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Understanding Rabbit Fur

If you want to show rabbits, you'll need to understand how the American Rabbit Breeders Association (A.R.B.A.) sets the fur color standards for rabbits. Each rabbit breed has its own set of A.R.B.A.-recognized colors and color patterns. A.R.B.A. organizes fur colors and patterns into two basic divisions: group and variety.

A group is the larger division; each group is sorted by the fur type or the way the colors are dispersed throughout the fur. Each group can have several varieties. For example, a common group among rabbit breeds is Agouti. The Agouti group is characterized by hair shafts that have three or more bands of color, with a break between each color. Some varieties within the Agouti group are Chestnut, Opal, and Lynx (an orange color). Other common groups are Pointed White (a white coat with colored points (feet, tail, and nose); colors within this group are the colors on the points, not the body color), Self (a coat consisting of one consistent, solid color), Shaded (colors in this group exhibit a gradual transition from dark to light shades of the color, usually from dark at the head to light at the tail), Ticked (guard hairs or outer hairs - the longer fur that is most obvious - have a distinctly different color from the undercoat, with the guard hairs having the darker black or black-tipped hairs), and Wide Band (a hair shaft having more than one band of color, with the main color in a single, very wide, very prominent band on the shaft).

Some people refer to Tri-Color (a group having three colors in the coat; one of these colors is always white) as a color group, although it is not recognized as its own separate group by A.R.B.A.

Colors that are interspersed with white are called "broken" (for example, a Broken Lynx). When a rabbit is white with points of a different color, the rabbit's color is the color of the points (for example, Sable Point). Some rabbits, such as the Dutch and English Spot, always have their spots of color in the same place, no matter what color is the rest of their fur is. Some breeds, such as the Californian or American Sable, come in only the Standard variety, which means their coloration never varies in group or variety.

For more information on fur coloration, please see the A.R.B.A. Standard of Perfection, which gives details on the physical characteristics each breed of rabbit should possess in order to compete in an A.R.B.A.-sanctioned show. The A.R.B.A. Standard of Perfection can be obtained through the A.R.B.A. Web site.



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