Not everybody knows that the English Spot rabbit breed has an incredibly long history. When you hold one in your arms, you are actually carrying a little piece of the Victorian era!
It was one of the very first show breeds to be developed and, as such, it has evolved a friendly, docile personality that is accustomed to being picked up, handled, and stroked. An excellent characteristic for a loving pet bunny! 😀
Are you planning to welcome an English Spot rabbit into your family?
Then read on!
As we hinted at, the English Spot originated in Britain in the mid 19th century. It quickly became popular and was affectionately known as the ‘English’. What was very unusual for those times is that the English Spot was directly bred to be a show rabbit rather than being developed from an existing commercial breed.
Like many other old rabbit breeds, their exact origin is uncertain. Many think that English Spots were selectively bred from the common English spotted rabbit that was a mainstay of 19th-century British barns. Despite the large size difference, others also believe the English Spot breed is related to the Checkered Giant (Great Lorrainese) rabbit because of the many shared physical features: i.e. colored ears, cheek spots, and eye circles.
A real testament to the breed’s long history is the fact that the National English Rabbit Club was founded way back in 1891 and that the first standard of perfection was written just two years later!
The English Spot rabbit was first exported to Europe and then to the United States, where they were an instant hit among breeders and rabbit lovers. It only took until 1924 for the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) to recognize the breed, and for the American English Spot Rabbit Club to be founded.
By the way, this breed is often referred to as ‘Lapin Papillon Anglais’ or ‘English Butterfly’ in Europe and North America. Don’t get confused!
An English Spot rabbit is recognizable thanks to its fully arched body shape and its distinctive colored markings. A prime example, like the beauty pictured above, has the following defining characteristics:
- Spots and patterns on its face, nose, sides, and spine
- Long, slender legs with the hind set being parallel with its body
- Front paws that lift their body off the floor
- Well rounded hips that are slightly wider than the shoulders
- Fairly long, colored ears that stand upright
- A broad yet well-proportioned head
At first glance, you might mistake an English Spot rabbit for a Checkered Giant. But it’s actually quite easy to tell them apart if you know what to look for!
Unlike its distant relative, English spotted rabbits are a medium-sized breed. They only reach an average weight of 5-8 lbs (2.3-3.6 kg).
The coat of an English Spot is made up of short, very dense ‘flyback’ fur. The result is a soft and shiny coat that demands petting and stroking. To keep their beautiful coats in tip-top condition, remember to groom your English Spot about once a week!
Every show-worthy English Spot rabbit has a white coat, but what really distinguishes them is their captivating colored body markings. You need to look out for six main marks:
- A butterfly-shaped nose spot
- Eye circles
- Cheek flashes (also called boldness spots or cheek spots)
- Colored ears
- A ‘herringbone’ pattern, which is a solid streak of color than runs down their back
- A string of random spots stretching out on the sides of their bodies
Sound like a lot?
Well, it is!
Even English Spot breeders struggle to create the perfect rabbit! In most litters, only about half of kits have all the traditional markings. The other half are either fully or partially colored. A fun fact is that partially marked bunnies are often called ‘Charlie’. Why? Because their nose pattern looks a lot like a ‘Charlie Chaplin’ mustache!
So what recognized colors do these English Spot markings come in?
Five if you are in the UK: Black, Blue, Grey, Chocolate, Tortoise…
… and seven according to the ARBA in the USA: the same five plus Gold and Lilac.
You can rest easy if you decide on an English Spot rabbit: they are a very hardy bunny breed that is well suited for any type of climate. They also aren’t susceptible to any particular hereditary disease, meaning you’ll just need to look out for the usual rabbit health problems.
An English Spot rabbit has an average lifespan of about 5 to 8 years, but they can live for longer if lovingly cared for.
Over a century of being a prized (and constantly handled) show rabbit has done this breed a world of good!
English Spots are famous for theirgood-natured, friendly, and inquisitive personalities. This upbeat disposition matches the fact that they are a running breed with tons of natural playfulness and energy. Look out for their amusing acrobatics as they run and binky across your home!
This sweet, active nature makes them wonderful pets for almost anyone: singles, couples, families, seniors, existing pet owners, or anyone who is looking for a new best friend! 🐇😀 Our only word of warning goes to families with small kids. An English Spot rabbit is not the best choice due to their fragile bodies and high energy levels.
Caring for an English Spot Rabbit
The English Spot rabbit breed is perfectly suited for either indoor or outdoor living. The most important thing is to guarantee that their enclosure:
- Keeps them safe from predators,
- Is tucked away from direct sunlight, and
- Gives them plenty of space to stretch their legs out.
Also, don’t forget to line their cages with soft rabbit-safe bedding and keep them nice and clean!
An English Spot rabbit is an energetic little fellow that’ll need plenty of exercise and outdoor time, at the very least two hours per day. To keep them safe and happy, we recommend you give them plenty of chew toys, use an extension hutch in your garden, and rabbit-proof your interiors.
When it comes to food, you’ll need to provide your English Spot rabbit with a healthy diet. Aim for 70% high-quality grass hay (like Timothy) and 30% fresh greens complemented by rabbit pellets. And, oh yeah, make sure that fresh drinking water is always ‘at paw’ for your English Spot and that you only give them fruits as a special treat.
P.S. An English Spot rabbit is a very social animal that adores companionship, so get them a bunny friend if you can!
Owing to their easy-going temperament, hardy health, and charming body markings, the English Spot rabbit makes for a lovely house (or garden) pet. You won’t just enjoy looking at them, but also cuddling up to them for many blissful years!