To the Angora-holic, grooming the rabbits is fun, relaxing, and enjoyable. It is a form of creative expression. With most other breeds, there isn’t very much beyond basic care that one can do to optimize a rabbit’s winning potential. With Angoras having so many points on the coat, the care of the coat is vital for the rabbit to look its best. This gives the owner something which he or she can have actual control over, above and beyond doing the best one can with whatever Nature has bestowed upon the rabbit.
Grooming for Shows:
At the national level, such as at the ARBA annual convention each fall, and the NARBC convention each spring, the quality of the rabbits is highly competitive. The grooming skills of the exhibitors are very sophisticated as well. While part of the fun of owning Angoras is grooming them, the more experienced one becomes at grooming, the more competitive will be one’s rabbits. Here are the essentials:
- High speed groomer’s blower, such as the Metro Airforce 4 hp blower-dryer. It uses room temperature air at a very high speed to separate the fibers of the coat and to clean the skin and coat, without pulling out fur.
- Commitment. Use the blower on each rabbit daily, if you can. Some of us do good to manage once weekly for each rabbit. Using the blower regularly prevents webbing and mats.
- Slicker brush the paws, ears and face as necessary. Use the slicker brush sparingly on the back. The idea is to prevent mats before they have a chance to form.
A hairdryer on the cool setting may be used if one doesn’t have a blower. It doesn’t have the force of a blower, but is still useful in helping one to locate webbed areas, and will fluff up the coat nicely. You may also use a shop vac set on reverse, or a canister vac. However, don’t use the shop vac indoors at a show, because it is so noisy.
Use the blower to work the coat. As you blow out the coat, watch for areas which appear to be webbing, and concentrate on them, using the blower to force out any clumping of fibers. I will begin a session with the blower by sitting with the rabbit belly side up in my lap. I will steady the rabbit by holding its ears between my knees. Then I use the blower on the rabbit’s belly and breast. Then I will put the rabbit on the grooming table and blow out the coat on the back and sides.
When you use the blower, be prepared for an accumulation of “white stuff” on the walls and everywhere else. The blower forces very fine dander out of the coats, and over time, this will begin to look like chalky powder on the surfaces of the room in which you use the blower. If I have used the blower on several rabbits in a day, I may appear to have been working in a flour mill, as I will have this fine white powder on my face, hair, and eyebrows! The more frequently you blow out a rabbit’s coat, the cleaner the rabbit will remain, and the less white stuff they produce.
Only after the rabbit has been blown out will I use the slicker brush. I tend to use the slicker only on the tips of the wool, and I try to pull out as little fur as possible while brushing. I won’t brush every day, but only as needed.
I will clip toenails/claws twice a month as needed. To me, a rabbit with long sabers for toenails looks uncared for, no matter how pretty the coat. There is also greater danger of such a rabbit yanking out a nail or toe if the nails are untrimmed. A mother rabbit with long, sharp nails may accidentally injure her kits when she jumps into the nestbox.
You will find that the best quality coats with the nicest texture are the easiest to keep in prime condition. These coats seem to mat or web very, very little. The best show coats are genetically endowed with very impressive density, and you do need a blower to do these coats justice, as it may be very tiring to brush them.
When I do brush a rabbit, I do it something like this: grasp a handful of wool with my left hand. With the slicker brush in my right hand, I brush free just a few fibers at a time, advancing very slowly through the handful of fur in my left hand.
Some English Angoras may rub their facial furnishings off on their feeders, when they stick their faces into the feeders while eating. I have one or two such rabbits which I feed in crocks instead of the hopper-feeders that I usually use. If your English Angora has sparse facial furnishings, perhaps that is the cause.