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How a New Breed Gets Introduced Into the ARBA

Ever wonder how a new breed gets introduced into the ARBA? I have seen information about 1st, 2nd & 3rd presentation at conventions and knew it was related to new breeds and varieties, but never knew exactly how it all worked. So I searched the internet but found almost nothing on the subject.

I finally happened to look in the Standards of Perfection and wouldn’t you know , there it is. I started to get a headache reading through it. Actually the ARBA does a wonderful job writing the rules for introducing a new breed, but they are very time consuming to read. I’ll try to give you a summary and some example that will bring clarity to the introduction of a new breed.

Certificate of Development

A breeder developing a new breed must first obtain a Certificate of Development from the ARBA. You must have been a member of the ARBA for at least five consecutive years to receive the Certificate. You must submit a letter in writing to the ARBA, a $50 fee, and your proposed standard for the new breed. The ARBA will review the information, discuss any concerns with you and when everything is in line, will issue the certificate.

More then one breeder may hold a COD (Certificate of Development) for a new bred. Should the first holder fail in their presentations, or discontinue work on the new breed, then the next breeder in line holding a certificate would start the process we’ll describe below. The unfortunate thing is the new breeder will not start where the old breeder left off, but the new breeder will have to start the process at the beginning.

As an example lionheads currently have 4 certificate holders:

  • First - Arden Wetzel
  • Second - Gail Gibbons
  • Third - Bob Whitman
  • Fourth - Theresa Mueller
Arden Wetzel is taking the breed through the approval process, but she he fail in his presentations or withdraw, then Gail Gibbons would take over.

The Presentation Process

After a COD holder has had the certificate for a minimum of 3 years, they can begin the presentation process. They must complete 3 successful presentations of the breed in a 5 year period. They also cannot fail two presentation in a row, and presentation happen only at the ARBA National Convention before a panel of 9 judges.

You can begin to see how big a setback it is if the initial certificate holder is unsuccessful. The breed would lose potentially 5 years of work or more. This has been the difficulty in establishing the Velveteen Lop as a breed in the US. The breed has been worked on since the early 1990’s.

Virginia Menden was the original certificate holder for the Velveteen Lop. She withdrew from the development of the breed in 1994. Paul Lewis held the next Certificate of Development and was to make his first presentation in 1998, but bad weather kept him from showing. He withdrew his certificate in 1999. Mary Crawford was next in line. She failed in her first two presentation.

David Kabela was the next to attempt presentations of this breed. In 2002 he was successful with brokens but his presentation of solids failed. In 2003, he had the opposite result as solids succeeded and brokens failed. Both failed their presentation in 2004, but were both succeeded in their 2nd presentation in 2005. Had Kabela succeeded at the 2006, the Velveteen Lop would be an official breed, but Kabela withdrew from developing the breed. Unfortunately, the 3 presentation process must be started again from the beginning. This is a huge setback for a bred that has been in development for over 12 years.

At the 1st presentation the exhibitor must show a senior buck, senior doe, junior buck, and junior doe. The juniors must be offsprings of the senior pair. In the 2nd presentation 3 pairs must be shown, 1 of the pairs must be from the 1st showing. In the 3 presentation, 3 pairs must be shown, of which one pair must be from wither the 1st or 2nd showing. All rabbits shown must be owned and bred by the exhibitor.

ARBA Shows After First Presentation Success

Once a 1st presentation is successful the breed can be shown at any ARBA sanctioned show. The breeder must give a copy of the breed working standard to the secretary upon entering the rabbits. The breed can compete for best of breed, but cannot compete across breeds for things such as best of show.


The bottom line is the introduction of a new breed is a large commitment that will cover many years. It takes a minimum of 6 years from the time the Certificate of Development is issued, and often takes 10 or more years. There are many more specifics in the Standards of Perfection but this will give you an idea of the work involved in the introduction of a new breed.