The Netherland Dwarf rabbit is one of the smallest breeds of rabbit and is a very popular pet throughout the United States and the rest of the world. These bunnies have an excitable and energetic temperament and this combined with their compact size makes them a perfect companion to many.
While these rabbits can be shy and scared when you first bring them home and therefore may not be the pet for you if you have small children in the house, with the correct training and socialization they can grow up to live a happy life with their owners.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Netherland Dwarf rabbit and seeing whether they might be the bun for you, keep reading below.
History Of The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit
Netherland Dwarf rabbits are a true dwarf breed, which means they carry the dwarf gene. They are often compared to the Holland Lop as they both have compact body types but, while the Holland Lop is the smallest lop, the Netherland Dwarf is the smallest rabbit.
Their small size is actually due to a dwarf gene, which was first discovered in rabbits in the mid-1900s. A breeder in Holland was the first to use this gene to create very small rabbits.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) recognized the Netherland Dwarf rabbit in 1969 and several other dwarf breeds have sprung up since. The Netherland Dwarf remains one of the most popular rabbit breeds in the United States.
The Netherland Dwarf rabbit originated in Holland, hence their name, when five men worked for 30 years to create a standardized small rabbit that would be accepted and available in a variety of colors.
They began breeding all-white Hermelin rabbits with local wild rabbits as well as other domestic breeds until the Netherland Dwarf was created. The Netherland Dwarf was recognized by Holland in 1940. However, WWII interrupted further development.
In 1947, some English breeders were given some of the remaining Netherland Dwarfs in various colors and they were recognized as a breed by the British Rabbit Council in 1950. The Netherland Dwarf Club was also set up in England in 1949.
The Netherland Dwarf first arrived in North America in 1965 with the purpose to breed and improve Polish rabbits in the United States.
Characteristics Of The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit
A Netherland Dwarf rabbit of “perfect size”, known as a “true dwarf” has one copy of the dwarf gene. If two true dwarfs mate, the result can be offspring with no copies of the gene, one copy of the gene and two copies of the gene.
Rabbits with one copy of the gene are not small enough to be show Netherland Dwarfs, and rabbits with two copies of the gene will be too small to live longer than a few days.
The Netherland Dwarf is normally born in litter sizes of between two and four kits. A Netherland Dwarf kit will usually cost around $30 and $90, which is more than many rabbit breeds.
The Netherland Dwarf is, of course, a small rabbit and normally weighs between 2 to 2.5 lbs. These little rabbits often look like a kit for their whole lives. They have a compact body, a large head, short face, short ears and large eyes. Their ears can look a little out of place as they are small and erect on top of their large head! Their legs are also short.
The Netherland Dwarf’s coat is short to medium in length, soft, and does not need much grooming. They will shed moderately a few times a year during shedding season, during which time they may need to be brushed more. We will go into more detail about grooming later on.
There and many different colors for this breed that are accepted by the ARBA. These colors are split into five groups: self, shaded, agouti, tan, and any other variety. Popular colors include black, blue, chocolate, orange, tortoise shell, sable point, blue tan, lynx, lilac, fawn, opal, black silver marten and chinchilla.
The Netherland Dwarf has a wonderful temperament, once they get to know you! They can be shy and scared at first, especially when new to a home and the people around them, so getting them to understand that you are not there to hurt them can take some time. You should always respect your rabbit’s personal space, especially when they are new to your home.
However, with adequate socialization and human interaction, these rabbits will learn to love their owners. Once they are comfortable with you they are a very affectionate rabbit and will love to spend time with you. They are also excitable and energetic and will love to hop around the house! You should always make sure they have toys to play with so they don’t become bored.
The Netherland Dwarf rabbit has an average life expectancy of between 10 to 12 years.
Known Health Issues
Like all rabbits, the Netherland Dwarf is prone to some health problems. Some of these concerns relate to their small size.
– 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. This is more severe in smaller rabbits because of their small mouths. Regular dental checkups are very important.
– 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.
– 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.
Alongside these issues, the Netherland Dwarf can also be prone to respiratory issues due to their smaller mouth and a shorter nose. Like all rabbits, they can also suffer from back issues if they are mishandled or accidentally dropped because of their size.
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 Netherland Dwarf rabbit, it is time to take a look at what living with one of these rabbits on a day to day basis is really like. Fortunately, these small bunnies are easy to care for. Below we will cover their food and diet, their exercise needs, their living requirements and their grooming needs.
Food And Diet
The exact amount you feed your Netherland Dwarf 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 Netherland Dwarf’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 Netherland Dwarf RabbitBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Sherwood Pet Health rabbit food for the Netherland Dwarf rabbit. This food helps to improve your rabbit’s digestive health by supporting the growth of healthy microflora. With no grain or soy, this food is ideal to promote urinary health too and the ingredients are all natural, ensuring your Netherland isn’t eating anything they shouldn’t be.
A pellet food, there is no chance of selective feeding, and the vitamins, minerals and amino acids all add to a balanced and complete diet. There are also essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat.
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 Netherland Dwarf rabbit breed is an excitable and energetic rabbit once they are comfortable in the home. Once they have bonded with you they will like to be near you and will like to play games with you! Always make sure they have toys to keep them occupied.
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. You can buy an outdoor enclosure for your Netherland Dwarf to run around in. However, you should always supervise them as their size makes them popular among predators.
Family Compatibility and Trainability
The Netherland Dwarf rabbit can make a fantastic pet to many households, including couples, singles or seniors who live in either a home or apartment. However, they are not advised for homes with very young children, particularly because of their shy nature. Young children can be rough with rabbits and if your Netherland Dwarf is dropped or scared, they may never learn that they are not being threatened.
Training the Netherland Dwarf rabbit can be a little more difficult than training other breeds of rabbit, but it can be done. One of the most difficult tasks is training them to use a litter tray. It is advised you leave litter trays throughout the house so they have multiple places to go rather than having to go back to their hutch every time.
It is recommended that you keep the Netherland Dwarf bunny inside as a house rabbit, instead of keeping their hutch outside. Their small size means they are easier for predators to get at, and so keeping them inside will ensure they are safer.
These rabbits do not need a lot of space thanks to their size, but their 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 Netherland Dwarf RabbitBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Petsfit rabbit cage for the Netherland Dwarf rabbit. With a size of 36” L x 22” W x 30” H, it is large enough to fit one to two rabbits and, although it doesn’t have multiple levels, gives a large space for your bunnies to run around in. There is an enclosed section of the hutch that can be used for sleeping or as a bathroom and the bottom tray is easily removable for cleaning.
Prefect for indoor use, this hutch is sturdy and easy to assemble. There are two access points for this hutch — one on the side and one on the roof. Buying an extra ramp will also allow your Netherland in and out access whenever they want.
The Netherland Dwarf rabbit does not need a lot of grooming. You should brush these rabbits one to two times a week to keep their fur in good condition and to prevent matting. During shedding season, which happens twice a year, you may need to be brushing them more often. Use a bristled brush and stroke in the natural direction of their fur.
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.
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit FAQ’s
Can I keep my Netherland Dwarf rabbit outside?
You can keep your Netherland Dwarf rabbit outside, but only if their hutch is extra secure. Thanks to their small size, the Netherland Dwarf is very vulnerable to predators and this is why it is often recommended that they are kept indoors.
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.
The Netherland Dwarf rabbit is one of the smallest breeds of rabbit, yet one of the most popular. Cute and compact, this bunny doesn’t take up a lot of space and doesn’t have very high care needs. While these rabbits can be shy and scared when first brought into a new home, with lots of human interaction and socialization they will learn that not everything is a threat. Once adapted, they are excitable and energetic little rabbits that’ll keep you on your toes and will love to spend time with you. Do you think a Netherland Dwarf could be the bunny for you?