Rex Rabbit

Rex Rabbit. Get the history, description, standards, photos of the standard-sized Rex breed. This dual use rabbit breed may be right for you.

The short plush coat of the Rex breed is its distinguishing feature. The dense, plush, short fur is a furrier’s dream. When first introduced to a rex pelt, the early furriers could hardly believe their eyes, finally exclaiming, "We never saw anything so beautiful!"

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History of the Rex Rabbit Breed

A rabbit with a “rexed” coat first came to light in 1919, amongst the barn rabbits owned by Mr. Desire Caillon of France. The thing was a sorry sight, described as “hairless” in some of the initial accounts. Besides the miserable coat which reportedly lacked guard hairs, its extremities were deformed and misshapen. Mr. Caillon sent the poor thing along with the other meat rabbits to the town’s Abbot.

The local Catholic priest saw beyond the health issues to the possible dollar signs. He acquired a second misshapen rexed rabbit from Mr. Caillon and began a breeding program in an attempt to create a decent breed out of these genetic wrecks.

Black Otter Rex RabbitBlack Otter Rex

He had no idea about genetics, but he did have the only known animals with this short upright fur. In 1924, when he had around 150 animals, the Abbot began selling them, and by "sell," we mean highway robbery.

Mr. Alex Wiltzer of France, past president of the French Rabbit Federation, was the first individual to obtain Rex rabbits from the Abbot, and he paid through the nose. He obtained a single rex-coated buck and 2 normal-furred gray rabbits, paying 6,000 French francs (a little more than $1,000).

All were in poor shape genetically and nutritionally. Mr. Wiltzer then partnered with 2 other gentlemen, Professor Eugene Kohler and Mr. Ruos, a retired French judge, in order to improve, refine, and standardize the animals with the rex fur.

By 1927, rabbits with Rex coats could be found in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, England, and finally, the USA.

Additionally, the same mutation was discovered in Lubeck, Germany, in 1924, and in Chartres, France, in 1927. In 1938 in Schoonhoven, Holland, the rex mutation occurred once again.

Rex Rabbits in the USA

Between the years of 1924 and 1929, a rex fur boom occurred in the USA.

Breeders loved the rex fur. Clubs began adding a "rexed" variety to many breeds, including Beverens, Chinchillas, Flemish, Havana, even New Zealands. 

Finally, in 1929, breeders of rexed rabbits began organizing a specialty club dedicated to the creation of a standalone breed of rabbits with rex fur.

The name of the new breed underwent a few adjustments.

Initially called Castorrex, as its coat was the color of beaver (castor), and it was known as the King's rabbit (rex being 'king' in Latin), the name changed to Colorrex as new varieties were introduced, and finally, the reference to color was dropped and the breed became known simply as Rex.

Since 1940, breeders have worked diligently through selective breeding to turn these animals from "wrecks" into the excellent dual-purpose rabbits that they are today. 

The National Rex Rabbit Club (NRRC) was established in 1958 and continues today.

Standards and Varieties of Rex Rabbits

Rex have a commercial body type that “exemplifies meat producing qualities.” See the ARBA Standard of Perfection for the complete standard, which describes the ideal qualities of all areas of the Rex rabbit’s body, including a list of faults and disqualifications.

In the USA, Rex fur should measure 0.5 to 0.75 inch long, with 5/8 inch being ideal. Bucks should weigh up to 9.5 pounds (4.3 kg). Does weigh up to 10.5 pounds (4.77 kg).

The fur should be extremely dense, short, and plush. It stands upright to the body – at a 90% angle as much as possible, and offers a springy resistance to the touch.

Its length and its texture should be uniform over all areas of the pelt, with no evident guard hairs protruding. The guard hairs are there; but being basically the same length as the undercoat, their presence offers density and body without being obvious.

In the USA, Rex Rabbits are recognized in 16 varieties:

  • Amber Rex (chocolate agouti)
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Broken group (brokens of all varieties are shown together, including 4 varieties of tri-color)
  • Californian (black-pointed white)
  • Castor (black agouti)
  • Chinchilla
  • Chocolate
  • Lilac
  • Lynx (either lilac agouti, or smutty fawn - dilute red)
  • Opal (blue agouti)
  • Otter (black, blue, chocolate, lilac)
  • Red
  • Sable
  • Seal
  • White (REW only)

13 of these varieties are pictured in the Domestic Rabbit Breeds e-book.

Blue Rex RabbitBlue Rex
Red Rex RabbitRed Rex
Sable Rex RabbitSable Rex
Red-Eyed-White Rex RabbitREW Rex

In the UK, the Rex is accepted in 28 colors. it is also found in a Satin variety and two rough-coated varieties (Astrex and Opossom). See the BRC for additional detail. 

In the UK, Rex fur ideally measures 1.27 cm (0.5 inch) long. Adults weigh 2.72 - 3.62 kg (6 - 8 pounds).

Interested in other rabbit breeds?

Domestic Rabbit Breeds E-Book Cover

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Domestic Rabbit Breeds: 
A Kaleidoscope of Variety

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