Many people tend to believe that the Holland Lop is a descendant of the popular German breed, the Mini Lop, or Klein Widder. This is a common misconception, however, as the two breeds share the French Lop as a common ancestor. Aside from that, the Mini Lop and the Holland Lop are two entirely different breeds.
The Origin of the Holland Lop
As his name implies, the Holland Lop is a Dutch breed – the result of experimental breeding performed by one Adriann de Cock, of Tilburg, Holland. De Cock, who originally bred Tans, was a fan of the sweet disposition and unique look of the French Lop, but felt that the breed failed to gain popularity due to its immense size (French Lops commonly reach weights of 15 pounds or more). It was his idea to introduce the dwarfing gene, from the Netherland Dwarf rabbit, and see if he couldn’t reduce the size of the massive French Lop, while keeping the gentle disposition and lopped ears. Hoping to use a smaller female to create smaller babies, he bred a French Lop buck to a Netherland Dwarf doe, but this attempt failed to work.
In 1951, De Cock tried switching the breeding around, this time taking a French Lop doe to a small Netherland Dwarf buck. The result would be a full litter of six bunnies with small, but erect ears, such as those that were commonly seen on the Netherland Dwarf rabbit. It was apparent that there would be a great deal more work that would have to be dedicated to this endeavor.
Upon maturity, a doe from this litter was then taken and crossed with a peculiar-looking individual, known as the English Lop. Known for their impressive ear-span and Hush Puppy type appearance, this was perhaps an attempt to breed a longer ear that would consequently lop, while reducing the breed’s size further. This litter would prove to have one doe whose ears lopped fully, one that was only half-lopped, and two that had erect ear carriage. Certain that he was on the right track, De Cock would not be deterred.
His fully lopped doe had to be removed from the breeding program, due to her aggressive nature (which can be passed on to their babies), but the remaining bunnies from this second litter would then be crossed back to rabbits from the first litter. De Cock would then begin to focus on those that would have the desired French Lop appearance and continue to selectively line breed until he had four quality Holland Lops that he could use to represent and start a new breed. These individuals originally weighed in around 6-7 pounds but, in an effort to keep opportunists from jumping on the bandwagon and flooding the market with poor quality rabbits, De Cock would work with fellow lop enthusiasts to create a breeding standard and work further to reduce the size of the Holland Lop down to a mere 4 pounds. This would ensure that it would be difficult for just anyone to claim they were breeding dwarf lop rabbits and would help to preserve the breed that he’d worked so hard to create.
Holland Lop Appearance
The Dwarf Lop can be found in a wide variety of colors ranging from solid self shades, such as black or blue-eyed white, to broken (spotted) patterns, and shaded varieties like the Siamese-colored sable point, or the tortoiseshell. He should have a round face with a thick dwarf-style bone structure – short thick legs and a compact body, with a prominent head and lopped ears. Aggressiveness is highly frowned upon and should not be allowed in any breeding program. While some Hollanders may be hyper-active, the ideal Holland Lop has either a snuggly or laid-back personality. The breed is known for its open and friendly attitude.
There is a great deal of confusion between the Holland Lop and his larger cousin, the Mini Lop. The reason for this is that the Mini Lop was originally known as the Klein Widder in Europe, whereas his name was changed to Mini Lop after he was imported to the United States. This was done to help the breed gain popularity and to differentiate them from the larger lop breeds, the French and English Lops. While it made perfect sense in America, it caused a degree of confusion abroad, where the Holland Lop Club and Miniature Lop Clubs had combined and maintained the name of Miniature Lop Club to describe their dwarf and downsized lops. This would prove confusing to Mini Lop breeders, when they would discover their miniature lop rabbits were completely different from ones in the UK.
Breeding the Holland Lop
Careful consideration should be given before choosing to breed the Holland Lop – it’s not an easy task for the beginner. For starters, the Holland Lop is a dwarf breed and, sadly, many breedings result in what are known as “peanuts.” These extreme dwarfs never live more than a couple of weeks and it can be very heartbreaking to encounter. Additionally, one must look at the other end of the spectrum and realize that it’s very common for dwarf litters to result in beautiful individuals who simply grow too much and get larger than the standard allows. Add to that, troubles with getting ears that lop properly or correct body type and its easy to see how breeding show-quality Holland Lops can certainly be a challenge! However, for some, its an addiction that cannot be denied – the wonderful personality of these tiny dwarf rabbits is reason enough to get hooked!
Today, the Holland Lop is one of the most popular of all lop-eared rabbit breeds. Known for his cute chubby cheeks, short lopped ears and bright personality, they are a popular pet and exhibition rabbit and continue to gain new fans every year. Specialty shows reveal that the Holland Lop is a popular rabbit amongst people of all ages – from the youngest of exhibitors to the elderly, his winning personality endears him to most who meet him.
The ARBA Standard of Perfection – http://www.arba.net
The Holland Lop Rabbit Specialty Club – http://www.hlrsc.com/
Quarter Acre Farms Rabbitry – http://www.stopcropandshop.com/quarteracrefarms/id6.html