This unusual rabbit is a Dutch breed that’s renowned for its warm red-brown fur that’s a striking colour due to the bright agouti colour it displays, along with distinctive black ticking that takes on a ‘wavy’ appearance. This unique pattern, which is known as ‘mackereling’ is certainly the most memorable thing about the Deilenaar, should be slightly wavy and never even.
The body is compact, meaty, and muscular and could be referred to as ‘cobby’.
Originally developed in the Dutch town of Deli, the delightful Deilenaar made its first appearance in the 1930s after Mr Ridderhof announced his new breed. Famously Mr Ridderhof never divulged which breeds were used in the creation of the Deilenaar, although most experts agree it was likely to have been the Chinchilla, the Belgian Hare and the New Zealand Red. It’s the Hare that is thought to have lent the Deilenaar its instantly recognisable colouring.
The Deilenaar was accepted by Dutch standards in 1940, but was slow to make its way across Europe because of the war, and it wasn’t until the late 1980s that the Deilenaar was finally recognised by the British Rabbit Council.
Main colourways: Rich red agouti with black ticking and mackereling
Average weight: 2.5 – 3.5kg
As already mentioned, the most striking characteristic of the Deilenaar is the dense, silky fur that displays the striking deep red agouti colour, with black ticking and waving, or ‘mackereling’. The coat is shorter on the legs, head and ears and has a marvellous lustre that’s unique to the Deilenaar.
This is a medium-sized, rather thickset rabbit that is very robust. Its compact body is muscular and meaty. The head is carried low on a barely visible neck and is much more developed in male examples than females. The Deilenaar has broad, powerful fore and hindquarters and the ears are strong and held erect, the perfect length being 11cm.
The red agouti colouring extends all over the body apart from the underside and inside the back legs. The jawline, muzzle and inside of the ears should be a tan shade, while the ears are edged with black. The forelegs are red agouti with ticking, but are without mackereling as the fur is much shorter. The chest is a warmer red-brown and the nails are dark, whiskers coloured and the eyes dark and bright.
The breed’s intermediate colour is a rusty brown, while the base colour is an evenly divided slate blue. The belly is a creamy shade, with red streaks in the groin area. The standard requires a hard, muscular body with no flabby, loose areas. Nails should be kept short and neat and the medium-length fur should be clean, lustrous and without matting. The animal should be allowed to hold itself naturally and this should automatically result in a good posture.
The Deilenaar reflects the personality of its foundation breeds. It’s a lively, friendly, affectionate little animal and as such can make a good pet. Because they are lively though, care must be taken to make sure that anywhere they are allowed to roam and live is secure.
Their liveliness may also add to a rabbit’s natural skittishness so they should be handled carefully and only by experienced people. If a rabbit is allowed to become fearful or uncomfortable they can struggle to get free and they are much stronger than they look. Trying to hold on to a panicking rabbit can cause injury to both the handler and the animal.
The Deilenaar is a reasonably intelligent breed and if he’s going to be kept indoors he should be taught to use a litter tray. Simply place a tray where he chooses to go to the toilet (he will usually use the same place) and he will quickly get the idea! He should also be provided with gnaw toys to keep his teeth in check, and cat toys to play with to keep him occupied. Toys with rattles and bells are particularly popular!
As a hybrid animal the Deilenaar displays all of the vigour you would expect of a mixed-breed animal, there are however a number of issues that any rabbit owner must be aware of in order to keep him healthy and happy.
A rabbit’s teeth grow continuously so it’s absolutely crucial that his teeth are checked regularly. In order to avoid overgrown molars or enamel spurs, which can make eating impossible and cause injuries in the mouth and on the tongue, he must be fed a diet that’s very high in fibre. Not only will a high-fibre diet keep his tummy happy, it will also keep his teeth worn down too, so make sure he is fed good quality hay and fibrous green vegetables like cabbage and kale, regularly. If his teeth do get too long he should be taken to a vet without delay. Visual checks should also be made of the teeth on a weekly basis – the symptoms of overgrown teeth can look like many other things and visual checks should be carried out in conjunction with a high-fibre diet.
It’s important not to let your rabbit become overweight. Not only is this bad for his health, it can also prevent him from grooming himself properly which can leave him vulnerable to flystrike, a nasty condition where flies lay their eggs in soiled areas of fur. The resulting larvae burrow into the rabbit’s skin causing open wounds that will require veterinary attention.
Your rabbit should be wormed regularly and treated for fleas and ticks, and non-breeding females should be spayed to prevent uterine cancer.
Caring for a Deilenaar
Before you bring your pet home it’s important to decide whether or not he’s going to live indoors or outdoors. If he’s going to be an outdoor bunny then he needs a weatherproof, waterproof hutch that’s placed well away from direct wind and sun; if you have a light, well-ventilated shed this will be ideal. The hutch should be lined with hardwood shavings and straw and it must be cleaned out thoroughly once a week. He should have a completely covered area filled with bedding in which he can nest and get out of the worst weather and the hutch should have a waterproof cover placed over the mesh front in very bad weather.
If he’s going to be kept indoors he should be provided with a secure area like a dog crate or indoor rabbit cage, where he can relax and enjoy some peace and quiet. He should also be taught to use a litter tray. Cables and wires, along with shoes, documents and toys, should be kept out of his way or he will use them for chewing practice!
A rabbit’s diet should be made up of good quality hay and rabbit pellets and plenty of fibrous vegetables and leaves such as kale, cabbage and dandelions. He should have access to fresh, clean drinking water at all times.