After keeping pet rabbits since childhood, I became interested in breeding and showing dwarfs in the early 90s and bought stock from Nigel Atkinson in October 1995. I began breeding from the trio of REWs I got, who were closely related to Harold of Haywood - a buck who did extremely well at Netherland Dwarf shows at all levels.
After a couple of years I got a trio of Sealpoints from David and Louisa Edwards and bred into the original line. I slowly progressed from siamese sables carrying the non extension gene (for orange, tortoiseshell and sealpoint) and I would get one sealpoint in a litter to breeding true for orange, tort and seal.
(l-r) Henry, the first sealpoint buck I bred from the Edwards' stock;
a dark sable doe carrying sealpoint and her seal youngsters; and a bluepoint buck from 2004
Getting sealpoints and not sables was the problem I faced for a long time because I was working with the recessive gene and would only get 1 in 4 sealpoints in a litter. I had to concentrate on colour and keep each sealpoint so I would eventually get them breeding true so colour was the priority over type for a long time. The round shape and good overall placment of ears was good enough to continue working with, but they were big rabbits and I had to breed carefully to get them much smaller and got there at last! The big rabbits helped - the breeding for type had gone into them and came back through the correct matings. Although type wasn't excellent with many of them, brilliant mothering skills and hardiness is a constant quality, something thatís a huge bonus in dwarf breeding.
Smaller rabbits with a fuller shape cropped up from time to time and now theyíre breeding true I'm working on improving type to keep consistent showable standards. Iíve shown and won classes at National Dwarf stock shows over the last several years, having a hat-trick with blue torts between 2015 and 2018. The torts seem to have run away with the good looks and are being bred back to the sealpoints and bluepoints to improve them.
Sealpoint at NNDRC Adult Stock Show 2009 Beige at Bradford 2012 Tort at NNDRC 2016
I was challenged by Jane Bramley to breed broken pattern dwarfs, so in 2007 I started working on this rare pattern. I was pleased enough with the outcome of the first matings as the type isn't too bad in the first buck I kept. These rabbits were bred down from a black broken mini lop. I also got an orange buck from Anne Jones (Moonstone Stud) in 2009 to breed orange, and found the broken pattern didnít fit with anything else, so bred that pattern into the orange and got beautiful manel pattern rabbits.
Over a long time Iíve had a variety of colours, but having seen everything thatís appeared in litters from the range of colour genes Iíve used Iíve decided to focus on chocolate and dilute and can mix the mantel pattern into them.