Lop-eared rabbits are easily recognized by their large, floppy ears. The American Rabbit Breeders Association currently accepts five varieties, and new lop-eared rabbit breeds are constantly being shaped.
One of the largest breeds of lop-eared rabbits, the French Lop was developed in France by crossing two existing breeds of lops. They weigh in around 10 lbs. and have ears that hang below the jaw at over a foot long. They should be housed in a large outdoor enclosure with a companion rabbit, or indoors with plenty of space to exercise.
Not to be confused with the UK’s Dwarf Lop or Miniature Lop, it is the second smallest lop-eared variety in the US. The Mini Lop is very popular at rabbit shows and can weigh up to 6.5 lbs. Housing requirements are not as demanding as the larger lop varieties according to the Mini Lop Rabbit Club of America.
One of the two pre-existing lop-eared rabbit breeds used to create French Lops, English Lops are the original lops. They grow to be around 11 lbs. and are known to be quite inactive, so obesity is a major problem with the breed. A large hutch is required because of their size. Their ears average 20 inches in length, the largest of any rabbit breed, and at four weeks of age, their ears are actually longer than their body!
American Fuzzy Lops
Distinctive short and fluffy wool sets the American Fuzzy Lop apart from the similar Holland Lop. Reaching 4 lbs. at adulthood, this variety of lop-eared rabbit is very compact and resembles the Holland Lop, except for the wool coat. They are very playful and full of personality and enjoy companionship with people and other rabbits. The American Fuzzy Lop Rabbit Club has more information on the breed.
Averaging 3.5 lbs., these lops are the ideal house pet. They are non-aggressive and are different from the American Fuzzy Lop in that they have fur, not wool, and the fact that they are a true dwarf variety. In depth information on the breed is available through the Holland Lop Rabbit Specialty Club website.
Up and Coming Lop Breeds
Two up and coming varieties of lop-eared rabbits are the Velveteen and Plush Lops. They have luxurious rex rabbit fur and are currently being developed to be accepted by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
Caring for Lop-Eared Rabbits
In addition to basic rabbit care, all lop-eared rabbits require special attention to their ears. Because of their size and delicate nature, injuries to, and infections within the ears are common, but easily avoided with proper care.
Buying a Lop-Eared Rabbit
Lops can be purchased from private breeders, pet stores, county fairs and 4-h clubs, or adopted from a rabbit rescue organization. Pet store, county fair, and 4-h rabbits are typically inexpensive, averaging about $20. Private breeders charge about $40, but show quality rabbits may sell for much more.