There comes a time in any breeding program where you need to search for an outcross naturally the best option is to source a well bred, good example of a British Smoke Pearl that is sufficiently unrelated to your own stock. However due to the small gene pool we have to work with and the limited number of breeders keeping the breed this may prove to be very difficult. So below I have outlined some of the other options that have been suggested to me over the years as well as a quick summary of their pros and cons of using them.
Sable - Our known parent breed, sables have a wide gene pool to choose from and generally finding a rabbit with a coat or type to complement and improve your line should be fairly straight forward. However the drawback is that your first generation crosses will all be sables (which can be somewhat disheartening), you will need to breed these crosses back to a smoke pearl which will then produce a mix of both sables and smoke pearls.
Smoke Pearl Satin - Smoke pearl satins generally stem from smoke pearls at some point so may not provide the new blood required in an outcross, but the main drawback is the availability (harder to find than normals) and are often not of the same quality.
Ivory Satin - Ivory satins certainly carry a lot of benefits in their coat and type, and depending on the background may even produce normal smokes (or sables, sable agoutis) first generation. However you will introduce the recessive satin gene into your line which can and WILL hide for generations, so if you do not want to randomly be popping out satins in your normal litters in the future, satins are best avoided.
Beveren - Some have suggested that using a beven would be a good outcross as it is believed beverens were used in the creating of the smoke pearl and passed on some of their coat qualities. As a dilute it means introducing less undesirable colour genes but the two breeds are vastly different types. I have not seen the outcome of this outcross.
European Zobel (blue or smoke pearl variety) - Another option open to us now is to import a smoke pearl from another european country. This has the added benefit of completely new blood to the gene pool and babies produced will be smoke pearl straight away. Consideration should be given to the difference of standard for type and coat and further selection then can be taken, but many positive qualities can be found here (especially to improve colour).
Lilac - I’ve heard a number of fanciers say that lilacs used to be a popular outcross for smoke pearls. Personally i’m not convinced that it would be a good choice as the breeds differ so much in coat and type and it would also introduce the undesirable chocolate gene into smoke pearl lines and i’m sure a more suitable outcross from the list above could be located.