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Rabbit Grooming For Show Rabbits

I remember walking the entire building of show equipment and felt overwhelmed with all of the options out there. How do I know what is right and what is unnecessary?

Because you can ask 5 different people and get 5 different answers. Like anything in life you can be as complicated or simple as you want. You like simple? Good me too.

ARBA Rules For Show Grooming

I put this first because I don’t want you to get halfway through and think of trying something then get into trouble at a show. SO with that said, The American Rabbit Breeders Association has some hard nos when it comes to grooming.

A good rule of thumb is if it would not happen naturally don’t do it.

No dies, sprays, snips, nips, or plucks are technically legal. Ok, maybe that’s a strong word but if they think you have done anything to fake a better appearance for your rabbit they will disqualify you and depending on the severity, ban you from that show. Not to mention what it would do to your reputation as a rabbit breeder. Even if you didn’t know it was wrong, trust me, rabbit people are gossips.

That was not intended to scare you, only to warn you.

Good Grooming Starts At Home

It is better for you and everyone else if you do the bulk of the work at home. You are not stressed trying to get all of your rabbits groomed in time. This will also help your rabbits stay calm because you are grooming them in their natural surroundings.

Your rabbits are already stressed and in a much higher energy room and they know that. Stress will cause their fur to not look as good and even quite possibly send them into a Molt if they are already on the way there. I have seen this happen with my own.

There Is No Stopping A Molting Season

If you don’t know what molting is that is when a rabbit goes into a few weeks of heavy shedding. Some rabbits just shed a little heavier than usual and others look like they will go baled.

I have been able to slow it down but you won’t stop it. The only way to really slow it down if you want to take the rabbit to a show is to keep it as cool as possible. This post will give you some ideas around that.

But if you don’t have a reason just let the molt run its course. That is the best thing for the rabbit. It depends on the rabbit but I personally think it puts them in a grouchy mood too. It’s not aggressive but most of mine just what left alone.

You will know if your rabbit is molting because the fur on the rabbis back and sides are loos. You can pretty easily pull a clump out without even trying. Personally I think it is best to help remove the fur because it will

  • Keep them from swallowing it and getting a blockage because of the large amount of shedding.
  • It will help keep the fur from building up in their cage causing poo to stick to them and the cage floor.
  • I feel it also helps them move past the molt faster.

To do that just sit them on a table and if it is windy outside that is a plus because you don’t want to be standing in a whirlwind of fur balls. Start where the fur is loose and just start plucking. It should not be hard at all to pull off.

If you are not comfortable trying this then get a comb to help get the fur off but that will take longer.

Brushing Tips

On the rollback coated meaning if you run your hand from the tail to the head the fur should go right back into place if it is healthy.

A good example of this is the Mini Lops you can use a soft brush to remove dead hairs. 

Flyback-coated breeds like New Zealands, Californians, need very little grooming and do not ever need to be brushed, except perhaps in extreme molt.

Rex-coated breeds should never be brushed or you will damage the fur.

BUT keep in mind that wooled breeds like Angoras, Jersey Woolies, and American Fuzzy Lops need more thorough grooming. And sometimes even sheared.

Take care to remove as much dead fur as possible. Make sure you remove any dried fecal matter, knots, hay, and other stray objects from the fur as you brush.

Snipping the knots or fecal matter and bedding out with small scissors is ok. Just try to take as little hair with you as possible.

Here is a list of my favorite grooming tools

I don’t know what took me so long to find this type of brush but I LOVE IT! It gets the massive shedding taken care of so well. If you are dealing with molt on a large breed rabbit. I love it for my dogs too.

No Baths Needed

Never give a rabbit a bath unless they are covered from head to toe in something messy. If you need to rinse them then just spray off that section. Bathing takes off the natural properties and oil in the coat and leaves them looking rough and ragged.

How To Clip Rabbit Toe Nails

This is nothing to be scared of and if you are feeling unsure and jumpy so will your rabbit.

If your rabbit is small you can put them on their back and lay them between your legs. I like to take a towel and lay that over my legs as well so one it protects me but it gives them almost a sling to rest in. It helps you keep a better hold as well.

If you have a rabbit with white to nails then that is super easy. You will see a pink center to the nail and that is the quick or blood that is running to the nail. Stay just a smidge in front of that. Then make the cut.

These are my favorite style to use and are great if you have a large breed rabbit.

How to Remove Stains from a Rabbit Coat

To be totally honest with you it is better to prevent stains over remove them. Depending on the severity they might just have to shed the fur altogether.

Try peroxide or white alcohol first. It is especially effective on food stains. Some dry or rinse-free shampoos can work as well.

french lop rabbit sitting on a table waiting to be groomed

Stop the stain before it starts.

This is the number one reason why I do not recommend cages with solid floors. It happens so fast and is hard to reverse. Even if there is half solid and half with a space to drop through the rabbit will quickly turn that area into a toilet. You can read this post to see my cage tips and which I recommend for outdoor use on amazon.

Final Grooming Touches before a Show

After you have done your prep work and gotten your rabbit to the show there are a few things you can do to help with the fur. You can spray your hand down with water or a dryer sheet to help with static. I do recommend this to help with the overall appearance. The fur does have an effect on the appearance of the overall type of the rabbit.

There you have it. You are ready to show your beautiful animal.

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