Californian Rabbit: ULTIMATE Breed, Care, & Advice Guide

Basic Appearance:

The Californian is one of the most popular breeds of rabbits in the United States. It is a top competitor in the meat pen class. This is due to its smooth, firm body. Cals are pure white except for their ears, nose, feet, and tail, which are black, blue,  chocolate, or lilac. They have a thick, flyback coat. Californians are a medium sized breed, weighing about 9 pounds at maturity.

History, Temperament, and Common Uses:

The Californian was developed by a man named George West in (you guessed it) California. George used Himalayans, standard chinchillas, and New Zealands to create his Cals. He wanted to produce a breed of rabbit that was ideal for meat and fur. He certainly succeeded, as Californians are second only to New Zealands in meat and fur production.

Californians have a very even and friendly temperament. They are usually calm, and enjoy human company. They are easy to breed, and usually make excellent mothers.

Californians are very versatile rabbits. They are one of the top meat and fur breeds, both in commercial rabbitries and with people raising meat for their own table . They are also a popular choice for the meat pen class at fairs. As show rabbits they are very consistent, often contending for Best in Show.

Grooming, Care, and Additional Notes:

Cals have a short, thick coat which requires minimum grooming. Most of the year, a once-a-week brushing with a slicker is all that is needed. When rabbits are molting they will need groomed more often.

The markings on a Californian are sensitive to temperature. Warm weather causes them to lighten, cold weather makes them darken. Since the standard calls for points that are as close to black as possible, many show rabbit raisers in warm climates keep their show stock in special “chiller room” areas. This doesn’t bother the rabbits, as they like cool weather!

Even though the standard calls for marking color as close to black as possible, other colors (blue, chocolate, lilac) are faulted, not disqualified from competition.

Californian At A Glance…

Recognized Varieties:

Californians are recognized in one standard variety. They are to be pure white, with ears, nose, feet, and tail as close to black as possible. Eyes are pink.

ARBA Body Type:


Approximate Size:

8 to 10 1/2 pounds

Important Things to Look for When Buying Show Stock:

When you evaluate a Californian, run your hands over its body. It should be very smooth and firm, including over the loins and pin bones. The Cal should have a medium length body that has a width equal to its depth. It will narrow just a bit from the hindquarters to the shoulders. The Cal should have a moderately full head, set on a short neck. Ears should be held upright and strait. Short legs are desired. Pure white body color with black markings is ideal.

Things to Avoid:

Any type other than a plump, meaty, and firm body. Shoulders wider than hips. Bony feeling rabbits. Narrow or undercut hindquarters. Narrow midsection. Long or pinched head. Heavy ears or weak ear base. White claws are a disqualification. Any color other than white outside of the markings is a disqualification. Any missing markings are a disqualification. White spots or tan pattern markings appearing in the colored markings is a disqualification.

Link to National Specialty Club