Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cheat Sheet: Understanding Mane Genetics in Lionhead Rabbits

The mane is one of the hallmark characteristics of the Lionhead breed but some people are trying to produce "Lion-lops" and other such crossbreds. Often the first-generation crossbreds have insufficient manes; indeed some purebred Lionheads have sparse or nonexistent manes! This seeks to explain the basics of mane inheritance.

Unfortunately I have seen a number of unscrupulous breeders on questionable websites selling Lionhead and Lionhead cross kits and claiming that they are double maned, when one or both parents are maneless. Please do not fall for this! There are many quality Lionhead breeders out there, please purchase from ethical breeders who are honest about their rabbits' manes.

That being said, there is NOTHING wrong with a single-maned Lionhead! Conformation and temperament are important characteristics, and a rabbit that is otherwise of excellent quality can be a boon to a breeder, especially if the single-mane is bred to double-manes. 

Another factor is that there are other genetics at play which will help determine mane fullness and length. Obviously purchasing a double-maned kit from exceptionally fluffy bloodlines will increase the chances of a full mane. Conversely, some double-manes from sparse-furred bloodlines will be barely more fluffy than a single-mane. Fur quality is a complex subject that is far above the scope of this oversimplified page.

A note about Lionhead Kits:


If you don't want to worry about Punnett squares or inheritance and just want to know what you will get through breeding, here is a basic rundown:

For these examples, "Double Mane" signifies a homozygous double-maned Lionhead; "Single Mane" signifies a heterozygous single-maned Lionhead; "No Mane" signifies a rabbit without the genes that govern manes.

Double Mane + Double Mane = 100% Double Mane. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Double Mane + Single Mane = 50% Single Mane, 50% Double Mane.

Double Mane + No Mane = 100% Single Mane. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Single Mane + Single Mane = 50% Single Mane, 25% Double Mane, 25% No Mane.

Single Mane + No Mane = 50% Single Mane, 50% No Mane.

No Mane + No Mane = 100% No Mane. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Lastly, something to keep in mind is that the percentages listed above are for EACH KIT, not the litter as a whole unless the result is 100% foolproof. This means that each kit in a litter of, say, Double Mane to Single Mane mating, has a 50% chance of being Double Maned. As such actual litter percentages may vary!

If you have any further questions, please feel free to comment below!


  1. Hello! Just a quick question to clarify - do only Double Maned lionheads have the wool-y skirt, or do single manes have them as well?

    Thanks :)

    1. Actully, As I breed lionheads. Double maned lionheads can lose their skirt and mane. you cannot tell if they are SM or DM after a week of birth. Its immpossible to tell.

    2. I beg to differ. I currently have a litter of 3 week old kits. Only one was born with the naked sides as explained above. I thought it was weird and didn't like it cause I didn't know what it meant. Even though the litter was 3 tort and 3 black, I know exactly which of the 3 black had the naked sides because there are still obvious differences between that one and the other 2 blacks. Its fur is definitely coarser and not as silky as the other 2. Head was a bit more wedge shaped than the other 2 with more rectangle heads. Not saying this is the same for everyone, just saying its possible to tell.

  2. Thanks for making this too easy to understand. You answered my questions about single Mane breeding two double Mane breeding thank you this was so helpful

  3. This was so helpful! I just had a litter of 5, of what I was praying would all be doublemane, and i noticed that weird naked part on their sides and I had no clue what it was but I'm really happy to see that it means they could be doublemanes! Yay!

  4. May I ask a question?

    We purchased a pair of Lionhead rabbits without knowing anything about their backgrounds and before we knew anything about the breed. I'm trying to learn everything I can as we go:

    The doe is a very typical looking double mane. The buck is an older rabbit and has no mane that I can see. He's also a bit larger than the doe. They have now had four litters (about 20 kits total) and 100% of the kits have been double mane.

    Since the sire's lack of mane might be due to being older or just sparse, my question is this: Do four litters of double mane kits indicate that the sire is also double-maned? (Just out of curiosity, would this also indicate that he is a purebred Lionhead?)

    Thank you so much for your time!

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  6. Can I send you a picture so you can let me know what my baby lionhead is please?

  7. I have a lion head lop single mane but they lose there manes when they grow older. What can you say about it?

  8. i have f2 lionhead pare their parents is pure lionhead double maned same father and fuzzy x lionhead different mother,are they single maned or double maned