The Lilac is both a breed of rabbit and a color of animal. Lilac rabbit is a recognized breed of rabbit, but the color ‘lilac’ is found in many other rabbit breeds too. Rather than being simply a descriptive term for the color of animals, the Lilac rabbit is a breed in it’s own right. The breed has a distinctive pink-gray color which is sometimes called a dove-blue. The Lilac rabbit is one of the few rabbit breeds named solely for it’s color. Exact origin of this breed is not clear. The breed is known to have originated in a number of locations at about the same time. An H. Onslow of Cambridge, England is thought to be the first breeder of lilac-colored rabbits, who began exhibiting them in London in 1913.
Mabel Illingworth also produced lilac-colored rabbits the same year by crossing Blue Imperials with Havana rabbits. C.H. Spruty, who was a breeder from Holland crossed Blue Beverens with Havanas for creating a larger lilac colored rabbits called the Gouda or Gowenaar in 1917. R.C. Punnet, professor of Cambridge University created the Cambridge Blue by using the same cross as Spruty. The rabbits bred by Illingworth, Punnet and Spruty were merged and the Lilac rabbit was created. The exact shade of color and size show great variety, due to the number of bloodlines within the breed and breeder preference. In the year of 1922, the Lilac rabbit was imported into the United States from England. But the breed has never been one of the most popular breeds in America.
Lilacs have also been called the Essex Lavender and then the Cambridge Blue in the past. They are also known as Gouda and the Dutch Gouwenaar in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands and Norway. Lilac rabbit is recognized by both the American Rabbit Breeders Association and the British Rabbit Council.
Lilac Rabbit Characteristics
The Lilac rabbit is a medium sized breed with a cobby body. They have broad haunches, short head, well furred and with short and straight legs. The fur of the Lilac rabbits appear to take on different colors in artificial and natural light. The breed appears to be a light purple or lavender color in natural light and seems to look light grey in a lit room. The breed only ever displays one color variety with the gray-lilac fur. This color covers the Lilac rabbit from head to foot, apart from the undersides of the feet, which are white. They have broad ears which are kept upright. Their ears usually measure around 3.5 to 4 inches long.
The eyes of the Lilac rabbit are usually a pale blue-gray, which matches the coat color. Adult Lilac bucks and does are easily identified. The head of the adult Lilac buck is wider and appears furrier. But the does are larger in size than the bucks and have a pronounced dewlap. The fur has a distinctive quality that makes is wonderfully soft and light to the touch. As a medium sized rabbit breed, the average body wight of the Lilac rabbit is about 2.5 to 3.6 kg. Photo from The Livestock Conservancy.
Lilac rabbits were primarily bred for their meat and fur in Europe. But they are also kept as pets and show animal in some countries.
The Lilac rabbits are friendly, gentle in nature and have sweet personalities. They are pretty larger than most pet rabbit breeds, but they are easy to handle. They are very hardy compared to some other breeds. They love company and enjoy playing. They will keep them happy and playing if given access to lots of toys. They are docile and are of good temperament. The Lilac does are good mothers, and their litter size can be rather small with only 4 to 6 kits. Lilac rabbit is a slow maturing breed compared to some other meat breeds. But they can be raised in all wire cages. Average lifespan of the Lilac rabbit is anywhere between 9 and 12 years. Although the average lifespan depends on the standard of care and strict attention to their diet. They are very lovely and make excellent pets. Review full breed profile of the Lilac rabbit in the chart below.
Lilac Rabbit | Breed Profile
|Other Name||Essex Lavender, Cambridge Blue, Gouda, Dutch Gouwenaar|
|Breed Purpose||Meat & Fur. Also good as pets and show animals.|
|Weight||2.5 to 3.6|
|Suitable for Commercial Production||Yes|
|Good as Pets||Yes|
|Climate Tolerance||All Climates|
|Color Varieties||Light Purplish-Grey|
|Country of Origin||United Kingdom|