The Tan rabbit, often called the ‘aristocrat of the fancy,’ is an old breed that has unique markings. They are very beautiful and make a great rabbit to show, and they also make good pets.

The Tan is a true show rabbit, but the ones that don’t meet the standard also make great pets. They are said to have a spunky personality, and also social, lovable and very lively. Tans make fine mothers who often have a big litter.

They are also said to have a larger number of kits that can be shown than other breeds. Getting their markings right is a difficult process that appeals to many breeders. The Tan weight between four and six pounds with females ranging at the higher end of the spectrum.

The Tan Rabbit has a well-balanced body. They have a full-arch type of body. Their fur has very unique markings. They have tan fur on their belly, chest, underside of their tail, chin, nape of their neck, ears, the inside of their legs and toes.

The rest of their body can be black, chocolate, blue, or lilac. Their tan fur is usually a rich, golden color, which is in sharp contrast to the shiny fur on their backs. The Tan buck may not weigh more than five and a half pounds to be shown and a Tan doe cannot weigh more than six pounds to be shown.

Tans come from England, where they have been around since the 19th century. They were seen only in black at first, and then came the blue color, then chocolate and lilac.
Tans are one of the most inquisitive breeds.

They are an intelligent, active and tactile breed. Because of their natural activity level, they require more cage space than the average rabbit. Given the opportunity, they will play with all kinds of rabbit safe toys.

Toys are hours of entertainment, both for the Tan and for you watching the rabbit. Because Tans are a very smart rabbit, you must have a cage that is secure. Being a very tactile rabbit, it is not uncommon to find them chewing on their cage wire.

Giving them blocks of wood will sometimes redirect their attention from the wire. On average, they usually don’t do much, if any damage to their teeth. Tans are one of five arched breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.

Because of it’s very natural ability to present itself on the show table, Tans are judged by being allowed to move naturally on the show table, never posed. If you plan to show, working with your Tans between shows is critical so they know to present themselves once they hit the carpet in front of the judge.

If you have a Tan as a pet, letting them out to run in the house on your carpet is excellent exercise (never leave them unattended or they will get into everything). There are two color groups in Tans. In show terms, the color is referred to as “variety”. There is the Black variety with the recessive variety of Blue.

There is also the Chocolate variety with the recessive variety of Lilac. The American Tan Rabbit Specialty Club recommends breeders who are just starting out to stay within one color group until you become more familiar with color genetics.

There isn’t tremendous market for pet quality Tans so it is best to focus on show quality Tans. This means breeding Black to Black or Black to Blue or Chocolate to Chocolate or Chocolate to Lilac.

Although it’s not recommended to breed a recessive color to another recessive color (i.e. Blue to Blue), it has produced some show quality Tans of excellent quality. Younger Tan does conceive more easily than older Tan does, although it is possible for older does to conceive.

The average Tan litter is three to four kits. It is not unusual to have only two kits or up to nine kits in a litter. A lot depends on the size of the doe, her condition and family history. Tan does are superb mothers and will accept other same aged young in their litters if you need to foster a litter to save their lives.

Most does readily accept having their nests checked upon but if you have a doe that protects her nest (this is an instinctual habit – she is not doing it to be mean), remove the nest box from the cage to check the babies.

Do not handle the kits any more than it is necessary before they open their eyes. This is a basic rule of thumb with all does and litters. In the beginning you are only checking the nest box to count the young and see if any expired… maybe once a day.

If this upsets your doe, check every other day. They have the instinct to raise their young so let the does do their job. When the kits are born, you will see a variation in their skin color based on what variety they will develop into.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what they are at first but by the time they are three days old, their fur will have grown enough to easily tell what variety they are. Where there is pink skin, you will be able to see where their classic Tan coloring is going to develop.

As you watch your kits grow, you will notice “ticking” on their sides which appears to be stray Tan hairs. This is perfectly normal. As they mature, this ticking will be only on their sides, along their demarcation line.

One of the neat aspects of working with Tans is they don’t have “mis-marked” litters. All of the young will be show quality with slight differences between the siblings. For the definition of what a show quality Tan is, refer to the “Standard of Perfection” published by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.

The Standard breaks down specific qualities of the Tan in a schedule of points covering general type, fur, color, markings and condition.