Looking For A Pet? Get An Angora Rabbit!
Angora rabbits are immediately recognized by their fine wool which presents a halo effect upon first viewing these lovely creatures. This unique breed of rabbit will surely capture your heart and imagination with its fluffy hairdo and comical expression. The gentleness of this breed is attributed to their need for human care and grooming as part of their daily life.
Angoras have been known to exist since around the late 1700s and were transported by sailors, merchants, and explorers throughout Europe as wool producers, trade material, gifts to royalty and anomalies of nature. The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) today recognizes four distinct Angora breeds: English, French, Satin, and Giant. The ARBA is the governing body of thousands of rabbit fanciers. The ARBA produces guidelines and standards for each breed, promotes the betterment of all rabbits, sanctions exhibitions and provides education about rabbits through various venues.
Types Of Angora Rabbits
The English Angora is the smallest in weight of all the breeds. They range from approximately 5-7 pounds. The English Angora body style is considered to be short and compact with a rather short and broad head. The overall body is well balanced. The length of the wool fibers can be 3 – 5 inches – giving the rabbit the appearance of being larger than some small dogs. It is all just wool! They are fully covered in a very soft, fine diameter, low number of guard hairs and a slightly wavy crimp in the undercoat. Their face, ears and feet are covered in wool as well. Their coat lends best to hand plucking the fibers as mechanized shearing produces an over-abundance of the fine undercoat that will mat or felt easily. You can expect 10-12 ounces of wool fiber per year. This lovely creature becomes quite accustomed to regular grooming which should occur on a weekly basis to keep your rabbit in prime condition.
The French Angora is the next most popular breed weighing in at 7-10 pounds. They are more of the commercial type rabbit – heavier set with longer body type. Their wool is slightly coarser with a higher percentage of guard hairs and a bit less crimp than the English and covers only their body. The higher incident of guard hairs lends this breed to fewer propensities of matting or felting, a richer color and produces an exquisite nap on knitted items. Their face, ears and feet are covered in normal length rabbit fur. The French Angora also responds well to hand plucking as they simultaneously produce new growth under the older coat. Shearing can cause matting when the new coat lengthens and sticks to the older fibers. The labor intensity to keep facial furnishings is not an issue with this breed and they have many aficionados. The French are known to produce approximately 16 ounces of fiber per year.
The Satin Angora is a relatively new breed having been approved for registration in 1987. They were developed from the French Angora and the Satin (a commercial type, satin furred breed). Satin Angoras are similar to the French in body type and weighing in at 6-9 pounds. Their wool is a fine fiber that does tend to mat easily if not properly cared for. The wool is of a fine diameter with an incredible sheen that is reflected by light. The white Satin Angora fiber will shine like silk when spun and produced into handcrafted knitwear. A lovely breed of Angora producing limited amounts of fiber – usually under 8 ounces per year. This fiber is highly sought after for it’s luxurious effect.
The Giant Angora was recognized by the ARBA in 1988 and must be a minimum of 9.5 pounds, of the commercial type. The breed was developed through careful breeding of excellent quality French and German Angoras with the introduction of large normal furred breeds such as the Flemish Giant and the French Lop. The Giant Angora is a hefty rabbit, covered in wool that is thick and heavily crimped. These were developed as a commercial wool producer and are the best candidates for mechanical shearing to fully remove their extensive coats. Production of 1 to 2 pounds of fiber per year is not uncommon.
There has been much interest and discussion regarding the German Angora breed amongst fanciers. The German Angora was the result of many years of exceptional research by European, particularly the German, breeders. They were intent to develop a strain of Angoras that would consistently produce the highest quantity and quality of wool necessary for their fiber mills. German Angoras are from pure European Angora stock without the interspersing of non-Angora breeds to increase their size. Their body weight averages at 9 to 10 pounds and their wool must be silky, not cottony, heavily crimped and the texture and length is to be even over the entire body, including the belly area. German Angoras are not accepted as a recognized breed by the ARBA but with appropriate documentation, they have been shown as Giant Angoras in competition.
People choose Angoras as a breed of choice for their lovable personality, the gorgeous wool coats, and their production of a highly sought after silky fiber. The color choices for most breeds (other than the Giant Angora which is only recognized in the color white) range from black, blue, chocolate, fawn, chinchilla, copper, various hues within these colors themselves and the recent introduction of broken color (which is any solid color in conjunction with white). These unique wool covered rabbits lend themselves as delightful pets, challenging exhibition animals and of course, your very own producer of angora fiber that can be spun into heavenly yarns of many colors. Enjoying the company of an Angora in any breed will bring hours of enjoyment to those willing to commit their time and patience in their care.