Silver Fox rabbits make an exceptional, multipurpose, and unique breed. They are considered a heritage breed and were the second breed truly developed in the United States. Between their outstanding meat-to-bone ratio and great mothering skills, they make a good homestead rabbit. We have worked with Walter’s Farm and Little Ray of Sunshine Rabbitry to put together a guide all about Silver Fox rabbits. Before we cover the characteristics of the breed, we will look at their history.
As mentioned prior, Silver Fox rabbits were the second breed developed and recognized in the United States. Walter B. Garland, an ARBA judge, of Ohio created the breed over 14 years and they became recognized in 1925 at the Colorado Springs, Colorado Convention. One of his goals was to create a “fox-style” rabbit to compete with the increasing sales of fox fur. Mr. Garland also bred fancy tail pigeons and dogs and had the largest rabbitry in the United States at one time (Vema Rose Rabbit Farm).
Originally the breed was called “American Heavyweight Silver”, and in 1929, at the Fort Worth, Texas Convention, the name was changed to “Silver Fox”. Black and blue were the only recognized colors, but in the 1970s blue was dropped from the American Rabbit Breeders Association due to lack of numbers being shown.
Ten years after Walter’s death, in 1971 the National Silver Fox Rabbit Club was founded, consisting of 15 members. At this point, Silver Fox rabbits were nearly extinct. Since then, more breeders have been working to improve type and color while increasing breed numbers. Although Silver Fox rabbits come in black, blue, chocolate, lilac, and rarely white, only black and chocolate can be shown through ARBA. Recently, blue has been accepted and can be shown at the national convention of 2024.
Meet The Rabbitries
To put together this article, we have spoken with two Everbreed users who are actively breeding Silver Fox Rabbits. Consequently, their first-hand experience and enjoyment with the breed is beneficial knowledge to anyone who is looking to learn more about Silver Fox rabbits.
The family of Walter’s Farm, named after their son, live and farm in Volcano, Hawaii. They are the only Silver Fox breeders in the state. Their breeders had to go on many trips and flights before finally reaching the Big Island of Hawaii. Something to note about Hawaii is that rabbits are very invasive, so they are not permitted to live on the ground and must be kept in cages a certain height from the ground. Walter’s Farm is developing their breeding program and currently only sells to a local farm-to-table chef.
Little Ray of Sunshine Rabbitry
Little Ray of Sunshine Rabbitry is based in North Carolina. After years of research, they decided Silver Fox rabbits would be a good beginner’s rabbit due to their great mothering instincts and docile personalities. They breed exclusively Silver Fox and have found it difficult to find quality breeding stock with fast growth rates. Since the breed is coming back from the edge of extinction, they have seen an enormous variance in quality and are working on improving this.
Silver Fox Rabbits stand out in quite a few areas. Mr. Garland created the breed for small homesteads to have the ultimate protein source, while also having fur that could compete with the wild fox fur market. When the fur market fell off in the 1960s, Silver Fox rabbits also lost popularity. Fortunately, due to the breed’s other characteristics, they have slowly been coming back.
One of the most noted qualities of Silver Fox rabbits is their docile and laid-back attitude. Sometimes, they are even called the “teddy bear” breed. Both Walter’s Farm and Little Ray of Sunshine Rabbitry mentioned how gentle and mild-mannered Silver Fox rabbits are.
This breed of rabbit also stands out in terms of meat production, which was one of the goals while the breed was being created. Silver Fox rabbits can dress up to 65 percent of their live weight. Additionally, they have a small-boned carcass, giving them a great meat-to-bone ratio. Does typically mature around 10-12 pounds and bucks 9-11 pounds, making them a large breed.
Hide/ Pelt Production
Silver Fox rabbits have a pelt like no other breed. When brushed from tail to head, the fur will stand straight on end until brushed the other way. They can be found in black, blue, chocolate, lilac, and white, with silver ticking across their entire body. This ticking starts appearing around 4 weeks and will finish around 4 months. Due to their extremely dense fur, they can adapt to new climates well. This dense fur also helps to protect their feet against sore hocks, more so than other breeds.
The mothering instincts of Silver Fox rabbits are also mentioned often. Walter’s Farm says they are “excellent mothers”, which holds true. They excel in milk production, often over-producing, are easy to breed, and have average-sized litters (6-8 kits). Because of the more average-sized litters, does are better able to raise kits and adequately feed them.
Silver Fox rabbits make a great multi-purpose breed for any family or farm that is looking to grow closer to their food sources while also impacting an endangered heritage breed. Between their fantastic meat-producing abilities, mothering instincts, and unique pelt, they are an all-around rabbit.