I am contacted quite often regarding the difference between the colors of tort, so I put together this information along with some photos to try to help people better sort it out.  These are only my opinions and observations, and other breeders may have different thoughts on the subject.  Now that Torts are shown all together, it is kind of moot, but for pedigree purposes, it is good to know which color you have.

Per the Mueller Lionhead Standard Rev 1/11:

TORTOISE (Black, Blue, Chocolate or Lilac): Black and Chocolate color is to be a rusty orange on the saddle; Blue and Lilac color is to be a light fawn on the saddle; with all varieties blending to a shading of darker color over the lower rump, haunches, belly, & feet. The color is to extend well down the hair shaft to an off-white under-color. Top of the tail is to match the body color. Underside of the tail is to match the shadings, as near as possible. Shading on the head is darkest at the whisker bed, blending into a lighter shade along the jaw line and darkening again at the ear base, blending up the ears to match the body color Eyes - Black and Chocolate are to be Brown. Eyes - Blue and Lilac are to be Blue-Grey. Ruby cast on Chocolate and Lilac varieties permissible.
Faults: Saddle color too light or too dark; Lack of bold shadings; Stray white hairs; Underside of tail too light in color


in Lionheads, the points and shading are usually not nearly as dark as in, say,  a Holland Lop.  I have seen them range from black, gray, smoky bluish-gray, brown, reddish brown.  Their eyes will be brown with NO ruby cast, and you can usually see the most shading on their belly.  Even in the poorly colored ones, you should see very dark lacing on the ears, and usually shading (sometimes almost like ticking) on their sides, and the tops of the feet.



is way more orange, bright and clean, and can usually be spotted immediately in the nestbox.  Most choc tort have a ruby cast to their brown eye.  From a distance, they will appear as if they are orange all over.  On closer inspection, you may see a light dusting of light chocolate on the outsides of their ears, feet and tail.  Generally, they have minimal shading on their bodies.  Usually right around the nostrils is where you will notice the chocolate the most, but it is a washed out lighter color, and not at all a deep dark chocolate. Sometimes people will label a poorly colored black tort as a chocolate tort.  ARBA judges are not concerned with genetics, so they go by what the rabbit looks like.  In fact, those that resemble chocolate tort are allowed to be shown as chocolate tort, even though that may not be their true genetic makeup.  Genetically speaking, in order to produce a chocolate tort, both parents must carry genes for chocolate (small "b").  To find out for sure if you have a true chocolate tort, breed yours to a chocolate.  If it produces black or black tort kits, it is not genetically chocolate tort.  If it produces more chocolate tort or chocolate, then it is a true chocolate tort.


has gray-blue eyes, and has a more "mealy" type color to their coat, and not so much rust or orange color (sort of reminds me of cinnamon toast crunch cereal).  They usually have nearly all blue ears, very pronounced blue on the muzzle, feet and tail.  The blue coloring is usually deep and unmistakably blue.  A lot of times, but not always, their entire body has a bluish cast.  I have seen some that start out with almost a white undercolor, but be patient--that will shed to a pretty cream color.  We have a theory that this could be caused by the rabbit carrying an underlying shaded gene ("chd", "chl" or the elusive "chm") that wreaks havoc with the wool color and undercolor.


these rabbits have blue gray eyes with a ruby cast 100% of the time.  They look almost like a saltine cracker in color, very very light, almost mealy color over the body.  Their shading is less pronounced than that of a blue tort and is more of a powdery dove gray or lavender.  Think "muted".  Very very light over the body, and can tend to give the whole rabbit a sort of "pinky glow". They look very "washed out", especially around the face.  Genetically speaking, in order to produce a lilac tort, both parents must carry genes for chocolate (small "b") and dilute (small "d").  Sometimes people will label a poorly colored blue tort as a lilac tort.  As with chocolate tort, ARBA judges go by what they see, not what the rabbit genetically is, so in order to know for sure, you would have to breed with a chocolate or lilac to find out what you really have.

**bottom 3  photos provided by Linda Feick

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