Flemish Giant Rabbit Breed

two Flemish Giant rabbits sitting on grass outside

Flemish Giants are very large indeed! Animals Review/YouTube

map of Belgium

Scientific Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Origin Country: Belgium
Life Span: About 8 to 10 years
Weight: There is no weight maximum
Colors: ARBA recognizes seven colors of Flemish Giant rabbits
Year Recognized By ARBA: 1910

• The breed club lists no official nickname, but people have called them gentle giants or the Great Danes of the rabbit world.
• The Flemish Giant rabbit is one of the first breeds recognized by the National Pet Stock Association, which eventually became the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders

Related Breeds
Patagonian, and possibly Steenkonijn

Flemish Giant Rabbit Description

When you talk about a big bunny, the Flemish Giant is one of the biggest. The breed’s weight is typically around 10 to 20 pounds and can grow up to 30 inches long. In 2010, Guinness World Records awarded a 51-inch Flemish Giant the title of longest rabbit. The ideal Flemish Giant rabbit has a long, muscular, well-proportioned body. The head is broad and the ears long. The breed standard calls for the ears to be nearly 6 inches long, minimum, and the body length 20 inches, minimum. Ears are carried upright. The fur is rollback, returning to position gradually after being brushed from tail to head. The Flemish Giant is one of only a few breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association to have a semi-arch body type. This means Flemish Giants have a longer body and the high point of the rise along their back occurs atop the hips.

Other giant rabbit breeds named for different places exist, including the Continental Giant, German Giant, and British Giant. Each breed differs a bit from the Flemish Giant. The Rabbit Geek website posted information about this from a rabbit show judge and member of the British Rabbit Council. The topic is also discussed in an article by Continental Rabbits in the USA.

Flemish Giant Rabbit Colors

The ARBA recognizes seven color varieties of Flemish Giant rabbits: black, blue, fawn, light gray, sandy, steel gray, and white. The National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders shows these on its website.

Flemish Giant Rabbit History

Flemish Giant rabbit sitting on grass
The Flemish Giant originated in Belgium. Marylou Zarbock

Originating in Belgium, the Flemish Giant rabbit is thought by some to be the founding breed for all modern giant rabbits. An article about the Flemish Giant breed’s origins posted on the website of the NFFGRB, the breed club for the Flemish Giant in the United States, notes that the now-extinct Patagonian rabbit of England contributed to the Flemish Giant breed. In Bob D. Whitman’s book “Domestic Rabbits & Their Histories,” the author writes that the Steenkonijn probably also contributed to the Flemish Giant’s development. The Flemish Giant likely first arrived in the United States in the late 1880s, and a breed club for it formed in 1915 with three recognized colors, light gray, steel, and black. Four more colors were added since then, with the most recent one being the 1938 addition of the color fawn.

Flemish Giant Rabbit Personality

Flemish Giant rabbit standing upright
Personalities vary among Flemish Giants. Jamjar/Flickr

Laid-back and easygoing are two phrases that pop up a lot in descriptions of Flemish Giants. While many of this breed might embody those characteristics, always keep in mind that every rabbit is different; generalizations don’t always hold true. That being said, Flemish Giants do seem to be big, lovable rabbits.

A brief discussion on the Rabbits Online forum discusses Flemish Giant rabbits and their personalities. For more insights, check out a video from YouTube personality Tyler Rugge who shares his life with a Flemish Giant rabbit.

One thing all rabbits do have in common is being a prey species. This means that they are more wary of new situations. They need to assess whether something or someone is a threat to them. Build trust with your furry pal by moving slowly around him or her and respecting his or her wishes and space. The more you get to know your rabbit, the more the personality will shine through.

Flemish Giant Rabbit Care

Flemish Giant rabbit eating
Flemish Giants are big rabbits with a big appetite. Jamjar/Flickr

When caring for your Flemish Giant rabbit, consider the following top needs: food, shelter, grooming, and companionship. Safety is also critical, and that applies to all aspects of your bunny’s life. One difference in caring for a Flemish Giant over other rabbit breeds is the size. Being such a big bunny, expect to allocate more space, offer more food, and do a bit more cleaning. A bigger bunny means a bit more of everything.

Rabbit Food: Clean, fresh hay is the go-to food for rabbits. Grass hay makes up about the majority of a healthy, adult rabbit’s diet. Rabbit-specific pellets in limited quantity provide vitamins and minerals that balance out the diet. Limited rabbit-safe vegetables and fruits provide interest and variety as treats. You can also offer limited amounts of nutritious treats like Hey!Berries. Clean, fresh water must be available at all times. Dietary needs vary for young, pregnant, nursing, or sick rabbits, so consult your rabbit-savvy veterinarian for advice of feeding such rabbits.

Rabbit Shelter: Your rabbit needs a place of his or her own inside your home. Figure out which option works best for your situation. Your Flemish Giant needs to be able to move freely, lie down, and easily reach what he or she needs. Outfit the home with food and water dishes/bottles, a hideaway, toys, bedding, and a litter box. You also need litter boxes for playtime in an exercise pen or around your home. Keep your rabbit buddy’s home clean with daily spot-cleaning of the litter box and any messes, daily cleaning of food bowls/bottles, and weekly cleaning of the entire space. A dirty cage or habitat can make your bunny sick. Think carefully about where you place your bunny’s home. The temperature in the area is critical, because rabbits can’t endure temperatures much above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The activity level around the cage, proximity to other pets, and even odors all need consideration when choosing a spot for your rabbit’s home. Avoid placing your pal in an area that might cause any stress.

Rabbit Grooming: Flemish Giant rabbits have a short, regular coat. For pet rabbits, care of this means brief sessions of weekly brushing, and maybe more during shedding season. Nails require trimming as needed. Long nails can cause injury to your rabbit or yourself. Check the rump area regularly to ensure that it remains clean. Rabbits groom themselves, so baths are usually not needed, except if a bunny gets into something filthy. Spot-cleaning with a damp cloth usually works. If a bath is really needed, use warm water and only a couple inches or so of water. Dry thoroughly. Never submerge a rabbit in water.

Rabbit Companionship: Rabbits are social animals. Sharing your home with a pair or trio doesn’t mean they won’t want to interact with you. Pet bunnies enjoy interacting with each other and you. Some bunnies might not get along, so be careful with introductions when adding a new bunny to a home with established bunnies. If mixing males and females, spaying prevents unwanted pregnancies. FYI, spay/neuter also minimizes the risk of reproductive cancers in the future.

Flemish Giant Rabbit Health

Flemish Giant lying down
Get to know your rabbit’s routine so you’ll know if it changes. Marylou Zarbock

Flemish Giant rabbits can develop any of the health concerns common in other rabbit breeds. Some of these are GI stasis, malocclusion, respiratory disease, mites, and, in unspayed females, uterine cancer. The size of the Flemish Rabbit makes it more sensitive to heat than even other rabbits. Be sure the keep them in an environment that stays at or slightly below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and isn’t overly humid. Signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke include rapid breathing, lethargy, ears going red, salivating, lying in a stretched position, and having a convulsion. Their size might also make them more prone to back injury if dropped or handled carelessly.

Maintaining health means eating and living healthy. Provide your Flemish Giant with proper food and plenty of fresh water. House him or her in a rabbit-proof room or large enclosure that allows easy movement and includes all the necessary accessories, such as toys, hideaways, litter boxes, food dishes, etc. Your Flemish Giant’s needs a clean, safe environment that’s not too noisy or hectic and lets him or her be part of your family. Daily exercise time and or playtime with you and on his or her own helps promote good mental health.

Contact your rabbit-savvy veterinarian immediately if your Flemish Giant suddenly behaves differently or shows any signs of illness. Not eating or eliminating as usual, changing activity level, having strange discharge from the body or lumps or bumps on the body might all be signs of a health problem. An annual veterinary checkup might help catch problems before they become serious.

Flemish Giant Rabbits On The Internet

Are there Flemish Giant rabbits on social media? Of course! Check out these: