When selecting a hopping rabbit there are many different factors to consider. How do you know when selecting a hopping rabbit what breed of rabbit to choose from? There are forty-nine different breeds recognized by ARBA with different body types. They include compact breeds, full-arch type breeds, commercial breeds, semi-arch breeds, and cylindrical breeds. Are you overwhelmed with where to begin looking? Here are some common questions that I am asked that will help you find the hopping partner you have always wanted:
What breed(s) are best used for hopping?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with most of the forty-nine different breeds out there. The most popular breeds of rabbits used for hopping that I see at our competitions are the Full-Arch type breeds, such as Rhinelanders, English Spots, Tans, Checkered Giants , and (my breed of choice) Britannia Petites. Full-Arch breeds tend to be very popular due to their naturally athletic builds and dog-like personalities Also popular are some of the compact breeds such as Havanas, Holland Lops, Netherland Dwarfs, Mini Rex, Polish, and Lionheads. Just keep in mind that each breed has their own different physical abilities and personalities.
If (your) favorite breed for hopping is a Britannia Petite, shouldn’t everyone hop a Brit?”
Absolutely not! I personally like the tiny, spirited things they are, but they definitely aren’t for everyone (especially youth handlers). The breed you choose should be one that you personally enjoy the temperament and personality of, and one that you can house properly (larger breeds require more food and bigger cages, for example). It all depends on the space you have, how much time you are willing to commit to training, and what you personally like about a specific breed or mixed breed.
Is the breed the only thing to consider when selecting a hopper?
Every rabbit is different, but in my nine years of raising, training, and competing in hopping I’ve found some qualities in all rabbits that are very important no matter the breed or mix breed. A rabbit must be curious, active, and confident to become a great hopper. For example, if you have a rabbit that has the best body type for hopping or is a specific breed that is known to be good for hopping, but the rabbit isn’t very trainable or hates being handled, it probably isn’t going to be a good hopper. A rabbit must want to hop. I think that’s a key part of what makes a good hopper versus a great hopper. A great hopper will give you its all and love its job, just like any other performance animal. But a rabbit that is forced to hop or just generally doesn’t enjoy its job, will never do very well.
Should I buy a buck or a doe?
It really does not matter, it’s all personal preference. Just keep in mind that when both bucks and does are of reproductive age (around six months old) they can become broody or temperamental, and that’s just how it is.
Can you use a spayed or neutered rabbit for hopping?
Absolutely! Currently, intact and spayed/neutered animals are allowed to compete as long as they fulfill the requirements of having a tattoo (hoppers must have a legible tattoo in the left ear), age, and health. All rabbits must follow the ARBA Standard for Health Inspection and be free of blemishes, illness, disease, and does that have had litters must have a time frame of eight months of rest before being allowed to compete again.
How old should a hopper be? Hopping rabbits must be at least four months of age to compete, with a recommended age range of four months to five years. Rabbits older than five years old can still compete, as long as they are happy and healthy, and enjoy their job as a performance animal. It’s up to you as the handler, who knows your rabbit the best, to determine if they should still compete. It’s all about your rabbit’s health and safety.
Where should I purchase a hopper?
When looking for a breeder/place to purchase a hopper from, find a breed you like and buy for the potential for hopping talent. Go to a reputable breeder who is either involved in hopping themselves, or have someone who knows what to look for with your best interests in mind shop with you. Ask if you can try out the rabbit before you decide to purchase it. If it lays down and shows no interest in moving that is not going to be the hopper for you! Try multiple rabbits. Sometimes you’ll find a “diamond in the rough” – you don’t know how they are going to develop until you try them out. Keep an open mind on breed choice, and look until you find the right match for you.
To summarize, here’s a checklist of the things we have covered:
Selecting a Hopper Checklist
Breed / Mix Breed / Pet - Intact or Spayed/Neutered
Good Temperament & Personality
Curious & Active
Meets ARBA Standard Health Inspection- Healthy Hopper
Age - 4 Months to 5 Years (recommended)
Tattoo - Legible and in Left ear
Have fun and I hope these tips will help you select your next hopper. See you on the course!