There are 47 recognized breeds of rabbit, according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association, and many of those breeds come in more than one variety. Their affectionate natures, low-maintenance lifestyles and soft fur make rabbits popular throughout the world. One of the most popular breeds of rabbit is the Rex, which features a unique fur that distinguishes it from other breeds. 1)
Rex rabbits were discovered in 1919 by a peasant in France. The peasant’s son was a servant of a respected rabbit breeder named Monsieur Gillet. The breeder liked this different-looking rabbit and asked if any others like it could be found. Another was found in the same area, and it is said the pair were mated to become the foundation of the Rex breed. Rex rabbits were brought to the United States in 1924, and in 1958, they were accepted by the ARBA.
Rex rabbit fur is different from that of other breeds because of its velvety feel. In fact, the breed, along with its smaller relative, the mini Rex, is sometimes referred to as the velveteen Rex. This rabbit’s fur is short, stands upright and is very thick. The guard hairs, the long hairs which form the topcoat, are the same length as the undercoat. It is this, along with the coat’s denseness, which gives it its plush texture.
Rex rabbits are often shown in competitions, and their fur accounts for a large part of their scores. In shows, the Rex rabbit’s fur is required to be very dense and lush, with an ideal length of about 5/8 of an inch. It must be straight, even and lustrous, with plentiful guard hairs of the same length as the rest of the fur. It should be plush, smooth and springy, but not silky in texture. A coarse or silky texture, as well as dullness, are considered faults.
In the U.S., there are 16 recognized color varieties of Rex rabbit fur: Amber, Black, Black Otter, Blue, Broken, Californian, Castor, Chinchilla, Chocolate, Lilac, Lynx, Opal, Red, Sable, Seal and White. Broken is defined as any standard color in conjunction with white, and the Californian variety is white, except for the nose, ears, tail and feet, which should be black. Castor is a dark chestnut or mahogany brown, and Lynx should be a bright fawn shade over a white under-color. Amber, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac varieties were not allowed to compete in shows until February 2009.
Like dogs and cats, most rabbits do need some grooming. However, Rex rabbit fur should not be combed or brushed unless it has become matted. A better idea to remove loose hair on the Rex is to dampen your hands with water and run them backwards over the rabbit’s coat. The coat can then be polished with a soft chamois cloth.