French Lop

Oryctolagus Cuniculus

Last updated: November 11, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

One of the largest rabbit breeds

French Lop Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Lagomorpha
Family
Leporidae
Genus
Oryctolagus
Scientific Name
Oryctolagus Cuniculus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

French Lop Conservation Status

French Lop Locations

French Lop Locations

French Lop Facts

Name Of Young
Kittens
Group Behavior
  • Herd
Fun Fact
One of the largest rabbit breeds
Most Distinctive Feature
Long ears

French Lop Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Fawn
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Chocolate
  • Light Grey
Skin Type
Fur
Lifespan
5-8 years
Weight
10-20 pounds
Age of Sexual Maturity
9 months
Age of Weaning
1-2 months
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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Summary

Developed in France in the 19th century, the French Lop is one of the largest rabbits in the world. This stout, powerful breed has a large head and long ears that hang down below the jaw. French Lops come in two color varieties and several different color varieties. Although people originally raised them for their meat, they are now mostly kept as companion pets and show animals.  

5 French Lop Facts

  • The first French Lops were bred as meat rabbits in France around 1850.   
  • People believe the French Lop was created by breeding the English Lop with the now extinct Giant Papillon.
  • The record for largest French Lop belongs to a rabbit named Humphrey who measured nearly 42 inches long and weighed over 28 pounds!
  • French Lops do not fare well in cages due to their large size and can injure inexperienced owners with their powerful legs. 
  • Due to their large size and gentle nature, French Lops get along well with other pets, including dogs and cats.

French Lop Scientific Name

The French Lop shares its scientific name (Oryctolagus cuniculus) with all 305 known domestic rabbit breeds. This is because all domestic rabbits share a common ancestry with the wild European rabbit. The word Oryctolagus derives from the Ancient Greek words oryktos, which means “dug up,” and lagos, or  “hare.” Meanwhile, the word cuniculus has a more complicated meaning. In Latin, the word technically means “burrow” or “underground dwelling,” but is also applied to mean “rabbits.” As for its common name, the French Lop is named for its country of origin (France) and its distinctive lop ears, which hang down the side of its head. 

French Lop Appearance 

It’s easy to pick a French Lop out from a crowd due to its giant size, large ears, and distinctive markings. On average, French Lops weigh between 10 and 15 pounds but can easily reach up to 20 pounds. That said, they can grow much larger, as evidenced by a French Lop named Humphrey that clocked in at an astonishing 28 pounds! They possess a large, round head and thickset body. In contrast, the front legs are rather short and straight. 

French lops come in two different color varieties, solid or broken. Solid French Lops come in one mostly uniform color, while broken French Lops feature several different colors and pattern markings. Unlike some breeds, they do not exhibit any identifiable patterns in their coats. That said, show standards dictate that broken French Lops should have equal light and dark markings, a butterfly marking on the nose, dark ears and circles around the eyes, and white feet and legs. Their long, thick coat comes in a range of colors including white, brown, black, blue, fawn, chinchilla (gray), steel, cream, and opal. 

One of a French Lop’s most distinguishing features is its large, drooping ears. Known as full lop ears, their ears hang down along the side of the head and usually end just below the jaw. While not as immense as the ears of its ancestor – the English Lop – a French Lop’s ears can grow quite long. Generally speaking, their ears measure between 5 and 8 inches in length. 

French Lop
The French Lop is recognizable by its size and trademark long ears.

©Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

French Lop Behavior

Despite their large size, French Lops enjoy a reputation as docile and good-natured rabbits. Owners can attest to their warm, relaxed temperament and willingness to get along with other animals. They are a popular choice for families with children thanks to their easy-going nature and robust frames. That said, they should not be kept by inexperienced rabbit owners. Due to their powerful frame, they can easily hurt people with their powerful back legs. If you decide to keep a French Lop, be sure to handle them with care and avoid scaring them, as they can startle easily and unintentionally cause themselves or others injury. 

French Lop Habitat

People first bred French Lops in France during the 1850s. They remained a commercial rabbit bred for their meat until they became popular in surrounding countries including the Netherlands. Around 1933, the first French Lops arrived in the United Kingdom, where they went on for exhibition. The breed became quite popular in the UK by the 1960s and was first imported to the United States around 1970. Today, French Lops enjoy popularity around the world and are one of the more sought-after lop rabbits. 

Due to their size, French Lops require a lot of room in which to live and play. They don’t do well in cages, whether kept indoors or outside. As a result, many owners choose to keep their French Lops outside in hutches to accommodate their size. They can become quite restless if not allowed to roam, and so you’ll often see them in yards, gardens, or hopping around living rooms. You’re unlikely to find French Lops in the wild, but if you do, you’ll probably see them in a meadow or field. 

French Lop Diet

French Lops – like all rabbits – are herbivores. Their diet consists mostly of hay grasses, and they should be fed as much fresh hay as they want. In addition to grasses, French Lops can also eat a limited amount of fresh vegetables and fruits. Leafy greens are better than things like carrots and apples, which contain a lot of sugar. You can also feed a French Lop a small amount of rabbit-specific pellet food. At most, pellet food should make up no more than 10% of a French Lop’s diet. 

French Lop Predators and Threats

French Lops lack natural predators because they are normally kept either indoors or outside in protected hutches. However, you should still keep a close eye on your French Lop if you let it roam around outside. The greatest threats that French Lops face include common rabbit illnesses, digestive problems, and predation from larger predators and pets. French Lops don’t suffer from any breed-specific illnesses. That said, they are known to have sensitive stomachs and deal with digestive issues. As such, you’ll want to be wary as to what you feed a French Lop and make sure they get plenty of fresh grass and water. Additionally, due to their strength and size, they can easily escape their enclosures or chew into cables. 

Thanks to their size, French Lops don’t have much to fear from smaller predators when they mature. However, infant French Lops can fall prey to stoats, weasels, or ferrets. Meanwhile, adult French Lops can be killed by birds of prey, foxes, coyotes, or large cats or dogs. To avoid predators, they must rely on their keen senses of smell and hearing. Their strong legs serve not only as a means of helping them escape but also as a weapon that can deliver a powerful kick if necessary.  

French Lop Reproduction and Life Cycle

Compared to other domestic rabbits, French Lops reach sexual maturity at an older age. Ideally, French Lops should not start to breed until they are around 9 months old. Moreover, it’s recommended for does to no longer have any litters after they reach 3 years old. Like other rabbits, French Lop does can be quite territorial and aggressive, so they should always be taken to a buck’s cage when breeding.  

Gestation typically lasts around 31 days. The average litter size is around 5 or 6 baby rabbits, or kittens, but can be as many as 12. Over the course of a year, a single doe can give birth to 5 litters and nearly 60 kittens. Baby French Lops will live exclusively on their mother’s milk for the first 2 weeks of life. At around 2 weeks old they will begin to eat some fresh grasses, pellet food, and water. They tend to wean themselves between 1 and 2 months old.  

French Lops don’t live as long as some other domestic rabbit breeds, which is likely due to their large size. On average, French Lops live for around 5 years. Under certain circumstances, some can live up to 6 or 8 years old. French Lops suffer from several common rabbit illnesses as well as digestive issues which can affect their quality of life and lifespan.  

French Lop Population

The first French Lops were bred from English Lops and Giant Papillons in the 1850s. They remained in relative obscurity in their native France until they began to spread to surrounding countries. They eventually became quite popular in the UK around the 1960s before filtering to the US in the 1970s. Today, you can find French Lops around the world, and they remain one of the most popular domestic rabbit breeds. No reliable data on French Lop populations exists, so it’s hard to estimate their total population with any degree of accuracy. Still, they don’t show signs of falling off in popularity as either show rabbits or companion pets any time soon.

French Lop Locations

You can find French Lops all over the world wherever you’re likely to find domestic rabbits. They remain a popular breed in Europe, particularly in England, France, and the Netherlands. In recent years they have gained popularity in the United States. While it’s hard to say exactly how many French Lops exist, you’re likely to find them in all 50 US states. 

French Lop Conservation Status

As a domestic breed, there doesn’t exist a lot of reliable information on the distribution of French Lops. Therefore, the IUCN has Not Evaluated the French Lop. While it’s not as popular as the Holland Lop or Mini Lop, it remains one of the most popular lop rabbits and domestic rabbits in general. On the other hand, the French’s Lops ancestors – the English Lop and Giant Papillion – have both fallen considerably in popularity. In fact, the Giant Papillion is now effectively extinct. Similarly, the wild ancestor of the French Lop, the European rabbit, is listed as Endangered by the IUCN due to dwindling populations in its native range of Iberia. 

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French Lop FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are French Lops carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

French Lops are herbivores that eat a diet of mostly hay grasses. They will also eat a limited amount of fresh fruits and vegetables along with a small amount of pellet food.

Do French Lop rabbits make good pets?

Owning a French Lop is different from owning most other types of rabbits. On the one hand, it is a gentle giant that is good-natured and trusting. On the other, it is also a powerful animal that possesses strong hind legs that can easily cause injury. Additionally, it requires a lot of space to roam around and rabbit-proofing to keep safe due to its size and tendency to chew through cables.

How long do French Lops live?

Due to their large size, French Lops may not live as long as some other domestic rabbits. Typically, French Lops live around 5 years. However, they can live 6 to 8 years under the right conditions.

How high can a French Lop jump?

Rabbits are known for their jumping ability, which they get from their powerful back legs. While they are quite heavy, they still have plenty of spring in their step. A mature, athletic French Lop can easily jump nearly 26 inches in the air, allowing them to clear low panels and walls. As a result, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your French Lop if you keep it in an open enclosure.

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