Read about the
Here I take a look at
the Breed Standard, the "Blue-print" for the breed here in the United
British Rabbit Council
is the governing body for show rabbits in the UK. They are charged
with setting out a blue-print for each breed eligible to be shown in
this country. The standard is set out with a series of points
allocated from 100 to specific areas which are deemed important for the
perpetuation of the breed. 100 is the top mark the animal can achieve,
judges allocate these points and the animal closest to 100 is seen as
the best animal on the day. Angoras have the following set of
Wool Quality 30
Texture as silky as possible
Wool Quantity and Length 25
Even and full all over and
clear to the skin
Full and prominent on chest and sides of
Head and Ears 10
Broad short head, short well wooled and
Size & Shape 10
Round and snowball like. Weight at 5
mths ideally in the region of kg 2.373(5.5lbs). An adult ideally not to
exceed kg3.283(7.5lbs). Type and quality always to be taken into
Thickly covered with long wool, well
Clean, well nourished and well groomed.
As well as the points above we have the following
to guide us.
- Ruby (REW) Bright and Bold
- Straight and well wooled
- Large and well wooled
- Wide across the nostrils, bold appearance densely furred, wool to be
long and thick between and behind the ears.
- Narrow wedge head, long plain ears,
plain feet, matted coat, bad condition, lop ears.
Now the fun starts ! what does it all mean .
Being a breeder for some time it is
very apparent to me that different people have different ideas and
interpretations of the standard. This in no way is a bad thing. It
means that different virtues are being represented by different
rabbitries and it means that you
as a potential breeder have all of these virtues at your disposal to
create the perfect Angora in your mind.
Here then is MY interpretation of the breed
standard above, simplified but concise:
Lets look at what we are trying
to achieve here.
Firstly we want a silky coat, one that has a silk
We also want a spinnable fibre that is easy to spin and has
a nice handle once spun.
Perhaps more important is a coat that is good
for the animal. It must be manageable, a coat that does not
mat too easily and cause the animal discomfort.
I have found the
best coat is a dense coat that has a good silky texture but is not
overly fine. Very fine cottony coats tend to mat more easily, if you take a
handful of coat on the side of the animal it should feel strong and full
in the hand if it feels fine, cottony and limp you will have a coat that will
knot very easily. It is perhaps hard to explain to someone who has
not worked with the different types of coat at home. Basically a bit of
weight on the fibre and if you roll it over a finger it should have a
Wool Quantity and
When I first started with
Angoras in the 70's it was accepted that an Angora would be in it's
prime between 5 and 7 months of age. At this age the wool is
around 5 - 7 inches long and if you have good density creates a snowball
around the animal making the rabbit look round from all angles.
Note the height of the back on
this Chin bred by Janet Houghton. This is created by DENSITY thus
creating the snowball shape so desirable in the breed.
Back then density was perhaps as
important as length if not more so, to create this snowball shape.
Today, 2004, it appears that length has taken more importance with
adults being shown up to and in some cases beyond 12 months of age.
We see coats of up to 10 inches winning adult classes. This length
of coat creates an animal with a parted coat and a much lower outline.
In order to create very long coats we have to loose density. An
animals skin is only able to create so much fibre. Tests with Angora
goats have proved that animals with dense coats cannot produce
overly long coats, less dense coats achieve the length. Clips of the two
coat types produced almost identical weighted yields ie: short and dense
and long and less dense = the same overall volume.
Which is correct? Well I
have to say this is really up to YOU ! Which do you prefer?
There is no doubt the
Angora has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. Today's
winners in the UK have ultra long, ultra silky coats. The coat in itself
is attractive and an adult with a full length coat is a superb sight to
behold. The new lower outline takes some getting used to and the
snowball shape has been redefined. An Angora shown with a parted
coat in the 70' and 80's would have been laughed off the table where as
today it is the norm. I have somewhat been forced to accept this
new type in order to compete successfully today. It took awhile to
accept this but I can now produce the type of coat that will win on the
The front is the Angora's
crowning glory. A good front doesn't simply have to bred for, it
also has to be cared for. Angoras eat their dindins and usually
splatter their fronts with it, this makes for a nice midnight snack and
so we end up with a chewed out frontal. An animal with a full chest and
shoulders is a lovely sight, The head should be pillowed by the
frontal, appearing to sit well back in a pillow of coat. The head should
ideally be well off the ground, with a billow of coat under, forming a
Perhaps a little higher head
carriage would be better, but lovely shoulders and chest on this chin
bred by Christine Hamilton
Head and Ears
Oh dear now we get on to my pet
subject. Perhaps one of the worse things to have happened to the breed
over the years is the now common sheep faced, long, bare eared Angoras
being shown. The standard calls for a SHORT BROAD SQUARE head. How
on earth can that be misconstrued to mean long wedge headed, long bare
eared with a sloping profile. The Angora's head should be broad
across the nostrils and present a vertical , flat profile. The head
viewed from the front should be wide and show an almost perfect vertical
rectangle topped by a long fringe.
Shady is probably one of the
best heads in my rabbitry. He has a lovely broad head with that
all important vertical rectangle with good width. He also has lovely
short well tufted ears.
This blue bred by Sally May
shows the vertical rectangle perfectly, I would prefer a little more
width for a buck.
The standard actually quotes
narrow wedge head and long plain ears as a SERIOUS fault , judges
please note !!!! It also calls for the hair to be long and
thick between and behind the ears producing that lovely long fringe so
desirable in the breed.
Size and shape
Size is self explanatory really,
on the whole we have good sized Angoras being shown here in the UK.
Shape though is very important in achieving that snowball look. The body
should be short and cobby. There should be good width of chest and broad
haunches. There should be a dramatic rise from the back of the neck over
the hind quarters giving the desired height of back that helps to
achieve the snowball effect. Below Artoise shows this high back and
short coby body that gives him his lovely round snowball shape. Janet's
chin also excels in height of back and that lovely round shape. Long low
backs should be penalised heavily.
Excels in height of back and
roundness of shape. The head is well off the ground with substantial
front ie: full shoulders and chest appearing to pillow the head. The
head is broad and has a vertical profile even though this is a doe.
The last two points, Feet and
Condition are self explanatory.
Angoras should have profuse feet
furnishings. Long thick wool on the bottoms of their feet that can
achieve quite a length. On the whole this is common and not difficult to
Condition speaks for itself.
The rabbit must be clean, well nourished and be fit to be shown.
Staining is something we all live with particularly with the whites.
I would not penalise an adult white with a little yellow staining, if it
was bad however I would not contemplate it for high honours. Matted
coats should NOT appear on the show bench full stop !
There you have my interpretation
of the standard. The best way for you to find yours is to take a look at
as many Angoras as you can and decide what you are looking for in your
perfect Angora, taking into account the breed standard of course.
A colours page will follow