English lop rabbits may be best known for their long, floppy ears that actually drag the ground as adults. These ears are incredibly helpful for thermal regulation. They were one of the first rabbits to be bred for show and have become popular household pets due to their exceptional temperament.
Both the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) and its British counterpart, the British Rabbit Council (BRC) have specific standards for the English lop. Unless you plan to show your rabbit or start a breeding program, you may not be concerned about whether your rabbit conforms to any breed standard. However, knowing the basics of how an English lop should look will help you identify this breed.
Physical Description of the Breed
English lops have large heads and wide-set eyes that glisten. They have large heads and their feet should be long and straight. The tail should also be straight rather than twisted. The body is shaped similar to a mandolin. The ears should be balanced with the body. When laid back, the tip of the ears should reach the rise on the rabbit's back. The ears should also be rounded and not pointed. Their fur is short and close to the body.
This breed can be solid-colored or broken-colored (color broken by white markings). According to the BRC, any color is acceptable, and marked rabbits should have distinct, butterfly-shaped smut marking around the nose. Popular colors include:
- Sooty fawn
- Golden fawn
Youth organization 4-H offers an extensive list of colors in their Official Rabbit Breed Guide.
According to the BRC standard, English lops should be as large as possible without looking out of proportion. Their long ears are an amazing feature that really sets this breed apart from other rabbits. In fact, they have the longest ears of any rabbit breed according to Guinness World Records. The English variety has a long, slender body. Other strains of lop rabbits tend to be shorter and wider.
Temperament and Personality
English lops make wonderful family companions. They're known to be calm, curious, and outgoing with both adults and children alike. However, small children should be supervised closely, because these rabbits' ears can easily be injured. They love to be petted and enjoy playing outside or in the house. However, they don't jump much since their ears hinder such movement.
Play is a critical part of their lifestyle to keep them happy and healthy. Take your rabbit out of their habitat on a daily basis to allow them to stretch and play with their toys. On days when it's nice outside, you can place them inside a playpen to give them time to explore. Don't forget to place some type of hideaway inside the pen in case they get nervous or need to get some shade.
The Proper Way to Hold a Rabbit
To ensure that rabbits feel secure, it is essential to hold them properly to keep them as comfortable as possible.
- Support their upper body by wrapping one arm around their chest and front legs.
- Wrap your other arm around their lower half, being sure to keep their rear legs supported at all times.
- Make sure you don't squeeze the rabbit. Otherwise, they will likely panic and resist. Hold the bunny softly yet securely to your chest.
If they show any signs of being nervous, reassure them in a soothing, calm voice. If this does not assist them in settling into your arms, gently lower them to the ground or into the pen and release them.
English Lops are generally healthy, but like other rabbit breeds, they do have certain conditions they're prone to, especially with the length of their ears.
Ear Issues and the English Lop
According to the House Rabbit Society, the English's ears account for as much as 12 percent of its surface, and the breed is prone to ear infections. Left untreated, ear infections can turn into more serious problems like head tilt. The extreme size of the ears, and the fact that they drag on the ground, make them even more susceptible to injury, so try to house this rabbit in areas free of rough surfaces where the animal can move freely.
Since this breed has such a short coat, they should be protected from extreme cold and extreme heat. They have the ability to somewhat regulate their temperature but aren't able to do this while in direct sunlight or continuous cold for long periods of time.
Checking the Teeth
Monitor your rabbit's teeth. The English lop's teeth will grow continuously, and without something to chew on, their teeth can grow to an overwhelming, painful length. Chew sticks are often recommended not only to maintain tooth length but to increase mental stimulation. Hay also helps grind their teeth which is one of the reasons it's recommended to keep this in the cage at all times.
Grooming needs for this breed are minimal. Their ears should be examined regularly to prevent excess wax buildup. Check the nails regularly and trim when necessary. As with all rabbits, make sure the area beneath the tail is dry and clear of caked feces. This rabbit breed should not be bathed. If they get dirty, they should be wiped down with a damp cloth.
Their fur should be brushed once or twice per week, or more frequently if they are in shedding season. Brushing their fur will prevent the rabbit from ingesting their fur. If excess amounts of fur are ingested, it can clog the digestive tract and lead to serious complications.
English Lop Rabbits for Sale
You can locate breeders of English Lop rabbits in a breeder directory and the English Lop Rabbit Club of America. Rabbit Breeders, a directory website for the United States, also has listings for English lop breeders. You may also be able to find them up for adoption via the national Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet rescue and shelter directory websites. English Lop rabbits for sale range in price from $75 to $125 on average.
Care Requirements and Costs
In addition to the sale price of your rabbit, you should consider the up-front and annual costs of care including:
- A hutch or cage with enough room for a large rabbit ($75 or more for a cage and $130 and up for a hutch, unless you build it yourself). The bottom should be removable for easier cleaning. The floor should have soft bedding so it's comfortable for your rabbit to walk and sleep on without being uncomfortable or damaging their feet. If you prefer not to have a removable tray, that's acceptable as long as you can frequently check for soiled bedding and leftover food.
- Rabbit pellets such as Small Pet Select Rabbit Food Pellets. A 25-pound bag is approximately $58. English Lop rabbits are active during the day and sleep through the night. This means they should be fed throughout the day when they are most active.
- Timothy hay for your rabbit at all times. A 10-pound box of Standlee Premium Western Forage Timothy Hay is about $22 and feeds a large rabbit for about two months.
Other rabbit supplies you will need include toys, food dishes, and water bottles.
Choosing an Affectionate Rabbit Breed
If you're looking for an affectionate animal and want something a bit out of the mainstream, the English lop breed may be perfect for you. These rabbits are known to sit for long periods of time as someone scratches behind their ears. They often come when called, and they appear to recognize their owners. Domestic rabbits of all types make wonderful companions, but those who love the lop say that they have just a bit more personality and sweetness. Perhaps that's why they are commonly referred to as the "kings of the fancy."