Eye catching. Impressive. Appealing. Those are a
few of the words I have heard when people see Light Gray Flemish
for the first time. In my 22 plus years of raising Flemish
Giants, I have yet to have a single day where my eyes do not
wander toward this most beautiful of Flemish colors. This
variety is one of the original colors accepted by the National
Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders in 1916, along with
Steels and Blacks.
with any article about Flemish, I must offer the potential breeder
a word of advice: when it comes to color, this variety offers a
challenge that is way up there with the Blues, Steels and Blacks.
Our Standard calls for a uniform light gray surface color with
ticking of black tipped guard hairs. The under color shall
be slate blue next to the skin, with an intermediate band of
off-white. Being an agouti pattern, the Light Gray Flemish
has distinct bands or rings that should be visible when blowing
into the coat. You can see the composition of these bands or
rings by taking a closer look to an individual hair shaft, which
will reveal the colors slate blue, white and black. The
belly color shall be white with slate blue under color, and the
underside of the tail should be a continuation of the belly color.
The eyes should be brown.
breeding light grays, it is advisable to keep your crossings
confined to those varieties that will enhance or improve your
actual color. Please do not forget that type is very
important, and do not be tempted to introduce a good colored
animal that has poor type, for that is a step backwards. I
prefer the light gray to light gray crossing myself, but have at
times used White Flemish for two main reasons:
The whites keep the ring
definition in check (especially the intermediate off white band);
Usually the Whites out of
the cross end up with an adequate length of fur, as opposed to the
that sometimes Whites get.
word of caution: if you use too many Whites in your breeding
program, keep an eye out for white toenails in your Light Grays.
breeders believe that crossing Steels with Light Grays is a good
way to produce Light Grays. Although I have done this in
years past, I personally do not believe that the Steels contribute
as much to the cross as you would expect. My rationale is
that Steels tend to either have or hide colors in their ancestry
that might hamper your breeding program. The only time I did
the Steel x Light Gray cross was when I had a very good colored
Steel buck of great type, which in turn came from grandparents and
great grandparents that were all Light Grays.
is a small set of breeders that believe that there is benefit to
be had from introducing Blacks into their Light Gray breeding
program. These breeders believe that Black Flemish will keep
“in check” the black bars that Light Grays have in their feet
and that sometimes lighten up after a few generations and crosses.
Another potential benefit of crossing blacks is for ring
definition and lack of black tipped guard hairs, faults that you
will see in Light Grays that are extremely light. If you
decide to use Blacks in your Light Gray breeding program make sure
that the animals do not have any Blues in their ancestry.
breeding this variety, don’t get discouraged if you get a smoky
fuzziness in your babies’ coats. It will-and should-go
away within the first 3-4 months. Some breeders assert that
most Light Grays with smoky coats have great type.
have been great breeders of light grays over the history of the
Flemish Federation. In the last 25 years the ones at the
very top include Bill Higginbottom, Fred Russell, Dale Gearhart,
Lenny Smith, John Long, Joe
Squittieri, Bob Bolyard and
of course, the legend among legends, Mr. Harold May.
working on your Light Grays do not forget that your herd buck has
a lot of influence in your breeding program. A bad colored
buck can ruin years of effort. Make sure you select a stud
buck that has good color, fur and of course, good type.
with any enterprise in life, success is the result of hard work,
dedication and continuous learning. Don’t expect to cross
two rabbits and be successful overnight. And don’t expect
to succeed by buying so-so stock, either. If you want to
succeed in raising Light Grays (or any other Flemish color) make
sure you acquire good stock from reputable breeders and be
prepared to pay accordingly for such animals.
would also encourage you to do your homework and study the Flemish
standard, visit, call, e-mail or write to other breeders. If
possible, when purchasing animals compare littermates, ask to see
the sire and dam, ask about show winnings at major Flemish shows.
Make sure you listen when consistent, successful breeders give
is a wonderful and most beautiful variety that can bring plenty of
reward and satisfaction as long as you are willing to work hard on
it. Best of Luck with your Light Grays and remember, don’t