The Harlequin rabbit is one of the older breeds in existence today. The checkered board rabbit came from several color combinations. It originated in France in the 1880’s; developed by breeding a wild and Tortoiseshell Dutch rabbits that were kept in large fenced pens. The first Harlequins looked like badly marked Dutch. There were first shown in Paris around 1887 then imported to England a little later; and they were mainly shown for their fur, though they were used for meat during World War II... They have been recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association on several different occasions, even as far back as the 1920’s, but they struggle with popularity and ended up being dropped as a recognized breed. They were accepted again in 1973 in Detroit Michigan.
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Harlequins are known for their friendliness and laid back temperament. They are a medium size rabbit that usually makes a pretty good pet. Breeding and showing are quite a challenge because it can be hard to get their pattern just perfect. Harlequins are the only non-broken breed or variety that is not disqualified for mismatched toenails. They weigh between 6 lbs 8 oz and 9 lbs 8 oz; a good body is well-rounded, smooth and a well filled body with medium bone. A perfect Harlequin should have their entire head vertically divided by their color and the 2 colors meeting in a line in the center of the face between the eyes.