Breed: Marten Sable
Description: The medium-sized marten should be neat and cobby. The backs very slightly arched with well rounded rump and hind quarters. According to the English standard, the ears should be small, neat and carried erect. Many marten sables fail on the ears, which are Often much too long and wide with spoon-shaped tips that give the ears too much weight, causing them to hang on either side of the head similar to lop fashion.
This rabbit is a fur breed that owes its name to its resemblance to the coloring of the wild marten. The marten sable appeared in litters of chinchillas just after the chin was first imported into England. Regarded as wasters, they were disregarded by the early fanciers. It was not until about 1919 that the sable was recognized as a distinct variety. Tom Leaver, of opposum rex fame, and David Irvine, the Southport fancier, were among the first to breed marten sables.
The Sable Rabbit Club was not formed until 1927. Since then, the sable has made a tremendous impact on the popularity of the fur breeds in general. Like the early chins, the first sables were of very poor quality both in color and density of fur. The coats of these sables were thin and often had a tendency to be slightly flyback. The color was very poor; often the flanks were so pale as to be sandy, a far cry from the beautiful sables of today.
The marten sable is tan patterned; the tan is replaced by white in the marten. The American Rabbit Breeders Association calls the marten sable the silver marten sable and places the English marten sable in the same class as the English silver fox. The American silver fox is an entirely different variety.
The marten sable was bred from the early chins and the Siamese sable was, in turn, bred from the marten. The general color of both varieties is the same. The body has a saddle of dark sepia brown extending from the shoulders to the rump. The saddle shades to light sepia on the flanks. The head, except for the ears, and the feet are also dark sepia.
The white markings of the marten are on the inside-of the ears, the eye circles, belly, underside of the tail and under the jowl or jaw line. The chest is ticked with white as are the flanks, the rump and all four feet and legs. There is also a small triangle of white at the nape of the neck-this marking should be as small as possible, and is not really noticeable until the rabbit stretches its neck forward. There is also a border of white hairs around the nostrils. This is where the marten is most likely to be faulted; often these markings are smudged, which is termed “frosty nose.” Sometimes the white hairs extend a little way up the nose. Very soft and silky in texture, the marten’s fur is also thick and dense, about one to one and a half inches long.