Color Nomenclature

by Debra Sandoval

How often have you heard a new breeder ask what is Isabella or Madagascar or what is the difference between Sable and Siamese Sable? The nomenclature currently used for Holland Lops is based upon the color descriptions which appear in the ARBA standard of perfection. These descriptions apply to many breeds. They are the result of combining the colors used in many breeds, especially the four lop breeds, which is why there appear to be some duplications.

Unfortunately the result has been some confusion, especially among many novice breeders. There are several names which describe animals that are genetically the same color but which might show some slight variations within that color. I feel that by labeling these colors with different names we are implying that they are distinct and different colors just as tort is distinct and different from black. Although color is worth only a few points on the Holland Lop standard and most breeders do not breed specifically for certain colors; I feel that most breeders would like to understand what colors are on their pedigrees and would like to be able to communicate with other breeders using the same terminology.

For example a breeder on the west coast speaking to a breeder on the east coast says they have a fawn colored rabbit for sale, will the other breeder know that this is the same as what was called an orange rabbit at last week's show? What is the solution to this problem? The first step is education of our members. This will help breeders to know what colors are out there and what various other breeders are calling them.

In this article I will briefly list which colors I feel are duplicate names for the same basic color and discuss a few possible points of confusion.

Tortoise (Tort) & Madagascar are basically the same color with Madagascar being a slightly darker version of tort.

Seal Point although not listed in the standard is used by many breeders and is the same as Sable Point.

Siamese, Siamese Sable, and Sable as described in the standard are all basically the same color and refer to a color which is somewhat similar to that of a Siamese cat.

Seal is much darker being almost black; however, I have seen some breeders refer to this color as Sable or even Chocolate which is actually a lighter brown with no shading and is rare in Holland Lops.

Blue Cream, Isabella, and Blue Fawn are all diluted torts and basically the same color.

There is some confusion concerning the color Fawn. Historically most Holland Lop and other lop breeders have referred to the bright orange colored rabbit that in Netherland Dwarfs is called Orange as Fawn. The diluted more golden straw colored animal in Netherland dwarfs is called a Fawn, while in Hollands it is usually called Lynx. The color description in the ARBA standard seems to use the Netherland Dwarf names with the bright orange color being called Orange and the lighter straw color being called Fawn. Sooty Fawn is also used for rabbits which are actually fawn but which have some darker shading mixed in with the orange. To add to the confusion some breeders refer to a darker tort rabbit that has a lot of shading as a sooty fawn.

Hopefully just knowing that these duplications in naming exist will allow breeders to better understand their pedigrees and each other when discussing colors.


HLRSC Official Guidebook - 5th Edition 2002