Description: The blue-eyed Polish was one of the first coloreds to be seen on the show bench, quickly followed by sables and smokes. Later came the self colors of black and blue, then the Himalayan or Himpole as it is often called. The silver Polish is not often seen, but it does exist in some studs in England.
The Polish rabbit is referred to as “the kingpin” of the rabbit world. It is one of the most popular of the smaller breeds of rabbit both in England and the United States. The origin of the “Pole” is unclear, but it is known that it was first bred in Holland. Initially, it was probably a Dutch albino weighing about four to five pounds. The modern Pole should weigh two and one half pounds. Likewise, the origin of the name has never been established. It may not relate at all to the country of Poland, as the Polish rabbit is rarely seen there. Perhaps, instead, the name was derived from polish as “to clean or shine,” for this more aptly describes the rabbit.
In the early years of its development, the Polish was considered a utility rabbit and was regarded as something of a luxury at the restaurant table. During the war years many Polish were bred in backyard hutches as a meat source. The first Polish to be exhibited were albino. Records indicate that a class of 17 was shown at Hull in England about 1884.
The albino or red-eyed white has been extensively bred in England. The present Polish bears little resemblance to its early cousins in regard to weight. The Polish is smart, fine and nimble, compact in body and neat in appearance.
Short and fine in texture, the coat lies close to the body. The flyback feature is very important in a good-coated Pole. Too much length in the coat gives a rollback appearance. The coat should not be unduly harsh, nor should it be too soft.
The English Polish rabbit has only recently been introduced into the United States. It now enjoys a seperate classification and is called the “Britannia petite” so that it will not be confused with the American Polish rabbit.
The American Polish has a short, fine, dense coat, but it does not lie as close to the body as its English counterpart does. Type is very important. The body of the American Pole is shaped similar to the Netherland dwarf. The head is somewhat rounded and the body is full with well-rounded hindquarters. The English Pole ismuch finer in every respect. The body is sleek and compact, sprightly in appearance.
When posing, the Pole should sit bolt upright with its head high, ears upright and close together. The head is bold with a brilliant ruby-red eye. The eye is also bold and should be as large as possible, with the rich red color adding the final touch. The standard for the English Pole states that the ears should not be longer than two and one half inches, fine and well rounded.
Common faults in the ears are pointed tips, bare edges and an inability to hold them together. Bent ears and oversized ears are also common failings.
An essential part of the Polish rabbit’s general appearance is good sound condition. The red-eyed white Polish must be clean and pure white in color. A Pole that is stained under or has a yellow cast to the coat has very little chance of success on the show bench. Coat stains are the fault of the exhibitor. If the rabbit is not kept in a clean hutch, it quickly becomes stained and dirty. In addition to cleanliness, the coat should have a definite sheen to add that little bit of sparkle. The Polish should feel firm in flesh, not fat or too thin. The eyes should be bright, not sullen or pale. A Polish rabbit can have all of these attributes, yet if it is not fine in bone, it will not have the typical Polish look essential to the rabbit’s makeup.
In recent years there has been so much interest in the colored Polish that good coloreds can compare favorably with the very best red-eyed whites. The pioneer breeders of the colored Polish confronted numerous problems. The coats of the early coloreds were much too soft and long, lacking a good flyback texture. The ears were much too long at first; they were often bent and they lacked fineness. Nearly all of the early colored Polish were too strong in bone, making them look stumpy and awkward compared to the established red-eyed white.
The Polish rabbit has much to offer the newcomer to the rabbit fancy. It is easy to house and does not take up as much space as many other breeds of rabbit. Because of its small size, the Polish is cheap to feed and fairly easy to handle. However, due to its sprightliness, it can be quite a handful for the inexperienced.