German Giant rabbits were once believed to be things of legend and lore, but in 2007, a giant rabbit by the name of Robert took the pet world by storm. The prodigious blimp of a bunny weighed in at a whopping 23 pounds and when held on his hind legs, he was the size of a 5-year-old child.
German Giant Grey Rabbit Characteristics
Although Robert the German Giant stood out, members of the breed are well-known for their size. German Giant Grey rabbits have a distinctive look due to their size and coloring. They also share some similarities with other large breed rabbits found in Europe. German Giants are typically 16 to 25 pounds with a body length of about three feet.
German Giants are similar to British Giant rabbits, and both of these rabbits were bred from Flemish Giants, but they do have certain telltale differences. For instance, the German Giant is larger and heavier than the British Giant. German Giants also feature a rounder body, whereas the British version has a broader front and hindquarters.
Giant Grey Rabbits
As far as color goes, German Greys are predominantly steel grey; hence, the name. However, some rabbits in this breed can feature black or bluish markings. Modern breeders are always working to bring new colors into the mix through intensive breeding programs.
Temperament and Health Issues of the German Giant
German Greys are very docile pets when cared for and handled properly. However, they tend to frighten easily, and this can sometimes cause them to react by biting and scratching.
According to the National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders (NFFGRB), large breed rabbits are susceptible to certain intestinal parasitic or bacterial infections, especially when fed an improper diet. According to Flemish Giant and Company, giant rabbits are also susceptible to spinal problems, such as spondylosis.
Lifespan of the Gray Giant
While larger breeds of rabbits tend to live a shorter than usual rabbit lifespan, German Giants are an exception. These rabbits enjoy an average lifespan of 12 years, whereas other large rabbit breeds like the British Giant only average about half of that.
Lifestyle Needs of a German Giant
German Giant rabbits require a tremendous amount of room in which to roam in order for them to get the exercise they need to stay healthy. Many owners allow their rabbits to walk around the house freely while providing them with a large dog crate for sleeping and eating. Rabbits, like cats, will excrete in a single spot in their cage, so litter-training them can be easily accomplished. With a rabbit of this size, this is important.
Giant German rabbits enjoy the company of other rabbits, but they don't have to be other Giants. They will get along just as well with a regular-sized bunny. Care should be taken when introducing the Giant to other animals, however; and neutering is important if you don't want to be stuck with a lot of babies.
Giant Rabbit Diet
Feeding a giant rabbit a proper diet is one of the keys to ensuring it lives a long, healthy life. These pets can quickly become overweight if fed a high-fat diet and this will result in joint problems, heart problems, and other health issues. Long hay should make up the bulk of the rabbit's diet with complete pellets included for balance. Also important in a giant rabbit's diet is a variety of vegetables, greens, and ReadiGrass, a high-protein food that's effective at helping minimize health problems.
Some Giants can eat between half a bale and a full bale of hay a week. For their pellets, they will eat a similar amount to a Flemish Giant, which is about a half-cup per day. Vegetables should be fed at one to two cups daily and one to two tablespoons of fruit once or twice a week.
Grooming Your German Giant
Large rabbit breeds like the German Giant are not as dextrous as smaller-breed rabbits, so grooming often becomes the owner's responsibility. German Giants have a thick, fluffy coat that tends to lose a lot of fluff during the molting season. Owners need to comb the molt off of the rabbit regularly to avoid the animal ingesting it and developing hairballs. In addition, as the rabbit ages, its rear end will be in constant need of cleaning in order to remain dry and clean because these rabbits tend to drag their back end once arthritis starts to set in.
Origin of the German Giant
German Giant rabbits are descendants of the Flemish Giant breed of rabbit. A very old breed of domestic rabbit, Flemish Giants are known to have been around since the 16th Century, and they are believed to have originated in or near the city of Ghent, Belgium. German Giants are not currently considered a recognized breed of rabbit rather, the term applies to rabbits that were bred from Flemish Giants. In some parts of the world, these rabbits are called German Greys.
German Giant Rabbits as Pets
German Giants are wonderful pets that in many ways blur the line between a rabbit and a cat or dog. These large bunnies feel right at home being one of the family and a primary part of the family's everyday life, whereas their smaller cousins are predominantly left in their cages for the bulk of their existence. Unlike small breed rabbits, a German Giant is more likely to enjoy cuddling up next to its owner, going for walks outside and having free run of the house.
Buying a German Giant Rabbit
German Giant rabbits are more widely available in Europe, so you may have to work with a breeder to have them shipped to you although you can find them through breeders in the United States. Visit the American Rabbit Breeders Association website for their breeder directory. The average sale price for a German Giant rabbit is $350. You'll need to factor in the cost of care as well including:
- a hutch or cage for a giant size rabbit ($75 and up for a cage and $130 and up for a hutch, or you can build your own.)
- rabbit pellets such Kaytee Rabbit pellets.
- Timothy hay for your rabbit at all times. Timothy Hay can be found at most pet stores and ranges in price based on brand.
You will also have to budget for other rabbit supplies such as toys, cage dishes, and water bottles. A good approximate yearly care amount to use is $1,500.
Will This Rabbit Suit Your Lifestyle?
While these rabbits are fun, interesting and beautiful, they do require a lot of care. So before you get lured in by their big, brown eyes and soft, fluffy fur, consider the expense (for food) and the commitment you're going to have to make to ensure these rabbits get the care they deserve before you purchase one for your family. On the other hand, if you're ready and willing for the job, you're going to enjoy this giant, loveable bunny.