Domestic Rabbits & Their Histories

Belgian Hare


The Belgian Hare, as the name suggests, originated in Belgium by crossing the wild European rabbits with various domestic rabbits. It was imported into England in 1874 by two brothers by the name of Lumb, who regularly imported livestock from the low countries. The Belgian Hare is a true rabbit and not a Hare as the name implies. It is the British rabbit fanciers that are to be given credit for developing the graceful Belgian Hare that we know today. The first standard for the Belgian Hare was written in England in 1882.

The first Belgian Hares to arrive on American soil where imported by Mr. E.M. Hughes of Albany, New York in 1888. Mr. Hughes, along with a Mr. W.N. Richardson of Troy, NY and Mr. G.W. Fenton of Barr, MA were the three movers and shakers for the new breed, exhibiting and promoting them across the country at various small stock shows. The American Belgian Hare Association was soon formed, but disbanded within a year. Another club for the breed known as the National Belgian Hare Club of America was organized in 1897. By 1898, there was no less 600 rabbitries in the Los Angeles, California  area breeding Hares, with some having more than 1000 animals. By 1900, Mr. C. H. Lane reported that there was over 60,000 Belgian Hares in Southern California alone and the numbers were steadily on the increase. Great numbers of Belgian Hares were being imported from England and changing hands at fabulous prices, some animals selling for as high as $1,000.00 each. The “Belgian Hare Boom” would finally come to an end in the early 1920s. The “Bust” was so great that the lovely “Race Horse of The Rabbit Fancy” is quite scare throughout the United States. Although Belgian Hares are accepted in every country that has a national rabbit governing body, they are left in the hands of the dedicated rabbit fancier. BE WARNED, once a Belgian Hare breeder, always a Belgian Hare breeder. I’ve known a few people that have kept Belgian Hares for over 50 years. One dear friend, long since passed, William “Bill” Barnes of Illinois began raising Hares at 13 and still had Hares at age 83….that’s a 70 year lifetime Love of one breed of rabbit.

The standard color of the Belgian Hare is known as the Rufus Red, being a brilliant deep rich red of a tan or chestnut agouti shade. This is the only color accepted in the ARBA Standard of Perfection today.
BLACK – In the early 1920s the National Pet Stock Association, now known as the ARBA accepted the Blacks under the name of “Black Siberian Hares”.
BLACK AND TAN – The clever Belgian Hare breeders in the Netherlands developed the beautifully graceful Black And Tan Belgian Hare a number of years ago.
RUBY EYED WHITE – Yes, there is a Ruby Eyed White Belgian Hare that I believe was developed in Belgium several years ago, but these a quite rare and I understand very difficult to breed.

I have the standard Rufus Red colored Belgian Hares from four different US sources. In order to broaden the gene pool, I have brought back additional Belgian Hares from England both in the Rufus Red color and the GORGEOUS Black and Tan Belgian Hares. My Black and Tan Belgian Hares are from two British breeders and one Scottish breeder. Truly beautiful animals and just as graceful as the Rufus Reds. I now have plenty of lovely Hares to share with my fellow American fanciers. Although Belgian Hares may be rare, it is the Hare that began the “Rabbit Fancy in America”

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