French Angora rabbits are one of the larger breeds of angora rabbits. They differ from the other breeds in size and placement of their wool, as well as in their lower-maintenance coats. Once grouped together with English Angora rabbits and known simply as "Angora Wooler," the French Angora rabbit has long been considered its own breed.
The Origin of the French Angora Rabbit
Prior to 1939, any rabbit capable of growing and producing a wool coat suitable for harvest was classified by ARBA as an Angora Wooler. In 1939, differences and variation in the breed led to the breakdown of the breed into two categories: English Type and French Type.
In 1944, ARBA officially declared the two types to be two separate breed of rabbit: The English Angora and the French Angora rabbit.
Physical Characteristics of the Breed
French Angoras are the second largest of the ARBA recognized Angora rabbits. They weigh between 7-1/2 and 10-1/2 pounds with 8-1/2 pounds being the ideal weight.
French Angoras have two coats of hair: a coarse guard hair, which extends past the undercoat, and a thick, crimped wool coat. The wool may grow as long as six inches, but should be a minimum of two inches.
Unlike the English Angora, which has thick wool covering its face, ears and feet, the French Angora's wool is confined largely to its body. The face and front feet from toes to ankles are clean of wool. The ears and hind legs may have some wool tufts, but this is discouraged amongst shown animals.
French Angoras come in all colors including white, solid and broken. The color of the rabbit is determined by the color of its head, feet and tail, which should all be the same color. The toes of the rabbit should all be the same color: white for white rabbits or colored for colored rabbits.
The French Angora rabbit was originally bred for two purposes: wool and meat. Therefore, the body of the rabbit should be oval shaped, firm and strong. The head should also be oval shaped and in proportion to the body.
French Angoras are typically mellow and gentle. Like other rabbits, the more they are handled, the more likely they are to become friendlier and more even-tempered. The regular grooming and fur maintenance required, as well as the harvesting of the wool, help to make the French Angora a sweet and gentle rabbit.
Care and Maintenance
While French Angoras are not as typically high maintenance as some other Angora breeds, they do require frequent grooming as well as harvesting of their wool two to three times a year. Typical maintenance and care of the French Angora includes:
- Regular blowing of their fur with a blower designed to separate and clean the strands of hair
- Brushing with a slicker brush on an as-needed basis to prevent mats or clumps in the fur
- A diet with at least 13 percent fiber to help prevent wool block, a condition that comes from a buildup of excess hair in the intestine
- Clipping the toenails twice a month to prevent overgrowth
- Clipping the wool two to three times a year
They can be kept indoors or outdoors and do not require vaccinations. Feed them a mixture of hay and pellets that are at least 18 percent protein.
The biggest health concern that a French Angora rabbit faces is wool block. To help prevent this, make sure your rabbit has access to plenty of hay or high-fiber pellets as well as plenty of water. Signs of wool block include:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of thirst
- Small, dry and more infrequent feces
- Lack of urination
If signs of wool block appear, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Showing, Breeding and Wool Producing
If you are interested in acquiring a rabbit for showing, breeding or wool producing purposes, the French Angora breed is ideal for all three. The gentle temperament, combined with the lower-maintenance coat help to make this breed one that many people can handle.