The Flemish Giant is the largest and heaviest rabbit breed in the world. It is a Belgian breed that is suitable as a pet, beef rabbit and for exhibitions. Rabbits of this breed weigh at least 6 kilos but usually 8 kilos. Because they are so large, they are kept less often as pets than the smaller breeds. The Flemish Giant generally has a calm character.
The breed originated in Ghent at the beginning of the 19th century. In Ghent they had a wild land rabbits, called Patagonians. This rabbit was very large and heavy and was used as a slaughter rabbit. People kept crossing the largest animals with each other, after which it quickly became a popular breed. Germans bought up many of these rabbits to export them to the rest of Europe. In 1893 the The Flemish Giant variety was included in the German standard. The breed became more and more popular in the rest of Europe. It is the Germans who ensured that the breed became the way it is today. Even today you will often find even bigger and heavier rabbits in Germany than here.
To speak of a good Flemish Giant, the rabbit must meet various characteristics. The rabbit must weigh at least 6 kilos, but more. A high weight is good, as long as it is not at the expense of the breed type. By way of comparison: a rabbit in the wild weighs around 1.5 to 2.5 kilos. The Flemish Giant is therefore extremely heavy. The head must be strong. The male rabbits (rams) have a stronger head than the female rabbits (feeders). They also have very large ears. The ears must be at least 17 centimeters long and must not contain any folds or folds. The construction of this breed must be impressive. The legs must be very strong and coarse, but must not be long. If you look at the Flemish Giant from the side, it must have a straight back and a shoulder part that clearly forms one whole with the back. When a Flemish Giant has the right construction and adopts a good attitude, it is a beautiful animal to see. He then looks like an athlete. Unfortunately, construction errors are often hereditary. It is therefore advisable not to breed with animals that contain errors. The character of a Flemish Giant is normally calm, friendly and reliable. This ensures that they are also suitable to keep as pets.
Flemish giants come in many different colors. However, not all colors are recognized by the variety. That means that if you have a Flemish Giant in a different color than the recognized colors, your rabbit does not officially belong to the breed.
The recognized colors for the Flemish Giant are:
- Hare color
- Rabbit gray
- Iron gray
- Blue grey
The hare color (a kind of brown-red) is a Dutch breeding product. A spotted Flemish giant is not accepted.
The Flemish Giant is used for various purposes. When the breed just became known, it was primarily a slaughtered rabbit. Nowadays, the Flemish Giant is also kept as a pet and the rabbit is taken to exhibitions. When keeping a Flemish Giant as a pet, it is sometimes a disadvantage that he is so big and heavy. Because of this he needs a lot of space and he eats more than a small rabbit. This breed does have a very nice and calm character, which ensures that children can handle it well. If you are going to participate in exhibitions with the Flemish Giant, it is very important that the rabbit meets all breed standards. The Flemish Giant is a beloved breed in exhibitions and errors are definitely not appreciated. These requirements ensure that the Flemish Giant remains a good breed with only the best rabbits.
Not accepted weights are below 6kg.
Small weights are between 6-7,5kg.
Normal weight is 7,5-8,5kg.
Top weights are between 8,5-12kg.
Abnormal weights (so called Guinness records) are +12kg.
Tidbit: German Giant
The German Giant is developed from Flemish Giant rabbits exported from Flanders (Flemish region) in Belgium to Germany. They were kept pure but bred bigger. In Belgium they consider German Giant rabbits as big Flemish. And people breed them together. While in Germany they sometimes import new Flemish from Belgium for blood refreshments with German Giant crosses. Two different names but its the same breed.