Silver Fox rabbits: Hard to find, very easy to love!
An American Breed…
The American Silver Fox rabbit was recognized as a breed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in 1929—it was only the third breed to be developed in America, the other breeds of rabbits at that time were being brought in from other countries. After 14 years of dedicated breeding and culling, a Mr. Walter Garland produced the first recognized Fox, though which breeds were combined to create the genetic make-up of the breed was never fully revealed. It was said that the man used a self-colored (black) Checkered Giant doe as the foundation dam, but anything beyond that female is speculation. English Silvers, Champagne D’Argents, American Blues, and even Mr. Garland’s now extinct creation the Alaskan Red Fox were also thought to play a role in the Silver Fox’s creation. Whatever the case, the mystery surrounding the origin of the Fox only adds to its appeal! (To read more on the Silver Fox and other breeds around the world, pick up a copy of Bob Whitman’s “Domestic Rabbits & Their Histories”)
Once the Silver Fox made its debut at the 1929 ARBA Convention in Fort Worth, Texas, the popularity of the breed soared. Fur was in high demand, and Silver Fox fur was and still is luxurious and striking. A Silver Fox’s coat consists of black hairs with longer, silver guard hairs mixed in between. The thickness of the coat makes the hairs stand up when stroked from tail to head. The length of the hairs adds to the splendor of the coat—each hair should be between 1 ½ inches to 2 inches long. This measurement makes the Silver Fox fur unique because it is longer than an average rabbit’s coat, but lacks the wooliness and length of the Angoras. Needless to say, furriers and fanciers alike flocked to the breed, demanding rabbits of the standard black and silver coats and their brethren the blue and silver variety. Ladies all over America nestled up in their Fox coats and donned their Fox mittens in the flowing winters, but then the craze died off…
On the Verge of Extinction…
With fashion trends shifting away from fur, the 1950’s through the 1970’s proved a hard time for the Silver Fox breed. Rabbits used to be seen as livestock, to be valued for their fur and meat, but now even the meat market for rabbit was failing. Rabbit breeders had a change of thinking, too. People began to raise rabbits for the sake of experimenting with genetics, providing children with a means to learn responsibility, for the pleasure of being in the company of rabbits, and of course, for competition. In 1971, a group of 18 individuals formed the National Silver Fox Rabbit Club, which promoted Foxes to potential new owners and breeders. Despite their efforts, the Blue variety of the Silver Fox slipped off the ARBA Standard due to lack of participating numbers. Throughout the years, the NSFRC has been devoted to trying to see growth in the population, but it has been touch and go. As of 2010, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy still had the breed listed as “critical,” although there has been some interest in developing the Blue variety again, as well as a Chocolate variety.
Is the Silver Fox right for you?
Are you a responsible individual who can provide adequate shelter, fresh water, nutritious food, and clean air to a rabbit? Do you live in a temperature climate, or can you keep your rabbits in an air-conditioned environment? Are you looking for a loving, soft, gentle companion? Can you lift 10 lbs? If so, the Silver Fox is for you! Silver Fox are known for their calm, gentle natures and social antics. As with any breed, females can tend to be hormonal and stand-offish, but if you are able to purchase a doe as a junior, you will be able to befriend her much easier than most females of other breeds. Bucks are extremely playful, and become excited when they know their special person is near. To love a Fox is to hold one, and to hold one is to take one home with you! I find that Silver Fox are highly marketable bunnies, regardless of whether someone wants to use them for meatpen breeding or if they are looking for a new breed to start out with—it makes no difference! I sit them in a chair, and place a Fox in their laps. People are continuously impressed with how soft and laid-back the big silvered bunnies are. Many spurn the Fox because they are a bigger breed. Males reach 9 to 11 pounds and females max out at 12 pounds. This is on a lighter scale than most heavyweights, but still the stigma is there—“if my kids can’t handle the rabbit, I’d rather own dwarves for them to play with.” Let me tell you, as a breeder of Dwarf Hotots, that if you want a rabbit for you and your family to befriend, it won’t be a high-strung dwarf rabbit. If you are a newcomer to the rabbit world, try a Fox. Sit with one, pet one, and ask breeders questions about their stock. Observe a Silver Fox at an ARBA show. You’ll quickly change your mind about walking home with a smaller bunny. After all, with a Fox, there is much more to love!
http://www.albc-usa.org/index.html (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
www.nsfrc.com (National Silver Fox Rabbit Club)
www.arba.net (American Rabbit Breeders Association)