Identifying Coat Colors and Associated Genetic Information

This section organizes photos by Holland Lop ARBA Color Group. All recognized Holland Lop colors are listed below, by group. Adult color photos in a MATRIX format can be seen HERE. Check it out!

AGOUTI Group. Chestnut Agouti, Chocolate Agouti, Chinchilla, Chocolate Chinchilla, Lynx, Opal, and Squirrel.

POINTED WHITE Group. Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac Pointed Whites.

SELF Group. Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, REW (Ruby Eyed White) and BEW (Blue Eyed White).

SHADED Group. Sable Point, Siamese Sable, Seal, Smoke Pearl, and Tortoise (Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac).

TAN PATTERN Group. Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac Otters. I also have some Marten pictures on this page.

WIDE BAND Group. Cream, Frosty, Orange, Red. Tri-colored are their own group under Brokens. I have them here for the time being.

TICKED Group. Steel in Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac in Gold (GTS) or Silver (STS) Tipping.

Four day old Chestnut Agouti kit. Sable Point kit eight days old. Odessa's babies.

Understanding Coat Color Genetics

Every color of a rabbit (or any other animal for that matter) has a series of letters that genetically make that color. This is called a Genotype. Being able to recite a genotype for a color is fairly simple (really). All you need to know are [1] some 'base' genotypes for the primary coat colors, [2] how to change those base colors into chocolate, dilute or lilac versions, and [3] what the naming conventions are for the colors so you can turn that into a genotype.

"Why on earth would I want to understand all this ABC stuff?" you may ask. If you ever venture into breeding any "color", you NEED to understand what you are doing. You also may want to figure out the color of a kit you have in the box - understanding the genotype of the parents is key to figuring that out, and then understanding how these 'ABC's flow from parent to child is also key.

Think of a genotype as a 10-digit part number (if you have ever worked in manufacturing, this may help you understand better). There are quite a few other possible 'digits', but MOST of the basic colors are covered with these 10-digits.

The 'part number' is broken down into five groups (Genes) of two (Alleles) each. These groups (Genes) are called the A, B, C, D, and E-series, and are in that order.

Each group of digits (each Gene) has certain codes that can be used (alleles) in those two digits. Alleles are just different variations of a Gene. For a part number, a Gene could be likened to Fitting Type. The fitting could be steel, bronze or copper. There are codes for these steel, bronze and copper fittings and those codes go in those two positions of the part number.

I personally, really dislike reinventing the wheel. There are many websites that do a great job of explaining the alleles and their order of dominance for rabbit genetics. I will defer you to my personal favorite here: The Nature Trail. Understanding these alleles is essential to grasping coat color genetics. This site covers the basic color genes - it is not an exhaustive list of every gene impacting coat color that is known to exist (for instance, Satin, Silver, White-Ear, etc).

"You can breed anything to anything. Just be ready to cull."

That is a quote from Chris Zemny and she is right. Sometimes people get TOO hung up on what colors to breed to what colors. But, there is a very good reason for that:

If you do not understand the genetics behind the colors and what can possibly happen or you are not well enough versed (yet!) to figure out what color the offspring are or could be, then you need to be very careful.

You do not want to pass on a genetic-nightmare to some unsuspecting soul who knows even less then you do. However, if you have a pretty good handle on the genetics and the 'weird' things that can happen as a result of a particular cross - do it. If it works, great. If not, then you have some pets - which is fine, so long as you are prepared for that. Just don't pass on your genetic-heinz-57 to someone who thinks it is something else because that's what it looks like (for example: a rabbit that LOOKS black, but is genetically a self steel carrying the harli gene!).

Remember, IMPROVEMENT (whether it be type, vigor, etc) SHOULD ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS BE YOUR GOAL in breeding.

What It Means to CARRY a Color

I also think there is a misunderstanding of what it means when you say a rabbit 'carries' something.

When you say a rabbit 'carries' a color, lets say dilute, that means the rabbit is 'Dd'. It means, the hidden allele in the D-series is dilute. Just because there are blue varieties in a rabbits pedigree does NOT automatically guarantee that that rabbit will have picked up that dilute allele. If at least one of the parents is a dilute color (blue, blue tort, lilac, etc), then yes - the rabbit definately carries dilute. Or, if the rabbit has produced a dilute colored offspring, then yes, the rabbit is a dilute carrier.

Another example: A Chestnut is said to carry non-extension. A basic Chestnut is A_B_C_D_E_. If it carries non-extension, that means it is A_B_C_D_Ee. But, if the entire pedigree of this Chestnut were other Chestnuts, and way back a great-great-grandsire was a tort, that does not in any way guarantee that this Chestnut carries non-extension. It COULD, but you can't say that it does for CERTAIN unless you have bred that rabbit and it has produced a non-extension color (tort, orange, etc) OR one of it's parents was a non-extension color.

So often I see people post things like "REW for sale. Carries shaded." This IS NOT possible. The REW may be out of two shaded parents, but a REW can not carry c(chl). It can not carry C, c(chd) or c(h) either. These are all more dominant. What makes a REW a REW, is the fact that they are 'cc'. There is no c(chl) in there. If there were, it would be a Sable Point (or some other shaded color), not a REW.

It's also not correct to say you have a Tort that carries black. A Tort IS black (unless it's a choc tort or lilac tort). And, black is dominant - it is never hidden. Even a Blue Tort is technically black. Why? Because rabbits can only be 'B' for Black or 'bb' for Chocolate. The other genes either modify the pattern (the A-series), or modify the pigment colors in the hair shaft and where they are placed.

More to come.... If you like this so far, could you let me know?