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History in Europe

edited by Tom Mason

 This history is a composite of histories which have been previously recorded by, Kevin Smithey, Joyce Naylor, and Lionel Mannering of the United Kingdom.  Much of the text is in the original wording or is paraphrased of the original authors.  Other material were added as could be gleaned from numerous other sources.

    About the early 1880's in England, there appeared in a litter of Dutch rabbits a white sport (mutation) with red eyes, of a similar body type to the Dutch of that time, weighing about 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 lbs., cobby in body and soft in coat.  These white sports were later given the name "Polish", but they were far removed from the petite little Pole (Britannia Petite) that we know today.  Although not strong or robust in character, a few were kept and interbred, and were found to reproduce their own kind. Through selective in-line breeding, several more white rabbits with red eyes were obtained.

    The new creation was shown at an exhibition in Hull in 1884, and at about that time these "Polish" were exported from England to the Hanover district of Germany.

     Their arrival in Germany was greeted with enthusiasm and the fanciers of that time set a standard somewhat similar to that of the Netherland Dwarf today.  In an effort to obtain this new "type", the Polish were crossed with small wild rabbits.  The resulting young were agouti in color, but in the next generation blacks appeared and, as in inevitable in this color group, red-eyed whites soon made their appearance again.

It was the white which first prospected in Germany,  and they were granted a standard in 1903.
A Mr. Otto Lippolt was given the credit for perfecting the breed in this, its present form.  By this time the "Hermelin", as they had become known, was becoming poplar throughout Germany and had found its way in to Holland, were it was accepted by the Netherland Bond Van Konynenfokkers in 1907 called "Pool Roodogig".

At the beginning of the First World War, the blue-eyed white made its appearance in the province of Saxony, now in East Germany.  AS to how the blue-eyed white was first bred. Little is known, as information from Eastern European countries is difficult to obtain.  These animals were larger in bone structure, longer in body, and had a more harsh, flyback coat the did the red-eyed whites.

Until the late 1930's the only colors of Dwarf were red-eyed and blue-eyed whites.  However at this time great Dutch fancier Jan Meyering, together with some close associates, saw the possibilities of a colored Dwarf and began to cross red-eyed whites with normal counterparts of larger breeds they wished to dwarf.  After many years of selective breeding, colored  Dwarfs had arrived at their present high standard, and were first standard in Holland in 1940

It was not until after the Second World War that the Netherland Dwarf came to Britain, as a result of a visit to Holland in 1947 by some English Rex fanciers.  Because of the German occupation of Holland, the Dutch fanciers' rabbitries had become either nonexistent or very depleted.  IN a effort to assist the Dutch fanciers, this party of English fanciers, including Joyce Naylor, took some Rex to an exhibition in Amsterdam, and it was there that they first saw the Netherland Dwarf.  At one end of the hall they saw these tiny rabbits, "Dwarfs" they were told they were.  They looked so cute, with their bold heads, tiny ears, and alert look.  Blacks, blues,and whites.  How they wished they could have some.  But owing to the recent occupation of Holland, only 17 Dwarfs had survived.  However, in 1949 Mrs. Naylor went to London with other fanciers to collect 9 of these rabbits.  One blue-eyed white, two ruby-eyed white, two blues, one sable, and one agouti.

On October 13th, 1949  four of these fanciers formed the Netherland Dwarf Club. The Club grew quickly, members patiently waiting  for stock.  Early in the 1950 the British Rabbit Council gave them official recognition.  In 1950 they held their first Dwarf show, at New Maldan in Surrey,  with a total of 18 rabbits entered.  Needless to say, these attracted great attention.  They also had a lot of criticism about importing a new breed.  "Won't last six months" was a familiar cry.

Those early days, many noteworthy rabbits were bred and, as always with rabbits of long-lasting show careers, made their present felt on the show table of Britain. Alas, many of these good Dwarf of the show table were unable to reproduce themselves in the breeding pen.  Why this may have been so is unknown.

The Dwarf which many fanciers thought was no more that a mere novelty has become, 
fort years later, one of the top Fancy rabbits, topping the entries at the major shows.  It seems to get more popular as each year goes by.

The English fanciers are quite pleased that they feel they helped us get started in Dwarfs in America, and they are further pleased to hear of the large entries at our shows.  The Dwarf is the ideal rabbit for the future, as it is small, hardy, and easy to feed.  It is ideal for the urban fancier in these days of high cost.

In the past two decades, the Dwarf has been accepted on the continent of America, in Canada, and latterly, in South Africa.  Consequently, it is now in all the rabbiting nations of the world - proof that the Dwarf is truly the "Gem of the Fancy".

The history of the Dwarf in Britain is that of a new breed being exported to a foreign country, being bred to a different standard, and then being re-imported nearly half a century later as yet another breed.


History in the USA

edited by Tom Mason

This history is a composite of the histories which have been previously recorded by Darrell Bramhall, Ralph DeVito, Joy Bramhall, and Fred Odell.  Much of the text is the original wording or is paraphrased wording of the original authors.  Other materials were added as could be gleaned from numerous other sources.  Many thanks are due these individuals who have kept our history.

Darrell Bramhall of Iowa, who's is a noted pigeon judge and small stock fancier, met Jack Turnbull at a rabbit exposition in Fort Worth , Texas in January, 1969.  Mr. Turnbull, a Netherland Dwarf rabbit breeder from England was working in Connecticut on a temporary basis.  These gentleman began a discussion about Netherland Dwarfs which increased Mr. Bramhall's interest in them dramatically.  Mr. Turnbull had indicated that he had plans to contact some of his breeder friends in England to import a number of Dwarfs that year.  Netherland Dwarfs had been imported to both the United States and Canada as early as 1965; however, they were being used only to improve the Polish breed, or merely as a curiosity.

Mr. Bramhall did not hear from Mr. Turnbull again until June, when he wrote to him to see how he was progressing with the importantion of Dwarfs.  Mr. Turnbull replied that he had brought a number if Dwarfs over from England and offered some of them to him.  Of course,Mr. Bramhall wanted some of the Dwarfs and began negotiating for several pairs. The first pair he received were Himalayans.

Also at that time, while corresponding  with Mr. Turnbull,  Mr. Bramhall suggested that they should begin organizing a Specialty club to promote and encourage the breeding and showing Dwarfs in this country.  They also started working to get a Standard of Perfection for the Dwarfs accepted by the ARBA.  Mr Bramhall wrote to Mr. Blythe of the American Rabbit Breeders Association, Inc. (ARBA) informing him of their intentions to organize a Specialty Club for the Netherland Dwarfs and asking him for a charter application and his help in this project.

Mr. Bramhall spent the entire month of August corresponding with Mr. Meier, chairman of the 
ARBA Standard Committee, Jack Turnbull,and Joe Stankus of Cleveland , Ohio with regards 
to a Standard of Perfection  for the Dwarfs. It was decided that the English standard, with a few minor changes which were necessary to conform to our ARBA standards, would be presented by Mr. Meier in his committee report
to the ARBA Board of Directors at the ARBA Convention & Show in Calgary,Canada in September, 1969.

Mr. Turnbull was responsible for exhibiting the first required showing of Dwarfs at this Convention.  He showed a pair of Ruby-Eyed Whites, a Black, and a Siamese Sable.  There were 6 Dwarfs shown altogether by 2 exhibitors.  Albert Reurs, a Dutchman residing in Listowel, Ontario, Canada, was the other exhibitor.  He had a pair of Ruby-Eyed Whites.  After the Convention, word was received from Mr. Turnbull that the Dwarfs created a lot of interested at the show, and that the ARBA Board of Directors accepted the proposed Standard of Perfection for the Netherland Dwarf Rabbit.  With this ruling, the Dwarfs could be shown as a recognized breed at all ARBA shows, however, the exhibitor must provide the presiding judge with a copy of the Standard for Dwarfs.

The American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club (ANDRC) was granted a charter by the ARBA on January 15, 1970.

The early Netherland Dwarf rabbits made a tremendous impression of fanciers in the USA and Canada.  Interest in Dwarfs spread rapidly during the first year, as many more Dwarfs were imported from England and Holland, and many new breeders became interested in the breed.

At the 1970 ARBA Convention & Show held at Syracuse, New York, the small beginning 
of only 6 Dwarfs at the previous Convention rose to 85 Dwarfs that year.

 In the Spring of 1971 the ANDRC (American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club)  held its first National Netherland Dwarf Show at Montpelier, Ohio.  There were 85 Dwarfs shown by 26 exhibitors which were judged by Darrell Bramhall.

In 1971 the ARBA Convention was held at Albuquerque, New Mexico with 148 Dwarfs shown, with judging by Darrell Bramhall.

In 1973 the membership grew to 550 members and in 1974 it continued its rapid growth with over 900 members by the end of that year.  By 1978, the ANDRC was the second largest Specialty Club in the ARBA and still growing.


History in Canada

By Arlene Marchuk-Wilkins & Dona Grosser

The history of the Netherland Dwarf in Canada is difficult to trace and varies from province to province.  In Ontario, our best sources tell us that the first Netherland Dwarf was brought into the province by Bruce Mathers and his father-in-law, Larry Murdock, around 1965.

These two men been shown pictures of English Netherland Dwarfs in a magazine and, using the connections of a friend named Ed Morley, who was also a English immigrant, they brought in a trio of Himalayan Netherland Dwarfs from Ken Ashford of England.  The trio cost them $100 to buy and another $100 to fly in from England.  The foundation buck was named "Colour King" and was a champion in England.

A friend, George Geissler, soon afterward imported a rather large Siamese Sable brood doe, which was bred to"Colour King".  Bruce and Larry showed their Netherland Dwarfs at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, a number of years before the first National Netherland Dwarf Convention in Canada's west, in Calgary.  The Royal Winter Fair, although never ARBA sanctioned, was considered the premier agricultural show in Ontario at the time.

In 1967, "The Netherland and Polish Rabbit Association" was formed, although is dissolved in subsequent years.

Throughout the years,  the showing of Dwarfs has increased steadily.  The current "Canadian Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club", (CNDRC) was formed in 1983 in Ontario by a group of Dwarf breeders led by Scot Mansfield.  In 1985 the CNDRC hosted the ANDRC National Show at the Ontario Science Center in Toronto.  The Club and the breed is currently very strong in the province and continues to grow.