in full coat
|Country of origin||Turkey|
|Type||English, French, German, Giant, Satin, Chinese, Finnish, Korean, Russian, St. Lucian, Swiss|
|Use||Angora wool production, pet|
|Wool color||White or Colored
Natural or Dyed
|Color||Albino ("Ruby-eyed White") or Colored|
|Coat requires significant regular grooming|
The Angora rabbit (Turkish: Ankara tav?an?), which is one of the oldest types of domestic rabbit, is bred for the long fibers of its coat, known as Angora wool, that are gathered by shearing, combing, or plucking. Because rabbits do not possess the same allergy-causing qualities as many other animals, their wool is an important alternative. There are at least 11 distinct breeds of Angora rabbit, four of which are currently recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA): English Angora, French Angora, Giant Angora, and Satin Angora. Others include: German Angora, Chinese Angora, Finnish Angora, Korean Angora, Russian Angora, St. Lucian Angora, and Swiss Angora.
Heavily-furred (or wooled) rabbits existed during the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547). The Angora is said to have originated in Ankara (historically known as Angora), in present-day Turkey, and is known to have been brought to France in 1723. The Angora rabbit became a popular pet of the French royalty in the mid-18th century, and Angoras spread to other parts of Europe by the end of that century. They first appeared in the United States in the early 20th century.
A noted historian of rabbit breeds, Bob D. Whitman, mentions a purported origin of the Angora breed dating to ten centuries earlier: "It has been written that the indigenous Trelicians, which were small and frail people, first bred the Angora rabbit in the southern Carpathian mountains around the 6th century." This information has not been substantiated and Whitman acknowledges "we will never know for sure".
Angoras are bred mainly for their wool, which is silky and soft. At only 11 microns in diameter, it is finer and softer than cashmere. A healthy adult Angora's wool will grow approximately 3 centimetres (1.2 in) per month. Regular grooming is necessary to prevent the fiber from matting and felting on the rabbit, which causes discomfort that can lead to pain and even infection. Angora wool is harvested (plucked or shorn) every three to four months throughout the year. The coat needs to be monitored after 6 months of re-growth, as it may tend to "die" and easily mat.
Angora wool may be gathered periodically by hand-plucking the hairs within the coat that are being naturally shed. A full harvesting is done by shearing the coat with clippers, often while the rabbit sits atop a groomer's turntable. With each clipping, 12 ounces (340 g)--and up to 18 ounces (510 g)--of wool may be harvested from a Giant Angora.
Because of the length and abundance of their hair, Angora rabbits are particularly susceptible to wool block, a potentially-lethal blockage of the digestive tract. All rabbits ingest some of their wool when they groom themselves, but their digestive system is not able to pass that foreign matter. The length of Angora hairs compounds the risk of impaction, which can lead to death. Clipping their wool every 90 days is considered a must to prevent wool block in Angora breeds.
Cheyletiella parasitovorax is a skin parasite commonly found in Angora rabbits. Signs of infestation are flaky skin patches and fur loss. Wool mites reduce fiber yields and the resulting skin flakes are detrimental to the fiber quality. Wool mites may be treated with ivermectin or with carbaryl powder.
The iconic long coat of the Angora is the result of a rabbit gene referred to as: l [i.e., lowercase "L"] This "Angora gene" is present in all Angora breeds. It has also sometimes been utilized in the development of other rabbit breeds or other breeds' new varieties. A "Dwarf Angora" breed, for example, is now recognized in Belgium and France. There is also a rare Mini English Angora breed in New Zealand.
Prior to 1939, there was one breed of "Angora Wooler". In 1939 ARBA reclassified "Angora Wooler" into "English Type" and "French Type". In 1944 ARBA officially separated Angora rabbits into two breeds: English Angora and French Angora.
Rabbits of the Angora breed are adorned with "fur", growths of wool on the ears and the entire face except above the nose, and front feet, along with their thick body, and wool. They are gentle in nature, but they are not recommended for those who do not groom their animals. Their wool is very dense and needs to be groomed twice a week.
This is the smallest Angora rabbit of the four ARBA-recognized breeds. This breed is more common as a pet because of the facial features that give it a puppy dog or teddy bear look. If the texture of the wool is correct, the maintenance is relatively easy; if the texture of the rabbit is cottony, it requires a great deal of maintenance.
The English Angora can be bred to have broken colors--i.e., white with black spots--but this is not accepted by ARBA standards, and would lead to a disqualification when showing the rabbit. When showing an English Angora rabbit, the toenails should also be only one color, the ears could be folded over at the tips, and the furnishings on the face may cover their eyes. The English Angora is the only one of the Angora breeds that has hair covering its eyes.
This breed has a dense undercoat. If the texture is correct, it requires less maintenance than other Angora breeds. Small ear tufts are allowed, but not usually preferred by breeders. ARBA recognizes the same colors as with English Angora, plus broken. They are shown at ARBA shows using the types "white" and "colored" (broken being a colored). As with other ARBA shown rabbits, toenails should also be only one color.
The French Angora is one of the large Angora breeds at 7.5 to 10 lbs, with a commercial body type. It differs from the English, Giant and German Angora in that it possesses a clean (hairless) face and front feet, with only minor tufting on the rear legs. The color of a French Angora is determined by the color of its head, feet and tail (all the same color). This variety of angora fibre has smooth silky texture making it difficult to spin. Desirable characteristics of the fibre include its texture, warmth, light weight, and pure white color. It is used for sweaters, mittens, baby clothes and millinery.
The Giant Angora is the largest of the ARBA-recognized Angora breeds. It was originally developed to be an efficient commercial producer that could be sustained on 16-18% protein pellets plus hay, and live in the standard sized, all-wire cages. Because ARBA wouldn't allow German Angoras to be shown (their body type was considered too similar to other Angora breeds), Louise Walsh of Taunton, Massachusetts created a new breed. She used German Angoras, French Lops, and Flemish Giants to develop a completely different "commercial" body type. ARBA officially recognized the Giant Angora in 1988. Its coat includes three types of wool: soft under wool, awn fluff, and awn hair. The awn type wool exists only in the Giant and German Angora breeds. The Giant Angora has furnishings on the face and ears. Many people confuse the German with the Giant Angora, but it is their body type that differs.
The only color variety ARBA currently recognizes for the Giant Angora is the Ruby-eyed White (REW), a color that indicates the genetic absence of pigment (albino). The Giant Angora produces more wool than the French, Satin or English Angoras. The Giant Angora is the only 6-class animal in the Angora breed. It is to have a commercial-type body with a very dense coat of wool. The head will be oval in appearance that is broad across the forehead and slightly narrower at the muzzle. The Giant Angora will have forehead tufts (head trimmings) and cheek furnishings. The head trimmings are to be noticeable, however, does are not as heavy in trimmings as the bucks. The ears should be lightly fringed and well tasseled. The Giant Angora is also the only breed of angora that is only shown as a ruby-eyed white. A Black color variety of the Giant Angora is in development, but has not been sanctioned by ARBA.
The Giant Angora coat contains three fiber types for its texture. The underwool is to be the most dominant over the other two types of hair. It should be medium fine, soft, delicately waved and have a gentle shine. The Awn Fluff has a guard hair tip and is a stronger, wavy wool. The Awn Fluff is found between the Underwool and Awn Hair. The Awn Hair, also known as guard hair, is the third type of fiber. The Awn Hair is a straight, strong hair that protrudes above the wool and must be present and evident.
The classification of the Giant Angora is different than the other three breeds due to the fact it is a 6-class animal. The junior buck and junior doe must be under 6 months of age and have a minimum weight of 4 ¾ pounds. The intermediate buck and intermediate doe are 6-8 months of age. The senior buck and senior doe are 8 months of age or over. The senior buck must weigh at least 9 ½ pounds. The senior doe must weigh at least 10 pounds.
In judging the Giant Angoras the majority of the points are based on the wool, which includes density, texture, and length. The points for "general type" include the body type, head, ears, eyes, feet, legs, and tail.
Like many other "giant" breeds of rabbits, the Giant Angora grows slowly. A doe usually takes more than a year to reach full maturity (size and weight). A buck can take up to 1.5 years to fully mature (size and weight).
The Satin Angora was developed in the late 1970s by Mrs. Meyer of Holland Landing Ontario, Canada, who crossed French Angoras with rabbits of the Satin breed. In addition to the sheen (for which the Satin is known), true red and copper pigments emerged in the new rabbits. In all "satinized" coats, the hair shaft has a semi-transparent outer shell that reflects light, resulting in deep color, high luster, and an extremely soft and silky texture to the hairs.
The Satin Angora (like the French Angora) has no furnishings on the face, ears, or feet. The Satin does not produce as much wool as other Angora breeds, but this trait is being improved upon through selective breeding. While more difficult to keep groomed than the French Angora, the Satin is less difficult than the English or Giant Angoras. Because of the soft texture of the wool and the lower guard-hair count in the coat, matting occurs more readily. Daily combing is therefore recommended. Satin Angora wool is said to be stronger for spinning than other Angora varieties, but because of its slipperiness, it can be more difficult to spin.