The French lop is the largest of the lop breeds and the only lop breed classed in the giant category. They originated from the Flemish Giant and have become popular pets due to their laid back temperament, thick large body and long thick flopping ears.
With these extreme features, comes extreme consideration.
Ears – With such heavy lopped ears, checking for ear problems daily is essential. Watch for shaking heads, scratching ears and lift the ears to look for ear mites. The ears often overheat and should be cooled down in the Summer months with a cool damp cloth. Check weekly at the base of the ear for ear abscesses and have the ear canals veterinary checked every 3-4 months.
Coat – The coat is thick and dense, with many layers and undercoat. This needs weekly maintenance to keep it from matting and causing dermatitis. Blow into the fur to check for dry patches and remove undercoat using a comb when it is ready to come out. Tease out matts from the feet (we have a video on how to do this). Do not allow the coat to get wet or it will felt and check under the arms and around the bum and legs for matting, ideally keep it trimmed short in these areas.
Joints – Avoid lots of stairs and ensure flooring is soft / grippy as slippy surfaces will lead to joint pain and risks of slipped disks. Watch icy outdoor areas as broken legs are all too common! Children should never lift rabbits of this size due to their strength and kicking can cause a broken back. French lops are very clumsy and will often cause themselves injury by mistake so care should be taken in their environment to make it as safe as possible. By age 3, physiotherapy is often needed, and the majority develop severe arthritis so pain relief and anti-inflammatories are vital in their later years.
Diet – Their diet should be monitored wisely as extra size does not equal extra calories and this often leads to overweight, slow, unfit giants. They should be kept lean and muscular and not be fed masses of dry food or barley rings to pump them up, the focus should always be on hay. Fresh food should be given in variety and supplements should be given to help with heart and blood circulation due to the weakness they have with their hearts.
Environment – Ensure you have enough large spaces that they can hide into as they do not easily fit into small spaces like small rabbits do but do still feel scared and have the desire to run and hide like a rabbit would. Provide large hideaways, very large deep litter trays like underbed storage boxes and be prepared to do a lot of bunny proofing as they can be destructive through sheer strength, not intention. Keep things up high and out of reach as they can stretch up and pull things off tables, knock over chairs and generally bulldoze around.
As always, #adoptdontshop and don't add to the breeding of these extreme breeds. This #caringforextremebreeds series is in conjunction with our #endextremebreeding campaign, we are highlighting how to care for these buns who already exist and need our help. Always have a good rabbit savvy vet who can detect issues and companionship is key.