The Lionhead rabbit is a small breed of rabbit that is relatively new to the United States, having only been imported in 1998. However, they haven’t gone unnoticed thanks to their fantastic coat that gives their name. These bunnies have a wool mane that makes them stand out from the crowd, while also making them look incredibly cute!
With a fantastic temperament, the Lionhead makes a wonderful pet, even for first time owners. Their coat can mean they require slightly more grooming than many other breeds, but this bunny is gentle, calm and great with children.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Lionhead rabbit and seeing whether they might be right breed for you, keep reading below.
History Of The Lionhead Rabbit
Imported into the United States in 1998, the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) took their time to recognize this breed. While the British Rabbit Council (BRC) recognized all known colours and varieties of the breed in 2002, the ARBA only recognized the breed in 2014. Let’s take a look at their origin below.
The Lionhead rabbit originated in Belgium, when breeders decided to cross a Swiss Fox with a Netherland Dwarf rabbit. This resulted in a rabbit with a genetic mutation, causing wool to appear around the head and on the flanks. This became known as the “mane” gene.
Thanks to their unique appearance, they quickly gained popularity around the world before being imported to the United States in the late 90s.
Characteristics Of The Lionhead Rabbit
The Lionhead rabbit surely stands out from the crowd thanks to their unique mane gene. They are popular as show rabbits as well as pets. A Lionhead bunny can cost you anywhere between $20 to $125, depending on the quality. If you want a show-quality rabbit, you can expect to pay more.
A small breed, the Lionhead shouldn’t weigh more than 3.5 lbs. They have a compact body type and their ears stand erect on top of their head.
As mentioned, they have a mane. Whether this mane is a single or a double mane will depend on which genes they inherited from their parents. If they have a double mane, they will have inherited two mane genes, whereas a rabbit with a single mane will have only inherited one mane gene. The only real way to determine whether your bunny has a single or double mane is to examine them right after birth.
A double mane Lionhead will have a noticeable V form around their skirt, while a single mane Lionhead will look like a any other rabbit directly after birth. A Lionhead can also inherit no mane genes, referred to as a no-mane Lionhead.
The Lionhead rabbit has a soft, wool coat that, unfortunately, does require a lot of grooming. Grooming will help to prevent matting and tangling and is very important for the Lionhead to keep them in good condition.
As we mentioned above, your Lionhead can have either a single or double mane. While this is normally easier to determine at birth, a Lionhead with a single mane will have a wispy, thin mane around its head, ears, chin and sometimes on the chest, while a Lionhead with a double mane will have a much thicker mane and wool on their flanks that some refer to as a “skirt”.
The ARBA recognizes the following colors for the Lionhead rabbit: Tortoise (Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac), Ruby Eyed White (REW), Blue Eyed White (BEW) Chocolate, Chestnut Agouti, Silver Marten, Pointed White, Sable Point, Seal and Siamese Sable.
These small rabbits have a fantastic temperament. Friendly and affectionate, the Lionhead loves their family members and won’t be afraid to hop into your lap for a cuddle and some attention. However, they’re also a very energetic rabbit and won’t like to be confined to their hutch!
You’ll find the Lionhead running around, chasing things, playing with their toys and trying to get their owners attention. They need lots of time with their family members to bond and, once bonded, will love to be picked up, petted and stroked as often as you want!
It is worth noting that, like any with rabbit, you should always respect your Lionhead’s personal space, especially when they are new to your home. If they are afraid or frightened, then they might try to bite.
The Lionhead rabbit has an average lifespan of between 8 and 10 years, which is longer than many breeds of rabbit.
Known Health Issues
These rabbits are not prone to any breed-specific health problems but can be prone to many of the same health issues many rabbits are susceptible to. We have laid out the main concerns below.
– 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.
– 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.
– Uterine Cancer — this is the most common type of cancer in rabbits. Uterine cancer occurs in up to 60% of females that are greater than 3 years old. Treatment is available.
– Flystrike — this is when flies lay their eggs on soiled patches of fur and, when their eggs hatch, they begin to eat the rabbit from the inside out. Symptoms include seizures, loss of motion (listlessness) and skin irritations. Always ensure your rabbit’s rear end is clean, especially as they get older.
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 they 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 Lionhead rabbit, we can take a look at what living with one of these rabbits on a day to day basis is really like. Despite their higher grooming needs thanks to their coat, they do not have very big care needs. Keeping reading below to find out about their requirements.
Food And Diet
The exact amount you feed your Lionhead rabbit should be based on their size, age and activity level. They should be eating a portion of hay that is at least as big 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 Lionhead’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 and to give them a balanced diet. You should feed your rabbit roughly 1/4 cup of high-fiber pellets everyday for every 5 lbs they weigh, so keep this in mind when feeding your Lionhead, as they are relatively small. Take a look at a supplementary pellet food we recommend below.
Best Food For The Lionhead Rabbit
We recommend the Oxbow Bunny Basics rabbit food for the Lionhead rabbit. Formulated for adult rabbits, this is a pellet only diet rather than a muesli diet to help prevent selective eating. This food is timothy hay based, providing essential fiber and nutrients to keep them healthy.
There are also antioxidants that help to keep your bun performing at their best, and prebiotics provide food for the good bacteria in your pet’s GI tract. There are no seeds or fruits in this food as well as no refined sugars or artificial ingredients that your rabbit wouldn’t encounter in the wild.BUY ON AMAZON
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 Lionhead rabbit is an energetic bunny that loves to play! They will thrive when outside of their cage or hutch and will particularly enjoy exercising if their family members get involved to. You can purchase some toys for your Lionhead to keep them entertained when you are not at home, as boredom and not enough exercise will result in destructive behaviors.
If you want to leave them alone outside unsupervised during the day, they will need a large secure enclosure. This will keep them safe from predators and means you won’t need to be on the lookout all the time. However, remember to check on them frequently and don’t leave them unsupervised for long periods of time.
Family Compatibility and Trainability
The Lionhead rabbit is a bunny that bonds to their owners very quickly and loves to be around them. They are suitable for individuals, couples, the elderly and families with children and their small size means they don’t need a lot of space and are suited to apartment living.
While training a rabbit isn’t as easy as training a cat or a dog, it can be done! You can teach your Lionhead to use a litter box. You can also try teaching them to come when their name is called!
Many owners prefer to keep their Lionhead as an indoor rabbit instead of keeping their hutch outside. As a small bunny, they are more exposed to predators when outside and also more open to the elements. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t live outdoors — just make sure their hutch is really secure and protective from wind, rain and sun.
Your Lionhead’s hutch should be large enough that they can easily move 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 Lionhead Rabbit
We recommend the the Petsfit indoor rabbit hutch for the Lionhead. This hutch will provide the Lionhead rabbit with enough space to move around and there are two levels and ramps that allow them to easily move between. The top and side entrances and exits also provide easy access in and out of the hutch for your bun as well as easy access for you to clean.
Even better, there are side wall guards that stop hay and bedding from falling out and a removable bottom tray that is not only waterproof but also easy to clean and replace after cleaning. There is also a “hideaway” feature of this hutch, giving your Lionhead a space to sleep or just to spend some quiet time in!BUY ON AMAZON
Grooming the Lionhead rabbit takes a little more work than other rabbits, because of their wool fur and their large mane. You should be brushing these bunnies at least once a week, if not more, to keep their coat in good condition and matt and tangle-free.
During shedding season, you’ll need to brush the Lionhead rabbit more often — around three times a week. This will not only keep their fur soft and free of knots, but it will prevent them from swallowing too much of their fur as they clean themselves which can lead to further health problems.
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.
Lionhead Rabbit FAQ’s
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 toys will my rabbit like?
It all depends on your bun! There are many different rabbit toys out there and finding which ones your bunny is going to like can seem difficult! It is advised you purchase a range of different toys to start with. These can be chew toys, food toys, activity centers and toys they can chase, such as a ball. From there, you can see which toys your rabbit prefers and which ones they aren’t interested in.
Can I adopt a Lionhead Rabbit?
If you do not want to buy a Lionhead rabbit, you could always adopt. Check your local animal shelter to see if there is a rabbit that is in need of a home. Often, rabbits in shelters have already been vaccinated, dewormed and spayed or neutered, so you do not need to worry about the extra cost.
The Lionhead rabbit stands out from the crowd with their fluffy coat and wonderful mane. While they’re a relatively new breed, this small little bunny is a perfect pet for everyone, whether you’ve had rabbits for years or you’re first-time owner. Loyal, friendly and affectionate, the Lionhead loves to be with their family and just wants to be doted on! They’re also very energetic and active and will certainly keep you on your toes. Despite their relatively high grooming needs, the Lionhead rabbit will quickly become your best friend.