The Lionhead rabbit is one of the newest breeds of domesticated rabbits. It has a normally furred body, but Angora-like wool surrounding the face, reminiscent of the mane of a male Lion, hence the name. There may also be wool along the flanks. Lionheads come in many of the same colors as other breeds. However, the wool on the mane and flanks diffuses the color, so that black rabbits will often have gray-looking manes and flank wool.
The Lionhead rabbit is a compact breed, usually weighing between 2.5 and 4.0 pounds. It also tends to have a rounded head and slightly shorter ears than most breeds.
The Lionhead rabbit is thought to have originated in Belgium. It is reported to have been produced by breeders trying to breed a long coated dwarf rabbit by crossing a miniature Swiss Fox and a Belgian dwarf. The Lionhead seemed to have been more popular than the long coated dwarf, and so breeders carried on this trend in breeding them intentionally, and so came what we know today as the Lionhead rabbit.
Some lionheads have single manes which is not showeable. Single mane is when a lion head only has a little bit of the long fluffy on its head. Double mane is the showeable type that has long hair all along the body except around the back area and face.
While single-maned Lionhead kits look like other rabbits, double-maned kits are distinct from all others. When they are born, they are bald around the abdomen, sides, bottom, and cheeks, giving them a peculiar "mohawk" appearance. The bald areas are where the wool grows in later as they mature.
This rabbit has an energetic, but sweet personality . Lionhead rabbits are easy to breed and are good mothers, even fostering kits from other litters or breeds.
The breed has been recognized by the British Rabbit Council, however, as of yet it is not a fully recognized breed by the American Rabbit Breeders Assiciation. Gail Gibbons passed her first of three required presentations before the ARBA Standards Committee with Siamese Sable at the 2008 National Convention. Siamese Sable Lionheads are now accepted at all ARBA shows