Lionhead is a new rabbit breed that has its origin in Belgium. It is not yet well recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA). This breed was formed by crossbreeding the Swiss Fox and a Belgian Dwarf. Soon, this rabbit was brought to the United States by Joanne Statler, who was joined by other rabbit breeders. To attain a desired lionhead and get the uniformity in its color and size, many selective dwarf rabbit breeds were used and even imported from England and sometimes Sweden. Let's read further to get some more information on this breed.
The mane of these miniature rabbits encircles their tiny heads, which looks similar to the mane of the lion. With a small body structure, lionheads weigh 2.5 to 4 pounds. Lionheads have small legs and bones and have ears extending up to 3½ inches. The mane is 2 inches longer than the rest of the fur on the body. The thick mane of the lionheads is the effect of rapid genetic mutations. The size of their mane greatly depends on the combination of genes. When the MM genes come together, it forms a double mane while combination of Mm genes, form a single mane. Lionheads with single mane exhibit similar characteristics of regular rabbit breeds while double mane lionheads will have thick wool around the neck and less wool in the back area. These rabbits also come in a variety of colors such as in shades of brown, white and gray. Lionheads come in two kinds namely, Lionhead Lop Rabbit and Mini Lionhead Lop Rabbit.
Temperament and Grooming
Though new to the different rabbit breeds, lionheads are soon becoming popular as pets. Their compact size and unique mane structure is appealing to many animal lovers. These rabbits are very friendly, but require sufficient attention from its owner or the family members. Once trained, they make good companions and love being cuddled. More than the single mane lionheads, double manes require a bit more grooming. Double mane lionheads require regular combing as they are likely to develop knots in their long thick fur. At the time of shedding, lionheads can ingest their own hair, which can cause intestinal blockage. Rabbits need to chew to avoid wearing of their teeth and prevent them from growing long teeth. Long teeth can hinder them from eating and even cause discomfort. Wood chips prove to be an excellent bedding material for lionheads. However, wood chips with fragrance can cause severe health conditions for the lionheads.
Fresh timothy hay and low protein rabbit pellets prove sufficient for this rabbit. This hay, is rich in fiber and helps in smooth running of digestive system. Feeding the rabbit with high protein diet can cause obesity in them and complicate their health. There are low protein rabbit pellets, which keeps the rabbit healthy and fit. Adding some fresh vegetables,grass and vitamins into its diet will keep it safe from any health problems and boost its immune system. Fruits such as papaya and pineapple help in the digestion and save them from wool blockage. Excessive use of rabbit treats have resulted into loose stools. Therefore, usage of treats should be in limits.
These rabbits are easy to train. Litter training is among the basic training steps to avoid a menace inside as well as outside the house. Rabbits pick up any corner of the cage to defecate. As the rabbit seeks the place to defecate, put a litter box and place it in it. Place this litter box, whenever the rabbit shifts its place. Eventually the rabbit will begin to know, where it has to defecate.
As the lionheads reach adulthood, mainly the female rabbits have the tendency to shed the mane wool. In this case, it is wise not to use the rabbit for breeding as the litter is likely to get affected by this disorder. It is hard to detect such a disorder in a newborn rabbit kit. Therefore, before buying this rabbit, the buyer must look into the medical history of the young one's parents.
As this lineage of rabbit is new, there is limited information available on it. Many breeders are still trying to develop lionheads and overcome the challenge of maintaining the consistency in their size and study the temperament.