian is agouti, but the deep chestnut hue of the fur was produced by crossing the Belgian with brown Beverens. The deep chestnut color is very attractive. It is bordered by black ticking along the entire length of the body and also around the ears. A common failing is the appearance of gray hairs along the flanks. If the Belgian hare is not fit, it does not look as it should. Fitness is very important. The coat must shine as though it were polished mahogany, the flesh must be firm and the eyes bright and gleaming. A Belgian in such condition is a work of art. It requires much practice and perseverance.
The typical Belgian pose must, of course, be quite natural. If the animal is flat-footed, it does not look right; if it has to be held in the posed position, it lacks style. The pose should be graceful with an arched back and fine delicate bone. The ears should be about five inches long and slope backwards slightly. The Belgian’s eyes are a very attractive deep hazel color that blend with the coat’s color. They should be bold and bright with a general look of alertness.
The Belgian hare is a very distinctive rabbit and often takes top honors at rabbit shows.