What to Know About the French Lop

Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on November 28, 2022

French lop rabbits are a large, stunning, easily identifiable breed of rabbits. While originally bred for meat, these rabbits make great pets, as they’re friendly and cuddly and love their families. They also continue to be popular in the rabbit show circuit thanks to their distinctive and adorable features, especially their big, floppy ears.

French lop rabbits are a breed of domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus), a subspecies of European rabbits. Lop rabbits are rabbits with droopy ears, as opposed to ears that stick straight up. Other species of lop rabbits that are currently recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association include:

  • American fuzzy lop
  • English lop
  • Holland lop
  • Mini lop

The French lop was first bred in France around 1850. This was most likely the result of selective breeding between the English lop and the French butterfly rabbit, though it is possible that breeding was between an English lop and a Flemish giant rabbit.

Originally, French lop rabbits were bred for rabbit meat. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, both English and French lops gained popularity in Europe, especially in England and especially on the rabbit show circuit. Both species were brought to America in the 1970s from countries like Belgium, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland. These rabbits are still popular in rabbit shows and make great pets.

French lops have a distinctive look, making them easy to tell apart from other breeds, even their English lop ancestors. They have thick bodies and large heads with droopy ears that often hang 5 to 8 inches below their jawline. 

French lop rabbit colors. French lop rabbits come in a variety of colors, including:

  • Black
  • Blue (slate gray)
  • Chinchilla (mottled gray and black)
  • Chocolate
  • Fawn (straw-colored)
  • Light brown
  • Opal (gray and gold)
  • Red
  • Steel
  • White

French lop rabbit fur is described as either solid or broken. Solid means the rabbit has one color of fur throughout, while broken means the fur is patterned with another color. French lops can be broken or solid, and their fur is soft, dense, and short to medium length.

French lop rabbit size. French lop rabbits aren’t the largest species of rabbit — that honor goes to their cousin, the Flemish giant rabbit — but they are the largest of the lop rabbits. These rabbits normally weigh between 10 and 15 pounds, but there is no weight maximum in the breed standards set by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.

French lop rabbits have a lifespan slightly shorter than many other domestic rabbits, as they only live an average of 5 to 7 years. The average life expectancy for domestic rabbits is 8 years, with a range of 5 to 15 years.

French lop rabbits may be more prone to some medical conditions than other breeds. These include:

  • Ear mites. Ear mites are a common pest for rabbits. Your vet should be able to treat them. Symptoms of ear mites include head shaking and debris in the ears.
  • GI stasis. GI stasis means that your rabbit’s digestive system has slowed or stopped. This can happen because of stress, dehydration, or an underlying condition. GI stasis can lead to intestinal blockage, which can lead to death if left untreated. Symptoms include loss of appetite, a lack of fecal balls, and lethargy. 
  • Malocclusion. Malocclusion is a condition in which the rabbit’s teeth don’t line up properly. A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing, and to manage this growth, their teeth need to be ground down by eating. If their teeth don’t line up correctly, they can grow too much. If your rabbit has malocclusion, regular dental checkups are even more important than usual.
  • Woolblock. Like cats, rabbits may lick themselves as a way to clean and groom their fur, and like cats, this can lead to furballs in the digestive system. Unlike cats, rabbits can’t regurgitate these furballs. This can cause a blockage in the digestive tract that needs surgery to fix.
  • Obesity. French lop rabbits are especially prone to weight gain, so be sure your rabbit gets the appropriate amount of food from the right diet every day.

French lop rabbits have wonderful personalities and make great pets. They’re a calm breed, generally docile and gentle. They require a lot of love and attention once they bond with someone, and they can bond quickly! They may follow you around, begging to be cuddled and petted, and don’t like to be apart from those they’ve bonded to. You can even train them to come when you call!

Keeping a French lop as a pet isn’t all that different from keeping other breeds of rabbits. They still need space to play, the right diet, and occasional grooming like having their hair brushed or nails trimmed. That being said, because of their large size, there are certain things to consider when it comes to owning a French lop rabbit as a pet.

Enclosure. French lops can be kept indoors like a dog or cat, or outdoors in a hutch. If you choose to keep them in a hutch, it needs to be large enough that they can easily hop around inside. A good general rule is that the cage should be at least four times the size of your rabbit.

Keeping a French lop indoors isn’t much different than keeping a dog or cat. You can even train them to use the litter box! Make sure they still have plenty of room and opportunities for exercise, and supervise children who are playing with the rabbit. French lops can be heavier than they look and could easily be dropped by a child.

Diet and exercise. Because French lop rabbits are a large breed, they need more food than the average rabbit. Most of their diet, 70%, should be hay. A good rule is to feed them their body size in hay every day. Hay is important because it keeps their digestive system regular and grinds down their teeth to prevent overgrowth. Timothy hay is best for French lops.

French lops should also have fresh vegetables in their diet, about a handful of fresh greens twice a day. They also need rabbit pellets for vitamins and minerals and should always have access to fresh water to prevent dehydration.

French lops can gain weight quickly, so they must get daily exercise. They should have at least three hours of “free-range time” every day, a time when they can just hop wherever they like. This can be inside or outside. Since they’ll stick by your side, consider having them with you while you’re gardening or playing with your kids outside.

Show Sources

American Rabbit Breeders Association: “Recognized Breeds.”
Animal Corner: “The French Lop – Complete Guide & Facts.”
Cosley Zoo: “French Lop Rabbit.”
House Rabbit Society: “Gastrointestinal Stasis: The Silent Killer.”
Lop Rabbit Club of America: “How We Began ~ Where We're Going.”
The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals: “French Lop.”

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