The French Lop is a breed of domestic rabbit dating from the 19th century and created by combining English lop-eared rabbits with the Giant Normande breed. These first French Lops were primarily agouti, a chestnut-and-black pattern. Although the French Lop was primarily bred for its meat, over time it has become popular in exhibitions and as a domestic pet.
After originating in France in the 1850s, the popularity of the breed spread to Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The breed was known primarily for its meat until the 1930s, when 10 French Lops were brought to the U.K. and displayed during the Crystal Palace Show. They still didn't gain popular footing until the 1960s, though French Lops now can be found throughout the U.K. and U.S.
The French Lop is an especially large breed and can weigh up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg). The breed is comparable in size to the Flemish Giant and is the largest of all lop breeds. The breed's body shape might be described as "stocky" or "cobby." They boast short, wide cubical heads and bodies, and short legs.
Although like all lop breeds, their ears are long and hang below the jaw, the ears of the French Lop are considerably shorter than those of its cousin, the English Lop. The standard ear length is between 12 inches and 15 inches (30.5 cm and 38 cm) long, measured from the tip of one ear to the tip of the other. The coat is soft and sleek, and may be found in a variety of colors and patterns, including solid colors such as black, white, blue, orange and brown, and distinct patterns such as agouti, chinchilla, fawn, sooty fawn, Siamese sable, steel and butterfly. The French Lop is also the forerunner of the smaller Dwarf Lop, whose weight averages only around 5 pounds (2.25 kg). The Dwarf originated in the Netherlands around 1950 and resembles a miniature French Lop.
French Lops are generally friendly, calm, and make good pets, although their size means they require a large hutch or run that some apartment-dwellers may not have the space to provide. They can live outdoors or indoors, and they are not especially likely to develop behavioral problems. Their life span averages from five to seven years.
The female French Lop produces large litters of from five to 12 bunnies, but most breeders prevent females from giving birth before the age of 9 months and after the age of 1 year. The fusing of the female's pelvic bones makes birth difficult after this time. The gestation period for the breed is between 28 and 31 days.