Ready for your close-up?
When you think of show rabbits, do you picture preening, egomaniacal owners, ready to take you out at the knee? The reality couldn't be more different. Competition rabbiters tend to be generous, gregarious, and gentle souls, and are surprisingly open to helping you join the club.
Showing rabbits: is it for you?
There's the prize money, but most of it won't go to you. A few people make a good living breeding and showing rabbits, but consider it a labor of love. Raising pedigree rabbits gets in your blood, and once you win your first leg, you'll be hooked.
Join the club
The best way to start is to join the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA). The low membership fee includes a great publication on raising show rabbits, a helpful trade magazine, and an annual list of 15,000 members, some who may live near you. Besides, it's the only show in town, so you have to join to compete.
Since your rabbit will be exposed to far more than a domestic rabbit would, educate yourself on rabbit diseases. ARBA will give you helpful information, definitely worth reading.
Technically, you can show any pet. But you can't win a Grand Champion with an unregistered rabbit, nor can you with its next four generations. A pedigree doesn't guarantee a perfect rabbit, but it helps avoid all kinds of random offspring and genetic defects from bad breeding. Choose a lively rabbit with bright, clear eyes, soft fur, and no wetness or stains around the eyes or nose. Choose one under 3 years old to get your money's worth.
Stick to a reputable breeder, one willing to help with questions before and after the sale. Get a recommendation from all those friendly ARBA members you just met.
As for breeds, most rabbiters stick to few specialties. You can't be an expert at every breed.
Unlike domestic rabbits, bigger rabbit cages for show rabbits are not always better. By keeping the outdoor or indoor rabbit cage at a maximum of 3 feet, you'll have an easier time reaching your rabbit for maintenance and grooming.
After 3 months of age, cage rabbits individually. Same-sex cagemates will fight; opposite-sex rabbits will surely mate, leading to unintended offspring which, in the world of pedigree, is a very bad thing.
Since you may end up with a lot of rabbits, consider rabbit cages with removable trays. Keep in mind that rabbit manure is great for your garden, and because it's dense and dry, it's easy to handle. You can even sell it.