One of the great things about going to Convention is the opportunity to meet breeders from other parts of the country and the world. Talking with Judy Le Marchant from England was informative and a blast! Judy judges rare breeds over there, and is a very smart cookie. One thing that really gets her going is the American way of posing rabbits. ARBA sates clearly how commercial breeds of rabbits should be posed, yet time after time I see judges smashing the poor things together to get that round topline. In spite of the fact that most, if not all, of the standards for these breeds specifically state there should be a *slight* rise from shoulder to hip, the judges want to see a hemisphere with ears. In order to get that, you need a rabbit with a longer back, because you're bending to get that profile, not a shorter back like the standards specify.
What's this got to do with Germans and Giants? I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that while the breeds may be similar, " A good Giant does not make a good German, and a good German does not make a good Giant." Why? Because supposedly the body type is so different. Poppycock!
First allow me to quote a small part of the Standard of Perfection for Giant Angoras:
Body--Points 10: The body is to be of commercial type, with good width and depth, tapering slightly from hindquarters to the shoulders. It is to be well balanced throughout. The flesh is to be firm and smooth, over a well nourished body.
Faults-- Rounded, cobby body.
Disqualification from competition-- Short coupled body
Now how does this differ from the IAGARB standard? The general statement is as follows:
You should aim for a medium-sized rabbit of commercial type, with good length/depth/width ratio, firm flesh and noticeable furnishings on head, ears and feet.
A more detailed explanation follows:
The body is of medium length, cylindrical, of good depth and width for balance.
Aahh... *cylindrical*. How do you judge this? You stretch the rabbit out. I know this because I witnessed a German judging demonstration.
Ever see a Himilayan in a normal pose? They don't look cylindrical at all until you stretch them. Neither does a German. Stretch a Giant out like that, they look cylindrical, too.
As I stated on the germanangora list, the difference between the breeds is not in the animals, it is in the standards for registration, and the culture of the two groups. German breeders breed primarily for wool production. They have very strict wool requirements for registration. Giant breeders breed for wool, too, since more wool means better showing, but they have very strict weight requirements to meet. Germans don't. Everything else is pretty much the same.
Then there is the fact that, as originally presented, the animals were pure Germans. The animals that were eventually accepted by ARBA were not, they were larger German Hybrids, to distinguish them more from the English Angora. Then a funny thing happened. While we here in America were breeding more German into the Giant lines to get better wool, the Berlin Wall fell in Europe and suddenly the East German rabbit breeders could now fully participate with the West German breeders. And guess what the East German breeders contributed to the German Angora - BIG, BEEFY RABBITS. Yes, the East Germans liked their angoras BIG - and bigger rabbits produced more wool.
Now that the big, beefy, recent imports are being shown as and being bred into the Giants, I challenge anyone to come to the NARBC Angora Nationals in Frankfurt, NY this Spring and tell me which animals are Germans and which are Giants.
You say potato, I say potato... ;)
Thanks to Judy Le Marchant for bringing the influence of the East German angora breeders to my attention.