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Description:  

2004 Tan Nationals Best of BreedTans are an old breed that has unique markings and striking coloring. They originally come from England where they have been shown since the late 1800's. Tans are often referred to as the “Aristocrat of the Fancy”.

Accepted adult weight range:
Does: 4 - 6 pounds
Bucks: 4 - 5-1/2 pounds

The average weight in today's Tans are 4 - 4-1/2 pounds. It is unusual to find the larger Tans in the active show circuit.

Tans are a full arched breed. Rabbits with this type show an arch starting at the nape of their neck, running smoothly over their shoulders, mid section and hips. Typical arched breed rabbits will display more depth than width. Tans have a very lean, compact, well balanced body. They are visually striking because of their unique markings, contrast and intensity of their coloration. Their fur is slick and glossy. Tans are raised as a fancy rabbit, not for fur or meat.

There are four varieties(colors) in the Tan breed: Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac. While our main focus is Black and Blue Tans, we also work with a small number of Chocolate and Lilac Tans. All four varieties have identical "Tan" patterns. The Tan coloration is an intense, deep red color that is consistent from it's chest through it's tail. A Tan in it's prime will about take your breath away - it is a stunning and beautiful rabbit.

Tans are a very intelligent and gentle breed when they have been raised properly. They make superb companion rabbits. Take the time to find breeders who enjoy the experience of working with Tans. To some breeders, rabbits are just livestock. It will be worth the effort to find the breeders who are having fun with this breed and love working with these rabbits.

We have a ball working with our Tans and it shows in their temperament and handle-abitlity, while being VERY competitive on the show table at the national level. Our stock has imported Tans from England from an old, stable line. Each one has a unique personality. Each one has something different to offer on the show table, in a breeding program or simply as a companion rabbit.


Specific Care Information:
Relatively Easy

"Likitysplit", Black Tan junior buckTans are easily one of the most inquisitive breeds. They are an intelligent, active and tactile breed. Because of their natural activity level, they require more cage space than the average rabbit. Because Tans are a very smart rabbit, you must have a cage that is secure (they will figure out how to open the door if the latch isn't secure). Given the opportunity, they will play with all kinds of rabbit safe toys. Toys are hours of entertainment, both for the Tan and also for you watching the Tan play with the toys. Being a very tactile rabbit, it is not uncommon to find them chewing on their cage wire. Giving them blocks of wood will sometimes redirect their attention from the wire. On average, they usually don't do much, if any damage to their teeth.

Tans are one of five arched breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Because of it's very natural ability to present itself on the show table, this breed is judged by being allowed to move naturally on the show table, never posed. If you plan to show, working with your Tans between shows is recommended especially if it's their first show. You want them to know when turned out on the carpet on the judging table, it's time to strut their stuff. If you have a Tan for a pet, letting them out to run in the house on your carpet is excellent exercise (never leave them unattended or they will get into everything). We often take our Tans to work with us as they make entertaining office bunnies and offer everyone an avenue of stress release. Our older, retired Tans we take to rest homes to visit the elderly much to the delight of the residents.


Breeding and Propagation:
Relatively Easy

There are four varieties (colors) in the Tan breed: Black, Chocolate, Blue and Lilac. They all have the same markings - what changes between the varieties is the color on the top. There are two basic color groups Black/Blue and Chocolate/Lilac. There is the Black variety - the dominant color, with the recessive Blue variety. There is also the Chocolate variety which is dominant with the recessive Lilac variety. Many recommend breeders who are just starting out to stay within one color group until you become more familiar with color genetics. There isn't a big market for pet quality Tans so it is best to focus on show quality Tans. This means breeding Black to Black or Black to Blue or Chocolate to Chocolate or Chocolate to Lilac. Although it's traditionally not recommended to breed a recessive color to another recessive color (i.e.. Blue to Blue), it has produced some show quality Tans of excellent quality.

"Yin", Blue junior doeYounger Tan does conceive more easily than older Tan does, although it is possible for older does to very productive. The average Tan litter is three to four kits. It is not unusual to have only two kits or up to nine kits in a litter. A lot depends on the size of the doe, her condition and family history. Tan does are superb mothers and will accept other same aged young in their litters if you need to foster a litter. We always have a Tan doe bred when we breed our other breeds as a backup. In case something goes wrong, the Tan does will provide the best care and keeping even to fostered kits.. Most does readily accept having their nests checked upon but if you have a doe who protects her nest (this is an instinctual habit - she is not doing it to be mean), remove the nest box from the cage to check the babies. Do not handle the kits any more than it is necessary before they open their eyes. This is a basic rule of thumb with all does and litters regardless of their breed. In the beginning you are only checking the nest box to count the young and see if any expired... maybe once a day. If this upsets your doe, check every other day. They have the instinct to raise their young so let them do their job.

Black Tan kitWhen the kits are born, you will see a variation in their skin color based on what variety they will develop into. Sometimes it's difficult to tell what they are at first but by the time they are three days old, their fur will have grown enough to easily tell what variety they are. Where there is pink skin, you will be able to see where their classic Tan coloring is going to develop. As you watch your kits grow, you will notice "ticking" on their sides which appears to be stray Tan hairs. This is perfectly normal. As they mature, this ticking will be only on their sides, along their demarcation line. The transformation from a youngster with brindling across it's face to a sophisticated aristocrat of the fancy is nothing short of fascinating.

Young black kitOne of the neat aspects of working with Tans is they don't have "mismarked" litters. Unlike many of the recognized breeds with specific color patterns, every one of the Tan young will be show quality with slight differences between the siblings. You can have a small herd with a very conservative breeding program and do extremely well at shows. We have found the young can be kept together for extended periods of time. It is not unusual to find ours together as family units until they are 4+ months old before they are separated.

This is a breed to be thoroughly enjoyed... engaging personality, high intelligence level, with gentle temperaments. In our opinion, there is no finer companion rabbit.


For the definition of what a show quality Tan is, refer to the "Standard of Perfection" published by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. The Standard breaks down specific qualities of the Tan in a schedule of points covering general type, fur, color, markings and condition. Typically you can begin showing your juniors at four months of age with good results.

Copyright 2003 - Bonny Wagoner.  All rights reserved.
Copyright 2003 - Bonny Wagoner. All rights reserved.

Because ARBA does not provide an accompanying diagram to their descriptions, there is a lot of confusion (even with the judges) about specifically where some of the features are found and how to properly assess them in the judging process. I created this diagram to help folks identify the areas referred to in the standard. Click on the image to view in a larger format.


Note: Each year Urban Rabbits receives numerous inquiries about using Tans as meat rabbits. We DON'T sell any rabbit for meat, fur, animal training or testing. If you are looking for rabbits to raise for food, we recommend you research rabbits that were genetically enhanced for meat (i.e.. Florida White). Tans are a "fancy" rabbit, best suited as show and unique companion rabbits.

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