Tan Rabbit (Size, Color, Temperament, Behavior)

Are you looking for a great show rabbit?

The American Tan Rabbit Specialty Club tells us that Tan rabbits are one of just four breeds that do not have to be restrained to be displayed in rabbit shows.

These rabbits are natural performers that increase the chances of young rabbit raisers, such as 4-H members, to win best of breed.

But Tan rabbits aren’t just great show rabbits.

This lovable breed makes great pets. They are intelligent, and they are playful. Tans aren’t a “cuddly” breed of rabbits, but they can get along with other pets, and they make good companions for children.

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about Tan rabbits, their history, their appearance and show qualities, their quirks of temperament, and their feeding and care.

We will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Tan rabbits. But first, let’s review some essential facts about the breed.

Essential Facts About Tan Rabbits

Also known as: Aristocrat Tan, Black, and Tan rabbit, Chocolate Tan rabbit, Dutch Tan Rabbit, Lilac Tan rabbit, the Black Rabbit with the Yellow Belly.

Colors: Tan, black, black with tan markings, blue, chocolate. The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes black, blue, lilac, and chocolate. Most of the Tan rabbits entered in the competition have the black and tan coloring of a Doberman Pinscher dog.

Coat: Glossy, flyback (returns to the original position after being stroked).

Body profile: Full arch.

Size when fully grown: Small. Adult males weigh 4 to 5.5 pounds (1.8 to 2.5 kilograms), and females weigh around 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms).

Ears: Erect.

Life expectancy: 8 to 10 years, sometimes longer.

Temperament: Energetic, loves to play. Instinctively knows how to run down the table when displayed at rabbit shows.

Diet: Mostly hay, no grains or dog or cat food. Timothy hay is preferable to alfalfa. Pellets should be limited to about 10% of intake. Give your rabbit high-fiber timothy hay pellets such as those made by Mazuri and Oxbow.

Housing: Needs cage, crate, or hutch for sleeping, with a rabbit tunnel or protected play space 3 or 4 hours a day. Each rabbit requires about 12 square feet (1.3 square meters) of floor space so it can stretch out and move around even when protected in its cage.

Special care needs: Susceptible to RHD (rabbit hemorrhagic disease) when exposed to wild rabbits. Making sure your rabbit does not mingle with wild rabbits prevents the disease.

Tan rabbits are especially popular at 4-H shows. Your children will have many competitors if they enter a Tan in a show. They are extremely active, so they are not a good pet for seniors or young children.

History of the Tan Rabbit

Tan rabbits weren’t the result of a deliberate breeding program.

The discovery of Tan rabbits came as a surprise to their first breeder, an unidentified rabbit keeper who kept a warren in the English county of Derbyshire in the 1880s.

This rabbit keeper released some Dutch rabbits to live in a colony of wild European rabbits.

One of the does produced a litter of black rabbits with beautifully glossy fur and eye-catching tan markings.

In just a few years, this new breed had become popular with other rabbit breeders in Derbyshire.

These rabbits had the sleek, full-arched body type common among wild rabbits, but they also had the strong musculature of Dutch rabbits.

They were bred with Belgian Hares to produce a sleeker physique, and Gray and Silver rabbits for a finer texture to their fur.

The resulting improved Tan rabbits kept the active, inquisitive nature of their wild rabbit ancestors.

After the first showings of Tan rabbits with black fur and tan markings in 1887, breeders quickly created Tan rabbits in a variety of colors.

  • In 1900, the first blue Tan rabbit was shown. It probably was the result of a cross between a Booty Fawn doe and a black Tan buck.
  • In 1908, Tan rabbits were first imported into the United States. They became immediately popular.
  • The chocolate Tans were first shown in 1920. Rabbit historians don’t know whether they were offspring of a chocolate Havana rabbit or the result of a mutation in coat color.
  • Lilac Tan rabbits appeared in 1927. Lilac is the result of the dilution of the gene for chocolate coat color.

Over the last century, the American Tan Rabbit Speciality Club (ATRSC) has emerged as the authoritative source of information about the Tan rabbit breed.

If you want to enter your Tan rabbit in a show, however, you need to conform to ARBA guidelines.

Appearance of the Tan Rabbit

If you are new to Tan rabbits, one of the confusing things about the breed is that there are no Tan rabbits that are tan all over.

The Tan rabbits you will see most often at rabbit shows are black with tan markings on their chests, bellies, toes, and ears, but most of their fur is black.

No matter whether your Tan rabbit has mostly black, blue, lilac, or chocolate as its base color, its fur will be glossy. You can stroke your Tan rabbit and its fur will “fly back” to its original position.

Tan rabbits look a lot like wild rabbits. They have a full-arch body type.

This means you can see an open space beneath their bellies when they are standing up.

Their faces are angular, rather than full, and their ears stand up on their heads.

Size and Weight

The Tan Rabbit is a small to medium-sized rabbit, which makes it suitable for both show and pet purposes.

It has a lean and sleek full-arch body type, allowing it to move with agility and grace.

The average weight of a Tan Rabbit ranges from 4 to 6 pounds. This compact size means that you can easily handle and care for your rabbit without any significant challenges.

Ear Types

One of the most noticeable characteristics of the Tan Rabbit is its large, erect ears.

These ears contribute to its alert and lively personality, giving it a distinctive look compared to other rabbit breeds.

The ears are not only visually appealing but also play a vital role in helping the rabbit regulate its body temperature by allowing excess heat to escape.

Temperament of the Tan Rabbit

Tan rabbits have a noticeably “wild” temperament.

In the wild, rabbits run up to 3 miles (5 kilometers) every day.

Your Tan rabbit will want to be equally active, running through its rabbit tunnel or hopping around in its playpen.

Like wild rabbits, Tan rabbits are wary of larger animals. Your Tan rabbit will run away or hide in the presence of all but the smallest dogs and cats.

You can train Tan rabbits to live in the same space with your dog or cat, but your other pet will need to be exceptionally gentle, free of hunting instincts.

You will need to introduce your rabbit to your other pet almost as soon as it has been weaned.

But it’s always best to keep rabbits and carnivorous animals separated.

Tan rabbits instinctively know how to behave on the runway at rabbit shows.

They are intelligent enough to learn to come to you when you call their name, but you will have to bribe them (carrot sticks work) to reinforce their learning of commands.

They resist being picked up or cuddled, but they are happy to let you pet them if you get down on the floor at their level.

Taking Care of Your Tan Rabbit

Tan rabbits are a hardy breed. They need protection from cold winds and summer heat, but they can make a home indoors or out.

Here’s a rundown on their basic care needs.


Many kinds of animals eat rabbits. Your Tan rabbit will need a spacious, secure crate, cage, or hutch for the 20 or so hours a day it likes to rest and relax.

Any outdoor hutch for your rabbit needs to be elevated.

Your Tan will hop into its hutch up a ramp The bottom of the ramp needs to be something your rabbit can hop over but a snake cannot crawl over.

All rabbits need litter boxes. The best liner for your rabbit’s litter box is hay. Scoop out hay that has been soaked with hay once a day. Completely replace the hay and sanitize the box once a week.

Don’t be concerned if your Tan rabbit eats its soft poops. This is a natural part of the rabbit’s two-step digestive process.


Rabbits eat grasses. Pet rabbits eat dried grasses, in the form of hay.

Hay is essential for your rabbit’s health. Every rabbit needs a volume of dry, clean, fresh hay about the same volume as its body every day.

Although Tan rabbits can do well on weeds and wild grasses, the safest way to give them chemical-free hay is to provide them with timothy hay, not the alfalfa hay or alfalfa cubes you can find for other animals.

Timothy hay provides fiber and the right balance of protein and calcium for rabbit health.

Rabbit owners love giving their pets treats. Carrot and celery sticks are fine, as are radish tops, leaves off Brussels sprouts, and berries.

Never give your rabbit bird seed, lawn clippings, hedge trimmings, cat food, dog food, or bird seed. They can’t digest them.


Tan rabbits are an extremely active breed. They will follow you around the house, exploring and gnawing on everything they see.

Make sure your Tan rabbits have a safe play space.

It’s OK to let them wander around the house once they have learned how to use their litter box, but you don’t want them to gnaw on electrical cords, rattan furniture, or wooden table legs.

It’s best to provide your rabbit with a dedicated play space, like a rabbit tunnel complete with a hay house for hiding and willow chew sticks to play on.

Don’t let your rabbits roam around in your backyard, especially if you treat your lawn with herbicides or pesticides.

Supervise your rabbits at play to protect them from predators, or give them a fully enclosed rabbit run of about 100 square feet (10 square meters).

Enrichment Items

To keep your Tan rabbit happy and stimulated, provide enrichment items in their living area:

  • Bunny toys, such as chew toys, paper tubes, or balls, to prevent boredom and promote dental health
  • A variety of materials and textures for your rabbit to explore and interact with
  • A digging box filled with hay, shredded paper, or soil, allowing your rabbit to engage in natural digging behaviors

Remember to keep the enclosure clean and to frequently rotate the toys and enrichment items to maintain your rabbit’s interest and mental stimulation.


Grooming is crucial for your rabbit’s health and well-being. Here are some grooming basics for your Tan Rabbit:

  • Brushing: Regularly brush your rabbit’s fur to prevent matting and hairball ingestion, which can cause digestive problems. Use a soft brush suitable for rabbits.
  • Nail trimming: Rabbit’s nails grow continuously. Make sure to trim them regularly with rabbit-safe nail clippers.
  • Cleaning: Keep your rabbit’s living area clean, including their litter box. This ensures a healthy and comfortable environment for your rabbit. Make sure to use pet-safe cleaning products.

Remember to always be gentle and patient when grooming your rabbit. Build trust, be consistent, and make the experience enjoyable for your furry friend.

Health Concerns of Tan Rabbits

The best approach to keeping Tan rabbits healthy is prevention:

  • Make sure your rabbits get lots of high-fiber hay every day. This helps them wear down their teeth, preventing malocclusion, and keeps them regular, preventing gastrointestinal stasis.
  • Make sure your rabbit doesn’t hop into the feces or urine of other pets or wild animals. This prevents transmission of viral infections and parasites.
  • Keep your Tan rabbit from overheating. If you are keeping your Tans outdoors, place a bottle of frozen water for each rabbit into their cage on hot summer days to help them cool off.

Popular Bunny Names for Tan Rabbits

Here’s a table with popular Tan Rabbit names, reflecting their breed characteristics.

The Tan Rabbit is known for its striking two-toned coat, which is typically black (or blue, chocolate, or lilac) on top and a rich tan color on the bottom. They are known to be active and friendly.

These names are inspired by their unique, beautiful coat and active nature.

Boy Bunny Names for Tan RabbitsGirl Bunny Names for Tan Rabbits

These names emphasize the beautiful dual-tone color and active personality of the Tan Rabbit breed, making them fitting choices for your rabbit.

Also read: Popular Pet Rabbit (Bunny) Names (Girl/Boy)

Frequently Asked Questions About Tan Rabbits

Where can I get a Tan rabbit?

A. Check the Tan Rabbit page of Omlet.us, Tan Rabbit Breeders on Facebook, or Tan Rabbits for Sale Near Me on RabbitBreeders.us.

How much does a Tan rabbit cost?

A. You may be able to find a Tan rabbit in an animal rescue shelter for as little as US $20.

Expect to pay $50 to $100 for a Tan from a reputable breeder.

Are Tan rabbits friendly?

Yes, Tan rabbits are considered friendly animals. They enjoy being around their human caregivers and can often form strong bonds with their owners.

Their sociable nature means that they can get along well with children and other pets, given proper supervision and introduction.

What is the breed standard for a Tan rabbit?

The breed standard for a Tan rabbit includes a fully-arched body and distinct tan markings on their ears, nape of their neck, belly, and tail. The rest of their coat is dark in color.

According to the ARBA, every Tan baby produced will have the same color as its parents, making them a consistent breed for show purposes.

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