A wide assortment of rabbit breeds are recognized by rabbit associations all over the world, from the mini lop to the checkered giant. Many people like to keep rabbits as pets and show animals, thereby preserving some very old heritage breeds of rabbits, and some specific breeds are also kept for their meat and fur. If you are interested in seeing some well known rabbit breeds in person, you can visit a rabbit show to see the best of the crop; rabbit shows are also a good place to network with breeders, for people interested in purchasing purebred rabbits.
All rabbit breeds kept domestically are true rabbits, including the misnamed Belgian hare. Hares are distinguished by their extremely muscular hindlegs and their lengthy, upright ears. Rabbits are also born blind and helpless, while hares are born with the ability to fend for themselves, to some extent.
One of the most famous and beloved rabbit breeds is the lop. There are actually a number of lop breeds, including the mini lop and the Holland lop, and all of them are distinguished by having floppy ears which hang down the sides of their faces. Lops are known for being very gentle and affectionate, for rabbits, and many people enjoy keeping them as pets.
A number of rabbit breeds are known for distinctive or unusual fur. Satins have fur with a rich, glossy sheen, for example, while Beverens, one of the oldest known rabbit breeds, have extremely thick, lush coats. Argente rabbit breeds from France also have very plush, soft coats, including the Creme d'Argente, which has a creamy upper coat with a startling orange undercoat. Jersey Woolies are known for their extremely fuzzy, wool-like coats, as are fuzzy lops, and rex rabbits have very soft, curly hair.
The angora is another well known rabbit breed. Angoras have extremely long hair which can be combed or plucked and spun into wool; angora garments are prized for their insulating value and softness. Many angora rabbits are also extremely gentle and placid pets.
On the small end of the scale, one can find mini rabbit breeds like dwarf lops, dwarf Hotots, and Netherland dwarfs. Many other rabbit breeds have been bred to produce extremely small individuals. On the other end of the spectrum, the giant breeds like the Flemish giant, checkered giant, British giant, and German gray giant are all known for their unusually large size. These breeds were developed primarily for meat.
Rabbit breeds also come in a rainbow of distinctive colors. Himalayan rabbits have creamy bodies with dark ears and legs, while Dutch rabbits have distinctive crisp black and white markings. The Blue of Sint-Niklaas is known for its distinctive creamy gray coat, while English spots are, as you might imagine, covered in spots.