The Blanc de Hotot is also called the standard Hotot and sometimes just “Hotot.” A French breed dating back 100 years the Hotot has a long history, although not necessarily in the USA.
This is one of the few historical rabbits developed by a woman, with breeding rabbits in the early 1900s France a man’s interest. She used Flemish Giants and Checkered Giants initially with some white Vienna. This didn’t provide the look of a white rabbit with dark eye circles that would excel at meat and fur production as well as be an outstanding show rabbit so she returned to using just Checkered Giants.
This was a breed that did not have a name until World War I when Madam Eugenie Bernhardt brought her rabbits to the Exposition Internationale d’Aviculture in 1920. Two years later her standard for the breed was recognized, which had black eye lashes.
During World War II the breed nearly disappeared but Berne Switzerland took up the breeding of the Hotot. The Swiss breeders liked the eye band that Ms. Bernhard tried to eliminate and it is through the preservation of these animals that the Hotot appears as he does today.
This is a breed that is very difficult to find and was not introduced to the USA until 1978. The Hotot is a meaty bodied, well muscled breed with few, but particular, markings required to show. By the standard of perfection the Hotot is 8-10 pounds for bucks and 9-11 pounds for does, with the ideal being 9 and 10 pounds respectively.
From a show standpoint this is a six class breed with age division classes of junior, intermediate and senior bucks and does. The distinctive eye bands of the Hotot are a qualification with a deep black color required around each eye. This is the only marking on the rabbit allowed and it should be between 1/16 and 1/8 inch all the way around the eye.
Because of this specific marking requirement the ideal Hotot is hard to achieve because along with that marking they must also have body conformation, flesh conditioning and fur. As a larger breed they can provide an acceptably sized fryer rabbit that finishes rather quickly if the right markings are not present or they also can be pets for those with larger area available to accommodate the larger breeds.
For a multi purpose rabbit that presents a challenge the Hotot is a good possibility if you can find them. Today there are scattered pockets of breeders but it is definitely a case of demand is more than the supply. The Hotot Rabbit Breeders International and American Rabbit Breeders Association are both good sources of information about this distinctive and beautiful breed.