A Belgian hare is a type of domesticated rabbit with a unique appearance. These rabbits are so named because they originated in Belgium and have been bred to resemble hares. They are sleek and wiry, with long, fragile bones and long ears and back feet. The Belgian hare's lanky, fine-boned look has earned it the nickname "race horse of the rabbit fancy."
Range of Colors
The classic Belgian hare is red in color, and this is the only color that recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), one of the world's leading organizations for rabbit breeders. Belgian hares also come in black, black and tan, however, and there are some that are ruby-eyed white. All colors are considered to be attractive, although they may not be permitted in some rabbit shows.
Suitability as Pets
Belgian hares also are considered to make great pets. They are said to have a good disposition, although some might be a bit skittish. The Belgian hare is a fairly large rabbit, sometimes exceeding 9 pounds (4.1 kg), so it requires a fair amount of space. Also, the Belgian hare has a very fast metabolism and requires more food than a pet owner might expect for a rabbit of its size.
First Bred during the 1800s
The first Belgian hares were bred in Belgium during the 19th century and brought to England in 1874. Fourteen years later, they arrived in the United States, where they became immensely popular in rabbit shows. Belgian hare clubs soon cropped up around the country, thousands were bred, and some sold for as much as $1,000 US dollars — an exorbitant amount of money at the time. This popularity was short-lived, however, tapering off during the 1920s, and in the early 21st century, the Belgian hare is one of the rarer rabbit breeds.
Traits and Needs
Belgian hares are said to be among the smartest rabbits. They have special feeding needs and require significant amounts of exercise. They are more fragile than some other rabbit breeds because of their delicate bones, so this should be taken into consideration by anyone who is thinking about keeping a Belgian hare to show or as a pet. Belgian hare breeders have a reputation of being devoted to the breed.