A Visualization of the Lionhead Standard
comments by Gail Gibbons, holder of the first COD for the Lionhead breed
FUR 45 points - the points allotted to the normal fur, the wool and the over quality of the mane

Mane...............25 points
These section of the standard deals with shape,
placement and over quaility of the mane.We now
have an addtional 10 points alloted to the wool of
the mane that is seperate from the points on fur.

Overall there are 100 points in the Lionhead standard
and 25 points or almost a quarter of them are on the
mane. If you figure in the points a judge will most
likely a lot under "general type" since the mane helps
to define the over type of the breed (what is a
Lionhead with out it's mane?), We quickly understand
why everyone is after manes!

The mane on the Lionhead is created by a gene that
somehow makes the normal fur of the rabbit turn into
wool around the head and lower part of the body.
IT IS NOT the same gene that creates wool on
Angora breeds. (to learn more)

How it effects the Lionhead is not something any
COD holder thought up. Mother nature did it. We
know that the area behind the ears at the top of the
back (called the triangle) is always effected. In
addition it effects the areas on the top of the head,
down around the sides of the head, the checks
(sometimes well into the whisker bed), the chest
and often the lower part of the ears.

The gene also causes transition wool (which should
fall out as the Lionhead gets older) to grow on the
flanks (sides) rump, stomach, sometimes the lower
face and upper ears and in some animals even on the
entire saddle. The majority of this transitional wool
should shed off by the time the Lionhead is 3 to 4
months old. To learn more


Wool...............10 points
It can be difficult to separate the points awarded to the
quality of the wool form the points given to mane.
This is because one influences the other. The density
and fullness of the wool will enhance and strengthen
the shape and definition of the mane. The easiest way
to approach it is to judge wool first then look at the
mane points as an addition to what you are giving the
animal on the quality of the wool.

The 10 wool points plus the 25 mane points make up
over a third of the points available, so are weighted heavily.
The mane is after all the defining feature of the breed.

Starting with the 2009 Standard we now have a written
description of the wool. It strongly reassembles the wool
found on the English Angora. It shows little guard hairs but
should have good strength to the fiber.

Correct Lionhead wool should not "felt up" or mat easily.
It should never feel like cotton balls. It should not be limp
or thin feeling. Rather it should be alive feeling, rather
silky but also thick and springy. While length is nice and
the wool has to be over 2" on seniors, length is NOT the
goal. Rather we are looking for a dense, soft and alive
feeling wool. If you are unsure of what Lionhead wool
should feel like ask if you can feel some English Angoras.

Remember the transition wool found on the lower
sides is not used in judging the quality of Lionhead
It is NOT suppose to be there. To award a higher
placement to an animal because it has a breed fault seems
rather silly. The current standard clearly states that judges
should not take the transition wool into consideration when
judging wool quality.

Hopefully this will also help judges remember that it is NOT
suppose to be there and we will stop seeing juniors with
transition wool, dragging on the tables well over the 2 inches
allowed winning classes. Even at major events and shows you
will see junior with transition wool over 2" long put up to BOB.

The drawing on the right shows the mane
divided into 3 areas.
 The darkest gray is the "upper mane"
(the part everyone sees).

HAS TO BE at least 2 inches long on seniors,
disqualification that was omitted after the Indiana
revision has now been put back in. But there are also
no extra points for length
at all. The
wool points
come for the fullness, and shape of the mane and
QUALITY of the wool that makes up the mane.
To learn more

The lightest gray is cheek wool.
(The wool that causes some breeders the most grief.)

It tends to be very soft and mats very easy. If it is long
and grows right up close under the eyes it can rub on
the eye and cause irritations, so watch it closely. It
can grow well into the whisker bed and into the side
mane but usually by the time the Lionhead is 4 months
old it has shed to what to see in the drawing.

 The medium gray is the chest mane or "bib"
(a Lionhead term).

It is seldom as long as the upper wool. It may be
because this wool often drags on the cage floor and
rubs against the feeder or dish. It is this wool that likes
to grow into the transition wool on the sides. It should
naturally shed out following the line of the front leg and
shoulder as the Lionhead gets older.

All about The Normal Fur (10 points)

The normal coat of a Lionhead is rollback type.

Which means that when prime it should roll back
slowly when stroked against the normal lie of the
fur. Our standard says it is soft, dense and of

Length is something that breeders need to watch.
The modifying genes we use to gain length on the
wool of the mane sometimes tend to lengthen the
normal fur as well. This creates a coat that is much
too long but not wool. I would aim at a normal fur
coat this not over 1 1/2 inches long.

Coat...................10 points

This is the area of the Lionhead Standard that holds the biggest
minefield for us, as Lionhead breeders.
Here we find the disqualifications for -
* congestion on the sides also know as the "no break rule"
so lets look at breaks,
* wool on the saddle photos
* transition wool over 2 inches long
on the lower sides and rump - juniors or seniors

A couple of things to note.
It is NOT flank wool it is Transition Wool.
When the Lionhead reaches breed status that term will be added
to the ARBA glossary. If we want the judges to understand our
breed it would help if we all the use the correct terms.

The standard says
"Transition wool is defined as a significantly shorter wool
on the hips and face.
Transition wool is not to exceed 2 inches."

The transition wool grows in a natural "skirt" on the lower sides
and rump of most Lionheads. Even single manes (1XM) will show
some transition wool when young. It also tends to cover most of
the stomach almost meeting in the center. If you look at a newborn
double mane (2XM) Lionhead you will see the clear line that is the
normal fur of the rabbit running like a racing stripe down the center
of the stomach.

The transition wool often leaves a denser "wooly" undercoat in
on the sides and rump even after it has shed out. If this underwool
is very dense and causes the normal fur to stand "open" and runs
in an unbroken line from the lower rump to the mane a number of
judges will disqualify the Lionhead. It is open tointerpretation, if it
is very heavy I would disqualify if I was judging.

Some Lionheads never shed out transition wool, even if they have
a nice shed out saddle with normal fur. Some Lionheads never even
develop a "break" at all. Like other faults in other breeds it is
something to correct by breeding. I would not keep Lionheads that
never shed enough to be shown. It is a BAD fault and needs to not
be kept in a serious breeding herd.

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The pages are proven for your education and use
No Photos or information found on
this site may be reproduced
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Copyright 2008 Gail Gibbons



 How and where the wool occurs  

The mane on older Lionheads follows a line along the top
of the shoulders towards the chest. It always involves the area on
the top of the back right behind the head. Called the triangle.

When judging the mane it is sometimes nessesary to lift the mane up with the hands to see the triangle.

There is NO disqualification in the current standard for a "slipped mane" which is what some people call a mane that extends well
past the triangle area. There is a disqualification for ANY wool on
the saddle area which would be the upper section of the rabbit,
so it is a judges call.





The Saddle & the Break
The ARBA glossary defines saddle on a rabbit as
"The whole upper portion of the back, including loin, rump and hind legs."

The Lionhead standard disqualifies any wool in the saddle are which makes
it very clear that the wool MUST be on the lower sides and lower rump as
the upper areas are in the saddle.

In the past the word "hips" was used which in the Lionhead stand which
caused a huge amount of confusion as the hips are the point that the leg
joins the backbone and is in the saddle area and much higher up then the
standards committee had intended.

at the left - This junior shows the clean breaks we want to see on our
older juniors. Note how the transition wool is shedding out, remaining
mostly on the rear legs but the rump is now almost all shed out.

a junior that is showing very little saddle. It would be disqualified for lack of breaks and for showing
wool in the saddle area.

another junior, this one has a
much more defined saddle
shedding out but is still
disqualified for no breaks and
I would disqualify her for
wool in the saddle area as I
feel the wool is way too high.

as the Lionhead gets older the
saddle gets more defined. You
will note it tends to follow the
top edge of the hind leg line.
We now see what looks like
breaks from on top anyway.

a top of the class junior
showing very little
transition wool.

no break

acceptable break

nice well defined break

senior showing almost no transition wool





The Mane Around the Face
The mane of the Lionhead is what makes our breed different form all the others. It attracts attention
and has brought many new breeders in to the fancy.

Many people think that the quality of the mane and how long it is will decide who wins. That is far
from the truth as there are 40 points on the type of the body under all that wool and fur.

So it is important to breed for good quality wool. As the Lionhead reaches breed status and the body
type and overall quality at shows becomes better and better you will see more judges looking at quality
of wool to decided the winner.

Lionhead wool is strong, wavy and will show a wave (which is called crimp) it should have loads of
density but be free from mats. If it is too soft it will not only mat easy but it will break off, so you need
a good guard hair tip.

The mane wool around the head (top and sides) is suppose to be 2" on seniors but no preference is
given to length and 2" is really not very long. It is more important to avoid breaks in the manes on
your Lionheads then worry about length.

The mane changes as the Lionhead grows up. When they are young the mane tends to be very fluffy
and shows a softer baby texture. Adult Lionheads can keep that stand up soft dense mane or they
can develop the longer sweeping mane. Both mane types are allowed in the standard and no preference
is given to one over the other. .

a junior showing the typical
dense baby mane that stands
up off the face. If you look close
you will see the longer wool
that is shedding off the fore face

another junior, more from the profile.
Notice how the cheek wool extends
into the whisker bed, right up to the nose.

a older Lionhead doe showing the
dense wool cap mentioned in the
Lionhead Standard.

Adults showing the typical
sweeping long manes
referenced in the standard.






the Wool gene and the Lionhead rabbit

If your Lionhead carries wool on the entire body. That is over the saddle and on the stomach in addition to the lower sides and rump after they are 4 months old they have a gene for wool that is found in other rabbit breeds. This gene was put into the Lionhead breed by many people with the mistaken idea that they could make better quality wool on the breed. Since the gene for wool it is a simple recessive it will pop up at will, much as it does in the Holland Lop Breed. (That is where the American Fuzzy Lop came from). The wool gene has NOTHING to do with the gene that creates the manes on our Lionheads. I know that there are people who are publishing articles that say that it will help, believe me it has been tried and tried and it just isn't so. When I have additional time I will try and post photos and notes on an experimental breeding program that we conducted crossing "wool breeds" with Lionheads to length mane or help wool quality. (All resulting animals were kept ONLY for my personal use - inquiring minds want to so I had to try) It has no impact other then to further distribute the useless wool gene in our Lionheads. Lionheads who exhibit wool should be removed from any Lionhead breeding program. We also recommend that you advise anyone buying your stock which adults produced wool as they are wool carriers. It is a simple recessive gene if they make wool - be they the mom or the dad they carry and half of their offspring will carry.

It is important to remember that when the Lionhead breed reaches ARBA status wool coated Lionheads will be NOT counted on any ARBA pedigrees just as a "crop out" Fuzzy Lop will not count on a Holland Lop pedigree and normal coated Hollands can not count the wooly ones.

back to the Visualization of the Standardback to Cimmaron

The pages are proven for your education and use
No Photos or information found on
this site may be reproduced
without permission.
Copyright 2008 Gail Gibbons

Gail, Sarrah & Abby Gibbons
Sara Berks
3276 Walnut St.
Reading, KS 66868
785 528-4414