Lionhead rabbit is one of the newer breeds of domestic rabbits in the United States, and has recently passed the American Rabbit Breeders’ Association presentation process and has been accepted as an ARBA recognized breed in the varieties of Tortoise and Ruby Eyed White.
As of February 1st, 2014 they will be able to show for Best in Show and receive legs of Grand Champion like any other of the accepted breeds. The Lionhead rabbit has a wool mane encircling the head, reminiscent of a male lion, hence the name.
Lionheads are not only cute and perky, they are very good-natured bunnies. They are very tolerant of children as well, and as such, they make wonderful pets for kids and adults alike. They also tend to be well-mannered, friendly, and easily trained.
Lionheads were first created in Belgium by crossing two different dwarf sized breeds, although the debate of which two breeds were used, exactly, has left many scratching their heads in wonder. However, in doing the specific breed-crossing (quite possibly being that of a Swiss Fox and Netherland Dwarf) that was used, there was a gene mutation that occurred, causing this new breed to consistently produce a line of wool around the head region, and often times the flanks as well.
Typically, the mane is thick, woolly and soft with evident “crimping”. Depending on the number of genes a Lionhead gets from each parent, it can have a double mane (two mane genes) or a single mane (one mane gene). The only way to tell if a rabbit is single mane or double mane is when it is first born. A double mane Lionhead will have a noticeable V form around their skirt/flanks, while a single mane will look like a common rabbit directly after birth. Past then, many factors contribute to how much mane each individual actually ends up having including chewing on the mane by themselves or others and matts.
Single Maned: Single mane Lionhead rabbits only have one copy of the mane gene. These Lionheads typically do not hold a mane for their entire lifetime. They have a mane that can be around its head, ears, chin and sometimes on the chest and rump. The mane may be wispy and thin and may disappear on some rabbits altogether as they mature.
Double Maned: Double maned Lionheads have two copies of the mane gene. They typically have a thick mane of wool encircling the head and sometimes have wool on their flanks that some refer to as a “skirt.” A double maned lionhead is the product of either two single maned Lionheads (will have single manes in the litter) or two double maned lionheads.