Whisper's Rabbitry

Raising Quality Show Rabbits



I will tell you as much as I can about showmanship with rabbits, but the best way to learn is to get out there and do it! Click on the link below to jump to specific topics:

*Remember, this is for 4-H showmanship! If you are only showing rabbits in breed classes, not showmanship, Click Here to jump to the "What to expect at your first rabbit show" page!


What to Wear

What the judge will score you on

How to pose your rabbit

Handling your rabbit

Examining your rabbit

Rabbit Study Guide

Preparation:This is a huge part in how well you do on the show table. About 1-2+ months before the show, start working with your rabbit.

*Get him out DAILY and brush him or play with him.

*Keep your rabbit clean. Trim his nails, and keep his fur nice! Make sure there are no stains on his coat or legs. (Brush your rabbit from head to back)

*Practice all the steps of showmanship-this way your rabbit will be used to it when you get to show day. (And you will be comfortable with the steps as well!)


What to wear:You may not think that what you wear is important, but it is very important to look clean and nice for the judges. When I show my rabbits, I wear black jeans, a white long sleeve button up shirt with a collar, and a white lab coat. Keep your hair UP and OUT OF YOUR FACE. Don't wear any jewelry! Even small earings-I wore them the first time I showed, and got points taken away. You don't want to stand out, you want the judge to notice the rabbit, not you. Don't chew gum either, or wear hats.


The judge will score you based on: 

1. Appearance of yourself and your animal

2. The posing of your rabbit

3. The handling of your rabbit

4. The examination of your rabbit

5. Knowledge of rabbits

Posing your rabbit: *PICTURES COMING SOON* 

The first step to showing your rabbit on the show table is posing your rabbit. Follow these steps on posing your rabbits!

Step 1: Pose the rabbit facing the judge. Before you start, cover his eyes with your hand to calm the rabbit. With your other hand, set EACH FOOT in alignment with its eyes and hips.

Step 2: If the breed of rabbit you are showing has erect ears, use your hands to show the judge they are straight up.

Step 3: Run your hand down the back of your rabbit to straighten any stray hairs.

Step 4: Step back away from your rabbit and place your hands at your side

Tips- Keep your movement to a minimum


Handling your rabbit: 

After you are done posing your rabbits, the judge will ask you to handle your rabbit. Follow these steps:

Step 1: First turn your rabbit so it's head is toward your left arm. Put your right palm on the  of the rabbit, over the ears. Take a good grip, and gently lift up.

Step 2: As you are lifting your rabbits front feet off the ground, bring your rabbit closer to you so that its head is under your left armpit.

Step 3: Using your other hand, lift the bottom of our rabbit and place it in the palm of your left hand.

Step 4: When your rabbit is comfortable with its head nestled in your arm, put your right hand down to your side and wait for the judge to acknowledge you.

Examining your rabbit:  

I do not describe the steps to the judge during the examination, but some judges prefer you do (rarely is this the case). It is best to ask the judge before the show just to be safe. If you don't get a chance, I would recommend not talking unless you are questioned.


Step 1: Turn your rabbit to the side, with it's head to your left by lifting it COMPLETELY off the table so its nails do not get caught on the carpet.

Step 2: Start with the head when examining your rabbit. Squeeze the base of each ear to check for mites.

Step 3: Examine the inside of both ears, you are looking for nicks in the ear, and to make sure the rabbit has a tattoo.

Step 4: Check your rabbits eyes for blindness by pointing your finger at each eye. (The rabbit will blink if it is not blind) You are also checking for weepy or cloudy eyes.

Step 5: Turn your rabbit onto it's back by having a firm grip on the solder skin over the ears with your right hand. As you are beginning to lift up and flip, use your left hand to guide the animals back so it doesn't hit the table hard. Make this step look as smooth as possible!!

Step 6: Point at the noise to show that you are looking for discharge.

Step 7: Pull back your rabbits lips with your left thumb and index finger. You are checking their teeth to make sure that they don't have bucktooth and they are not chipped or broken.

Step 8: Run your finger down their throat to check for any abscesses or tumors.

Step 9: Gently pull each front leg. You are doing this to make sure they are not crooked or bowed.

Step 10: Press down on the base of each front foot so you can see the toenails clearly. Examine the toenails for missing or broken toenails, and to make sure they are the right color.

Step 11:  Run your hand down the stomach of the rabbit to check for abscesses, tumors, or other abnormalities.

Step 12: Push the rabbits back legs/thighs straight out with your hand to determine the straightness of the legs and to make sure that they are parallel to each other.

Step 13: Check each hock on the back feet for sore hocks. Rub your fingers on the hock to show you are doing this.

Step 14: As you did with the front legs, gently pull each leg up.

Step 15: Check the toenail color, and make sure they are all there and they are not broken.

Step 16: Now you have to determine the sex of your rabbit. Hold it's tail between your left pointer and middle fingers and press down lightly in front of the sex organ with your thumb. You are also examining this area for signs of disease.

Step 17: Pull the tail gently to make sure it is not broken.

Step 18: Now turn the rabbit back over, with its head facing your left. Check for proper tail carriage.

Step 19: Place the rabbits ears according to the breed standard. You are making sure that your rabbit has the proper ear carriage.

Step 20: To check the meat quality of the animal, feel it's shoulders, ribs, loin, and rump.

Step 21: Blow on the rabbits fur to determine fur quality. Then run your hand back and forth across their back, to put the fur back in place.

Step 22: Position the rabbit facing the judge. Pose the rabbit up again and step back away from the table with your hands at your side. (your rabbit should stay where you left it, and not move)

Tips: every few steps, look up at the judge. Don't get mad at the rabbit, the judge as well as your rabbit will be able to tell you are mad.

At this point the judge will take your rabbit and examine it her/himself. When she puts the rabbit back in front of you, you can pose the rabbit again.

Now the judge may ask you some questions about your rabbit or rabbits in general.

Here are some subjects you should study before the show:Rabbit breeds (Know as much about the breed you are showing as possible)

Rabbit body parts

Your rabbits pedigree information

You should also know your rabbits gender, the age of your rabbit, it's breed, and it's tattoo number.

Some questions I have been asked in showmanship: 

(Go to http://whispersrabbitry.webs.com/apps/faq/ for a list of vocab words to study)

What does the ARBA stand for? (American Rabbit Breeders Association)

How many recognized breeds are there? 47

How many teeth does a rabbit have? 28

How many toenails does a rabbit have? 18. (five in front, 4 in back)

At what age does a rabbit show as a senior? A rabbit that is 6 months or older, or exceeds the senior weight

Name some common rabbit diseases: Ear canker, Sore hocks, Mange (fur mites)

What is a male rabbit called? Buck

What is a female rabbit called? Doe

What is a newborn rabbit called? Kit

What are a few ways you can control disease in a rabbitry? Keep food and water containers clean, and do not lend rabbits out of the rabbitry.

I am very frequently asked what breed my rabbit is, the gender of my rabbit, and it's tattoo number. Also know as much about the breed of rabbit you are showing as possible.



*Michigan State University Extension, Rabbit fitting and Showing.**