Holland lops get shown in two groups, solid and broken. Solid colored rabbits are generally one color, with some ocassional shading of that color. Broken rabbits are rabbits where the color is broken up by white patches, or vice versa, the white is broken up by colored patches.The key to the two groups above is a gene known as the English Spot gene. The broken pattern (En) is actually dominant to the solid color (en). If the dominant gene is present in the rabbit, then that is what you will see. Since there are two pieces to every trait then a solid colored rabbit has to have the following gene pattern enen.
In normal genetics you would then think that a rabbit with Enen (one dominant gene, one recessive) or EnEn (two dominant genes) would produce the same result a broken patterned rabbit. This is partially correct, because both rabbits would have a broken pattern, however, the rabbit with two dominant genes (EnEn) will typically show very little color. This rabbit is called a charlie. The area beneath the nose on a broken rabbit is called the butterfly. Often the butterfly on the charlie looks like charlie chaplins mustache, hence the name charlie.
Although it can be done, breeders rarely breed two broken rabbits together. Statistically, a litter of four from this breeding would have 1 (25%) solid colored rabbit, 2 (50%) broken, and 1 (25%) charlie. Charlies are typically not a showable rabbit. According to the ARBA’s Standard of Perfection, under Broken Group and Disqualification from Competition, a broken rabbit with less than 10% color is disqualified.
The divisions within all breeds (classes, groups, varieties) are based on genetics. The varieties of jersey woolies are all based on genetics. The color groups for netherland dwarfs are all based on genetics. The pattern varieties for holland lops are also based on genetics. A broken rabbit is not the same genetically as a charlie. In fact having bred broken rabbits since we started breeding 5 years ago, the appearance of a true broken with the gene (Enen) has never once come close to the 10% rule. In fact I would say we’ve never even had a broken show less than 25% color.
A rabbit that shows near 10% color is genetically a charlie or a very, very rare rabbit. This is why the ARBA adopted the rule for broken color patterns requiring 10% color, to avoid a rabbit showing in a group when it is genetically different. The difficulty many judges have is measuring the 10%. In fact we have seen on a few occassions exhibitors show rabbits that clearly are near the 10% level, and some judges not think twice about leaving it on the table, and then a week later a different judge quickly disqualify it for failing to meet the standard.
The difficult thing on charlies is although the standard is clear the way to determine the 10% is not clear. With out some type of computerized scanner that calculates the surface areas and looks at the colors, then this will always be subjective. Although there may be time that we breed two brokens, if we get a charlie, we’re going to leave it home instead of showing it.
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