Mink Hollow Rabbitry Blog

Permanent link: http://bit.ly/mhr-blog

In an effort to move away from Facebook more, I am starting a blog. I will post things here that I would normally share on the farm page on FaceBook.

—- watch this space for more —–

First, a bit of background…..

RHDV2 is a highly contagious DEADLY virus that is not at all dangerous to anything but rabbits (and possibly hares). I won't go in to all the details; the American Veterinary Medical Association does it better, so I highly recommend you check it out.

The short version is that this virus kills pretty much every rabbit that gets it, usually within a day or two. Think: Ebola for rabbits.

There is a vaccine available, but it is currently (2023) very expensive in Canada (because rabbits are seen as pets) and so is really not a practical solution for most people who raise rabbits.

It is thought to survive on surfaces for a long time AND can be carried inside the gut of birds (without causing disease in the birds). This means that birds can potentially pick up the virus from eating seeds or anything that a diseased rabbit has touched. They can then carry that virus to a different location - like when they migrate - and leave it in a new place - like, on some grass that then gets eaten by a rabbit.

This virus is endemic throughout MOST of the western half of the United States (see USDA interactive map).

Another way it is believed to be transmitted is on produce that got infected in places where it's endemic, which then ends up in our grocery stores (kind of like salmonella does sometimes) and gets fed to unsuspecting rabbits, either pets in your house, or feral populations in your neighbourhood park or town.

As if that's not scary enough, the virus was recently discovered (July, 2023) to be present in bagged wood shavings sold in Airdrie by UFA, and produced by Parkland Chip Products. The same brand was also used for livestock at Edmonton's KDays, which was the location of an upcoming rabbit show. The rabbit show had to be moved at the last minute to a different location to make sure we didn't take any chances with our rabbits.

I want to be clear: this virus poses NO danger to people or other animals - just rabbits. It is not clear how the virus got into the shavings, but they were tested by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, so it's for real.

This brings us to the subject of this post: How can we keep our rabbits safe when the virus can be present on grass, wood shavings, produce, hay, and, well, pretty much everything?

I want to make something clear: there is NO WAY to absolutely guarantee that anything you feed your rabbit or use for bedding is completely free from virus or other pathogens.

All we can do is reduce the risk.

The following is written for people living in Western Canada, and more specifically, Alberta.

High -> Moderately High-Risk Feeds

  • Store-bought produce from the western United States
    • Many of the outbreaks in Alberta were isolated and short-lived and could have been the result of someone feeding unwashed produce to the rabbits. 1)
  • Pasture, grass, lawns, yards especially during the spring bird migration.
    • Letting rabbits feed from the ground can put them at risk for parasites and diseases spread by wild animals in the area.
  • Minimally processed feed (bagged or otherwise) imported from areas where there are outbreaks.

Low Risk Feeds

  • Locally sourced rabbit pellets
  • Greenhouse grown produce and other feeds - especially if they are local
  • Highly processed feeds

There are many materials that can be used for bedding. Some are relatively inexpensive, and others are not.

Most of us haven't really given much thought to the risk of contamination from bedding, but it's time to start.

This is not an exhaustive study. I am just looking at the ones I have experience with.

I did a quick experiment to try and compare the absorbency of the more common bedding/litter materials.

The results are below.

Puppy Pee Pads

These are super convenient and highly absorbent. The risk for contamination with pathogens is extremely low.

HOWEVER - they are NOT AT ALL environmentally friendly - not even the “compostable” ones.
They all contain plastics. They create non-recyclable and non-re-usable waste.

Also, they should ONLY be used in places where the rabbits can't get at them to chew them. They can be used in carrying cages and droppings trays, but NOT inside the cages themselves.

Wood Shavings

One big plus for wood shavings is that they smell nice. They are not especially absorbent (see below).

Wood shavings are made by taking logs from logging and shaving them in giant machines to make - you guessed it - shavings. It appears - at least in July 2023 - that the companies that make shavings do not keep track of where their logs come from, so they could be coming from contaminated places. These companies bring in logs from all over, and they sit in big piles until they are ready to be turned into shavings. Once they are turned into shavings, the shavings themselves sit in big warehouses - some with open sides - until they are ready to be bagged.

The logs could be contaminated either where they originally came from OR where they are stored, and the shavings could become contaminated before they are bagged. It is unlikely that they will become contaminated after being bagged.

The rabbits may chew them, but so long as the shavings are free from contamination (AND you avoid cedar shavings), they are no more dangerous for them to chew than a stick.

Used shavings can be composted. They take quite a while (years) to fully compost, BUT the shavings are good for soil aeration.

Wood shavings are available at most feed stores, UFA, Peavey Mart, some hardware stores, and lumber yards.

Chopped Straw

Chopped straw is also bagged, but tends to be processed directly into bags rather than chopped and then stored. Further, the source straw is usually kept in large round or square bales while waiting to be turned into the finished product. This minimizes the surface area that could become contaminated - so the risk is lower.

It is usually fairly easy to find out where the straw came from - most of the chopped straw available in Alberta is from grains actually grown in Alberta. Again the risk is minimized.

Chopped straw is moderately absorbent (see below), and has a low level of dust.

Another plus is that the rabbits can safely eat the straw. In fact it's actually good for them!

Used chopped straw composts well.

Chopped straw is typically available at feed stores, UFA, and Peavey Mart. Several brands are available. The one I have been using is Simply Straw.

Wood Stove Pellets

Wood stove pellets can be made from any left over cuttings, waste wood from lumber, etc. The raw materials are ground into a fine powder and then run through a high-pressure, high-temperature press that extrudes the final pellets. The processing pretty much destroys all possible pathogens.

NOTE: Some wood stove pellets are made with special wood or have special 'flavorings' added for use in Barbecues. DON'T USE THESE.

They create very little dust. Rabbits typically won't eat them although they may try them out if they've never seen them before.

It is also fairly absorbent (see below). When moisture is added, the pellets come apart while they soak up the liquid.

Used wood pellets compost better than shavings, but not as quickly as straw.

Wood Stove Pellets are usually available at most hardware stores.


To test the absorbency I used comparable amounts of the bedding, added 3 tablespoons of water, and waited 10 minutes.

Wood Shavings

The wood shavings were the least absorbent of the three. After soaking 3 tablespoons of water in the shavings for 10 minutes, I was able to pour off TWO full table spoons. That means that only 1 TBSP was absorbed (1 out of 3 Tbsp)

Chopped Straw

The straw was second best.
I used about the same volume of material as with the shavings.
I added 3 tablespoons of water and waited 10 minutes.
I was able to pour 1 tablespoon of water off after 10 minutes, so it absorbed 2 out of 3 TBSP of liquid.

Wood Stove Pellets

Since the wood pellets are far more dense than either the shavings or straw, I measured out one tablespoon of pellets and used that. I still added 3 table spoons of water, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
There was NO water to pour off. All the water was absorbed.

Just to double check - I did it again only this time I added a 1/2 cup (8 TBSP) of water.
The last picture shows how well the wood pellets did. There was clearly water that hadn't been absorbed. The sample that had 3 TBSP water added seemed pretty saturated, so I suspect that's pretty close to the limit.

2023/07/26 15:19 · becker

This article is in 2 parts because it's kind of long. The General/Ailments/Structural DQ section is in Part I.

The sections on eye and toenail colours from Part I are repeated here because they are connected to colours in general.

  • Eyes(*) Any eye colour other than the one called for in the standard is grounds for a DQ.
    DQs also include marbled (unless expressly allowed in your breed), mismatched, two or more distinct pigments in one eye.
  • Toenails(*)Both middle toes are white (and yes, they are too long and should have been trimmed). ALL toenails must be present AND their colour must match the the colour of the feet.
    In this image BOTH left toes are white, while both right toes are 'horn' coloured.Mismatched toenails on any one foot are a DQ, as are toenails that do not match on corresponding (i.e. both front or both back) feet. White toenails are a DQ in ALL coloured rabbits - including Californian and Himalayan colours. Coloured toenails are a DQ in white rabbits. Broken colours should have toenails that match the colour of the toe.

In most breeds, colour only forms a small part of the overall points for the breed, but perhaps because it is so obvious, it gets a fair bit of attention. It's also one of the best understood aspects of the rabbit, genetically speaking (not including “modifiers”, which are basically genes that affect the colour that we have not yet identified).

Each breed has specific colours (often grouped into Varieties) that are described in the Standard of Perfection. These are the ONLY colours that are showable.

One way in which colour DQs are different from other kinds of DQs is that even though they are (usually) permanent AND they are almost always genetic, they may still be useful or even valuable in a breeding program. A prime example is broken colours such as tris and especially those breeds such as English Spots, Checkered Giants, Rhinelanders, and others. Because of the genetics of broken patterns, breeding brokens to other brokens only, can result in a degradation of the pattern. There is also a connection between “Charlies” (i.e. brokens who have BOTH broken genes EnEn) and a condition called Megacolon. Megacolon is a condition where the small intestine is abnormally short, resulting in persistent digestive issues. It is believed to be genetic, so in order to prevent it from becoming too common in your herd, it is useful to keep some solid coloured versions (often called sports) in your breeding program.

Aside: Simply because a rabbit is lightly marked does not prove it is a Charlie. In order to be a true Charlie, it must have BOTH copies of the broken gene (EnEn). There are numerous modifiers that affect where, what size, and how many spots there will be, so it is possible to have a very lightly marked rabbit that is not a true Charlie. A true Charlie will always produce broken offspring. If it ever produces even one solid coloured rabbit, then it can't be a true Charlie.

Broken Colour(*)

borderline for too little colourborderline for too little colour Broken refers to any colour rabbit that also has white markings, and the following DQs apply to any breed that allows a broken pattern in addition to other varieties. There are some breeds that only recognize a broken pattern (like those mentioned above) and these usually have very specific requirements for the colours, placement, and size of the coloured markings. Refer the the specific breed standards for info on those.

The general DQs for Broken Colour apply only to breeds that include broken as one of the allowable varieties.

ALL of these calls are based on the Judge's opinion and are not open to protest. This is a subjective call, and in borderline cases, some judges may DQ a rabbit while others place them. That's just how it is.

There are 4 categories of disqualification for brokens:

  1. too much colour
  2. not enough colour
  3. lack of markings on face and/or ears
  4. unrecognized colour

Note that Cals and Himis are not broken, nor are shaded varieties.

Many breeds have specific requirements for one or more of these categories, so always check the Standard of Perfection for your breed to be sure.

Too Much Colour

Booted Red The Standard simply says, “so heavy as to resemble a “Booted broken”. Many used to specify no more than 50% colour, but many breeds are now going with a more general description. As always, check the Standard for your breed.

A Booted Broken is one that has colour over the entire body, possibly with white socks, chest, and some white on the head. They may or may not have coloured bellies. When assessing a broken rabbit, unless it is a specifically marked breed, the overall goal is for a pleasing balance of colour and white.

A Booted Broken can still be very useful in a breeding program even though it can't be shown. One would hope they had superior type to compensate.

Not Enough Colour

The Standard simply says, “so light in pattern to resemble a “Charlie”. Some breeds state that there must be at least 10% colour. This is nearly impossible to measure but is meant to give people a sense of what too little colour means. This rabbit was DQd by some judges and placed by others. None of them were wrong. This rabbit is borderline, so which side of the “enough colour” line it falls on is the judge's decision.

Incorrect Head Markings

This is not specifically mentioned under general DQs but is included here because most breeds that allow brokens include some variation of this as a breed-specific DQ. Most breeds require the ears to have at least some colour; there must be colour around each eye; and some colour on either side of the nose in what's called the “whisker-bed” (the area where the whiskers grow). The rabbit pictured would be DQ'd for lacking nose markings.
As always, check the Standard for your breed to find out the specifics.

Note: The Dutch breed is an exception here. It requires a white blaze down the front of the face with NO nose markings. Dutch markings are very exacting and are not addressed in the general DQs.

Unrecognized Colour

This is also not specifically mentioned in under general DQs, but again, most breeds that allow brokens list specific allowable solid colours. Usually, Broken only includes the broken versions of those other varieties, plus tricolour. Any colour or pattern that is NOT listed under the solid colours will not be accepted as a broken.
An example would be a broken silver marten in a breed that does not recognize silver martens.

Pattern - Agouti

One of the hallmarks of the agouti pattern (which includes castors, chestnuts, opals, chichillas, and others) is that the individual hairs have multiple bands of colour. When the fur is parted, one should see very distinct bands of colour.
A lack of clear banding in an agouti is a disqualification.

In addition to distinct bands (tipping, surface colour, midband, undercolour), each variety also specifies what colours each of the bands should be. Here is where each breed will have its own requirements. For example, in most breeds, the undercolour in Opals should be slate blue or grey. In many breeds it is a DQ if the undercolour of an opal is not blue/grey. In Rex, it is just a fault. ALWAYS check the standard for your specific breed. More on this later.

Pattern - Harlequin

Some breeds allow harlequin patterned varieties; others do not.
NO breed allows a harlequinized appearance in any other variety.
The pictures here show harlequinized versions of an agouti (Castor) and an otter.

Pattern - Tan

Pointed Whites, Himi, and Cal varieties that show any sign of a tan (or agouti) pattern in the coloured parts are disqualified. Pointed Whites, Himalyan, and Californian colours are all genetically self colours (i.e. they are neither agouti nor otter). Therefore any variation in the colour of the shaded areas other than a gradual change from white to colour at the borders is likely to be disqualified.
Both rabbits in the photo are agouti cals. The light edges around the nostrils, and the lighter colour inside the ears give it away.
The Californian colour as well as the breed may only be black, so the one pictured left is chocolate, which is ALSO a DQ.

Pattern - Tri-Coloured

Tri coloured rabbits can only ever be one of these four “shades”:

Black and Orange Chocolate and Orange
Blue and Fawn Lilac and Fawn

Pointed White

The genes responsible for Shaded Whites, Himis, and Cals reduce the amount of black pigment that is normally added to the hairs as they are formed. As a result, ALL shades of these colour will appear lighter than they would in a regular self coloured rabbit. Even the ones that are genetically black will have points that typically appear closer to sepia than true black.

Any visible pattern (such as tan) in the coloured parts are a disqualification. Patterns are usually visible around the nostrils, in the ear lacing, and the underside of the tail. It is common for the underside of the feet to be lighter than the upper parts, so this does not necessarily indicate an off colour.

In addition, MOST breeds also disqualify for colour (i.e. smut) on any usable part of the pelt. Even if your breed has never been used to produce pelts, imagine what parts of the body would be included here if it were spread out as a pelt. That normally includes anything above the elbows or hocks, the dewlap (if they have one), and the “skirt” of fur around the hindquarters. Since the formation of colour in these varieties is temperature dependent, this is a temporary DQ. It will very likely change with the next moult.


Smut is a temporary DQ.

While the amount of smut is not genetic, the degree of sensitivity to temperatures might be.

The gene associated with Cals and Himis is the same one in both colours (ch). While there are actual Cal and Himi breeds, the terms also apply to those colours in any breed. The difference between Cal and Himi as colours is that Cal can only be black, while Himis can be any of the basic “shades” (namely: black, blue, chocolate, and lilac).

It is one of the genes that affects how the pigment itself is put into the individual hairs as the hair itself grows. It is the temperature of the surface of the skin that causes more or less pigment (colour) to be added to the hair as it is being formed. The hairs themselves don't change colour, but the amount of pigment that's added to the hair CAN change as the hair emerges from the skin, depending on temperature.

Colder skin = more pigment.

This why Cals and Himis have coloured ears, nose, tail, feet, and sometimes eyebrows and dewlap.

A Cal or Himi DQ'd for smut could easily moult it out given the right temperature, and it is common for Cals and Himis to appear to “fade” in summer.

Cals and Himis are always born white, and the colour typically doesn't really start to develop until they start to venture out of the nest box. Occasionally, a baby will become chilled before all the hair has grown in. The result is called a “Frosty”. When the new hair grows, it will grow out. Notice also that only the ends of the hairs are coloured. This is because as the hair grows, it covers the skin better, and so the skin is warmer, reducing the amount of pigment.

(*) Sable and other shaded colours are somewhat subject to temperature sensitivities, but it is not nearly as pronounced as it is in Cals and Himis.

Shaded Varieties

Shaded varieties include Sable and Seal. These colours must have a noticeable shading. In other words they can not look like a regular self-coloured rabbit. While these colours often darken with age, they must still retain their characteristic shading.


Any foreign coloured spot in a coloured area (or coloured spot on an otherwise white rabbit) is a disqualification.

The most common example of this is white spots on a coloured rabbit. These typically have 2 sources: one is genetic, and the other not.

Genetic White Spots

Sometimes a white spot will appear at the end of a toe, or the tip of the nose. These could well be genetic as these are places where white markings are most likely to 'begin'.
Often, people will claim that they are the result of the Vienna gene, but in a breed that has never had this gene as part of its genome, it is unlikely.
These white spots could be the result of nestbox injuries, but they could also be genetic.
If white spots like this turn up several times in the related litters, then it is more likely to be genetic.

Non-Genetic White Spots

Non-genetic white spots most often come about in the nestbox. Perhaps the doe accidentally pokes one of the babies with a toenail, or there's a leftover scar from when she cleaned up the umbilical cord. These scars will sometimes damage the pigment producing parts of the the skin (melanocytes) so that when the hair grows it has no pigment. In other words, the hair grows out white.
This is a permanent condition but it is NOT genetic.
The reason this is a disqualification is because it isn't possible to tell whether it was in fact the result of an injury or if it is a genetic white spot.
These kinds of white spots are rarely genetic, but that can't be guaranteed.

White Hairs(*)

This is another one of those that is completely up to the judge's discretion and can not be contested.

In a solid coloured rabbit, there should be no white in any coloured parts. Note the scattered white hairs in the ears of this solid black buck. This may or may not be disqualified. It's completely up to the judge. There are clearly white hairs there. Whether or not there are too many is the judge's call.
Sometimes these will go away after the next moult, but sometimes not.

Scattered white hairs are more common in broken rabbits as seen in the broken black on the right. When they are born, the skin usually looks spotted and as they grow the spots come together to form patches. Sometimes the hairs in between the now connected spots continue to grow white hairs. In the case of the doe on the right, they did not moult out.

Note: The silvering seen in breeds like Silver Fox or Argente Brun comes from a specific gene and is not included in this general DQ.

Wrong Undercolour

Each colour has specific requirements for what colour the undercolour should be. Any noticeable deviation from that colour is a disqualification.

For example, in most breeds, the undercolour in Opals should be slate blue or grey. In many breeds it is a DQ if the undercolour of an opal is not blue/grey. In Rex, it is just a fault. ALWAYS check the standard for your specific breed.

When it comes to colour, almost ALL colour faults are genetic, so there's really no point in creating a table like we have in Part I.

The only exceptions(*) to the genetic nature of colour faults are smut in a Californian or Himalayan coloured rabbit (regardless of breed) and some white spots (when they are the result of an injury that damages the pigment producing part of the skin).

2023/03/11 00:13 · becker

This article is in 2 parts because it's kind of long. The colour DQ section is in Part II. I have included quite a few pictures.

Very often when a competitor is disqualified from something like a sports competition, it is seen as something to be ashamed of.
Not so in rabbit shows!

At least, not usually.

There are many reasons a rabbit can be disqualified (DQ'd) from their class at a show. Only some of them are the result of something nefarious.

That said, many, if not MOST DQ's at shows can be foreseen and avoided. But we all make mistakes sometimes, or forget to check our rabbits carefully enough, so unless you make a habit of not checking your buns before a show, it's not really a big deal. I'm sure there are some, but I don't know a single exhibitor who has never had a rabbit of theirs DQ'd.

A DQ isn't normally a source of shame at a rabbit show. In fact, it can be seen as a terrific learning opportunity. So let's proceed….

First, it is important to note that a DQ is the Judge's call, and many of these are not open to protest.
In many cases, a judge will often ask for a second opinion before disqualifying a rabbit.
Trust the judges. They know what they are doing.
They do NOT want to disqualify any rabbits from competition, but at the same time, they are bound to uphold the ARBA2) standard.

At the end of this article you will find a table of disqualifications, whether it's temporary or permanent, and whether it is (or likely is) genetic. This information can help you decide whether or not to keep this animal (and possibly its relatives) in your breeding program.

When it comes to earning Legs towards your championship or breed points for specialty competition - with TWO exceptions3) - rabbits that have been DQ'd still count in the tallies for entries and exhibitors.
Note: Rabbits that are 'scratched' (i.e. withdrawn before judging of the class begins) do not count towards the entry and exhibitor totals for Legs.

DQs marked with (*) are the Judge's opinion and NOT open to protest. In other words, the Judge's opinion is final.

arba.net_wp-content_uploads_2020_11_standards-of-perfection.jpg According to the ARBA Standard of Perfection (SoP), there are several categories of DQs that apply to all breeds equally. There are also disqualifications that apply to specific breeds. We will only cover the general ones in this article. To find out what DQs are specific to your breed, please check the official standard for that breed.

The general DQ categories are as follows. Those that are not open to protest are marked with a (*). “Not Open to Protest” means that this is strictly up to the judge's opinion and cannot be argued with.

  • Abnormalities(*) - This includes anything that clearly deviates from the normally accepted condition of the body. Ill health falls under this category.
  • Altering Appearance(*) - THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS ONE
    Dying, plucking, trimming, clipping fur, coloring toenails, etc. Anything done to fake the normal and natural appearance of the rabbit falls under this category. This also includes spraying grooming preparations into the fur.
    Brushing, rubbing with a towel to remove dead hair, and spraying with plain water is NOT included.
  • Genitalia(*) - Split PenisSplit penis in males or neutered animals of either sex. You may need to look carefully to check for split penis as the split is almost always along the underside of the penis.
    Senior bucks must show two normally descended testicles at the time of judging. Juniors and Pre-Juniors must either have both or no testicles descended. Monorchism (one descended testicle) is a disqualification in all bucks.
  • Overweight or Underweight - While animals on the borderline may sometimes lose or gain enough weight to be DQ'd in the time between leaving for the show and actually being judged, it's always a good idea to weigh your rabbits before packing them up for the show.
    Know what the weight ranges are for each of the classes in your breed.
    Most Junior and Intermediate Classes have upper weight limits. If your rabbit is in that age category, BUT is bigger than the upper weight limit, it should be moved into the next category. This can not be done in reverse. In other words if you have a senior rabbit that does not make senior weight, it can NOT be moved down to a younger age class.
  • Permanent Ear Mark(*) All rabbits entered in a show must have a permanent, legible tattoo in the left ear. If the tattoo is illegible, wrong, or missing, the rabbit must be DQ'd. Tattoos may ONLY contain the letters A-Z and the digits 0-9. They may not be profane.
    Most shows will have one or more people willing to tattoo your rabbit if you find yourself at the show and forgot to get this done.
  • Wrong Sex, Breed, Group, or Variety It happens. Typos while doing your entries; mis-identification; the infamous “Sex-Change Fairy”4)
    This DQ affects the total entry and exhibitor counts.

Rabbits that are being shown should be healthy and in good condition.

  • Abnormal Eye Discharge(*) If it looks like it has an infection, keep it at home until it's completely cleared up.
  • Colds(*) - Any kind of nasal discharge other than a clear watery one is grounds for a DQ. This DQ is taken very seriously as it could be a sign of something contagious. If your animal is DQd for nasal discharge, try to remove it from the show building as soon as possible.
    A simple clear, runny nose is not considered a DQ.
  • Conjunctivitis(*) - An inflammation of the inner eye membrane making the eye appear red. This may also indicate a contagious ailment and the rabbit should be removed from the show grounds as soon as possible.
  • General(*) - Ear canker, slobbers, vent disease, or abscesses. Mangy fur or flakey, scaley dandruff or bare patches could indicate external parasites and will result in the rabbit being disqualified. These too could indicate something contagious, so please remove your rabbit from the show as soon as you can. (Keep it covered and under your table until you can remove it from the building.)
  • Rupture or Hernia(*) Any protrusion in the abdominal wall could be a hernia. These are often, but not always found in the umbilical area.
  • This rabbit has bare patches on their heels that look calloused. They would not be classified as sore hocks. Sore Hocks - If the foot (front or rear) is showing signs of infection or if they are bleeding, the rabbit will be disqualified. Simple bare or calloused skin is not a DQ.
  • Tumor or Abnormal Swelling(*) - Any swollen or distended mass that forms a lump will result in a DQ.

  • Crooked Legs(*) Rabbits are meant to have strong legs where the toes point forwards when the animal is relaxed.
    Legs that are bowed, bent, splayed, deformed, or cow-hocked may be disqualified if in the judge's opinion it is severe.
  • This doe has a hooked spine. There is a clear shadow behind her ears where her neck/spine curves under her shoulder blades.Deviated or Hooked Spine(*) Note the image of the skeleton shown above. Any serious deviation from that curvature is considered abnormal and, if severe enough, would be disqualified.
    A hooked spine is one where the neck/upper spine makes a kind of 'S-shape between the head and the ribs.
    A hooked spine can sometimes result from too much attention paid on “short” shoulders.
    A deviated spine is one that is not straight when seen from above.
  • Dewlap(*) Does often develop a dewlap, which is a flap of skin under their chins. Some breeds do NOT allow an obvious dewlap. Check your breed standard to see if it is allowed in your breed.
  • A junior black Rex with lopped ears. They became lopped during a heat wave.Ears(*) Many breeds have specific requirements for how long the ears should be and how they are carried. Lopped breeds with upright ears would be a disqualification in a senior. Alternately, lopped ears in a breed that normally carries their ears upright is also a DQ. The picture to the right is a black Rex junior, who may be cute, but is definitely a DQ on the judge's table.
    Ears that are torn, or that have a portion missing must noticeably detract from the general appearance of the animal. In breeds where the length of the ear is specified, it must be possible to measure that length, so if both ears are missing the tips, this could be a DQ.
  • Eyes(*)This case of cataracts is mild, but will likely get worse with age.This is a fairly severe case of cataracts. Infections of the eyes are covered under Ailments. Diseases such as cataracts are covered here. Cataracts, eye spots, visible ulceration or other corneal (surface) defects, glaucoma, and tumours are all possible DQs, if too noticeable. There is at least one kind of juvenile cataract that is the result of a recessive gene. These cataracts normally do not show up until the animal is 16 weeks old, so they will typically look normal when sold. In other words, the person who sold it to you may not be aware of the issue. Since this is the result of a single recessive gene, it means that BOTH parents carry the gene. This is one that is likely worth noting and tracking back in the pedigree. Test-breeding, while time consuming may be the only way to identify other carriers so they can be eliminated from the gene pool.
    Any eye colour other than the one called for in the standard is grounds for a DQ.
    Note the 2 pictures of the same tri doe who shows corneal scarring. In the one picture she is younger and in the second picture she is older.
    The scarring became much less noticeable as she grew up. Corneal scarring can happen any time as a result of an accident but most often occurs in the nestbox as the kits are starting to open their eyes. Making sure the nest box stays clean and not too dusty can help to avoid this problem.
    DQs also include marbled (unless expressly allowed in your breed), mismatched, two or more distinct pigments in one eye.
  • Pigeon Breast(*) Imagine a pigeon puffing out its breast.
    In a rabbit, it is an abnormally narrow chest with a prominently protruding 'V' shaped breastbone.
  • Tail(*) The tail is an extension of the spine and should follow naturally. A tail that is permanently skewed to one side, or permanently out of line with the spine could be a DQ. A screw-tail (pictured) is one that is twisted instead of straight (like a cork-screw). Broken tails, missing tails, or anything that prevents the judge from assessing the length and shape of the tail will be a DQ. A “dead” tail (i.e. one with no flesh or apparent circulation) is NOT a DQ unless it is broken or out of alignment.
    Bob (short) tails are only a problem if they are out of proportion with the rest of the animal.
  • Teeth(*)a BAD case of malocclusion Teeth may not be broken, missing, or crooked.
    Malocclusion is when the front teeth don't meet correctly and is a DQ.
    The top teeth must (slightly) overlap the bottom teeth to be acceptable.
  • Toenails(*)The two left toenails are white, while the two right toenails are horn coloured. ALL toenails must be present AND their colour must match the the colour of the feet. Mismatched toenails on any one foot are a DQ, as are toenails that do not match on corresponding (i.e. both front or both back) feet. White toenails are a DQ in ALL coloured rabbits - including Californian and Himalayan colours. Coloured toenails are a DQ in white rabbits. Broken colours should have toenails that match the colour of the toe.
    A broken toenail is only a problem if the colour of the nail can not be determined.
    By the way, it is considered polite (and respectful of the judge) to make sure the toenails on all your rabbits are recently trimmed and not too long or sharp.

Normally, all rabbits in any given Class will be awarded a placement from First to Last. Occasionally a rabbit will be entered that deviates from the general requirements or specific breed standard to such an extent that can not even be awarded last place. In that case, the judge may assess it it as “Unworthy of Award”.
If an animal is deemed to be older than the category in which it was entered (such as if you entered a 1 year old rabbit in a junior class) it may also be unworthy of an award.
Animals disqualified for this reason are not counted in the tallies.

This DQ affects the total entry and exhibitor counts.

Any animal that is vicious or uncontrollable may be excused from judging at any time during a show. If it has already won awards, it may keep them, but it may not continue in the competition for the remainder of that show.

This last category is the rarest of them all. It involves some sort of attempt to misrepresent the rabbit by altering it in some way. If you are caught trying one of these tricks, you will not only have your rabbit disqualified from the one show, but you might have all of your entries disqualified, and further consequences might follow.

Altering the Rabbit's natural appearance in any way will result in disqualification and may ALSO involve the disqualification of the exhibitor's entire entry for that show.

Knowing whether or not a particular DQ is a permanent condition or one that may change over time has an impact on whether or not its show career is over, whether or not you should keep this animal in your breeding program, and possibly even whether or not you should consider removing related rabbits from your breeding program.

PLEASE understand that there is no such thing as the perfect rabbit, so having a permanent disqualifying fault does not automatically mean the rabbit should be culled. It DOES mean that you must decide if this fault is something you can work with or if it is something you would rather just avoid.

Some DQ are genetic and therefor likely to be passed on to offspring. Some are suspected to be genetic, but it hasn't been proven. Some are congenital - which means they were born with it, and it may be a permanent condition, but it will NOT be passed on to their offspring.

Other DQ's are considered temporary. A perfect example is weight. An underweight young senior may still make weight if given time. Whether you are OK with an animal that is slow to mature is up to you. Normally, being slow to reach adult weight is NOT a good thing in a meat breed, but could be perfectly fine in a pet breed. If the animal is overweight, it may simply be because it is fat and putting it on a diet or giving it more exercise might fix the problem.

The chart below lists the DQ's and notes whether they would normally be considered permanent or temporary, and whether or not they are likely to be genetic. Please read this with common sense in mind. Size is definitely a genetic quality, but at the same time being a little bit over or under could simply be a matter of feeding and exercise.

Another thing to remember is that just because it's genetic does not always mean it is the result of a single gene. Many conditions are the result of multiple genes acting together. If that is the case, tracking down the source may be next to impossible. All animals have good and bad qualities that are genetic. It's up to you which ones you are prepared to live and work with.

Please note that this list is not comprehensive. Hopefully, there are enough examples to give people the general idea of how this works. Also, if you disagree with any of the classifications below, please email me so we can discuss it. If you do, please be prepared to provide references for your claim. Thanks!

DQ Sub-Category Permanent/Temporary Genetic / Congenital
Abnormalities General Deviations either/both either/both
Altering Appearance Anything YOU do to change their appearance. Often TEMP Neither
Genitalia Split Penis Perm Likely Genetic5)
Genitalia Neutered PERM Not Genetic
Genitalia Monorchid Often Perm Could be Genetic
Genitalia Cryptorchid Perm except in Juniors Could be Genetic
Weight See note above table Possibly TEMP Could be either6)
Ear Mark Bad/Missing Tattoo TEMP7) neither
Wrong Sex, Breed, Group, Variety exhibitor error TEMP neither
DQ Sub-Category Permanent/Temporary Genetic / Congenital
Eye Discharge TEMP Not Genetic8)
Colds TEMP Not Genetic9)
Conjunctivitis TEMP Not Genetic10)
Injuries, vent disease, abscesses, etc. TEMP11) Not Genetic12)
Hernia PERM13) probably not genetic
Sore Hocks TEMP14) depends15)
Tumours TEMP(Surgery will make them not showable) Predisposition could be genetic.
DQ Sub-Category Permanent/Temporary Genetic / Congenital
Crooked Legs bent, bowed PERM could be either genetic or nutritional
Crooked Legs splayed usually PERM can be a result of a too slippery surface in the nestbox
Crooked Legs cow hocks PERM Genetic - usually indicates pinched/narrow hip bones
Crooked Legs from injury PERM Not genetic, but still a DQ
Deviated or Hooked Spine PERM genetic
Dewlap PERM (in does) genetic
Ears length PERM once grown genetic16)
Ears lop Usually Permanent17) Genetic (except when stress-related)
Eyes Cataracts PERM Genetic18)
Eyes Ulceration Can be Temp Not Genetic19)
Eyes Miss-Coloured PERM Genetic
Pigeon Breast PERM Genetic
Tail Wry, Screw PERM Genetic
Tail Broken PERM not genetic
Tail Dead PERM not genetic
Tail Bob PERM not genetic if the result of it breaking off
Teeth Broken possibly permanent depending on severity, can result in lifelong problems if they don't grow back properly. not genetic
Teeth Malocclusion normally permanent usually genetic
Toenails Missing PERM not genetic
Toenails Broken TEMP not genetic
Toenails Mismatched usually PERM, often worsens with age genetic
2023/03/10 05:18 · becker

Now that we've had a brief introduction to rabbit shows, let's have a look at clerking.

Judge is in the foreground, and the clerk is in the background.A clerk at a show is a volunteer who assists the judge during the judging.

In the image, it is the person in the background with the pencil and yellow sheets of paper.

In an ARBA sanctioned rabbit show, it is essential that records are kept of all rabbits entered, and of the results of the judging. At the end of the show, the Show Secretary must compile all the results and submit them to ARBA.

The clerk will typically do the following things:

  1. Get the next set of judging sheets from the Show Secretary.
  2. Call up the breeds and classes when the judge is ready.
  3. Make sure the rabbits go in the holes in the correct order.
  4. Record the judge's decisions on the judging sheets.
  5. Hand the completed judging sheets to the Show Secretary when the judging of that group is complete.

Sample judging sheet - ready for judgingHere we have an example of a judging sheet, filled in with the entries for this class.

If there are multiple shows happening at the same time (as in a Double or Triple Show), these sheets are often printed on coloured paper using a different colour for each show. This helps in keeping the shows from getting mixed up.

Each class is printed on a separate sheet of paper.
There is a typical hierarchy for the order:

  • Breed, such as: Mini Rex, English Lop, Harlequin, etc.
  • Variety. Often this is the colour, such as Black or White, but can also include a number of colours, such as Otter, or Solid. Each breed has a specific set of accepted varieties, which can be found in the Standard of Perfection.
  • Class: each has specific weight requirements, depending on breed
    • in a 4-class breed, this will be either Junior (under 6 months) or Senior (6 mo. or over)
    • in a 6-class breed, this will be Junior (under 6 mo.), Intermediate (6-8 months), or Senior (8 mo or over)
  • Sex: either Buck or Doe

As you can see in the sample, this sheet is for Dutch rabbits: Black Junior Does.
There are 13 entered altogether.
This sample also has Coop #'s listed, implying it is a cooped show. If it is a carrying cage show, then that column will be blank.

Judging sheets placed on top of the coop waiting for all the rabbits to be brought up.
NOTE: It is the EXHIBITOR'S responsibility to get their rabbits up to the table when called.

The order of judging for the breeds as well as the number of entries in each breed will usually be posted near the judging tables on the day of the show, so you can often get a pretty good idea of when your breed is going to be called up.

If the number of entries for a particular breed is small, then all classes and varieties may be called up to the judging table at the same time. They will normally be put into the holes in the roughly same order as on the judging sheets, and the varieties will go in alphabetical order. The clerk (that's you) will place the judging sheet for one class on top of the first hole for that class, and then leave enough spaces for all the rabbits in that class. They will then place the next judging sheet above the next hole, and so on. The sheets are normally placed so that the exhibitors can read them, so they can see where to put their rabbits.

Green judging sheets in front of the holes, ready for the judge to start judging.The order of the rabbits in the same class doesn't matter. We just need to make sure that all of the rabbits competing in that one class are together for the judge.

If the entries for a particular breed is larger than will fit on the judging table at the same time, then it will be called up in smaller groups. There are 13 rabbits in the sample judging sheet, so it is possible that only the Black Junior Does will be called up for this round.

In the image, you can see the green judging sheets on top of the holes. Note the gap - that is because there are 3 rabbits in that one class, and only one of each class in the others.

The next image has the sheets on the judging side of the table, ready for the judging to begin.

Occasionally, you will find a rabbit crossed out on the judging sheet. The comment should say “SCRATCH”. This means that the exhibitor has decided (some time after the entry deadline) not to show that rabbit. There can be any number of reasons for this - maybe they forgot to bring it, or maybe it broke a toenail. The reason does not have to be recorded; only that it was scratched.

Sometimes an exhibitor will decide to scratch an entry on the day of the show. That's OK too. Your job as clerk is to make sure that all of the rabbits on the judging sheet are accounted for.

In our example, the clerk would have counted only 12 Black Dutch Junior Does and then asked the exhibitors which one was scratched. Once you find out which rabbit is not there, cross it off on the judging sheet with a note (see image later).

The judge is giving her critique of an angora rabbit while the clerk is taking notes. Most judges are VERY willing to help explain things to the clerk if they are unsure about something, so don't hesitate to ask!

The judges do what they do because they love rabbits and the fancy, and most also love helping new people learn - no matter how young!

The judge will normally go over all of the rabbits in the one class before making a decision.
As a clerk, what you need to do right now is just pay attention.

Sometimes the judge will notice something about a particular rabbit that disqualifies it from competition. It could be over- or under-weight for its class; it could have a colour fault; it could have been mistakenly entered in the wrong class. The ARBA SoP lists all general disqualifications as well as all of the breed-specific ones. Most judges keep a copy of the SoP handy while they judge and will refer to it whenever they want to double check something.

If the judge decides to disqualify an animal, they will let you - the clerk - know. At that point you will need to verify the ear number. Find that rabbit on your list, mark it as a DQ, and write a brief explanation. There are a few examples on the filled in judging sheet below.

sample judging sheet - filled in after the judging Once the judge has made their decisions, they will let you know. Get the judging sheet and your pen or pencil handy.

The judge will often make some general comments about the rabbits, what they especially liked, and didn't like, for example. If you have the time, you can make a few notes on the judging sheet about what the judge said, but this is not necessary.

What IS necessary is to record every placement and award. Some judges will place every single rabbit in the class from last to 1st, while others start with the 5th or 4th placing rabbit. In the example, the judge started with the 5th place winner.

The judge will usually take the rabbit out of it's hole, and read out the ear number for you to look up on the judging sheet. Sometimes, tattoos aren't very clear and you may have to figure it out together with the judge. That's OK.

It is more important to get it right than to do it fast.

If you're not sure whether you have matched the rabbit to the sheet - let the judge help you. You will get better at it with time!

The judge will then move on to the next one up the line, until they get to the 1st place winner of that class.

If there are more classes in the same variety or breed, you will have to hang on to that sheet a bit longer. Sometimes, you will only have one entry in a given variety - like only ONE Black Rex, for example. In that case, provided that rabbit wins 1st in its class 20) it will also win Best of Variety (BoV).

You should write that on the sheet as well.

If there are other classes to judge, only the 1st place winner will stay on the judging table, and all the rest can go back into their carrying cages or coops.

The other classes will then get judged in the same way until all are done. Let's say there were entries in all 4 Black Dutch classes: Sr. Buck, Jr. Buck, Sr. Doe, and Jr. Doe.

By the time that is done, there will be 4 rabbits left on the judging table, and you will have 4 judging sheets (plus possibly a sheet where you can record the major wins for the entire breed). When the judge makes their decision for Best of Variety(BOV), they will choose one of the rabbits of the opposite sex to win Best of Variety, Opposite Sex (BOSV).

Write these awards down next to the correct rabbits on the judging sheets and also on the award sheet if you have one. The BOV and BOSV will normally remain on the table until all varieties of the entire breed have been judged.

The judge will then do the next variety in the same way, and eventually you will have a BOV and possibly BOSV for each variety in the breed. All of those animals need to be up on the table again for the next step. The judge will now check them all again to choose a Best of Breed (BOB) and if there is one, a Best of Breed, Opposite Sex (BOSB). Those wins need to be recorded on the sheets as well. Those are the ones who will need to come back one more time for the Best in Show judging. All the others are done for the day.

If you are new to clerking, let the judge (or a show committee member) show you what to do.

So, if you have read this far, CONGRATULATIONS!

Now that NO-ONE will think badly of you or judge you if you get mixed up or if you ask the judge to help you. (Remember, YOU are not the one being judged here. :-) )

Everyone once started off where you are now. We're all routing for you and hoping you will come to love rabbit shows as much as we do!

Clerking is a GREAT way to learn more about rabbits and showing.

2022/05/15 16:38 · becker

By Katrin Becker

Some people are surprised when they hear that there are shows for rabbits.
Whole books could be written about just rabbit shows. This article offers a very brief introduction.

First, a bit of background.
Almost every kind of domestic animal has:

  • distinct, recognized breeds21).
  • a representative association that maintains a written description of each breed (called a Breed Standard or Standard of Perfection) that describes what it is supposed to look like, and sometimes also how it should behave or what it should be able to do.
  • some kind of show. Pigeons, poultry, sheep, dogs, cats, cows, horses,22) … and, rabbits.

Different kinds of animals have different kinds of shows, but most have some kind of Conformation Show.23) A conformation show is one where the animal's appearance is judged by someone who has been trained and is qualified to assess the animals. Other than possibly having the animal move around, conformation shows do not require the animals to perform in any way. Since part of what is being judged often includes the animal's structure, being able to watch the animal move is sometimes an essential part of the judging process (but they don't do tricks or follow commands).

Some rabbit shows include other events (like obstacle races), but unlike dogs, these other events are not officially recognized by ARBA (The American Rabbit Breeders Association), which is the official association for domestic rabbits in North America.

There are currently 50 officially recognized breeds of rabbit in North America. The United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia have their own official associations and have set their own standards for what the breeds should look like. Some breeds are common to all but their breed descriptions sometimes differ.

Some rabbit shows include separate classes for fur and commercial qualities. These may be discussed in a future blog.

ARBA holds a very large national show once each year, usually in the fall. It draws hundreds of exhibitors and has thousands of entries.

Most shows are much smaller, and are put on by local rabbit clubs.
There are currently 3 rabbit clubs in Alberta:

There are 2 main varieties of rabbit show:

  • cooped, and
  • carrying cage

In Alberta, carrying cage shows are more common than cooped shows, but we do have both.

In a cooped show, cages are supplied by the show. This often happens when the show is part of a larger exhibition and the the venue wants to provide a more consistent way to display the animals for the public attending the event. Sometimes you can choose which cages to put your rabbits into. Other times cages are labelled and you must place your rabbits where you are told. This is often done to make sure that all rabbits of one breed are in the same area.

In a carrying cage show, you are expected to keep your rabbits in cages you have brought yourself. In both cases you are expected to bring everything your rabbit will need for the time it will be staying at the show grounds. That includes food & water dishes, sufficient food, bedding, and any grooming equipment you will need.

Normally, rabbits remain at the show in their cages for the duration of the show.

You will sometimes see a show advertised as a “single”, “double”, “triple”, or “specialty” show.

A single show is one show held on one day. Usually all rabbits are judged by the same judge.
A double is when there are TWO completely separate shows in the same place on the same day. They will be judged by two different judges and both shows usually run simultaneously.
A triple is when there are THREE shows, with THREE judges, all running simultaneously on the same day.

A Double-Double would be 4 shows on 2 consecutive days, often, a Saturday and Sunday. In that case each judge usually judges one show each day. In case you are wondering why anyone would want to show the same rabbit under the same judge two days in a row, things can change from one day to the next. Also, check the section on Winning, below.

A Specialty show is one where only rabbits of one particular breed compete.

How do I enter my rabbit in a show?

Rabbits are shown by phenotype24) rather than genotype25). In other words, if you have a rabbit that looks like a Dwarf Hotot(as in the photo), then you can show it as a Dwarf Hotot. This is also true for the rabbit's colour variety.

The show-giving club will usually publish a Show Catalog several weeks before the actual show providing information on rules, the judges, entries, the show venue, accommodations, and so on.

You will have to fill out an entry form, where you will identify each rabbit by its ear tattoo, breed, variety, sex26), age27)

Your rabbit MUST have a permanent identifying tattoo in its LEFT ear. You can sometimes find someone at the show who can tattoo your rabbit for your on the day of the show if it hasn't already been done.

The breed must be one of the 50 recognized breeds, and the variety will vary, depending on breed. The written Standard of Perfection (SOP) gives a detailed description and the correct name for each variety of every breed.

The age classifications usually also include minimum and maximum weights, so it is a good idea to weigh your rabbit before entering it in the show. It is NOT allowed to show a rabbit in a younger age category. So, a 7 month old rabbit that is too small for the senior group canNOT be shown as a junior. However, a 5 month old rabbit that exceeds the maximum weight for a junior should be shown in the next age category (intermediate or senior, depending on breed).

There is usually a fee for each entry. In 2022 in Alberta, that is usually $5.00 per rabbit for one show. So, to enter your rabbit in all shows of a “Double-Double” would cost $20.00. Becoming a member of the show-giving club will often get you a discount on entries.

Most shows have an entry deadline that will occur anywhere from a few days to a week before the show. This gives the Show Secretary time to enter all the entries and make sure that judging will go smoothly on show day.

Below is an example of a rabbit show entry form.

Most shows will give you time - often the day before the first shows - to bring your rabbits to the venue and get them set up, either in their carrying cages, or in the coops provided. There are often tables set up for you to use. Occasionally you will have to bring your own (that info will be in the show catalog).

When you come to set up, please be considerate of other exhibitors. Don't take up more than your share of the available space. Cover the table with a tablecloth of some sort if one has not already been supplied, and make every effort to keep your space clean and tidy throughout the show.

Judging usually starts at 8 or 9am on the morning of the show(s). Rabbits are judged one breed at a time, and the order of the breeds is determined by the show committee. The order of the breeds will be different for each show on the same day. The show committee will usually try to make sure that no breed is required for judging on both tables at the same time!

There is usually a break for lunch, but exactly when that happens depends on how the judging is going.

Your breed will be announced when it is time for it to be judged. Someone at the judges' table will be able to tell you which 'slot' (called a hole) your rabbit should go in. They will often place the judging sheet28) on top of the judging coops ove the places where the rabbits listed in the sheets are to go. They are placed into the holes on the judging table in a very specific order. For example, the Rex will often be called up by colour, then gender, then age, so all black senior bucks will go next to each other, followed by the junior black bucks, then the senior black does, and finally the junior black does. Then, all of the next variety (in this case Blue) will be placed next to the blacks, and so on.

  1. DO NOT stand on the same side of the judging table as the judge.
  2. Try not to obstruct the view of others as they watch the judging.
  3. DO NOT identify your rabbit to the judge. Who owns it should have NO impact on the way it is judged.
  4. Do not spend too much time schmoozing with the judge. Occasional question and banter are normally fine, but leave the long conversations until after the judging is complete. They only slow down judging.
  5. Pay attention while your breed is being judged. You can learn a great deal this way.
  6. The judges' opinion is NOT open for debate.
  7. DO NOT say unpleasant things about the judges, the other exhibitors, OR the show committee at the judging table.
  8. If the judge disqualifies your animal, you can remove it from the judges' table and put it back in your carrying cage.
  9. Once your breed or variety is finished being judge, remove all but the winning rabbits from the table.
  10. Be a good sport and congratulate the winner - even if it wasn't you!

DQ stands for disqualification. That's when your rabbit is disqualified from competition.

It happens to ALL of us and is normally no cause for shame or embarrassment.

The ARBA SoP lists all general disqualifications as well as any that are specific to your breed.

Some are considered permanent DQ's. An example would be if your black rabbit has a white spot somewhere.

Others can be temporary, such as a rabbit that is over or under the allowed weight for their breed and age.

Occasionally - we've ALL done it - we will forget to check our rabbits carefully enough and discover that we have forgotten to tattoo one, or entered one in the wrong class - even the wrong sex! Sometimes the judge will notice something we didn't (or didn't know yet). That's OK. It is sometimes possible to correct the entry for the next show if it's a gender or ear number problem. It will almost never be possible to correct it for the current show. Consider it the price of education.

Also, just because one judge noticed a disqualifying fault, it doesn't mean the others will too. When we pay for our entry, we are paying for ONE judge's opinion on THAT day only. Respect their opinion.

There are many opportunities to win at a rabbit show.

It might be easiest to explain this using an example:

Suppose we have the following Rex rabbits entered:

BlackBuckSenior3A, B
OtterBuckSenior3B, C
OtterDoeSenior5A, B, C

We have 16 Rex altogether, shown by 3 different people (A, B, and C).

When it comes time to judge the Rex, they will likely be placed into the holes of the judging coop in the same order as above: black Sr. bucks, then the black jr buck, then the broken sr doe, then the jr doe, then the senior otter bucks, the senior otter does, and finally the junior otter does.

The judge will first look over all 3 black senior bucks. They will check for disqualifying faults and then assess the rabbit's overall quality. They often don't say much about the rabbits at that time.
Once they have made their decisions, they will take them out again - often in reverse order of placements - and give a verbal critique about each rabbit as they do so. They will say what they like about that 3rd place black buck, and then say what could be better. They will do the same for the second place rabbit, and also for the first place winner. They will often explain how they compared against each other as well.

At that point the 2nd, and 3rd place winners are done being judged for that show. They can often be taken off the judges' table and put back in their carrying cages.

Next, the judge will assess the junior black buck. Unless there is a reason that the rabbit should not win anything, it will normally be given 1st place.

Then the black doe will get judged. Since there are no junior black does, that completes the judging of the Black classes. The 3 1st place winners will still be on the table, and the judge will choose among them for the wins of Best of Variety (BoV) and Best of Variety Oppostite Sex (BoVO). If the BOV goes to the doe, then the judge will choose between one of the bucks for BoVO, and if one of the bucks is chosen BoV, then the doe will become BoVO. Let's say the Junior Buck wins BOV and the doe wins BoVO.

BlackBuckSenior3A, B
OtterBuckSenior3B, C
OtterDoeSenior5A, B, C

This continues with each variety until all the varieties are done. Note that there are no Broken bucks, so the only award will be for BOV.

BlackBuckSenior3A, B
OtterBuckSenior3B, CBoVO
OtterDoeSenior5A, B, CBOV

Now, all the BOV winners will be compared against each other, and the judge will choose one for Best of Breed (BOB). Depending on whether that winner is a buck or a doe, the judge will also choose a Best of Breed, Opposite Sex (BOBO).

Suppose Senior Otter Doe wins Best of Breed, and the Junior Black Buck wins Best of Breed, Opposite Sex. Those two rabbits will be needed later when it comes time to judge Best in Show. The rest are done for that show.

Depending on how many rabbits there were and how many exhibitors showed them, winnings can be eligible for “Grand Champion Legs”. A rabbit must earn at least three grand champion legs before it can become a grand champion. It must also be registered with ARBA. Some people only register their rabbits once they have won enough “legs” in order to apply for Grand Champion stats (sometimes called “being granded”).

The basic rules for earning a leg are quite simple: The rabbit must have won at the class level or above, and must have beaten at least 4 other rabbits. So, to win a leg in a class, there must be at least 5 rabbits in that class. On top of that, those 5 rabbits must have been shown by at least three different exhibitors. This prevents a single exhibitor from earning a leg by simply entering 5 of their own rabbits.

A rabbit can only ever earn ONE leg at any given show, even if it wins Best in Show.

Let's look at the Rex classes and see where legs would be awarded.

BlackBuckSenior3A, B -
BlackBuckJunior1ABOV, BOBOYES - for the BOBO, but not for the BOV
OtterBuckSenior3B, CBoVO-
OtterDoeSenior5A, B, CBOV, BOBYES - winning just this class was enough for a leg
OtterDoeJunior2A -

The Black Jr Buck would not have won a leg for winning his class, as he was the only one.
He also didn't win a leg for the BOV. There were 5 black Rex altogether, but they were all shown by only TWO exhibitors (A & B), so no leg.
He DOES earn a leg for the BOBO win, because for that he beat all of the other bucks - 7 in total, shown by all 3 exhibitors.

The BOB winning Senior otter doe won her leg at the class level: there were 5 does in her class shown by 3 different exhibitors, so she earns a leg for that.
Winning Best of Variety, and then Best of Breed is really wonderful, but doesn't earn her any additional legs.

If you've made it this far, congratulations! I hope that wasn't too long or complicated. Please let me know if there is anything I got wrong, or anything important I left out.

Here is a Rabbit Show Checklist you can use to get ready for your next show….

2022/05/15 16:24 · becker

NOTE: This has NOT been proven. It is a theory only.
American Rabbit Breeders Association
1. Wrong class, sex, breed, group, or variety, and 2. Unworthy of Award
Who seems to get enjoyment from making you think your rabbit is a one sex when in fact it's the other.
There is some evidence to suggest that this can also happen during pregnancy, in which case it is congenital and NOT genetic.
An illness or abnormal stress can interfere with the animal's normal growth, resulting in one that is too small, but they won't pass this on to their offspring.
IF you can fix it to make it legible
8) , 9) , 10) , 12)
Although a robust or weak immune system IS genetic
although the condition may result in permanent scarring
but can be repaired by surgery, which would mean it can no longer be shown
although if thin fur is the cause, then THAT could be persistent
poor condition, poor or dirty housing can result in sore hocks and these are not genetic. Lack of density or too soft fur can also predispose a rabbit to sore hocks and both of those things are genetic
Although temperature at birth has some limited impact - winter litters will often have smaller ears than summer litters.
Can be temporary - especially in juniors. Normally erect ears can become floppy, either at the tips or at the base as a result of stress, especially when temperatures are too hot.
In fact, some forms of cataracts are the result of a SINGLE recessive gene.
often the result of injury or 'nest-box eye
the judge may decide that the rabbit isn't worthy of any award, but that is uncommon
a breed is a distinct variety of a particular species that “breeds true”, meaning that the offspring of 2 animals of the same breed will all share the same qualities, including fur or feather type, size, colours, temperament, and abilities
this is not a complete list!
NOTE: the word is conFORMation, not conFIRMation. Confirmation is when you agree about something; conformation is about the FORM of something.
what the rabbit looks like
the actual genetics of the rabbit
buck or doe
junior(< 6mo), senior(> 6mo). Some large breed have and additional intermediate class which is 6-8 months. In that case, their senior age group is 8 months and over.
the sheet where placements and wins are recordrd
  • blog.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/04/10 18:21
  • by becker