(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Lionhead rabbits are becoming increasingly popular in the United States since making their debut in the late 1990s, and an example of their popularity has been shown at the 2013 Shelby County Fair's 4-H Rabbit Show on Thursday, with the breed a particularly popular breed being presented among the 23 rabbits at the show.
Overall at the fair there were five different breeds presented, according to the Shelby News, with the rabbits competing for prizes in numerous categories including best of breed, best of variety, best in show.
One contestant who entered two Lionhead rabbits into the contest admitted that her family had three other Lionhead rabbits at home. However, she was not the only one who brought a Lionhead rabbit to the event, and the breed is becoming increasingly popular.
The Lionhead rabbit is one of the newer breeds of domestic rabbits in the United States, and is currently in the American Rabbit Breeders' Association presentation process.
The Lionhead rabbit has a wool mane encircling the head, reminiscent of a male lion, hence the name. Other characteristic traits of the Lionhead include a high head mount, compact upright body type, short well-furred 2" - 3" ears, and weight usually between 2 1/2 pounds but no more than 3 3/4 pounds.
The Lionhead rabbit originated in Belgium. It is reported to have been produced by breeders trying to breed a long coated dwarf rabbit by crossing a miniature Swiss Fox and a Belgian dwarf.
This resulted in a genetic mutation causing wool to appear around the head and on the flanks. This gene has come to be known as the "mane" gene. The Lionhead rabbit continued to gain popularity in Europe, and Lionheads found their way to the United States in the late 1990's.
The Lionhead rabbit has a small, compact body, and the head is bold, yet not quite round from all sides, with well-developed muzzle. Their legs are of medium length and they are of medium bone. Their ears are not to exceed 3 inches long. Their mane is at to be at least 2 inches long and is to form a full circle around the head, extending to a 'V' at the back of the neck.
Lionhead rabbits are well known to have outgoing personalities and have become a popular pet in the United States over the past decade or so.