Swiss Fox


Introduction

The Swiss Fox is a rare breed that boasts long silky fur all over its body, while its face and ears have short fur. The fact it’s very rounded and ‘cobby’ makes the Swiss Fox look very much like a ball of fluff. The Swiss Fox is a medium animal which usually weighs in at between 2.5 – 4kg. It was developed in Switzerland in the 1920s from Angoras and Havanas and was the result of an attempt to recreate the fur of the fox, which was very fashionable at the time. The fur of this new breed of rabbit was however, quite different to that of the fur foxes so this new type was not initially popular.

History

Mr Muller of Switzerland put together the Havana and the Angora in a bid to create rabbit fur that was similar to that of a fox. The fur of the fox was very fashionable in the 1920s, when the breed was first developed. The fur of this new breed of rabbit was however, quite different to that of the fur foxes so this new type was not initially popular, although it was recognized in 1925 as the ‘Schweizer Fuchskaninchen’. A few years after the Swiss animal made its appearance German breeders also began to see if they could create a rabbit with similar fur to that of a fox. Herr Leiffer put together Chinchillas and Angoras and the resulting animal was shown in 1932 as a Blue Fox. Swiss Fox Rabbits made their way across Europe and were eventually recognized in Holland in 1933. The breed was shown in Britain, but not recognized here until the 1980s. During the Second World War the breed declined dramatically and disappeared completely in Germany. However because it remained neutral, the Swiss Fox kept a foothold in Switzerland. They are now bred primarily for the showring as interest in their pelts has declined over the years. They are still rare, even in Europe, but there is a loyal band of breeders that make sure the Swiss Fox continues to appear at shows across the UK, on the Continent and beyond.

Appearance

Main colourways: blue, black, white and Havana Average weight: 2.5-4kg The Swiss Fox Rabbit is a medium, fluffy rabbit that is instantly appealing and apart from the stunningly beautiful coat and large frame, he also has long, upright ears. They usually weigh around five to seven pounds and have a strong, rounded body. The muzzle is well-defined and is held on a very short neck. The chest, shoulders and legs are powerful and well-muscled, and the legs are of a medium length and the chest is deep. The breed comes in many colours but the main shades are blue, black, Havana and white. The breed standard dictates that the colour should be even and lustrous and the animal’s eyes should be the same colour as the body, except in the white examples, which must have pink eyes.

Temperament

The calm, easy going Swiss Fox makes an excellent pet. They really suit people who like long-haired breeds but perhaps don’t have the time to groom one of the more demanding coat types such as the Angora. They also have upright ears so again suit those who prefer a long-haired animal with erect ears. The Swiss Fox is not averse to being handled and providing this is done correctly he will sit quite happily in your arms or on a lap. Any handler must know how to pick a rabbit up properly as they will struggle if they feel vulnerable or uncomfortable. A struggling rabbit is strong and can injure himself or his handler, so it’s always worth making sure you know how to carry your rabbit.

Health

It’s absolutely crucial that the teeth of any rabbit are checked at regular intervals as they grow constantly and can quickly become overgrown. Enamel spurs and overgrown molars can make eating difficult and may also cause injuries to inside of the mouth. Symptoms of dental problems include runny eyes and the snuffles, as well as decreased appetite. A diet that’s high in fibre and roughage will help keep his teeth in check, as will gnaw toys, but nothing will ensure his teeth stay in good condition like regular visual checks and any necessary remedial treatment. His diet should also be carefully managed. A rabbit should never be overfed or allowed to become overweight as an obese rabbit will have difficulty grooming, which will make him vulnerable to flystrike. Flystrike occurs in warmer weather (although this isn’t always the case!) when flies lay their eggs in soiled areas of the rabbit’s coat – usually around the rear end – and the maggots can burrow into the skin, causing open wounds which can become infected. If infection is allowed to take hold this could prove fatal, so a rabbit should be checked frequently for signs of flystrike and a vet should be called immediately if the condition is suspected. All rabbits must be vaccinated against myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease and they should also be treated regularly for fleas, ticks and worms. Non breeding females can be spayed as they are prone to uterine cancer.

Caring for a Swiss Fox

The Swiss Fox is a good candidate for indoor living but will be equally happy outdoors in a hutch. If the rabbit is going to live indoors it can be trained to use a litter tray and he must be provided with a secure area – such as a crate or a cage – where he can relax undisturbed. Wires and cable must be kept out of his way so he doesn’t chew them, and he must also be allowed to indulge his love of exploration. Any outdoor accommodation it must be completely weatherproof and placed in a sheltered spot. A well-ventilated shed is a perfect place to put a hutch. Shavings and straw must be provided to line the hutch and so he can build a nest, and any soiled areas must be removed every couple of days. The hutch should be cleaned out completely once a week and he can also be given tubes and boxes he can chew and climb on. As rabbits are social animals a friend will be very much appreciated. A rabbit shouldn’t really be housed with a guinea pig as it can injure the smaller rodent. Two neutered males or a neutered male and a doe will get on best. The diet of a rabbit should be high in fibre and roughage and must include lots of good quality hay, rabbit pellets and lots of fibrous green vegetables like kale, cabbage, dandelions, spring greens and carrot tops; all of which will help keep his digestive system ticking over and his teeth in good condition. He should also have access to clean drinking water at all times.

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