Tag Archives: pedigree

An Article Worth Reading

Ellen Whyte is no stranger to pet lovers here in Malaysia especially among the cat lovers. A cat lover herself, she first gained a huge readership writing the book Katz Tales and she writes for The Star newspaper’s Katz Tales/Dog Talk section published on most Saturdays. I met Ellen the first time back in 2010 when she was writing on Pet Ethics. She is a strong supporter of pet/animal welfare and most of the time, you will see an adoption section as part of the Dog Talk articles.

Today, she wrote a very compelling article entitled “Defects in purebred dogs“. This article is not only relevant to dog lovers but for all animal lovers alike because it affects whatever animal that is tagged as “pedigree”.

Like the experience shared by Ellen in her article, I too received numerous inquiries about the Holland Lop breed and at times, am lost for words. We cannot deny how cute these rabbits are but each do come with certain genetic related fault. As I said, the article is very relevant to any species “governed” by any sort of “breed standards” which simply put is a set of specification of man made or human interpreted desired of a certain animal. The article can be replicated 100% except changing the subject of dogs to any other animal species.

Do not get me wrong because I also believe that like every living thing under the sun, thoughtful planning and careful handling of any subject can help eliminate/lower the risk of bad traits manifesting when animals are bred. There are reputable and ethical breeders out there, just rare. It is a very difficult balance to strike between passion and profit. I do not normally recommend breeders because I just do not have as much confident or faith in the genetic composition of the animals sold. It is heart breaking to learn after a few months or years, that the animal purchased has developed some sort of hereditary sickness. It does no good to both owner and the pet. The outcome can often end with either a broken heart or an abandoned animal.

I have often encouraged people especially starters to adopt hybrids because these are the animals that have gone through generations of “natural selection” and possess hybrid vigour – in short, stronger.

No doubt, pedigree rabbits make good pets and not everyone who have pets breed them (and some are even against breeding). For those who are aspired to be breeders, all I can say is that, know your animals well and well enough to be sure they will produce defect free offspring. You must always prepare and know the right thing to do when defect surfaces and in other words, be responsible not only as a pet owner but one who passes on animals to others.

Again, I invite you to read Ellen’s article here and to understand the extensive damage that can occur if animals are bred too fanatically “close” to “breed standards”:

A short snippet from the BBC’s Pedigree Dog Exposed Documentary:

And here is the full documentary:

The documentary also mentions “dwarf” breeds and we too have those in the rabbit world. The dwarf gene makes a rabbit cute and chubby.

The take away point in this video is one of the last quotes:

“There are those in the dog world who care passionately about health, who try to do the right thing. The problem is that they are trapped in a system that often rewards doing the wrong thing”

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What Can We Learn From This?

Not too long ago, I posted a video of the Show Dog world that was produced by the BBC entitled “Pedigree Dogs Exposed”.

Three years after, the follow up video was produced.

There are of course always two sides to the story and some may agree that it is a form of political unrest among breeders within their respective clubs and in my opinion, stuff like that happens in all Show world regardless of species and breed. Most often, it is due to “competitiveness” and the need for glory in winning. When watched with an open mind, these videos do make a lot of sense.

I can definitely relate when it is mentioned that badly inbred animals tend to be sterile. It finally answered the question why certain breed of rabbits are “difficult” to work with especially in the breeding department. I understand now that there is a limit to what Mother Nature will accept. There is a point when Mother Nature will stop producing animals that are totally unfit be it in captivity or in the wild.

I recently updated my pedigree software and there was a new field added to the application – COI%. At first I found this new field totally annoying but after watching the second video, I found that it means Coefficient Of Inbreeding. In short, it is an indicator in percentage how inbred my animals are. There is still much to learn on this part and I will definitely make full use of it in effort to ensure that what happened to the dog breeds will not happen in my rabbitry. I strongly believe that our pets deserve to be healthy and lead normal lives.

I can totally understand why as much as most would accept the concept put forth by these videos, there may be strong opposition by hard core breeders as well. Different individual will protect certain interest that they rely on to survive in life.

As for me, I learned that inbreeding does more harm than good to our animals and narrowing the gene pool is not the right way moving forward. Not to ruffle any feathers, I have no intention or whatsoever to change the breed standards. The breed standards can still be in place in my opinion and I rather take 100% full responsibility in my way of breeding. I have always taken pride in working my lines slowly and I applaud what the Dalmation breeder has done in fixing a genetic fault. This is a fine example of what “One Step Back, Two Steps Forward”. If it means that we can improve the future of the animal’s overall well being, we should take the step even if it means taking a longer time to achieve what we want to achieve. I am also glad to know that crossing two rabbits of different lineage is much better in the long run.

Like what Fiona’s owner  (the Dalmation dog in the second video) said, “When you breed healthy animals, you bring it to the FUTURE”, I cannot agree more!

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Filed under General Care, Rabbit Education

Thank You Caller!

I got a very interesting call today. One that is worth writing of. I can’t remember the name of the caller though (sorry, I am pretty bad with names sometimes). It started out pretty weird because the caller asked, “Is this Tru-Luv Rabbitry?”. Picking up a call like that somewhere outside of where the bunnies are tickles me a little. I always ask at the back of my head, “Hmm, can I say yes to this question?” – LOL!

Not really in the mood for bunny business today, I gave a pretty reluctant, YES and asked how I could be of help. She wanted a female rabbit from me. Before I write on, I would like to assure the caller (if she is reading this) that I am not trying to embarrass her or anything of that sort but this could serve as a very good example of how inquiries are handled.

She said that I was recommended by many reputable breeders and has bought a buck from another breeder. Then I asked her what was her objective for breeding. She said she wanted her family to have a huge Holland Lop family. To be honest I was pretty furious mentally for that answer given. My mind was literally saying, “Didn’t we just read about Pet Ethics the day before yesterday?”. Then I could hear a small voice saying, “Not everyone reads your blog, you moron! You think you’re super star now?”. LOL!

I took a deep breath and I asked, “Have you been to my blog and read some of the postings that I have written because I am pretty sure you are not aware of what I do and how I work with my rabbits”. I almost ended the conversation asking her to just visit my blog and read, read, read and read more!

I felt that would be a little arrogant so I asked her another question, “Do you know that I neuter pets before sending them to pet homes and I also have a no breeding agreement?”

She then asked, “You mean the rabbits are spayed or castrated before their owners get to keep them? Why? Is there a way that I can have an intact doe?”

And that started off my long winding “lecture” on the phone. I told her I get a lot of inquiries like hers and her reason for breeding is just like any other that I have heard and what I dread most. I then asked her a very simple question, “Do you know what is the breed standard for Holland Lop?”

She said yes and have learned of “Champ Breed”. In my heart, I was like “What The HELL?”. I then told her that there is no such term called Champ Breed. I allowed her to finish her explanation and she told me that she has gone to the breeder’s farm to pick out her buck and was taught many things about the Holland Lop. The breeder apparently gave her a little guide book to go with the buck she bought. She was pretty confident and told me that she could recognize between a good/nice rabbit and set them apart from the mix bred. She uses the term “Pure BRED” pretty well.

As far as the breed standard is concerned, she could only tell me that a Holland Lop is judged by its leg muscles and short and broad ears. I told her that was far from the truth.

I then asked her if the breeder (a pretty famous one) that she got her buck from ever gave her a PEDIGREE. She said no, just a little guidebook. I then explained to her that a pedigree is a birth cert with a 4 generation ancestry listing. To a good breeder, the guidebook is good thrash material and the pedigree is utmost important. Through the pedigree we know what line or lines the rabbit in question comes from. And through that little document, we are able to determine how we should move forward breeding it if it is WORTHY of a SHOW QUALITY material.

Let’s stop a moment and think about it. Which is more of a business tactic – to neuter pets or just selling bucks? What about issuance of pedigree? If the rabbits sold are from imported stocks, they must come with 4 generations pedigree. But breeders overseas also practice the non-issuance of pedigrees to PET QUALITIES. Therefore, this lady has bought a pet quality rabbit which is a NO NO for me to be used as a breeding animal. Irresponsible breeders can also use PET QUALITY as a reason or excuse for their MIX BREDs and that is the norm here in Malaysia. For me, No PEDIGREE, NOT PUREBRED! I issue pedigrees for all my animals and because the pets are neutered, there isn’t any issue of giving new owners a copy of the pedigree. At least I am honest to let my “customers” know the ancestry to the rabbits that they own and be proud of them.

I further told her that I would appreciate if someone coming to me knows the basics really well before putting 2 rabbits together to breed. Firstly, a breeder must know his/her line very well and what other lines do they mix well with. Putting a male and female or a buck and doe together is EXTREMELY easy but what they produce do not necessarily make life easy for us.

Secondly, a breeder must know what faults do their rabbits have and how to go about fixing these faults using another rabbit that is complimentary to the one in question.

Ask anyone what quality of rabbits do they prefer and 100% would say SHOW QUALITY. So what happens to the PET QUALITY? Any answer would be correct but the one that I hate most is ABANDONMENT.

It is very challenging to breed Holland Lops but it is not uncommon for them to produce up to 6 in a litter. The question is, do we want 100% pet quality in the litter or at least have 40% of show quality? Even with 40% winning chance, there could still be 60% of abandonment. Either way, check mate aren’t we? In my opinion, we work towards 100% non-abandonment!

So, my suggestion is. We must start off working with good quality so that the PETS would not quite be PET QUALITY. Do you get what I mean? Therefore, you will sometimes see me selling what seemed to be SHOW QUALITY as NEUTERED PETS not because I do not know how to evaluate my Hollands but I strongly believe in a good home for my rabbits. That is definitely not a business tactic for repeat sales!

I then told her that I take breeding as an advanced topic. I also told her as breeders, we must work to improve and not staying at the PET level because we all know what happens to PETS at the end of the day.

I really do hope that I wasn’t being rude and she sounded appreciative of my pointers. I told her and I want to tell everyone reading my blog that I welcome all inquiries. Anyone can feel free to approach me through email for advice and I will try my level best to help all cases. I am willing to guide everyone through.

What made me wrote this is again not to slander or embarrass the caller but I found her applaud-able because I like her attitude. I like the fact that she is very WILLING to share and learn at the same time. I am not claiming that I know everything but I have a vision for a better pet industry for all. We may not get that anywhere near in our lifetime but I really do hope that our younger generations would be able to enjoy healthy and beautiful animals as pets.

So do I end up selling anything? NO! Is that business? NO! Do I even have repeat sales? NO!

Will others be willing to accept my approach to breeding? HOPEFULLY

Did I get the message of RESPONSIBLE BREEDING across to the caller? HOPEFULLY

Did I get another person to understand my objectives and cause? YES, and that is all that MATTERS!

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Filed under Bunny Business

Showing Holland Lops

Out of interest, I have always follow Holland Lop shows in the US. I find it very interesting to know. Although I am not yet an expert in this field of showing rabbits (no practical experiences as yet), I will try to discuss what I know to the best of my knowledge.

The order of judging is Solid before Broken, Senior before Junior and Buck before Doe.

The show for Holland Lops starts off with 8 groups as listed below (in judging order):

1 ) Solid Senior Buck (SSB)

2 ) Solid Junior Buck (SJB)

3 ) Solid Senior Doe (SSD)

4 ) Solid Junior Doe (SJD)

5 ) Broken Senior Buck (BSB – not Backstreet Boys okie!?)

6 ) Broken Junior Buck (BJB)

7 ) Broken Senior Doe (BSD)

8 ) Broken Junior Doe (BJD)

In each group after they are judged, the best from each group will be called Group Winners.

The 8 (4 solids & 4 brokens) Group Winners then compete to get Best Of Group/Variety (if I am not wrong) and Best Opposite Sex of Group. There will only be 2 Best of Group rabbits one coming from Solid and Broken. And 2 Best Opposite Sex of Group rabbits again one coming from Solid and Broken. Only the 2 Best of Group &  2 Best Opposite Sex of Group will go on to compete for Best of Breed (BOB) & Best Opposite Sex (BOS).

For example, if out of the Class Winners, a Solid Senior Buck won Best of Group in Solids and a Broken Senior Buck won Best of Group in Broken, any one of them winning BOB would mean that their opposite sex rabbits will be chosen for BOS.

Rabbit shows normally have many breeds and all the BEST OF BREEDS will come together to compete for BEST IN SHOW (BIS) and also BEST RESERVE IN SHOW (BRIS).

Then how do your rabbit get Grand Champion?

It take 3 GC legs from 3 shows under at least 2 different judges to grand your rabbit. GC legs can be awarded starting to Class Winners. So it is not surprising if a rabbit can earn a few legs in a show. Rabbits with junior legs must have at least 1 senior leg to grand.

But there is a clause to awarding the GC legs. The requirements are that there should be at least 5 rabbits competing and at least 3 breeders represented. For example, 5 rabbits should be competing in the Solid Senior Buck category and they should be owned by at least 3 breeders. So the winner of this category will be able to earn a GC leg.

Important procedures before showing a rabbit:

The main reason that one shows his/her rabbits is to obtain a Grand Champions status. In order to grand a rabbit, the breeder will want to get it registered. The Registrar is the person that helps breeders in registering their rabbits. A registrar must register your rabbit by tattoing its right ear. These registrars are registered under ARBA and they will go through your rabbits physically to ensure that they do not have any disqualification. The rabbits that you desire to get registered must have a complete pedigree stating 3 GENERATIONS of rabbits (yes, all the way up to Great Grandparents).

So now you see why a PEDIGREE document is so important when you desire to get your rabbit on the show table. Not just a birth certificate but something that will show you reliable information of the lineage. It is to ensure you show a purebred rabbit instead of hybrids and mixed breeds.

Why 3 generations of rabbits in the PEDIGREE you might ask. A purebred rabbit is one with 3 generations of purebred ancestry. Meaning to say, all the way up to the great grandparents must be at least Holland Lops. Why wouldn’t they be Holland Lops? That is because, Holland Lops are still being developed and they may cross breed with another breed to enhance the color or fur texture. For more information on this topic, please refer to an old post I posted previously called F1, F2, F3, F4, Hybrid & Purebred?

Another interesting thing is that, the rabbit that you desire to show DO NOT need to be offspring of a show rabbit or even a registered rabbit (but they must be pedigreed). Whether showing rabbits or dogs, the sense of integrity and principles of a person is always put to the test. Show breeders that cares a great deal of their reputations will uphold good sense of showmanship.

What I have witness and have the honor to know about the local dog showing world is that, there are bound to be some breeders that do not take to not winning that well. They just cannot lose and therefore, may “tweak” the pedigrees just to get through the procedures. Unethical dog breeders in order to get their dogs registered has also resorted to using a dead dog’s pedigree to get pedigrees for some mixed breed puppies. I know of many dogs without pedigrees having pedigreed puppies.

So the best thing to do is not to take winning or losing that seriously. Just have FUN and in the midst of that, have a great FELLOWSHIP and make many great FRIENDSHIPS!

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Filed under Rabbit Show