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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jenner

The Fuzzy Gene (in Holland Lops)

The fuzzy gene (L/l) is a gene that some Holland Lops carry.
L - Normal fur gene
l - Fuzzy gene

The recessive gene (wool “l”) does not show itself completely when the dominant gene (normal fur “L”) is present. One copy of allele comes from each parent, giving the genotype.
Recessive genes only show completely when homozygous (with two of the same alleles, one received from each parents. With the fuzzy gene, it is either LL or ll - normal fur or fuzzy), however, may play or have an influence on the phenotype (the way the rabbit looks) if heterozygous, or carrier of the fuzzy gene (Ll).

A Holland Lop requires two copies of the wool gene for them to be a Fuzzy (e.g., ll). If they only have one copy, they are a carrier (e.g., Ll). Sometimes as a kit, you may have an idea around 3 weeks old if they may be a fuzzy, but it is completely obvious around 5 - 6 weeks of age.

If you know your geneotypes - even partial (in this case we are looking at the fuzzy gene), you can use a tool called a punnett sqare. Punnett squares are diagrams that are used to help predict the genotypes of a particular cross or breeding experiment. If you know your rabbits genotype, you are able to fill the punnett square and determine percentages of probabilities of kits.

Normal Furred Holland Lop = LL
Fuzzy Holland Lop = ll
Fuzzy Carrier Holland Lop = Ll

Kit Probabilities Percentages

Fuzzy (ll) x Fuzzy (ll) = 100% Fuzzy (ll)
Fuzzy (ll) x Carrier (Ll) = 50% Carriers (Ll) and 50% Fuzzy (ll)
Fuzzy (ll) x Normal (LL) = 100% Carriers (Ll)
Carrier (Ll) x Carrier (Ll) = 25% Normal (LL), 50% Carrier (ll), 25% Fuzzy (ll)
Carrier (Ll) x Normal (LL) = 50% Normal (LL), 50% Carrier (Ll)
Normal (LL) x Normal (LL) = 100% Normal (LL)

Example:
Dam is pink (Ll)
Sire is blue (ll)
Kit possibilities are red
In this example, the dam is a fuzzy carrier and the sire is a fuzzy, therefore, the genotype crossing is going to be Ll x ll. The kits in this case are all going to carry the fuzzy gene, with 50% chance of complete fuzzy and 50% chance of fuzzy carriers - 50% carriers (Ll) and 50% fuzzy (ll).
In the example above, the dam is a fuzzy carrier and the sire is a fuzzy, therefore, the genotype crossing is going to be Ll x ll. The kits in this case are all going to carry the fuzzy gene, with 50% chance of complete fuzzy and 50% chance of fuzzy carriers - 50% carriers (Ll) and 50% fuzzy (ll).

Now you try!

In this example, both the dam and sire are both going to be fuzzy carriers (Ll).
In this example, both the dam and sire are both going to be fuzzy carriers (Ll).
What are the probabilities of getting a normal furred, fuzzy carriers or other fuzzy kits?
Normal fur is the combination LL (so there is 25% chance of having normal fur kits). Fuzzy carriers are Ll (so there is 50% chance of having more carriers). Fuzzy are ll (so there is 25% chance of having fuzzy kits).
Normal fur is the combination LL (so there is 25% chance of having normal fur kits).
Fuzzy carriers are Ll (so there is 50% chance of having more carriers).
Fuzzy are ll (so there is 25% chance of having fuzzy kits).

Now just because you see 25% chance, doesn't always mean that out of every four kits, you will for sure have one normal furred or fuzzy kit. This is where probability, chance and luck (and mother nature) come into play! (This happens along other genes too, such as colour and dwarfism). In this example also, you will have the chance of kits being normal fur and fuzzy carriers. Therefore, the normal furred kit should still be noted as a possible fuzzy carrier, until enough test breedings are done to determine whether they truly are a normal furred rabbit or a carrier. In some cases, carriers do have finer and wispier fur than a homozygous normal furred rabbit. This is why it can sometimes be a lot of work and a pain in the butt (and why many breeders try to stay away from the gene) to have fuzzy carriers as it is a recessive gene, and may be passed onto the next generation.

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Where did the gene come from?

The Holland Lop was originally only available in solid colours, and at the time breeders wanted the broken pattern variety within the Holland Lop breed. The solution was to breed the English Spot (broken/spotting gene carrier with flyback fur) to the Holland Lop. This resulted with broken kits, however, caused them to lose the rollback fur that was favourable in the Holland Lop. To restore the rollback fur, Holland Lops were then bred to French Angora Rabbits, a breed with very gentile rollback coats. They have very wooly and super soft hair that’s prone to not matting and tangling.

It was this addition of the French Angora Rabbit into the breeding attempts, which introduced the wool (fuzzy) gene into the Holland Lop gene pool. After a few attempts, the breeding programme was successful in getting back the desired rollback fur, but also had kits born with long "fuzzy" fur.

Eventually, after a long and successful breeding programme, the fuzzy holland became it's own breed - The American Fuzzy Lop (AFL)

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*Fuzzy Holland Lops are NOT the same as American Fuzzy Lops, despite looking and being very similar, and coming from Holland Lop lineage. They are a separate breed. A Fuzzy Holland Lop can technically be entered and shown as an AFL, but they are NOT an AFL.
You should, however, still be able to use them as a 4h/ffa rabbit, just double check with your teacher.

The fuzzy gene is one that is undesirable in Holland Lop breeding programmes for many breeders, similar to the vienna gene (in clean lines), as it can take hard work to breed the gene out and may be carried for generations. If a rabbit is found to be a fuzzy carrier (Ll), if paired to another fuzzy carrier, they may produce fuzzy kits*.

Fuzzy Holland Lops, should be petted out as they are unshowable and are undesirable with the Holland Lop breeding programme for many breeders (including fuzzy carriers). If you sell a rabbit as a known fuzzy carrier, you should be sure to advise the buyers before they decide to purchase.

On a pedigree, they should still be listed as a Holland Lop.

Betty's "Fluffy Butt" - Jr. Blue Otter Fuzzy Holland Lop - NOT an American Fuzzy Lop. We found out from this pairing, that this little one's parents are both fuzzy carriers.
Pictured above: Betty's "Fluffy Butt" - Jr. Blue Otter Fuzzy Holland Lop - NOT an American Fuzzy Lop. We found out from this pairing, that this little one's parents are both fuzzy carriers.

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The American Fuzzy Lop

Two breeders from the east coast (Patty Greene-Karl and Gary Fellers) and two breeders from the west coast (Kim Landry and Margaret Miller) really adored these rabbits and became the pioneer of American Fuzzy Lop breeders.

It was Patty Greene-Karl who was accredited that the "fuzzy" gene was recessive, and that mating two Holland Lops carrying this gene resulted in certain percentages of offspring with wool. After working on the breed for four years, she first presented her new breed of rabbit - the American Fuzzy Lop, at the 1985 ARBA Convention in Houston, Texas, and was passed. The original standard called for a maximum weight of 4¾lb with the ideal weight of 3¾lb, a rabbit designed to have the body type, ear carriage, and size of a Holland Lop, combined with a short, easily maintained wool (AFLRC).

In 1986, at the ARBA Convention in Columbus, Ohio, the American Fuzzy Lop was presented for its second showing, and again passed. At its third showing at the 1987 ARBA Convention in Portland, Oregon, the ARBA Standards Committee did not approve the breed, due to inconsistences. She then had asked Jeff Hardin, an ARBA show judge, for a new working standard to be written, which was accepted. The revised standard basically described a wooled Holland, calling for a maximum weight of 4lb, and an ideal weight of 3½lb (AFLRC).

The following year, in 1988, at the ARBA Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, the American Fuzzy Lop had to pass that year to become a recognized breed or else the whole procedure would've had to been restarted. Fortunately, it was passed and the American Fuzzy Lop became a new recognized breed by ARBA.

The breed had won BOB (Best of Breed) at the ARBA Convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by Helen McKie's "Herbie".

AFL's contain three mixed breeds: (1) Holland Lop
(2) English Spot
(3) French Angora





Did you Know?

Angora wool can be spun and made into clothing, garments or other wooled wear. You can also use and do this with Fuzzy Holland Lop fur too, however, they may not produce as much as the Angora breed does, so may take some time to save up some wool!
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