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Showing Netherland Dwarfs

I hope that beginners will find this information to be useful and encouraging when they start to show.

As you may or may not have noticed, the different breeds all consist of different colours. The different colours, in rabbit language, are called varieties. The different colours, or varieties, are grouped together. The many varieties are divided into five groups. Group #1 is Self. #2 is Shaded. #3 is Agouti. #4 is Tan Pattern. And #5 is AOV (Any other variety). Sound confusing? :)

Group #1 (Self) consists of the REWs (ruby-eyed whites), the BEWs (blue-eyed whites), the Blacks, Blues, Chocolates and Lilacs.

Group #2 (Shaded) consists of Siamese Sables, Sable Points, Siamese Smoke Pearls (also just called Smoke Pearl) and Tortoise Shells.

Group #3 (Agouti) consists of Chestnut, Opal, Lynx, Chinchilla and Squirrel.

Group #4 (Tan Pattern) consists of Otters, Silver Martens, Sable Marten, Smoke Pearl Marten, and Tans. Some of these colours are a bit different, because they, themselves, come in different varieties. Otters, Silver Martens and Tans come in Black, Blue, Chocolate, and Lilac. (No wonder Netherland Dwarfs are considered to be the hardest to understand!) So you can hear people talking about a “Black Otter” and another about a “Blue Otter”. Or a “Chocolate Silver Marten” and then a “Lilac Silver Marten”. And, again, a “Chocolate Tan” or maybe a “Blue Tan” etc.

Group #5 (AOV) consists of Himalayan (sometimes called Himi or Pointed White), Orange, Fawn and Steel. Once again, Himis come in Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac.

So that’s a ton of different colours, and you can see why they’re divided into groups. Visit the Colour Guide for pictures and a more thorough explanation. Now that we’ve got that, I can continue with the BOVs and BOGs. Out of each variety (colour) the best rabbit is chosen. That rabbit wins BOV. If that rabbit is a buck, then the best doe will be chosen secondly, and awarded (BOSV) or vice versa. Best of Variety and Best Opposite Sex of Variety.

After all the BOVs and BOSVs have been chosen, they compete for the best in that group (Self, Shaded, etc.) which is Best of Group (BOG). Again, if that rabbit is a doe, they will then find the best buck out of all the BOVs and BOSVs and that buck will be awarded Best Opposite Sex of Group, BOSG. Still with me?? Once this is done, the rabbits continue to be judged, and the best (the rabbit that comes closest to the breed standard) wins BOB (Best of Breed). Hurray! Once again, if that rabbit is a buck, the best doe is chosen and awarded BOS. Best Opposite Sex.

Breeding Netherland Dwarfs

Some common concerns, when considering the Netherland Dwarf (or other Dwarf breeds for that matter) as a chosen breed to raise, are the problems with peanuts, false dwarfs and small litters. How are you supposed to get anywhere when your rabbit only has 2 or 3 kits, and 50% of them are peanuts and false dwarfs??

The average litter size is probably 4, with litters of 5 not uncommon. First time moms' average is about 3. Also, peanuts and false dwarfs, while they are inevitable, aren't a huge problem either.  Only 20% of  litters ever contain either a peanut OR a false dwarf. 80% of the time, I Most are litters of 100% true Dwarfs. The key to big litters isn't the size of the parents, it's the health of the parents and the size of the cages. It's a proven fact that the more exercise a buck gets, the more babies he will produce and that has definitely proven true.

The breed standard

Head-  The Netherland Dwarf is known for it's head. Big, and round in every direction. Good width in between the eyes is a must, with good curvature when viewed from the side. Dwarfs should also have nice, big cheeks

Ears- The Netherland Dwarf's ears cannot be longer than 2.5 inches. It is written that 2 inches is ideal, but I'll tell you right now... a Netherland Dwarf with 2 inch long ears is going to be faulted. A Netherland Dwarf's ears can never be to small, in most cases. The ears should be well furred and of good substance. The tips should be round. A common misconception is that the ears are supposed to be touching, when posed, but that is not actually a requirement, they simply need to be carried erect. When the ears are together, there should be no daylight visible between them and together they should roughly form the shape of a spoon.

Body- The Netherland body is to be rounded and compact. They should have equal width and depth. Ideally, the body should be two thirds of the rabbit, and the head, one third. But again, the shorter the better, and I don't think a Dwarf's body can be too short, when it comes to showing. There should be no tapering of the sidelines from shoulders to hindquarters. The hindquarters should be full and should definitely not be undercut. The topline seems to have become a topic of debate, as it is affected by the animal's pose, which people are having a hard time agreeing on. The balance of the headset on the shoulders and the curve of the topline from a highpoint at the base of the neck through the shoulder, back, loin and hindquarters are what give the Dwarf its unique look.

Eyes-  Eyes are to be big and bold. Just because the Dwarf's eyes are naturally big doesn't mean that it should automatically get 5/5. The eyes should be HUGE! They should stand out and when you first see the head you should notice the eyes almost as quickly as the cheeks and general roundness!

Fur/Condition-  The fur should be soft, dense, fine and with a good luster. The fur on a Netherland is the rollback type. The coat should be full and with good finish when they are in condition. A general idea of, "wow! What a healthy rabbit! I could sit here and pet this coat all day" is what would be nice to achieve :)

Color-Please take the time to visit the colour guide to understand how they are divided into groups and the standards as well as faults and disqualifications for each variety.

Disqualifications: These include the presence of a dewlap, ears over 2.5 inches, an animal over 2.5 pounds, missing toenails, broken teeth, teeth that hit straight on, or a jaw where the bottom teeth are in front of the top teeth, broken toes, a broken tail, and all the disqualifications that apply to the individual varieties.

Posing Netherland Dwarfs

The easy stuff is positioning of the legs. Front legs should be resting lightly on the table, in line with the ears. The toes of the back feet should line up straight with the haunch. Dwarfs should be neither squished up, nor stretched out. The position of the head is what sets up most of the important things, like the topline. The head shouldn't be way up high, like a Britannia Petite, making the Dwarf stand up on it's toes. But this is not an uncommon practice among many breeders. The head shouldn't be low to the table either, making the rabbit rest too much of their weight on their front legs. When this happens, the highest point on the topline actually becomes the hip area, which is undesirable. From far away, the head should look like it sits nicely on the shoulders with no visible neck, and not extending far past the chest, nor much higher than the back, giving the Dwarf a very circle type look.

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