Rabbits have always been popular pets, but few more so than the French lop. This floppy-eared giant is among the largest of rabbit breeds – often reaching the same size and weight as a typical housecat – which has made it a rabbit with many uses.
French lops are a common entry in rabbit shows. Their size has also made them a popular source of meat (particularly in cooking classes). But their gentle, friendly temperament also makes them great pets, and their caretakers feel lucky to have them.
French Lop Basics
Like other lop breeds, the French lop is distinguishable by its long ears that flop over instead of standing upright; on French Lops, the openings of the ears face inward. This breed is also significantly larger than its counterparts; an adult can be as heavy as 10 pounds or more. Lops that live outdoors can live 5-8 years, while indoor lops can live as long as 10.
French lops have what are called “commercial” bodies: full, thick, muscular, with a strong and sturdy head. The markings, however, run a wide gamut. Solid patterns range from cream, white and orange to black, gray and brown. Although French lops are active when they’re young, they become less active as they get older, leading to a flabby build in their senior years.
Caring for the French Lop
In general, the French lop is a very easy pet to get along with and isn’t particularly high-maintenance. However, given their large size, expect their needs to be larger than your usual pet rabbit.
Food: As with other animals, access to plenty of water is essential for French lops, so give yours as much as possible. Keep a filled water bottle in the cage at all times. Be less generous with food, however; rabbits will eat whatever’s around, and overeating can cause health problems. Limit their diet to two cups of pellets a day. Fruits and vegetables are fine, as long as they don’t cause diarrhea.
Bedding: If your rabbit stays outdoors, build a wooden hutch with a waterproof roof out of heavy wood. These are also available online. If you prefer to keep your pet indoors and far away from the mole repellents or other unsafe treatments in your yard, place a cage in your home. In either case, the shelter should be large enough for them to exercise – at least 36×36 inches – and should be lined with wood shavings.
Grooming: Like cats, French lops are good at self-grooming, but this can also lead to ingestion of hair and hairballs. Minimize this problem by brushing their coat once a week. Brush more frequently when they’re shedding their undercoat. When their nails get too long, cut the tips only, or use an emery board to blunt the sharpness.
If you want a docile, friendly pet that could win ribbons at shows, a French lop would be a welcome (and big) addition to the family.