National Federation of
Flemish Giant 
Rabbit Breeders

 

 

Ancient Origins of the Flemish Giants
By Thomas Coatoam
Originally published in 1983-NFFGRB Guide Book

1905 post card of the
 White Prize Winning Giant Rabbit
(From the collection of Cathy Caracciolo)

While the Flemish Giant is the largest rabbit that we know today, there are several breeds that are now extinct and one still to be seen, that have contributed much in the making of the present day Flemish Giant rabbit.

The Patagonian, or as it was also called the Angevin, was a large, not handsome rabbit that lived many years ago and was quite common in England.  The rabbit acquired the name Patagonian because of it’s size – based on the fact that Giants were thought to live in the South American  country of Patagonia.

“The Practical Rabbit Keeper” circa 1870, describes it as being rather large and not pretty.  At this period of time there was great discussion that perhaps the Patagonian was just another name for the Flemish Giants.  If it wasn’t, it was at least a kissin’ cousin.

The main feature of this rabbit was its size and weight; some were said to be over "5 feet in length and weigh 20 pounds", which in any man’s language is a big rabbit.  The body is described as being roomy and a trifle coarse with the hip bones being very prominent.  When in good shape they presented a very massive picture, not altogether handsome but very impressive.  The ears were very long and heavy, hanging slightly at the tips and sometimes very “V”-shaped.  Many of them were so heavy that they resembled the Lop.  The fur was a dark iron grey in color and had a mottled appearance; the head and ears much darker than the rest of the body.

It goes without saying that a rabbit this size would have fur value, and was highly prized by the fur trade, as one sheet would easily make up into almost any garment and four of them would make a coat for the average man.

The Patagonian is said to be extinct.