The Silver Fox is a rabbit that has coarse, mid-length hair that’s sprinkled with white guard hairs giving a silvering effect to the coat. The breed is a domestic animal that’s reared primarily for meat, fur and for the showring.
Silver Foxes were developed by Walter B Garland of Ohio in the 1920s from Checkered Giants and English Silvers and were originally known as the American Heavyweight Silver. The name was changed to the Silver Fox in 1929. They are still found mainly in the United States.
Walter B Garland of North Canton, Ohio spent 14 years breeding to achieve the unique silvered fur of the Silver Fox. They were the third breed to be developed in the United States. Garland put a black Checkered Giant to an English Silver, which is a breed of unknown heritage.
By 1925 this new, silvered animal had been accepted by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, when it was still known as the American Heavyweight Silver. The name changed to Silver Fox in 1929.
In the early 1970s the National Silver Fox Rabbit Club was founded by 18 breeders who wanted to promote and conserve the breed. The Silver Fox is now considered a rare breed and despite the club’s best efforts the Silver Fox is said to be one of the USA’s rarest breeds and is considered critically endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Main colourways: lilac, chocolate, blue, smoke pearl and white
Average weight: 4 – 5.5kg
This is a reasonably large rabbit, with bucks typically weighing around nine to 11lbs and mature does weighing about 10 – 12lbs. The body is of a medium length and displays well rounded hindquarters and shoulders.
A high ratio of muscle to bone makes the Silver Fox a popular meat breed. The kits are born either solid blue or black, with the trademark silvering making an appearance at about six weeks of age, taking around four months to become fully silvered. The fur is undoubtedly the most attractive attribute of the Silver Fox and is very unusual. As well as being very dense, it can reach up to two inches in length and will stand straight up when stroked the wrong way. This characteristic is not found in any other rabbit breed.
This is a striking, yet gentle breed of rabbit that makes it an excellent choice as a companion animal. It’s a large rabbit, but it’s also docile and therefore relatively straightforward to handle. This fantastic temperament also makes them an ideal choice for the showring.
Regardless of how laid-back your rabbit is, it’s worth speaking to breeders and knowledgeable handlers about the best way to pick up your pet. Any rabbit that’s picked up incorrectly and is made to feel vulnerable, unsafe or uncomfortable, may struggle and as this is a large, strong rabbit he could injure himself or his owner.
In order to indulge his need for exercise and mental stimulation, he should be given time outdoors every day (except in very harsh weather), whether that’s in a large run or in a secure area of garden. He should also be allowed access to cat or dog toys that he can use during playtime with his owner.
As rabbits are social animals, it may also be worth considering giving a home to a pair as they will be much happier if kept with a friend. A neutered male and a doe, or two neutered males make the best housemates.
Silver Fox Health
The teeth should be checked regularly for signs of overgrowth and his diet should include fibrous vegetables that will help keep his teeth worn down. Enamel spurs and overgrown molars can prevent him from eating properly and can cause injuries in the mouth, so it’s vital that the teeth are kept in good order.
As well as being organised to help keep his teeth worn down, the diet should be managed to avoid weight gain. An obese rabbit can find it difficult to groom, and if his fur is allowed to become soiled it will attract flies in warmer weather. The flies can lay eggs in the fur and the maggots will burrow into the rabbit’s skin, causing painful open wounds that will require veterinary attention.
All rabbits should be vaccinated against Viral Haemorrhagic Disease and myxomatosis and should also be treated regularly for fleas, ticks and worms. It’s also worth considering spaying any non-breeding females in order to prevent uterine cancer, which is common in rabbits.
Caring for a Silver Fox
Before you bring your rabbit home you must decide where he’s going to live. Is he going to be a house rabbit or will he have a hutch outdoors?
If your rabbit is going to live outdoors his hutch must be large enough for him to hop around and stand upright. It should be also be waterproof and positioned out of direct sunlight. The hutch must be lined with shavings and straw and must also include a covered area where the rabbit can nest. It must be cleaned out completely once a week and droppings should be removed daily in order to promote a hygienic environment.
Regardless of whether he’s going to live indoors or out he should have regular access to the outdoors, except in the very worst weather. A run or secure area of garden will allow him the opportunity to stretch his legs and play.
If he’s going to be a house rabbit he must be taught how to use a litter tray and be provided with an area he can relax completely. A dog crate or indoor cage is perfect for this. Wires and cables should be kept out of the way in order to prevent your pet chewing on them.
His diet should include hay, rabbit pellets and lots of fibrous green leaves and vegetables like kale, carrot tops and dandelions and he should always have access to clean drinking water.