Rabbits are generally quite small, timid creatures, and even though they have been domesticated for a few hundred years this has remained the case for a lot of them.
After all, rabbits in the wild are kept alive by their nervous disposition, lean, quick bodies, and their incredible speed, so it would be natural for most domestic breeds to continue along this trend.
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However, there are some breeds of rabbit that have become truly gigantic to the point of rivaling the size of dogs. These rabbits are not like many of their cousins, in both body and mindset, to the point where it is difficult to see the resemblance sometimes.
In this article, we are going to look at two breeds of rabbit like this, the Flemish Giant and the Continental Giant Rabbit, and show the differences between these two colossal bunnies, so you don’t have to.
Giant Breeds Of Rabbit
Giant breeds of rabbit are actually one of the oldest forms of domesticated rabbits, but unlike the oldest Lop-eared rabbits, they were not selective breeds to look or be a certain way. Their size was kind of an accident, as well as partly intentional.
You see, giant breeds of rabbit have been bred since the 1600s, and at the time they were bred for their weight.
These rabbits were either destined to be eaten or made into clothes for their fur, so breeders and sellers tended to mate larger rabbits with more meat and fur on them, so they could sell more from just one rabbit.
These rabbits were referred to as ‘Stone Rabbits’, as in they weighed a stone in weight and over time as they were bred and bred, they became the larger breeds of rabbit we know today, reaching truly monstrous size for a normally small creature.
Many large breeds of rabbit were not well known to the public until the 1910s, when they started appearing in livestock shows.
Considering how amazed many people were with these giant rabbits, they became an instant hit, with thousands being bought and sold in just a few years.
Previously, there were only a couple of giant rabbits known, with the Flemish Giant being the most well-known, but now there are many different varieties, bred from those original large rabbits that originated in Ghent in Belgium.
The Differences Between The Continental Giant Rabbit And The Flemish Giant
In a lot of ways, these rabbits are very similar and, in fact, many giant breeds of rabbit are very similar as they tend to descend from one established breed. However, there are key differences between the two that we will dive into today:
The original giant rabbit which most other giant rabbits are descended from is the Flemish Giant and even though hundreds of years have passed since they were first bred, they have retained their iconic look.
For starters, Flemish Giants are the largest breed of rabbit ever, with the maximum length they can achieve being 1.3 meters or 4 feet 3 inches and weighing close to 6.8 kilograms on average. This puts them at the size of a medium-sized dog, like a border collie or a sheltie.
Their body is in a semi-arch shape with the arch starting behind the shoulder and ending at their long, broad, and powerful hind legs. Finally, the fur is very glossy and dense, with it rolling back into position when stroked. It is also generally a sandy color with white tufts throughout.
Continental Giant Rabbit
The Continental Giant Rabbit or Contis is a breed of rabbit descended from the Flemish Giant, with the first documented example being in 1893, and it was originally bred for its meat. It is important to note that the American Rabbit Breeders Association does not recognize the Continental Giant Rabbit breed, though the British Rabbit Council does.
However, with the interest in rabbits as pets shown when the Flemish Giant was introduced to the world in the 1910s, the role of the Conti quickly changed to being a pet just 20 years after its introduction.
The range of size in a Conti is more varied, but they tend to not get as big as Flemish Giants, often being around 6.5 kilograms and under 3 feet. While not as long as the Flemish, they are very well muscled and have very sturdy hind legs with a strong back.
Their fur is incredibly thick with guard hairs and even having a soft undercoat underneath it all. Generally, they will have more color range than a Flemish Giant, either being white, black, dark or light steel, agouti, yellow, red agouti, or opal in color.
Flemish Giants tend to be larger and longer than Continental Giant Rabbits, but Contis (referring to Continental Giant Rabbits) tend to be stockier and have a wider range of colors to them.
These rabbits are sometimes called gentle giants, because they are incredibly docile and will be more like a friendly dog than a rabbit at points. They are very easy to train, and you will have no problem socializing them within your family.
Their long history with interacting with humans has left a mark, and many people feel comfortable having these animals indoors at all times or with other pets, like dogs or cats.
Continental Giant Rabbits
Being descended from Flemish Giants, it’s only natural that Contis are also very friendly rabbits that are fairly calm and make excellent family pets.
While not as intelligent as the Flemish Giant, they can use a litterbox easily and thrive from mental stimulation just as much as social stimulation. It is important to give both breeds lots of love and attention.
There are not many differences between the breeds in terms of personality, with the only difference really being that Flemish are ever so slightly more intelligent, but it barely makes a difference as they are both incredibly intelligent rabbits and will thrive in a home environment.
Annette Edwards Video: The World’s Largest Rabbits
Annette Edwards is the world’s leading expert on giant rabbits and has bred the largest Continental Giant Rabbit ever – she is in the Guinness Book of World Records!
Flemish Giants and Continental Giant Rabbits are very similar creatures, but Flemish Giants tend to be longer, larger, and slightly more intelligent, but only slightly.