The Lilac rabbit was developed in two different countries at about the same time. In 1917 Mr. C.H. Spruty of the Netherlands is credited with having bred the first Lilac like breed of rabbit. The breed was called the Gouda and spread into France and Germany, where they are raised under the same name today. The Gouda is recognized as a fur and meat rabbit and weighs between seven and eight pounds.
In England the famous geneticist R.C. Punnet bred the first Lilacs in 1922. He crossed blue Beverens (dilute black) with Havanas (recessive chocolate). By combining these characters, the Cambridge Blue (dilute chocolate) was created. The British Rabbit Club recognized this rabbit as a new breed and called them Lilacs.
In America the Lilac had its beginnings in both English and Continental European imports. Between 1922 and 1926 many shipments were sent to the U.S. and there was a great deal of interest in the new breed. The cover of the September 1925 Rabbitcraft (which became Small Stock Magazine) featured an English Lilac which had been exported to Canada. The 1928 American Standard of Perfection states that Lilacs were quite popular on the West Coast and were spreading into the rest of the country. The English standard was adopted by the American fanciers. Through 1939-1944 no changes were made to the standard and a National Lilac Club was formed. In 1940, 25 Lilacs were shown at the ARBA National Convention. The breed had several admirers and was gaining in popularity.
By 1951, the Lilac Club had become inactive and the Lilac had lost most of its breeders; only 6 were shown at the National. In 1952, a few breeders reorganized the Lilac Club. Ken Fehrman, "Mr. Lilac", became secretary of the club and remained in office until his death in 1987. Orville Bloomquist became president and remained in office until his death in 1993. The 1973 National Convention in Detroit, Michigan had 31 Lilacs entered, which made it the largest shown by 8 exhibitors. The 1996 ARBA National Convention was also a banner year with 36 Lilacs shown by 10 exhibitors.
There is also a Belgian breed of Lilac called the Gris Perle de Hal, said to be a sport from the Havana.