Belgian Hare

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The Belgian Hare is a unique breed of domestic rabbit, selectively bred to resemble the wild European hare. This fancy breed is known for its slender, wiry frame and long, powerful legs. Averaging between 6-9 pounds (2.7-4.1 kg), the Belgian Hare is an attractive choice for those seeking a pet with the appearance of a wild hare and the tamability of a domestic rabbit.

This breed of rabbit is typically active, nervous, and sweet in temperament, making it suitable for show rabbits and outdoor pets. Their intelligent nature and fascinating appearance have contributed to the Belgian Hare’s popularity as a pet. In fact, their deep rich red color, accentuated by black-waved ticking on their fur, is best preserved when not crossed with other breeds.

A proper diet, habitat, and grooming routine are essential in caring for a Belgian Hare, similar to how one would care for a domestic rabbit such as the Lionhead Rabbit, explained in this A Guide to Lionhead Rabbits. With proper care and attention, a Belgian Hare can have a lifespan of 7-11 years, providing companionship and a fascinating addition to any pet owner’s life.

History and Origin

The Belgian Hare’s history can be traced back to the early 18th century in Belgium, where they were created through the deliberate crossbreeding of early domestic rabbits with wild European rabbits. The primary aim was to develop a practical meat rabbit for small livestock production. In the early stages, Belgian breeders attempted to cross a now-extinct rabbit breed called the leporine with wild European hares.

In 1874, these rabbits were first imported to England, where they were given the name “Belgian Hare.” The breed continued to grow in popularity, eventually making its way to the United States. The first Belgian Hares were imported to America in 1888 by E.M. Hughes of Albany, New York. The American Belgian Hare Association was subsequently founded by Hughes, along with W.N. Richardson of Troy, NY, and G.W Felton of Barre, Massachusetts. This association was the first rabbit club in America.

Selectively bred from their domestic and wild European counterparts, the Belgian Hare’s distinct characteristics set it apart as a unique breed. Its long legs and lean, muscled body gave it strong meat qualities, leading it to be classified as a meat breed. However, today the breed is more commonly known for its elegant and striking appearance than its original purpose.

To sum up, the Belgian Hare’s origin begins in 18th-century Belgium and continues through its immigration to England, eventual arrival in the United States, and the establishment of the American Belgian Hare Association. Throughout its history, the Belgian Hare has been selectively bred for both practical and aesthetic purposes, making it a versatile and valued rabbit breed.


The Belgian Hare is a distinct domestic rabbit breed known for its close resemblance to wild hares. These rabbits are characterized by their large, slightly wide, erect ears, which aid in their keen sense of hearing. They possess a long head and a straight tail, carried in line with the backbone.

One of the most prominent features of the Belgian Hare is its arched back, which along with its muscular flank and well-rounded hindquarters, gives it an agile appearance quite similar to that of a wild hare. Their slender bodies and sturdy legs are designed to help them move quickly, making them both attractive and incredibly nimble.

In terms of coloration, Belgian Hares are often found in a black and tan combination. Although a solid black or other colors can also occur, these variations are comparatively rare and less common among the breed. The coat itself is short and fine, requiring only basic grooming to keep them looking their best.

Belgian Hares can be intelligent and energetic, making them popular pets for those who appreciate their unique appearance and lively demeanor. Their physical characteristics not only showcase their agility but also add to their striking and elegant presence, making them a wonderful addition to any rabbit enthusiast’s collection.

Temperament and Behavior

The Belgian Hare is known for its intelligent and active nature. These rabbits are highly energetic and enjoy engaging in various activities. They have a natural curiosity, which drives them to explore their surroundings and interact with their environment. Belgian Hares are also quick learners and can be trained with time and patience.

As an alert animal, the Belgian Hare is always aware of its surroundings, making it able to react quickly to any changes or potential threats. This sense of alertness helps them keep safe, particularly if they are housed outdoors. Due to their lively nature, it is essential to provide them with plenty of opportunities for mental and physical stimulation, such as toys, tunnels, and exercise.

In terms of behavior, Belgian Hares can be quite nervous at times. They can be sensitive to sudden movements and loud noises, which might startle them. While they are generally friendly rabbits, their nervous temperament means they might not be the best choice for families with young children or very active households. It is crucial to approach them calmly and gently to help them feel comfortable, thereby building trust and creating a strong bond between the rabbit and its caretaker.

To summarize, the Belgian Hare is an intelligent, active, energetic, and alert rabbit that might display nervous behavior at times. Providing them with a stimulating environment and approaching them calmly can help them thrive and feel comfortable in their surroundings.

Care and Maintenance

To ensure a healthy life for your Belgian Hare, proper care and maintenance are essential. The first consideration is their diet, which should consist of high-quality hay, fresh vegetables, and a small amount of rabbit pellets. Offer a variety of leafy greens, such as cabbage and dandelions, as well as vegetables like broccoli. Additionally, provide occasional treats like blackberries or small amounts of aromatic herbs like basil.

Next, grooming is a crucial aspect of caring for your Belgian Hare. Although their short, glossy coat doesn’t require extensive grooming, it’s essential to brush them regularly to remove any loose hair and prevent hairballs. Monitoring their nails and trimming them when necessary is also crucial to prevent overgrown nails, which can cause discomfort.

Fresh water should always be available for your Belgian Hare. A water bottle or bowl should be cleaned and filled daily to ensure they have access to clean drinking water. Hydration is essential for this breed, as it helps with proper digestion and overall health.

In addition to food and grooming, providing your Belgian Hare with toys and opportunities to exercise is essential. This breed is known for its athletic build and high energy levels, so ensure they have enough space to hop and explore. Toys like wooden chew items, cardboard tubes, and puzzle toys can keep them mentally stimulated and physically active.

Overall, the proper care and maintenance of your Belgian Hare involve providing a well-balanced diet, maintaining their coat and nails, ensuring they have access to fresh water, and giving them plenty of space and stimulation to stay active and healthy.

Health and Lifespan

The Belgian Hare is a non-utilitarian, fancy breed of domestic rabbit, known for its slender and wiry frame, as well as its long and powerful legs. In terms of weight, Belgian Hares typically average between 6-9 pounds (2.7-4.1 kg). When properly cared for, these rabbits have a lifespan of approximately 7-11 years.

As with any pet, ensuring the health and longevity of a Belgian Hare requires proper care and attention, starting with a well-rounded diet. Providing a diet that consists of high-quality hay, fresh vegetables, and occasional fruit treats is essential in maintaining their health. Fresh water should also be available at all times.

In terms of housing, the Belgian Hare needs ample space to move around and exhibit their natural behaviors. Secure outdoor enclosures with proper shelter from the elements are recommended, as they allow the rabbits to exercise and explore as they would in the wild. However, it is essential to ensure the enclosure is predator-proof and escape-proof.

When it comes to monitoring Belgian Hare health, regular vet check-ups are crucial to detect and address any potential health issues promptly. A proper health program will include vaccinations, dental care, and monitoring for signs of illness, such as reduced appetite or lethargy.

Although the Belgian Hare is not primarily considered a meat rabbit, they can be included in livestock management programs. However, due to their lean body shape and lower meat-to-bone ratio compared to other breeds, they may not be the most efficient choice for meat production.

By paying close attention to their diet, habitat, and overall well-being, owners can ensure their Belgian Hares stay healthy and live out their full lifespan.

Breeding and Breeders

Belgian Hare rabbits are known for their unique appearance and spirited nature, which is achieved through selective breeding. This domesticated rabbit breed originated in Eastern Europe during the 18th century, as a result of crossing wild and domestic rabbits 1. Today, the American Belgian Hare Club (ABHC) focuses on promoting and supporting the breeding, raising, and showing of Belgian Hares in the United States. The ABHC is sanctioned under the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) 2.

Belgian Hares are a fancy breed, with a sleek and athletic appearance, which makes them great show rabbits. However, breeding and raising these rabbits can be a challenging task 3. It is important for breeders to have an understanding of the specific care and feeding requirements in order to maintain the health and wellbeing of their hares. As Belgian Hares tend to have a more skittish and lively temperament, handling should be done with care and patience to encourage a trusting relationship between the breeder and their rabbits 4.

There are breeders located throughout various states who specialize in breeding Belgian Hares and other rabbit breeds as well. For example, if someone is looking for Flemish Giant rabbit breeders, they can find them in states like Kentucky, California, North Carolina, and Indiana 5. Although Flemish Giant rabbits are a different breed, it highlights the diversity of rabbit breeders across the United States.

In conclusion, the Belgian Hare is a distinctive and elegant rabbit breed that requires experienced and dedicated breeders to maintain its unique traits and characteristics. With the support of organizations like the ABHC and ARBA, Belgian Hare breeders can continue to raise and promote this fascinating breed.

Living Environment

The Belgian Hare, a beautiful and intelligent domesticated rabbit, requires a safe and spacious living environment to thrive. Owners should provide a sizable enclosure or habitat that allows these agile animals ample room to move and explore. An enclosure’s space should be designed to accommodate not only their wiry frames but also their long and powerful legs.

When choosing an enclosure, consider one with ample ventilation and opt for materials that are easy to clean and maintain. It is crucial to provide the Belgian Hare with clean and comfortable bedding, as well as daily access to fresh food and water. Keep the temperature and humidity stable, avoiding extremes or rapid changes in climate, as these could lead to health issues for the rabbit. If possible, allocate additional space for exercise and play outside of their primary habitat.

As pets, Belgian Hares can adapt well to households. Their intelligence, combined with a supervised environment, could make them suitable around older children, provided the children know how to approach and handle the rabbits gently and respectfully. Younger children should always be supervised when interacting or playing with a Belgian Hare, especially given their skittish nature.

Despite their adaption to home environments, it is essential to ensure the safety of the Belgian Hare. Like other rabbits, they are potential prey for predators, such as skunks. To avoid unwanted encounters and protect the well-being of these rabbits, it is advised to create a secure barrier around the enclosure by installing wire mesh or similar protective measures to deter predators from approaching.

In conclusion, establishing a comfortable and secure living environment for a Belgian Hare is vital for their happiness and overall health. Providing spacious housing, maintaining consistent temperature and humidity levels, and taking precautions for their safety will contribute to a happy, healthy life as a part of your family.

Common Misconceptions

One common misconception about the Belgian Hare is that it is a wild hare. However, the Belgian Hare is actually a domestic rabbit breed that has been selectively bred to resemble the wild European hare in appearance. Its striking features, such as its arched back, tall ears, and long, fine body, give it a strong resemblance to a hare, but it remains a domestic rabbit breed at its core.

Another misconception is that Belgian Hares might be more challenging to care for than other domestic rabbits, due to their resemblance to wild hares. While Belgian Hares are indeed more active and agile than some other rabbit breeds, they are still domesticated animals and are cared for in a similar manner to other domestic rabbits. With proper housing, nutrition, and grooming, Belgian Hares can make delightful and fascinating pets.

Some people might think that the Belgian Hare’s wild appearance makes them more likely to exhibit aggressive or skittish behavior. In reality, the Belgian Hare is known for its intelligence and can develop strong bonds with their human caretakers. While they may be initially cautious or reserved around new people, they can become quite social and affectionate once they feel comfortable and secure in their environment.

There is also a belief that Belgian Hares come only in a single color, typically described as a deep, silky red with black markings. While this coloration is indeed the most common, Belgian Hares can also be found in other colors such as black and tan.

In conclusion, the Belgian Hare is a unique and captivating rabbit breed with many misconceptions surrounding its appearance and behavior. By understanding their true nature as domestic rabbits and providing them with appropriate care and attention, these beautiful creatures can make rewarding and engaging companions for their owners.

Conservation Status

The Belgian Hare is a unique and intriguing rabbit breed known for its slender, elegant appearance, and athletic build. Its conservation status, however, is currently considered “threatened” by The Livestock Conservancy. This means that the breed is at risk of becoming increasingly rare, with its numbers gradually declining.

The threatened status of the Belgian Hare is a concern for many dedicated breed enthusiasts. Their primary goal is to work towards the preservation and improvement of the breed by participating in breeding programs and promoting responsible pet ownership. By doing so, they hope to increase the breed’s population and secure its future.

There are several factors contributing to the rarity of the Belgian Hare. One reason is that their unique traits and characteristics don’t make them ideal for commercial production. Traditionally, they are considered more as a “fancy” rabbit, kept primarily for exhibition and personal enjoyment. This results in a limited demand for breeding, subsequently leading to a reduction in their population.

Additionally, due to their active nature and need for larger living spaces compared to other rabbit breeds, the Belgian Hare may not be the ideal choice for everyone. Consequently, this narrows down their potential audience, making their conservation even more challenging.

To address these issues, various rabbit breed clubs, such as the American Belgian Hare Club and similar organizations in the UK, actively work on awareness campaigns and breed preservation strategies. By doing so, they focus on educating potential owners about the joys of owning a Belgian Hare and the importance of supporting breed conservation efforts.

In conclusion, the conservation status of the Belgian Hare remains a vital concern. Through the collective efforts of breeders, enthusiasts, and rabbit owners, it is hoped that this beautiful and lively rabbit breed will thrive, keeping it a part of our natural heritage for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average size of a Belgian Hare?

The Belgian Hare is a large rabbit with an average weight of 6 to 9 pounds. They have a lean and athletic physique, resembling a wild hare. Their long, muscular legs enable them to sprint, jump, and maneuver easily.

How much do Belgian Hare rabbits typically cost?

The price of a Belgian Hare rabbit can vary depending on factors such as breeder reputation, location, pedigrees, and availability. Therefore, it’s necessary to contact individual breeders to get accurate pricing information.

What are the physical characteristics of a Belgian Hare?

Belgian Hares have distinct features that resemble wild hares, including prominent eyes, long ears, and muscular limbs. They have a distinctly arched back, well-rounded hind legs, and a long head. The tail of a Belgian Hare is straight and in-line with the backbone.

What is the temperament of a Belgian Hare?

Belgian Hares are intelligent and sometimes skittish rabbits. While they are beautiful and fancy, their temperament can be a bit challenging for first-time rabbit owners. These rabbits generally prefer a calm environment and may not be suitable for households with young children or other pets.

Where can I find Belgian Hare breeders?

To find reputable Belgian Hare breeders, explore online resources such as rabbit clubs and associations that specialize in this breed. Websites dedicated to rabbit care and breeding may also provide helpful information, as well as recommendations for local breeders.

How long do Belgian Hare rabbits live?

Belgian Hare rabbits have a lifespan of 7 to 11 years. To ensure a healthy and happy life for your rabbit, provide them with proper care, a balanced diet, and a suitable habitat. Regular grooming and monitoring for health issues can also contribute to a longer, healthier life for your Belgian Hare.

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