Harlequin rabbit breed information, characteristic, uses and history | updated 2021 - opportunitytracks

Harlequin rabbit breed information, characteristic, uses and history

Harlequin rabbit breed information

A Brief history of the Harlequin rabbit

The Harlequin rabbit breed has such a beautiful history. It is one of the oldest rabbit breeds, popularly known for its colouration.

The Harlequin rabbit was first developed in the 1980s and became popular not because of its fur or body type

But because of their colouration and markings.


The Harlequin rabbit was developed from the crossbreeding of semi-wild Tortoiseshell Dutch rabbit and wild rabbit.

The Harlequin first had its international display in 1887 in an international event in Paris, from which they were imported to England and other countries.

Harlequin rabbit breed


In England, the Harlequin rabbit breed became popular among locals due to it’s distinctive marking and colouration.

Their colouration was the reason they were called “clown of the rabbit”, they looked different.

Aside from being called the “clown of the rabbit” the name of the Harlequin rabbit breed was “Japanese.


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History changed for the Harlequin during World War II, due to scarcity of food, the Harlequin rabbit breed became popular meat.




As the war continued, the Harlequin rabbit name was changed. It became the Harlequin rabbit instead of Japanese.

The Harlequin rabbit didn’t gain much recognition in the United States of America until the 1920s.

Harlequin rabbit

The Harlequin rabbit breed has since been recognized by both American Rabbit Breeder’s Association and the British Rabbit Council.

Types of Harlequin rabbits

There are two types of Harlequin rabbit, differentiated by their colour pattern.

  1. The Japanese Harlequin and
  2. The Magpie Harlequin

Japanese Harlequin rabbits


Japanese Harlequin rabbit
Japanese Harlequin rabbit


The Japanese Harlequin rabbits are known to have a blend of either black, chocolate, blue, or lilac color on an orange background.

Magpie Harlequin rabbits 


Magpie Harlequin Rabbit
Magpie Harlequin Rabbit

The Magpie Harlequin rabbits are known for either black, chocolate, blue, or lilac markings on a white background.

Difference between the Japanese Harlequin and the Magpie Harlequin rabbits

The major difference between the Magpie Harlequin rabbit and the Japanese Harlequin is the background colour of the body.

The Magpie Harlequin has White background colour with either black, chocolate, blue, or lilac markings.


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While the Japanese Harlequin rabbits have a brown background color with either black, chocolate, blue, or lilac markings.

Harlequin rabbit colors

The Harlequin rabbit has two main background colours, brown for the Japanese breed and white for the Magpie breed.

They are accompanied by markings of chocolate, black-blue, or lilac that splits across their body parts

Some Harlequin rabbits have orange bellies while some have white bellies.

Important Characteristics of the Harlequin rabbit breed

  • The Harlequin rabbits have a small-medium sized body
  • They have short fur and a soft dense coat; the fur is easy to clean and maintain.
  • They are playful, docile and smart. They are very observant of their environment.
  • They have a round, broad head and medium-sized ears that stand erect.
  • They are easy to identify due to their prominent distinctive color markings.
  • The head, ears, body and feet of Harlequin rabbits are divided between two colors, more like a stripe.
  • The color schemes of the Harlequin rabbit are black, blue, lilac or chocolate on a white background and blue, black, lilac, chocolate on an orange background.
  • Female Harlequin rabbits are heavier than their male counterpart.

Harlequin rabbit care

How do you care for a Harlequin rabbit? Harlequin rabbits have short fur therefore, they are easy to clean and maintain.

It is advisable not to cut them often rather you can brush them when necessary.


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If you are keeping the Harlequin rabbit as a pet, you should bathe it regularly.

Harlequin rabbit for meat

Harlequin rabbits became popular meat during World War II and since has remained a good source of meat.

The meat is delicious, more nutritious than chicken, goat, beef and pork.

Just like most rabbit breed, the Harlequin rabbit meat is very beneficial to both young and old.

It contains low fat, has a high percentage of easily digestible protein.

It also contains high protein and calcium, has very low cholesterol and contain essential minerals.

How big do Harlequin rabbit get?

The average mean weight for Harlequin rabbit is 2kg – 3kg, they can get bigger than that depending on how well they are fed.

The type of food they eat and the system of management under which they are raised.

How long do Harlequin rabbits live?

The average life span for the Harlequin rabbit is 5 to 10 years.


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The number of years they live depends on how well they are taken care of.

Though as at the time of writing this, there is no record of any Harlequin rabbit that has lived more than 10 years.

Uses of the Harlequin rabbit

Harlequin rabbits are majorly used as show animals. Some as pets but during World war, they were kept for meat purposes.

They are also used for laboratory purposes.

Are Harlequin rabbit endangered?

The Harlequin rabbit has become a rare breed in most countries of the world.


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They are still much popular in the USA and few other countries but there is a genuine fear that they may go into extension with time.

How much is Harlequin rabbit

Harlequin rabbits are quite expensive when compared to other breeds.

This is because they are not very popular in many countries of the world.

Though they are very much available in countries where they exist.

Are Harlequin rabbits good pets?

Harlequin rabbits make good pets, they are playful, smart, and intelligent.

They are fun to be with, though, they are expensive to maintain.

Summary of Harlequin rabbit breed

The Harlequin rabbit breeds is a perfect breed for both meat and pet purposes.

They are smart, docile and playful, this breed is well known for their color markings.

Because of how intelligent and playful this breed of rabbits is, they make very good pets.


If you are looking to keep rabbits as a pet, then you should consider this breed.

Even children can have a rabbit as this breed is very suitable for children.

They have a very calm temperament, patient and can endure challenges, they can also learn a new command in few repetitions due to their smartness.


They have an average lifespan of five to ten years.

Overview of Harlequin rabbit breed

Breed NameHarlequin
Other NamesJapaneseMagpie
Country of OriginFrance
Breed SizeSmall to Medium
Breed PurposeThey are majorly kept as show animals and as pets
WeightAverage body weight is between 2 and 3 kg
Suitable for Commercial ProductionYes
Good as PetsYes
Colour TypeHarlequin rabbit breeds are usually black and orange with lilac, blue, brown, black, chocolate and black magpie stripes.


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