MINI LOP - Nikki White (Reguli Cavy & Rabbit Stud)
This is a very popular little rabbit, at one point usurping the Netherland Dwarf as a pet or an exhibition rabbit - the Neths all but disappeared from the show table while the Mini Lops overran it. Things seem to have settled down a bit in the past few year with the Neths making a comeback and the Mini Lops reducing to sane numbers. They are still the entry point for many people entering the world of rabbit breeding and exhibiting and often they are the only breed kept. It is not hard to see why. The have the Dwarf Lop's charm and cuteness but in an even smaller package.
The BRC breed standard calls for a short, broad, well-muscled, thickset body with little visible neck, the chest is broad ands deep, the feet are thick, short and straight, the weight is ideally 1.5 kg in an adult with the maximum to be 1.6 kg. The head is to be bold, broad with a strongly curved profile with a good width between the eyes, full cheeks and a broad muzzle. Ears should be well-furred, rounded at the ends and carried close to the head to resemble a horseshoe. Faults include too long in body, head not characteristic of breed, pimpled or damaged ears, poor ear carriage, crown not developed, flyback coat, rear feet not parallel with body, fur slightly soiled. Disqualifications include, maloclusion, over the weight limit, deformities, any evidence of irregular preparation.
Their history is a bit complicated. After 1964 when the Adrian de Cock Dwarf Lops were imported there was ban on importing rabbits until the late 1970s. In 1978, businessmen Angio Chiesa imported some more little lops from the continent and it was found that breeding these and the original stock for shorter bodies often resulted in not being able to make up the weight for a Dwarf Lop. So, during the 1980s and early 90s a group of British breeders decided to work on a "Mini Lop", using lines already in the country. These included Jane Bramley, Tony Rice and Peter Faint. They formed the British Mini Lop Club. In the meantime, other British fanciers imported "Nederlandse Hangoor Dwerg" from the Netherlands in the early 1990s. These were rabbits which had been further reduced in size by Dutch breeders from the de Cock Dwarf Lops. They formed the Holland Lop Club. Both clubs applied to be affiliated and for their standards to be accepted around 1994 but were knocked back because the BRC only wanted one standard and one club. They felt the two little lops were so similar that the Standards Committee should work with both clubs to come up with one standard acceptable to both. By the end of 1994 the National Miniature Lop Rabbit Club was formed out of both clubs and the standard agreed to. The new club was affiliated in 1995.
Geoff Russell, writing in 2004, says that you can still identify the two different foundation stock types if you look closely at major shows. The Holland Lop type has an 'apple'-shaped head and tends to sit higher while the scaled-down Dwarf Lop type tends to sit and look like a brick with a much bigger head. This was certainly true in Australia (well, NSW/ACT anyway) in the early 2000s. Judges often talked about the Holland Lop type vas the scaled down Dwarf Lop type. The former were usually encouraged to sit up and one club, at one point, even split the class into Holland Lop and Mini Lop. The origin of the Mini Lop here is very similar - breeding down from small Dwarf Lops (sometimes using Netherland Dwarfs) and/or importing from New Zealand (older breeders will remember Springthyme Jasper who seemed to be on every pedigree at one point). This is less true now, I think. The two types seem to have merged.
SO, A MINI LOP, THEN?
They are cuteness in a small package. They are usually friendly, affectionate, crave attention and in your face - the usual Lop characteristics. Some lines can be a bit opinionated and fiery, but most are fine. Like all Lops they can be greedy so don't succumb to a begging face and overfeed your Mini.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
A small, cobby, well muscled body with no neck and ears hanging around the head in a horseshoe-shape, it should have a dense roll-back coat. The tricky thing is size, many often become "over-developed" that is exceed their maximum weight. This isn't a problem if the animal is just to be a pet (but does explain why some "Mini Lops" are not that mini and can be quite large). There will always be the odd throwback. At one point breeders in the early 2000s used to put a K ring on one leg of a kit and a C ring of the other. If the kit remained within weight limits for a Mini as it grew, the C ring would be cut off. If it exceeded them the K ring would be cut off and it would be shown as a Dwarf Lop.
CARE AND HANDLING
Being a small rabbit, the Mini Lop needs a cage 50 x 50 or 80 x 80 x 60. Feed is as for other breeds - pellets, mix, fresh fruit and veg, as treats. Don't over feed. Their coats can be brought to a fine sheen by brushing with your hands and/or a piece of silk or satin cloth or mitt. Like all rabbits, they should be brushed with a slicker brush or comb in moult and given plenty of roughage (meadow hay or lucerne) during these times. They are basically an easy care rabbit provided you observe commonsense as outlined above
National Miniature Lop Rabbit Club
Australian Lop Circle Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org (03) 9747 8517
British Rabbit Council, Standards of Rabbit Breeds 3rd ed. 2011-2016.
Russell, Geoff, A Fancier's Guide to the Lop Rabbit. Ipswich, K.D.S., 2004
Russell, Geoff, Mini Encyclopeda of Rabbit Breeds & Care. Dorking, Interpet Publishing, 2008
Sandford, J. C., The Domestic Rabbit. 5th ed. Oxford, Blackwell Science, 1996
Verhoef-Verhallen, Esther, Encyclopaedia of Rabbits and Rodents. Lisse, Rebo Productions, 1998
Vriends-Parent, Lucia, The New Rabbit Handbook. Hauppage, NY, Barrons, 1989
Whitman, Bob D., Domestic Rabbits & Their Histories: Breeds of the World. Leawood, KS : Leathers Publishing, 2004
Williams, A.E. Ted, Rabbit Breeding for Perfection. Melbourne, AE Williams, 1992.