History of the
Mini Lop Rabbit
The Historical journey of the Mini Lop begins several hundred years ago.
The actual domestication of rabbits can be credited to the monks of central Europe. Within monastery walls, wild rabbits were tamed and selective breeding took place. It is believed that Lop-Eared rabbits were one of the results of these selective breeding programs. Records show rabbits being exchanged by monasteries in Germany and France as early as 1194.
The popularity of Lop-Eared Rabbits further spread throughout Germany when soldiers returning from the Franco-Prussian War brought the rabbits home when returning from France in 1870. These early rabbits were often referred to as the "Patagonian" or "Andalusian" rabbits.
In Germany, as was the case in France, focus was placed on meat production. Over time, this eventually resulted in large German Lop which became popular throughout Europe
Charles Darwin commented extensively on “Large Lop—Eared Rabbits” in “The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication” first published in 1869.
While Rabbits were exhibited in shows as early as the 1840’s, they became increasingly popular over the next hundred years, with many new breeds being developed during this time
By the 1950’s German fanciers were having a difficult time finding enough space to keep the really large varieties and thus set about creating an intermediate lop – somewhere between the French and Dwarf varieties. The resulting breed was the Klien Widder.
The development of Klien Widder was began around 1954 by Erhard Diener in Saarbrücken Germany and was later shown at exhibition in 1957. It wasn’t until 1964 before the breed was officially recognized by the “Central Association of German Rabbit Breeder’s”.
In 1972, Bob Herschbach first saw the Klein Widder at the German National Rabbit Show held in Essen, Germany. He learned that the Klein Widder had been developed out of the German Big Lops and their small Chinchilla. Initially there only were two varieties, White and Agouti.
The Klein Widder had beautiful heads and good ears. This was typical of German stock, however, their bodies were long and narrow and their weight was over eight and half pounds. Only twenty Klein Widders were thought to exist in Germany at this time, with eleven of them entered at this show.
Mr. Herschbach brought a trio, consisting of an Agouti pair and a White doe, home with him to California. He then set about to producing more "dwarf" lops in other colors. He used a broken French Lop and a Standard Chinchilla in his first breeding
His first litters were all solid colors with the broken colors coming in the second generations. Thus began a long process of selective breeding, as size reduction takes time and is difficult to control because of the inbreeding.
The first of the Klein Widder developed by Mr. Herschbach were shown at the 1974 American Rabbit Breeders Convention in Ventura, California by Herschbach. He reported they did not create much interest and he concluded that this was because they still were not small enough and their name was not appealing. After the convention, he changed the name of the lops to "Mini Lop" and continued efforts to improve the breed by giving several pairs to other breeders, and by 1977 gave the sponsorship of the Mini Lop to Herb Dyke.
In 1978, Herb Dyke and Bob Herschbach started a correspondence club with the first officers being: President-Herb Dyke, Vice President-Craig Carpenter, Secretary/Treasurer-Sherry Rollema, with Bob Herschbach as their adviser. Within a year, they had over 500 members who contacted the ARBA with support for the Mini Lop Rabbit.
The Mini Lop was finally, accepted as a breed at the 1980 ARBA National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Mini Lop Rabbit Club of America was founded later that year to advance and promote the Mini Lop breed nationally.
The membership of the MLRCA quickly grew to over a thousand members. Although membership has declined since those early days, the MLRCA remains the Oldest and Largest Mini Lop Club in the World.