Rabbit Jargon An article by Christine Carter
So you can decipher what rabbit fanciers and rabbit show judges are talking about, the following is a list of terms and their meanings. Most of the terminologies are used throughout the world; however keep in mind that in some countries there may be different interpretations.
Abscess: an infection that in the latter stages becomes swollen (much like a boil) with solid/hard pus. Abscesses can be found anywhere under the rabbit's skin and a condition that needs urgent medical treatment.
AC: Any Colour; which means that any varieties of colours are accepted so long as they conform to recognised standard colours. There is also AOC for 'Any Other Colour'.
Adult: a fully-grown rabbit. In shows, rabbits are eligible for the 'adult categories' once they reach five months but this does not necessarily mean they have reached the maturity for breeding. Some (small) breeds are ready to breed at this age (for instance the Netherland Dwarf). Medium size breeds are best left until they are around six months of age before breeding and giant breeds generally aren't ready until they are about eight months.
Agouti: the patterned colour identical to the wild (feral) rabbit. The base colour of the fur is a dark slate (grey) with alternating bands of light and dark orange and tan. The topcoat is interspersed with black-ticked guard hairs. The eye circles, abdomen and under the tail are white, with slate blue under colour, and the ears are laced with black.
AOV: Any Other Variety-usually applicable to uncommon breeds that do not have a specific class on the show schedule.
ARBA: The American Rabbit Breeders Association.
Backyard breeder: generally an uncomplimentary term, applied to people that, although breeders, do not breed with the aim of 'improving' rabbit breeds. A common example of a backyard breeder is one who breeds with the sole intention of supplying pet shops. Other traits of backyard breeders include a tendency to breed crossbred rabbits, as well as exhibiting little interest in belonging to a club or in showing.
Banding: where the fur shaft contains different colours-applicable to agouti or chinchilla colour groups.
Bagginess: unattractive loose flesh usually caused by excess weight or by losing weight without muscle toning.
BEW: Blue-eyed White.
BiS: Best in Show, which is the highest award rabbits can win/achieve at a show.
Bladder Sludge: a health problem with symptoms of difficulty in urinating or straining while trying to urinate and in later stages appears miserable and/or in pain.
Blanket: usually applicable to butterfly patterns where a 'blanket' of solid colour covers most of the top half of a rabbit's body.
Blaze: mainly referred to when judging Dutch rabbits. A blaze is a white wedge shape, which narrows up to a point high on the forehead, between the ears.
Bloat: a life threatening and painful condition where the stomach expands with gas.
BoB: Best of Breed an award in a breed category.
Bold eye: the eye appears full and prominent. Bold eyes are common to some breeds such as Netherland Dwarf and Lop breeds.
Bowed legs: the front legs are bent (like a bow) and curve outwards in the middle. Hind legs can also be affected though this is very rare – neither are problems in OZ.
Breed: distinct, relatively homogenous characteristics differentiate one breed of rabbit from another and each recognised breed reproduces the same characteristics. For example the Lop breeds produce offspring with floppy ears instead of upright ears. Angoras produce offspring that grow long woolly coats instead of short fur.
BRC: The British Rabbit Council.
Bridling: an undesirable trait where white or coloured fur is interspersed with the desired/proper colour.
Broken: a type of pattern, which is not accepted (involves disqualification) on rabbits when they are shown in clubs following the British Rabbit Council standard. On the other hand the American Rabbit Breeders Association accepts brokens.
Brood doe: a doe that is suitable for breeding purposes.
Broody describes a female rabbit displaying an interest or willingness to mate.
BUD: a Big Ugly Doe — no they are not really ugly, they are just oversized for their breed standard.
Bulldog head: a well-developed short and broad shaped head that is more prevalent in bucks, and a desirable trait in some breeds.
Buns: an abbreviated and endearing term for bunnies. However be careful not to talk about your 'buns' to Americans – especially how lovable and cute they are. The reason being is that the word buns could be misinterpreted for your bottom!
Butterfly: a coloured, marked area on a rabbit's nose and muzzle, in the shape of a butterfly with fully open wings. When a butterfly pattern in exhibited, accompanying criteria traits are expected. For example the ears should be fully coloured (strictly no white fur/patches) and the majority of the body, from the top of the shoulders down to the rump should be a solid (blanket) colour. See photos examples of butterfly patterns in my photo album page.
Butting teeth: otherwise known as simple malocclusion. Instead of normal placement of the top incisors in a position overlapping the bottom teeth, they are positioned level (butt).
Caecum: is like a fermentation vat where caecal pellets are produced. Caecal pellets are dark brown, soft, moist and clustered together. They are highly nutritious and usually consumed by rabbits as they are excreted.
CC: Challenge Certificate – an award for each class section.
Charlie: a miss marked broken or butterfly pattern with an excess of white or coloured spots/patches. Charlies are not a recognised colour in BRC standards and if shown, rabbits displaying them are disqualified. Although Charlie patterned rabbits are not 'well marked' themselves, some (although not all) are able to reproduce good butterfly patterned offspring.
Cheeks: a term used mainly in regard to Dutch rabbits. The markings of colour/pattern appear on the sides of the face (cheek area) and meant to follow the curve around the jawbone.
Chopped: a physical characteristic of the rabbit's rump, whereby it is short; abruptly falling down to the tail instead of being well filled out and rounded.
Cobby: a build characterised by wide shoulders and short bodies, resulting in a compact and stocky appearance.
Coccidiosis: internal parasites/protozoan organisms in the intestine or liver causing general debilitation and poor condition, distended stomach and death if severely affected.
Coprophagy: descriptive of the action in the eating of caecal pellets.
Cheeks: a term mainly used in regard to Dutch rabbit markings of colour/pattern covering around the sides of the face (cheek area) and following the jawbone as round as possible.
Chinning: descriptive of behaviour where rabbits rub their chins on objects and leave behind their individual scent.
Chopped: a physical description where the rabbit's rump is short and abruptly cuts/falls down vertically to the tail instead of a well filled out and rounded rump.
Cobby: a physical description of rabbits with wide shoulders and short bodies that present an overall compact and stocky appearance.
Condition: the overall physical state, often used in reference to a rabbit that is well fed but not fat. Good condition or poor condition may also refer to a rabbit's state of health, cleanliness and/or coat.
Cow hocks: a condition usually noticed when a rabbit is placed upside down. The back feet (hocks) turn inwards and the rest of the foot area turns outwards. Severe cases are apparent while a rabbit is sitting, with the back feet being noticeably askew.
Cross breeding: breeding different breeds or mixed breeds, together.
Crown: a term applicable to Lop breeds in regard to an outline shape of a prominent ridge and crest (crown) across the top of the head and the base of the ears.
Culling: a method of selecting the best stock for showing or breeding. Depending on a person's ethics and management, culling can represent anything from finding good homes, to selling, to putting them down.
Density: the thickness of a rabbit's coat. For example good, fair or poor density could mean a very thick, moderately thick or a thin coat.
Dewclaws: these are found on the inside front feet, in a similar position to cat and dogs dewclaws.
Dewlap: a fold (or folds) of loose fatty flesh that tends to start around the throat area and hang down to the chest area. In some show breeds a dewlap is accepted, although it is an undesirable trait in other breeds.
(Photo: an overweight crossbred pet doe with an extreme example of a dewlap).
Disqualification: a judge's decision that renders a rabbit unfit or unacceptable for showing. If your rabbit is disqualified it is important to be aware of the reasons behind the decision. For example not complying (type, colour, size) with the breed standard, a defect or deformity or your rabbit is in poor health/condition. Depending on the actual finding a disqualification can be permanent (should never be shown again) or temporary – once he has returned in better health.
Doe: a female rabbit.
Ear carriage: the way a rabbit carries/holds its ears – for instance a Lop may have good or poor ear carriage.
Ear lacing: a black or dark-coloured line of fur outlining the edge of the ears.
Eye circle: an even marking of a colour contrasting the eye colour, around the eyes.
Fancier: a person that is keen on showing and/or breeding rabbits.
Faults: various types of conditions or characteristics that are penalised at rabbit shows.
Fine boned: simply point out the other extreme of thickset, solid looking rabbits. Being fine boned is a desirable trait for a breed such as Polish but considered undesirable in most other breeds.
Fly back: a coat that immediately falls back in place when the rabbit is stroked along the spine from the rump to shoulder. This type of coat is expected in certain breeds but a fault in others.
Foreign colour: a judge finding unacceptable/unrecognised colour of the fur, eyes or nails.
Frosty point: an unacceptable/unrecognised colour where instead of the points (ears, tail, feet and muzzle or nose) being fully coloured you'll see a frosty (usually grey) effect. Sometimes frosty points are so light and if a few coloured strands of fur are missed being seen they are mistakenly labelled as blue-eyed whites.
Furnishings: applies to Angora breeds having extended coverage of long wool on their head and ears.
Ghost chin: an unrecognised show colour lacking in black guard hairs, which makes the chin look light, pale and washed out.
Gestation: the period of time of pregnancy – the usual duration is thirty-one days. Two or more days earlier or later usually results in birthing problems and/or kitten fatalities.
Guard hair: coat hair that is longer, stiffer and coarser than the regular coat hair or fur. The less guard hair on the Rex breeds the better, however in other breeds a generous cover of guard hairs helps to enhance the quality of the coat.
Head tilt: where the rabbit's head hangs to the side as if it has a broken neck.
Hindquarters: the rear section of the rabbit's body including the hips, loin, upper hind legs and rump.
Hock: the joint or section of the foot much like the position of our ankle.
Hutch burn: due to the caustic properties of urine and unclean conditions in the hutch, the genital/posterior area can get inflamed and chapped. In shows this is a disqualifiable condition.
Hutch stain: varying shades of yellow discolouration (caused by urine) on the coat. In shows there are penalties according to the severity of staining.
Inbreeding: breeding closely related rabbits with each other, such as mother to son, brother to sister or father to daughter.
In two coats: displaying a coat in the process of moulting – containing previous season's coat as well as growth of a new coat.
Junior: a young rabbit, aged between fourteen weeks and five months.
JW: the Jersey Woolly breed.
Kindling: The process of giving birth (labour) to a litter of kittens.
Kitten: although kitten relates to a baby rabbit from newborn up until it is a junior, a show kitten class is specifically aged between eight and fourteen weeks.
Lactate: the production of milk whether actually having a litter or lactation may occur during a pseudo pregnancy.
Lagomorphs: the species that belongs to the genus Orctolagus Cuniculus and otherwise known as cute bunny rabbits!
Leg ring: an aluminium identification ring placed on the leg, which rests just above the hock joint.
Line breeding: breeding related rabbits such as uncle to niece, aunt to nephew or grandchild to grandparent.
Litter: where two or more rabbit babies are produced from a single pregnancy.
Lopped: the opposite of erect ears! Lop ears are pendulous and carried down the side of the rabbit's head.
Malocclusion: malformation of the front teeth that results in them overgrowing and twisting, either inside or outside of the mouth-and a disqualification on the show table.
Matted: a term used to describe the coat-usually applicable to long coated breeds-which refers to any kind of tangling or webbing of fur or wool.
Moult: the process of shedding the coat. In shows it is penalised according to severity.
Muzzle: the lower part of a rabbit's face, comprising the area around the mouth, nose and lower jaw.
Nest box: a receptacle (usually plastic or wood) provided in the hutch for a doe to make a nest and give birth to a litter of kittens.
ND: the Netherland Dwarf breed.
Outcrossing: breeding unrelated rabbits of the same breed.
Pair: a compatible breeding pair.
Palpation: a method of feeling a doe's abdomen to check or determine if she is pregnant.
Peanut: description of a minute sized kitten that has inherited the lethal double dwarf gene.
Pea spots: found on some tan patterned rabbits, which have a different coloured spot at the base of each of the ears.
Pedigree: ancestral record of an individual rabbit's parentage and documented on a certificate. Also included is the rabbit's date of birth, breed, colour, leg ring or tattoo (whichever applicable) and the breeder's stud name and/or details.
Pirouetting: describing the action of a rabbit sitting upright on its haunches (as if in a begging pose) to receive viewing from a higher stance.
Proven: a doe or buck have successfully proven to produce offspring.
Pseudo pregnancy: a Doe behaving as if pregnant but is not.
Putty nose: a white marking or spot on a coloured rabbit, or a lack of fur on the nose.
Rabbitry: a rabbit stud's establishment of stock and their housing environment.
Racy: a rabbit that is long in the body, fine boned, slim/slender, and sleek or harelike.
REW: Red-Eyed White. Some people wonder if red-eyed white rabbits are like albinos being susceptible to eye or skin cancer problems. Neither has been a problem with red-eyed white rabbits.
Roll back: when stroked from the rump to the shoulder the coat returns to normal position at a slower pace than a fly back coat.
Rump: the hind portion of the back and hip area.
Saddle: the area encompassing shoulders, back and hindquarters.
Scanning: an action of sitting still while swaying the head back and forth, mainly performed by red eyed white rabbits.
Scours: another name for diarrhoea – a disqualifiable condition in shows.
Screw tail: a tail permanently positioned crooked or twisted out towards the side of the body.
Self or self-coloured: the same colour of fur over the entire body.
Shaded: a colour group of Siamese sable, Siamese smoke (otherwise known as smoke pearl), seal point and sooty fawn.
Slobbers: drooling saliva, which creates wet fur around the mouth and may also affect the chin and chest.
Smut: a darker muzzle and nose marking, found on some rabbits in the shaded colour groups.
Snaky: a body type that is slender, long and narrow – characteristic to the Himalayan breed.
Snipey: possessing a narrow elongated head and nose.
Snuffles: a broadly used term for any condition that involves sneezing, laboured breathing and a creamy discharge from nostrils.
Sore hocks: where the undersides of back feet are bare and the skin is red and sore with scabs and/or calluses. In shows, rabbits with sore hocks are either disqualified outright or penalised, according to the severity of the condition.
Splayed legs: this condition can vary from mild (hardly noticeable) to severe and there are various reasons as to why it happens. Serious cases are noticeable when bunny is sitting or hopping. The back legs stick out sideways instead of tucking under the abdomen and he may have difficulty in supporting his body.
Spraying: the action of deliberately squirting urine to mark out territorial area and/or scent an object.
Squealing: a high pitched, loud vocal sound that is made when rabbits are in great pain, are being attacked or feel as if their life is being threatened.
Stocky: a short, compact, stout and cobby body type.
Stops: a reference to defined white markings on the hind foot of the Dutch breed. Ideally these are 3.17 cm (1 ¼ inches) in length.
Stud buck: a male rabbit suitable (by having good traits) for breeding.
Tan pattern: show classes related to a specific patterned group, for example marten sable, siamese smoke marten (smoke pearl marten), otter and fox.
Tattoo: a method of permanent identification, with a specific code for each individual – marked on the inside of a rabbit's ear.
Teat spots: a very small patch of coloured fur near or around the rabbit's teats. Usually found on the English breed and butterfly or broken patterns.
Texture: the character of the coat. Texture ranges from fine to coarse.
Third eye: has nothing to do with rabbits having three eyes. What you see is a membrane of skin appearing from the corner of each eye, which partly and temporarily covers them.
This unusual faculty is also found in birds, reptiles, amphibians and other mammals. Such behaviour indicates a rabbit is in a state of vulnerability and fear. Stop whatever is causing the stress and place her in familiar surroundings or at least somewhere she can relax and feel safer.
Ticking: coloured fur or guard hair, which stands out, defined from the main coat colour.
Trancing: the action of placing a rabbit in a prone position where it remains quite still and immobile.
Triangle: a small triangular area behind the base of the ear that is a lighter or different colour from the main colour of the coat.
Trio: 'showing' three rabbits of the same breed.
Type: reference to a rabbit's overall conformation or shape.
Under colour: the colour of the fur shafts closest to the skin.
Vent: a term for female rabbit's (doe's) genitals.
Vetting: the process of health checking exhibitors' rabbits before they enter a show pavilion/exhibition area.
Wall eye: a milky film covering the cornea or where the eye has an extremely pale blue or light iris, giving it a glazed opaque appearance.
Weaning: a time when kittens start the process of eating solid food and drinking less of mother's milk.
Webbing: a collection of matting and intertwining of a rabbit's fur/wool.
Wool: the fur of Angora rabbits, which can be removed (by brushing, clipping or plucking) and made into luxurious warm garments.
Wry neck: the same condition as 'Head tilt'.