The Dutch rabbit is one of the oldest rabbit breeds in the world, and one of the smallest. With their two-toned body color, these bunnies are easily identifiable and are often seen as show rabbits, as well as companion pets. A sporty and active breed, the Dutch loves to be outside exercising but will also enjoy cuddling up to you for some much needed affection!
Perfect as a family pet and great for first time owners, individuals, couples and the elderly, the Dutch rabbit makes a wonderful furry friend that’ll keep you on your toes. If you’re interested in learning more about this breed and seeing whether they could be the bun for you, keep reading below.
History Of The Dutch Rabbit
The Dutch rabbit, also known as the Brabander or Hollander, is a very small rabbit breed, yet it is not a dwarf breed. This rabbit used to be one of the most popular breeds, yet their popularity declined with the introduction of dwarf rabbit breeds. However, they still remain one of the top ten most popular rabbit breeds throughout the world.
The Dutch rabbit is recognized by both the British Rabbit Council and the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA).
The exact origin of the Dutch rabbit breed is unclear. Some say that this bunny originated from England in the mid 19th century, while others say it originated in Netherlands and was introduced into England in 1864.
Either way, it is agreed that the Dutch rabbit descended from the Petite Brabacon from the Brabant region in Flanders, which was bred in large numbers for the meat industry in the late 19th century.
Characteristics Of The Dutch Rabbit
The Dutch rabbit is one of the small rabbit breeds that is not a dwarf rabbit. They are easily identifiable by their distinctive markings and colors. They are a very popular pet to have among children because small size, general hardiness and friendly nature.
These buns are normally born in litter sizes of between 3 to 5 kits. A Dutch rabbit kit can cost anywhere between $20 to $100 depending on the breeder, however you may end up paying a lot more if you are looking for a show-quality Dutch rabbit. Always ensure you are buying from a reputable breeder.
The Dutch bunny normally weighs between 4 and 5.5 lbs. They have a compact and well rounded body. A show-quality Dutch rabbit must have a very rounded body throughout. They have a rounded head and their ears are short, stocky and stand erect. Their hind legs are longer than the front legs.
A Dutch rabbit’s fur is short, soft and glossy. It is rollback fur, which means that when the fur is stroked from the opposite direction, it returns to its original position. Easy to maintain, you will not need to be brushing your Dutch very often, except during shedding season. We will go into more detail about grooming later on.
These rabbits are known for their coat colors. There are different colorways, yet their markings are almost all the same. They all have dark colored ears and rumps, a band of white from the top of their shoulders to their belly, white legs and a wedge of white fur running up the front of the face which is called the ‘white blaze’.
There are seven color varieties in conjunction with the white markings which are recognized. These are black, blue, chinchilla, chocolate, gray, steel and tortoise. Also commonly seen are yellow, brown grey, steel gray and pale gray.
The Dutch rabbit has a very gentle nature and is very sociable, loving to be around their people for lots of attention. This breed is an active rabbit and doesn’t like to be kept in their hutch for long periods of time. They need a lot of time outside, exploring and exercising, otherwise they can become bored and destructive.
As well as being friendly, the Dutch rabbit is playful and will enjoy getting into mischief! This rabbit will certainly keep you on your toes, so you’ll have to watch out for them! It is important to remember that, like with all rabbits, you should always respect your Dutch’s personal space, especially when they are new to your home. If they are afraid or frightened, then they might try to bite.
Unfortunately, the Dutch rabbit has a relatively short life expectancy. Normally, these rabbits live for between 5 and 8 years.
Known Health Issues
Unfortunately, like all rabbits, the Dutch rabbit can be prone to some health problems. These are usually the same concerns that all rabbits are faced with.
– Malocclusion — this is when the upper and lower teeth are misaligned so that the normal process of chewing doesn’t wear down your rabbit’s teeth. Regular dental checkups are very important. You should also make sure your rabbit eats plenty of hay.
– GI Stasis — this is a potentially deadly condition in which the digestive system slows down or stops completely. Symptoms include loss of appetite, small or no fecal pellets and lethargy. It can be treated if caught quickly.
– Ear Mites — this is a common parasite of pet rabbits. You may see your rabbit shaking their head a lot if they are affected. Your vet will be able to treat them.
– Woolblock — this can be a serious and sometimes fatal issue. As they clean and groom themselves, your rabbit can ingest fur which can become trapped inside the digestive system and create a furball. Unlike cats, rabbits cannot regurgitate furballs and it will become bigger and bigger. This can lead to loss of appetite as your rabbit will believe they are full, or it can block the digestive tract.
Like all rabbits, they can also suffer from back issues if they are mishandled or accidentally dropped.
Regular vet checkups will ensure that you catch any health problems before them become too serious. You should also make sure that you are buying from a reputable breeder.
Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Dutch rabbit, we can take a look at what living with one of these rabbits every day is like. We will cover their food and diet, their exercise requirements, their grooming needs and their living space requirements.
Food And Diet
The exact amount you feed your Dutch rabbit should be based on their size, age and activity level. They should be eating a portion of hay that is at least as their body size every day, alongside pellets and fresh vegetables. Fresh water should also always be available to them.
Hay is very important as it helps to keep your Dutch’s digestive system moving, as well as helping to wear down their teeth so they are less prone to dental issues. At least 70% of your rabbit’s diet should be hay.
High-quality supplementary pellets help to provide extra vitamins and minerals that keep your rabbit healthy. Take a look at a supplementary pellet food we recommend below.
Best Food For The Dutch Rabbit BreedBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Diet for your Dutch rabbit. Largely fruit and vegetables based, this provides them with adequate energy levels to stay healthy as well as vitamins and minerals for healthy growth.
This food also contains timothy hay for added fiber that assists with maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Alfalfa and soybean provides protein and useful fats for a healthy skin and coat, too. Fortified with antioxidant nutrients, this Wild Harvest food provides your Dutch with even more added nutrition to help support and maintain overall good health.
In the wild, rabbits run around three miles a day. Therefore, it is very important that you give your pet rabbit enough exercise every day to keep them active and entertained. They should have at least three hours of free-range time, whether this is out of their hutch in the garden or just around the house.
The Dutch rabbit is one of the more active breeds of rabbit because they are one of the oldest domestic breeds. This means that they will love to be outside their enclosure whenever possible, running, hopping and jumping!
If you have a yard, you should ensure they have a large outside enclosure that they can run around in when they aren’t supervised. This will keep them safe and secure from predators and means you won’t need to be on the lookout all the time.
Exercise is very important for the well-being of your rabbit. It helps to keep their joints moving, keeps them entertained and ensures they stay at a healthy weight.
Family Compatibility and Trainability
These bunnies make an excellent family pet because of their wonderful temperament. They are gentle and friendly, making them the perfect companion for all, children included. They’re also playful and active, so will keep everyone entertained! Even better, they’re also a robust animal and won’t mind being picked up and handled by young children.
The Dutch rabbit is very easy to train. You can teach them to use a litter tray so there is less mess to clean up. You can even try to teach them to come when their name is called!
While choosing to keep your rabbit inside or outside is down to personal preference, it is recommended you keep your Dutch rabbit outside if possible. An active breed, they will enjoy being out in the fresh air with grass underneath their feet, especially if they have a large run to hop around in. This way, you can also attach a large, secure enclosure to their hutch so they have extra space to move and exercise.
Whether they are inside or outside, their hutch should be large enough that they can easily hop around inside. Try to stay away from hutches with wire floors as these can cause sore hocks within rabbits. Take a look at the hutch we recommend below.
Best Hutch For The Dutch Rabbit BreedBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Pawhut Deluxe wooden hutch for your Dutch rabbit. This hutch measures 90.6” L x 27.6” W x 39.4” H and, as they are an active rabbit, provides adequate space for your Dutch to hop around in. Even better, if you decide to get them a friend, there will be space for them both!
With two levels, there are multiple ramps to the enclosed upper box that allow easy access to and from the large living area and run. This hutch is made from fir wood and heavy duty wire mesh to keep your bunny safe at all times. The roof is also waterproof so the hutch can stay outside at all times, although it can also be used indoors.
While the Dutch rabbit can easily be identified by it’s coat, they do not need a lot of grooming. Weekly brushing will suffice, unless it is shedding season. These rabbits have a tendency to shed a lot, so during these periods you will need to be brushing them more frequently. You may also want to invest in a good vacuum cleaner!
You should very rarely bathe your rabbit. It is not really necessary, unless they are really dirty. Bathing can also be a traumatic experience for them. You should also trim their nails as and when is needed.
Dutch Rabbit Breed FAQ’s
Should the Dutch rabbit be kept outside?
While this is up to you, experts often recommend you keep your Dutch outside. This is because they are an active breed who don’t enjoy being confined to a small cage. They will be much happier in a larger hutch outside where they can spend some time exercising without supervision. If they spend too much time enclosed in a small hutch, they can become very bored and destructive.
That being said, the Dutch rabbit can live happily inside. You just need to make sure you are letting them have free-rein of the house for at least 3 hours a day (if not more!).
How big should my rabbit’s cage be?
The rule with rabbits is: the bigger the better! If you have the space for a big hutch then your rabbit will always appreciate the extra room to roam and exercise. No one wants to be stuck in a cramped space!
If you do not have a lot of space, then the cage should be at least 4 times the size of the rabbit. A guide is 24″ by 36″ for smaller rabbits (less than 8 lbs) or 30″ by 36″ for larger rabbits. Hutches with multiple stories are also popular as they give your bun more space.
What vegetables can I feed my Dutch rabbit?
There are many vegetables that your Dutch rabbit will love! They are an important part of their diet, however you shouldn’t overfeed them. Some rabbit favorites are cabbage, cauliflower leaves, radish, rocket, kale, lettuce, spinach, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
The Dutch rabbit is a small, sociable breed with a fantastic personality and beautiful coat. Gentle and friendly, these bunnies make an excellent family pet, especially for those with children. The Dutch is active and energetic, keeping you on your toes and keeping you entertained. You should always make sure this bun has enough time outside of their hutch otherwise they can become bored and destructive, but as long as they’re exercising regularly and get lots of attention, they’ll be your best friend.