Rabbit Genetics Identification Pedigrees (Fun with 2 Rabbits)

John Doe &  Jane Doe

John Doe & Jane Doe

About 6 years ago I bought a nice Rabbit hutch for the back yard and I never got a rabbit. A couple weeks ago I bought 2 rabbits from a boy in the 4-H who answered my advert for rabbits wanted. Finally I have not one but 2 rabbits for my hutch. YAY !!

These rabbits are just darling, they love my dog, they love my 2 cats and they are so personable.

I’ve been doing alot of research about rabbits over the past week – who would have thought rabbits could be so interesting.

Did you know rabbits have 144 coat color genotypes ? According to one website they do.

The basics I learned to be this – there is a series of 5 letters that make up the rabbit coat coloring each representing some aspect of the rabbit. A rabbit has 2 copies of each letter it received from each of his/her parents. (sounds easy right ?) Ya ok, those letter series are just that series – and a whole mess of them too. Capitols and lowercase have completely different meanings for example. IE: AABBCCDDEE

AABBCCDDEE color code in one breed isn’t necessarily the same color in a different breed. This is where I get confused the most. You learn one thing on one website and another on a different website, meanwhile I have no idea what breed my two rabbits are (lol) because I posted on a breeders website their pictures and one lady told me I have mixed – maybe possible Rex and Flemish Giant mixes – then another lady said mini Rex and California soo I have no idea at this point.

Any help to ID would be appreciated. ( I was told by the seller whom I bought the rabbits from that both were 4-H projects, both were Rex, both were 4 months old,  the dark one is male, the light one is female, different litters) that’s all I know.  Good enough for me when I purchased them, but now that I did all this research I find myself all wrapped up in the world of rabbit genetics and genotypes. Who would have thought horses to rabbits. lol

John Doe

John Doe

John Doe

John Doe

John Doe

John Doe

Jane Doe

Jane Doe

Jane Doe

Jane Doe

This is what I learned so far :

  • A =  Agouti (different colors on hair shafts with rings around the eyes)
  • a =   non-agouti (do not have rings around the eyes)
  • B =  Black
  • b =  brown
  • C =  Color
  • c =  no color  (white rabbits with red eyes would be cc)
  • D =  Dense color (brown, black, chestnut agouti, brown agouti)
  • d =  dilute color (blue, lilac *blue the dilute of black and lilac the dilute of brown)
  • E =  Extension
  • e =  non-extention

The easiest so far for me to understand is the “aa” a solid color rabbit (black rabbit) because from what I’m reading a solid color rabbit isn’t hiding any other dominate color and is also know as a “self-color” rabbit. So if you breed two black rabbits you should get an all black litter. The solid color black rabbit receives a small “a” from each parent. Self-color black rabbit genetics look like this “aaB-C-D-E-” dashes mean unknown recessive genes the rabbit could be carrying.

Unfortunately for me, my dark colored rabbit is not “aa” or a self colored black rabbit. I don’t think my light colored rabbit is a solid color either. They do both have rings around the eyes with white under belly, rear and under tails.

If I would have know what I know now, I prolly would have bought 2 solid colored rabbits just to make this easy on myself. But I didn’t and I love my little darlings I do have an all the more interesting to learn about.

Another topic I came across while researching is if I do have mixed breeds and I learn all about their genetics and breeds involved, I can start my own line after 3 (some websites say 4) generations of known genetics just based on coat colors, who the rabbits are, weight, ear number and birthday. Like from scratch but without pedigrees.

If anyone can tell me more about this it would be greatly appreciated. Like can I do my own ear numbers or does an official have to do it ?  I did see a few discussions where this isn’t excepted by some breeders. But, I would be interested to know more on the subject. Kinda give me some drive knowing maybe years down the line I could show and exhibit my very own rabbits at the shows and fairs.

I also read showing with the ARBA you don’t even need a pedigree – you just need a pedigree if you register your rabbit with the ARBA American Rabbit Breeders Association or when you finally decide to enter for a Grand Champion. But, I dunno for sure, I read it on a website.

EDIT :  Ok, the light color rabbit has different fur (longer plush type) than the dark colored rabbit (short stiff type). I took some pictures to help those who are helping me.

Jane Doe Fur

Jane Doe Fur

Jane Doe Fur

Jane Doe Fur


7 thoughts on “Rabbit Genetics Identification Pedigrees (Fun with 2 Rabbits)

  1. Hello,

    I can help you with your questions. I own the website you linked to with the 144 color genotypes, which is how I found your blog.

    The site lists 144 of the most common gentoypes, the but there are many more than that. I counted 240 possible genotypes using the ABCDE genes, not counting hidden recessives, not counting the secondarty color genes, when I wrote a book on the topic of rabbit genetics — http://rabbitsmarties.com/rabbit-book-catalog/rabbit-coat-color-genetics-guide/

    Your John Doe is certainly a Rex. His color is black otter. Genotype at_B_C_D_E_

    Your Jane looks like she has rex in her, but there’s something else in there, too. Does her fur feel the same or is it a little bit longer than John’s? Her color is chestnut agouti, A_B_C_D_E_ or the wild rabbit color, but what other breed she has behind her is anyone’s guess.

    You can develop your own breed by breeding for several generations, but that doesn’t mean it will be recognized by the ARBA. Generally speaking, a breed has to be recognized by the ARBA to be shown in a normal show. So you definitely want to get purebred rabbits or at least breed towards one breed’s standard. This is a VERY incomplete answer because it’s a little bit complicated. Rabbits have to LOOK like a recognized breed to have full priveleges of competition, even if they didn’t come from purebred stock.

    You can do your own ear numbers. Your black otter would be showable if he doesn’t have any other disqualifications. Your chestnut would not be under any breed. If you want to raise purebred rabbits I would not use the chestnut.

    One quick question – are they living together? They are very nearly at breeding age if not there already. Please separate them soon! The doe may be already pregnant; if not, she probably will be before long! You definitely don’t want to leave them together when there are babies.

    (ARBA national Breed ID winner.) 😉


  2. I edited my post to include pictures of the fur on the light color one. Ya, I split them up a few days ago. I was only planning on buying one rabbit, but I was offered two so I took them both. I had to build another hutch before I split them.

    Thanks for all your info. I have company over now, but I’ll have a few questions later I’m sure.

    Thanks again for your time.


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