SWISS FOX - Nikki White (Reguli Cavy & Rabbit Stud)
This is a fur rabbit and should not be confused with a Silver Fox despite the similarity of name. This is a long-haired rabbit and rather rare out here. They are an attractive rabbit with their compact bodies, and long thick soft body fur which leaves their face and ears free. It is one of the breeds used in the creation of the Jersey Wooly.
The BRC Breed Standard calls for a strong, vigorous, well rounded body with a bold head and well developed muzzle. Ears should be strong and erect and 10.5-11 cm long, legs should be medium length and strong, the pelvis well developed and rounded with the belly tucked up but hidden by the belly fur. Weight is 2.5 kg to 4 kg. The fur should be long and thick with plenty of undercoat and guard hairs. It should be no less than 4cm in length and no more than 7cm. All colours are recognised. Faults include bad colour or woolly fur. Disqualifications include too light a coat, rusty patches, fur longer than 7cm or any resemblance to an Angora (ear furnishings or an excessively woolly coat). Type and fur are the most important being 25 points each, followed by colour at 20 points. The rest is made up of guard hairs, weight and condition, all at 10 points each.
The breed was developed in Switzerland during the 1920s, particularly by a Mr Müller who crossed Havanas and Angoras in an attempt to produce a commercial rabbit with a pelt similar to fox fur (then very fashionable). Though neither he nor other breeders of the time were very successful in this as the texture was quite different, the breed was recognised in 1925 as the "Schweizer Fuchskaninchen". The Germans got into the act a few years later when a Herr Leifer or Teifer (depending who you read) developed a similar breed by crossing Angoras and Chinchillas, shown as a Blue Fox in 1932. The Swiss Fox rabbits were imported to other countries and recognised in the Netherlands in 1933. They were also shown in Britain but not recognised until the 1980s. During World War 2, their numbers declined and the breed died out in Germany but survived in Switzerland as it remained neutral. Due to lack of interest in their pelts in the fur trade, they are kept only for exhibition where they are bred for their looks. The breed doesn't have a wide following even in Europe but can be seen regularly at shows there and in Britain (and in Western Australia plus a handful of breeders in NSW and Tasmania), supported by a band of enthusiasts.
SO, A SWISS FOX, THEN?
They have a calm temperament and would make good household pets. They would suit someone who would like a long-haired rabbit without the hassles of grooming an Angora and who would like a long-hair whose ears stick up rather than flop down like the Cashmere, the other easy-groom long-hair. Of course, like all rabbits they will need extra attention in moulting season. They are nice and soft, too, and the one I handled at a Royal Easter Show seemed an agreeable fellow. When they are shown, the fur should be parted down the spine and should lie flat.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
This is a medium-sized rabbit with a short neck, round bodied and having a long coat and erect ears. The length of the coat is important, neither too long nor too short with plenty of undercoat. It mustn't resemble an Angora, no woolly coat and no ear furnishings.
CARE AND HANDLING
This is a medium rabbit so requires a hutch either 110-120 x 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.
This breed is under the care of the Rare Varieties Rabbit Club (UK)
British Rabbit Council, Standards of Rabbit Breeds 3rd ed. 2011-2016.
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Verhoef-Verhallen, Esther, Encyclopaedia of Rabbits and Rodents. Lisse, Rebo Productions, 1998
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