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The Different Breeds of Angoras

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Before you purchase an angora bunny, you have to understand the differences in the 4 Breeds of Angora Rabbits. Each breed has it's own size, it's own grooming and feeding requirements, and each breed is different in the time that is spend     on grooming. Each Breed of Angora is bred for a specific and different type of  wool, (Angora owners call the long rabbit  hair " Wool " ), and the type of wool and it's softness and feel is called " texture " .

Some Breeds where bred to have a soft, cottony texture, while other Breeds own a texture of hair that is thicker, still soft but less likely to matt .     Some Breeds take more time to groom then others, and while you may fall in love with the size or look of one particular Breed, also consider the time that is necessary to keep your angora in good shape and the hours needed each week for grooming.    IF you have a busy lifestyle, it may be advisable to consider grooming requirements over the look of a particular breed or bunny.
There is nothing more sad then a 6 months old bunny that was purchased with good intentions but then was neglected by the new owner and returned to the Breeder or worse, abandoned in a field or street , for lack of time and grooming. 
Such bunnies can be matted to the skin, and can require extensive work to get the wool removed. On occasion such bunnies have to be put to death due to acquired health problems.  
  I myself have always loved the French Angora, it having been the Breed of my first pet bunny and it being my main Breed in my Rabbitry.
I have, at one time or another, owned all 4 Breeds of Angoras, and can offer an impartial opinion of all 4 Breeds, but for the beginner and pet person , I would always recommend the French Angora as the first Angora Pet to be. Here is a list of the angoras that I specialize in and their Breed specifics, I will not comment on Satin and English Angoras since my opinions might be partial, but If you'd like to discuss these Breeds with me in person, feel free to e-mail me .

French Angora :
A large bunny at an average of 8 to 12 pounds in weight at maturity, a good breeder and with good mothering instincts.  Different bloodlines available dictate the size and wool growth, but today's good quality French should be around 9 -11 pounds in weight and should grow a very dense coat , with an average harvest of 7-11 ounces of blanket ( top and sides ) fiber every 4-5 months, with a length of 3-6 inches in that time.  
Off course, harvest is greatly determined by nutrition, grooming and bloodlines.
A baby can't be very much better then it's parents, and genes play a large role in wool production. French Angoras have 2 types of fiber, the straight, coarse and long Guard Hair, a coarser type hair which should be dispersed evenly in the entire coat, this fiber separates the softer undercoat and keep it from matting / webbing.  
Guard hair carries the largest amount of color pigments, so French Angoras and other Angora Breeds with a good amount of guard hair will show colors extremely well.
Underneath the Guard hair grows the soft , downy fiber called undercoat . This fiber is what gives Angora fiber the softness, the cloud like feel and it is highly insulating.
A good balance between both fibers is very important in a good angora bunny, for wool production and for ease of grooming. Some publications call the French Angora wool " coarse ", which in a way is a unfiar statement. 
When reading the term " coarse ", one imagines the feel of a Brillo Pad, and who wants that on an angora Rabbit ?

Today's healthy and well bred Frenchie will have a good silky and soft feel to the wool, and if you pet the rabbit or spin it's wool, it will NOT feel coarse.   A healthy French Angora with a good clean cage and good health maintenance will grow wool that is shiny,silky, free of smell, free of webbing and matting and the bunny will feel so soft :)
French Angoras have a face , ears and feet with short , normal fur, and the wool covers the rest of the body .
Small tufts of wool are allowed on the tip of the ears in adult age. Dense wool covers the entire body of the bunny, but for spinning, only the wool from the top and the sides is used to make yarn. The body type of a French Angora is long and " commercial ", the shoulders should be broad, the hip bones should not protrude, and the overall bunny should be long like a loaf of bread.
Due to the size, French Angoras are excellent Breeders with an average litter of 8 babies, but I have had a little as 2 babies and litters as large as 11 babies.
French Angoras require a large cage due to the need for exercise , to prevent obesity and to allow for a clean bunny.
I would recommend a all wire cage 30x36 inches large , with a minimum height of 18 inches. The door of the cage has to be 12 x 12 inches or larger, to be able to fit the bunny through it. French Angoras are bred for commercial wool production, for Rabbit Shows and for pet sales.
French Angoras are available in some 40 recognized, show able colors, and more colors that are not allowed to be shown but are beautiful anyway.  Colors range from ruby-eyed White ( Albino ) to black, and cover solid colors, agouti colors and shaded colors.

Giant Angora :    
The Giant Angora is a rather new Breed in the US, having been imported by Louis Walsh in MA some 15 years ago from Europe.
The Giant Angora is also known as the German Angora, since it's origin is the German commercial Angora Fiber Producer ( Germany used to have only one Breed of Angora Rabbit, bred for wool production alone , only in white, and kept in huge commercial wool Rabbitries.
Today, other breeds have been imported and selected for Rabbit Shows and a small Pet market ).  
Kept in Europe in large herds and commercially harvested by hired help, these creatures live to grow wool and are judged by their wool growth and wool length alone ( in Europe, NOT here in the U.S.A.) Louis presented the German Angora to our National Rabbit Club, ARBA  and within a few years, and some changes to the Breed and a name change, got the Giant Angora to be accepted as the 4th Angora Breed and to be show able.
Currently, Giant Angoras can only be shown in white, with ruby eyes ( albino). 
Giant Angora Breeders, myself included, have bred for colored Giant Angoras and several of us plan to present colored Giant Angoras to the ARBA ( American Rabbit Breeders Assoc. ) for acceptance into the Giant Angora Standard of Perfection. 
I myself am working on Black Giants, and I am currently holding the ARBA Certificate of Development for BLACK Giant Angoras, with my first Presentation of Black Giant Angoras planned for ARBA Convention 2002 .  

The Giant Angora is a heavy and large bunny with a long body, similar to the French and Satin Angora body, with broad shoulders and hips.  The animal should range from 9 to 13 pounds for females, a bit less for males when fully grown at 2 years of age. 
Giant Angoras mature rather slow and seem to gain weight all the way to the 3rd year of live. 
Giant Angoras have 3 types of wool, the under coat we are now familiar with, the Guard hair we know from the French and Satin Angora, and the third type of hair, known as the Awn fluff.   Both Guard Hair and Awn fluff are rather straight, a bit thicker hairs that separate the undercoat and create a beautiful halo over a finished coat.
Giant Angora type wool is very dense, a Giant Angora will/ should produce the highest amount of yield in wool harvest of all 4 breeds. Off course, again, grooming, nutrition and bloodlines of each animal plays a role in yield and the Breeder should strive to breed for ultimate density in wool, while the owner should strive to provide the best feed ( nutrition ) , the best housing and the best grooming to allow the animal to reach it's potential.
Giant Angoras sport long wool all over the body , and have varying amounts of wool growth on the ears , from the tip down to the base of the head.
ARBA allows a variance in ear tassels, but some has to be present.   Facial wool, also called Facial " furnishings "  , include side burns of long wool that cover the mouth partially and need special attention with grooming.  Long wool should grow on the forehead of the bunny, creating a sort of " bangs " that hang into the face and often over the eyes.
Again, ARBA allows for some variance in the amount and length of facial wool.  Some Giant Angoras have very little facial wool,  others have a heavy furnished face.  
Wool also has to cover all 4 feet, from the toes on upward to the leg. This wool can reach great length, some of my Giants have 2-3 inches of wool on their feet, and special care has to be given to all of this extra wool in delicate places to prevent matting and soiling.
Giant Angoras require a good brushing every week , with special attention given to the areas that will matt more, the feet, the face , ears and the belly.  Most Breeders use a special Dog blower/ dryer  to groom the very dense and long wool of the Giant Angora, to allow for good separation of the fiber and to speed up the grooming time.   
Face, ears, mouth and feet will still need to be brushed by hand, at least once a week if not more.
Giant Angoras are a rather new Breed here in the US and are somewhat sensitive. 
Many Breeders in the US had tried to raise Giant Angoras and lost the initial investment rather quickly :(   Giant Angoras require extra nutrition, extra care and special attention since the current bloodlines available in the US seem to be rather sensitive to illness if neglected, are very sensitive to heat and humidity and require a fairly large cage to be comfortable.   Breeding these lovely creatures has proven to be a challenge, the mothers we currently have to work with mostly lack mothering instinct and sometimes do not properly care for their young, requiring a foster Mom or hand raising.
Giant Boys are rather laid back in breeding, and Giant girls are not too interested in getting pregnant in the first place. For all of these reasons, the price of these creatures is much higher then other Angora breeds.

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