What is a rare breed? By the definition that this article is based on, a rare rabbit breed is a breed in which there are
few or no breeders of that breed in your area. Stock in this breed is not readily available. There are few, if any, shown
at local shows. Generally, area breeders (or other breeds) or judges are not familiar with this breed. Most importantly, a
rare breed is a breed that needs a boost--one that you can provide.
This "rare breed" may be something really rare throughout the country or world, like the American or Satin Angora. On the
other hand, it could be a breed such as the Dwarf Hotot or Silver Marten: a breed that is in no danger of extinction, but
is unseen or uncommon, and un-promoted in your area or state. Remember, a rare breed is a breed in which you can make a difference.
Anything that needs promotion needs committed, positive, and energetic people. It needs someone who can take the lead and
encourage others. A rare breed offers so many opportunities to the hard-working promoter aiming high,
that a common breed just does not offer! Is there a lack of Holland Lop breeders in the country? Capable Holland breeders,
who can run a club, sanction shows, help new breeders, create websites and promotional tools, and design educational material?
I do not mean to single out Holland Lops; I am not a Holland breeder and have little idea what the Holland world is like,
and what it needs. However, I can assure you that you will have more to offer, and what you do will be better appreciated
in a rare breed than in a common one.
Let me share my personal examples that compel me to write this article.
In November of 2004, I acquired a pair of silvers, to add a rare breed to my Polish barn. I wanted a rare breed, honestly,
because I wanted to win. I was having difficulty succeeding in my polish as quickly as I wanted to. (Which showed I had a
lot to learn!) Though my original intentions were selfish, raising silvers turned out to be so much more! Walking away with
BOB and BOS at every show was fun, but it isn't worth very much when you are competing against only yourself! I saw a place
where my abilities could be used to help the National Silver Rabbit Club (NSRC) and the silver breed, and pounced on my opportunity.
In the summer of 2005, the NSRC was creating a promotional committee, of which I was one of the first to volunteer to be on.
A few months later I found myself the webmaster of a brand-new NSRC website, a brochure I had created being printed for distribution,
my silver articles published in Domestic Rabbits and the NSRC "Silver Bullet", and myself a well-known member of the
NSRC. More projects are underway! I know that I am using my talents to help something I love, and that I am appreciated.
Silvers at the local level are even more exciting! When I got my silvers, there were only two breeders in the state. Neither
of them was very active in breeding or showing them. I know of eight Michigan breeders now, and the interest is silvers in
increasing at every show! There is talk of bringing a silver national to Michigan, or a Michigan silver club (which would
be the only local or regional silver specialty club!). Some silver specialty shows are definitely being planned! It has been
so much fun to see how many people really love the silvers once they are introduced to them, and how much I can do for my
I don't mean to highlight my own "good works", but to point out that there are many places you can fill with a rare breed.
Many positions and openings are out there in your rare breed club. Just one person's energy and willingness to help will be
a real shot-in-the-arm to a slow, struggling club or breed. Even youth are good for something.... I’m fifteen years
I have found that promotion of your rare breed at a local level to have tangible, quick-to-come, positive effects. You
never know when someone happened to be looking for that rare breed when you donate a pair to a raffle or auction. Many people
out there are interested in a rare breed, but not quite convinced enough to hunt a trio down. When the person sees a pair
come up in a raffle or auction, the person will take advantage of it and you've hooked another breeder! Really, I have seen
great results from this.
Writing promotional articles or just plain advertising silvers is another way I have been paid off in choosing to promote
a rare breed. Not only does one get great feedback from friends, but also it is quite profitable. Those reading this article
may remember an article I wrote in the November/December issue of Domestic Rabbits, in which silvers vs. other silvered
breeds was discussed. A few weeks after that article was published, a man came up to me at a show, inquiring about the silvers
in my carriers. My articles had interested him in the breed. It was so awesome to see how through my article silvers gained
another breeder. I hope the same thing has been happening all over the country!
Who is going to write an article explaining to the world what a Mini Rex is? Who is going to, after writing that article,
have a stranger inquire if those are mini rex in your carriers, and if you have any for sale? People are familiar with Mini
Rex, and the setting for an awesome experience like that just is not there. How much of a thrill does a Netherland Dwarf breeder
get every time they sell a rabbit to a new dwarf owner? I can assure you, it is not as much as when a person scores another
point for a rare breed.
Acquiring your starting stock in a rare breed can be difficult, but I have found that it can certainly be done with a little
trouble or travel--less than it may seem to require at first. Once you get your foundation animals you may be surprised at
how many people will tell you that they were looking for that breed, but couldn't find any. In my experience, the best way
to find stock in a rare breed is at or through the ARBA convention. There will almost certainly be someone within a few hours
from you going to convention each year. Contact breeders of the rare breed you want to get before the date when entries close.
There are definite pros and cons to raising a rare breed. Most of the unique features of a rare breed work both ways. You
may have no competition at shows, for instance. This may be fun, "I win every time!", or boring, or both. It may be a "con",
but it provides you with a chance and incentive to promote your breed in your state.
Rare breeds are often inbred, with the same faults fixed in nearly every rabbit in the country of that breed. This can
make those undesirable characteristics harder to breed out when there are no rabbits strong in those areas to cross to. Even
the best in the nation of that rare breed may not meet the standard as closely as the Mini Lop that won your state convention.
However, the more people working on a breed, the faster it grows close to the standard and the closer your rare breed is to
Rare Breeds offer Rare Opportunities. Consider helping to save a rare breed. Just pick up a few if you want: you don't
have to let them overrun your barn. Join the breed's national specialty club and see where you can help. Sanction shows; contact
the secretary, newsletter editor, or sweepstakes keeper and ask if they could use a little help. Write an article or contribute
something to the club's newsletter. There is a need for you and there are so many ways you can do so much for your rare