At the opposite end of the size scale to Dwarf Rabbits is the vast and gentle Flemish Giant Rabbit.
The Flemish Giant is the largest pet rabbit weighing on average between 6.4 to over 10 kgs.
The Flemish Giant rabbit is recognised in just dark steel grey in the UK.
The original very old breed came from Flanders in Belgium and France, however the modern breed was developed in the UK
The original Flemish Giant rabbits were developed in the 1600s, but the breed was fixed in 1893.
Originally bred for fur and meat from the 1600s, breed standards were actually set down in 1893, by which point the breed had been refined by blood from various world rabbits, including the Belgian Hare. This is a docile breed, known as the ‘gentle giant’ as long as it is socialised early enough. Its extraordinary size makes it a popular attraction at rabbit shows. It has a semi–arched back, a long powerful body shape and quite broad hindquarters. Bucks have a broad massive head while the doe’s head is more slight and she has a pronounced dewlap under her chin. Ears are large and upstanding, though their sheer size may make them flop over.
This super large rabbit needs plenty of space to move around and exercise and a hutch that is large enough for it to stretch to its full height and length in all directions. This breed makes an ideal house rabbit, in fact it is the best place to keep it once house trained, to give it plenty of space. Your house Flemish giant should have time to have a good run and explore in a safe place outside. If kept outside, a very large hutch or hen house sized space, plus a large run will be needed). Do not provide a hutch on different ‘floors’, as the Flemish Giant will find it difficult to move between the levels.
Clearly this rabbit will have a larger appetite than all other breeds. Feed a standard rabbit diet to ensure good digestion, avoid obesity and give proper wear on the rabbit’s continually growing teeth. Hay should make up the bulk of the rabbit’s diet. See our article on feeding your rabbit.
Despite their ‘cute’ appearance (even on this large scale!) rabbits are not ideal for very small children to handle unless they are closely supervised together. Rabbits should be socialised young to human company and young people should be told how to hold a rabbit properly, so that it feels secure.
If any rabbit becomes frightened, the rabbit’s desire to escape means that its powerful back legs can injure the human handler and can cause the rabbit to be dropped and injure itself. This is a vast rabbit and is proportionally powerful, it is also very prone to spine misalignment problems if not handled correctly. Clearly the rabbit is to heavy for many younger people to handle.
A placid good natured and solid rabbit with a good deal of intelligence, as long as it is socialised early enough, so that it is not fearful, unused to being handled and aggressive, the breed makes a good family pet. This is an ideal breed as a house rabbit, (in fact it is the best place to keep it, unless you have a huge hutch and pen) as it is so large it can move around easier in the home. Your rabbit will need plenty of toys and stimulation and regular access to run outdoors in a run.
Always keep your rabbits safe from dogs and cats who may harm them. Even where pets ‘get on’, they should be supervised when together and you must ensure that your rabbit is not stressed by being exposed to other animals or people.
A short easy to maintain coat still needs a good brush at least once a week more during moulting.
Additionally, as rabbits’ teeth keep growing throughout their lives, eating the right food will help to keep the teeth properly ground down, but you do need to check, on a frequent basis that this is happening properly, or your pet may need to have its teeth ground down by the vet.
This unnaturally large rabbit may have problems with its spine which may be misaligned, or damaged with rough handling. As with all rabbits, check that its bottom is clean of any debris and is kept dry to avoid the danger of flystrike.. Keep your rabbit at the correct weight so that it can move easily to groom itself.
Teeth and also toe nails should be checked frequently to ensure they are not growing too long.
Female rabbits should be neutered if you do not intend to breed from them to avoid cancers in later life. Males will become less aggressive if neutered too.
As with all pedigree pets, it is very important to obtain a young rabbit or rabbit kit from a reputable source where you can be guaranteed that it has been bred with a view to avoiding any inherent problems found in the breed.
A healthy Flemish Giant can expect to live between 5 -10 years.
A doe (female) rabbit will generally take a year to reach maturity and a buck (male) rabbit around one and a half years.
A pedigree Flemish Giant rabbit will cost around £30 for pet quality and around £70 for show quality.
While the initial cost of a pedigree rabbit may seem very low compared to pure bred dogs or even cats, the costs of the following items and procedures make the cost of owning a rabbit mount up, particularly with this large breed where accommodation and feeding costs will be higher than for a standard sized rabbit.
Rabbits should also be kept in pairs. It is estimated that two Flemish Giant rabbits together could cost around £2000 a year throughout their lives (including the initial outlay). See our article on working out the cost of keeping a pet rabbit.