A rabbit is a wonderful animal and makes a fantastic pet for many reasons. Not only are they smaller than a dog or a cat, but they’re also cute and cuddly! They can be very domesticated animals and love to spend time with their families. Bunnies can even be trained to use a litter tray so there is less mess for you to clean up!
The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) currently recognizes 49 breeds of rabbit, but there are over 300 breeds out there! With that in mind, how do you know which one is going to make the right pet for you? Can you tell the difference between rabbit breeds and do you know what factors you should be considering before bringing one of these animals into your home?
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a guide so you can learn everything you need to about rabbits, and the most popular rabbit breeds! Keeping reading below to find out more and even see which rabbit breeds are the most popular.
With so many different breeds out there, there are, of course, so many different characteristics within each breed! Some breeds look very similar, while others couldn’t look more different. Let’s take a look at the most prominent characteristics that help to tell breeds apart.
Size and Weight
Rabbits come in many different sizes and weights. Some are Mini breeds, while other are Giant breeds! Rabbits can range in weight from 2 lbs to 15+ lbs. It is often advised you go for a smaller rabbit if you are a first time owner, because they are slightly easier to take care of. Smaller rabbits also do better with children as they are easier to handle.
There are five main rabbit breed shapes: full-arch, semi-arch, compact, commercial and cylindrical. Commercial body types are most commonly seen in meat rabbits, while compact rabbits are usually pets. However, semi-arched and full-arched rabbits are also common. The only rabbit with a cylindrical body type is the Himalayan.
There are four different types of fur: normal, rex, satin and wool.
Rex: There are only two rabbits with rex fur — the Rex and Mini Rex. The fur is soft, plushy and velvety. It is also very short and dense and is often used to make fur coats.
Satin: There are also only two rabbits with satin fur — the Satin and Mini Satin. The hair is very shiny and translucent which makes it almost see-through.
Wool: Wool fur is much longer than other fur and is very soft. They are normally at least 1.5 inches longer, but can be even longer. This fur must be groomed often and cut and so rabbit’s with wool fur can be harder to take care of.
Normal: There are three different types of normal fur:
– Standing — when you rub this fur, it stands straight up and does not lay back down. Only one breed has this fur — the Silver Fox.
– Rollback — when you rub this fur, it gently rolls back into place, flat against the body.
– Flyback — this is the most common fur type. It is shorter than rollback fur and when you rub the coat it will “fly” back into place very quickly.
There are so many different colors that rabbits come in! Some breeds only come in one or two colors, while other come in many. Some breeds also have special markings and without these markings they are not recognized as a member of the breed. The color of your rabbit should only really matter if you are planning on showing your bunny.
Which Rabbit Is Best For Me?
Choosing which breed of rabbit to bring into your home can seem daunting, especially when there are so many breeds. There are a few factors you will need to take into consideration. First of all, is the rabbit going to be a companion pet? Are you looking for a show-rabbit? Or a meat rabbit? Certain breeds are bred for their meat, while others are bred to be show-quality. Show-quality rabbits are breeds that are recognized by ARBA, but there are other factors involved too. If you are just looking for a pet rabbit, you may want to go for a small to medium breed.
The size of the breed is going to play an important role in choosing your bunny. There is no use bringing a giant breed home if you don’t have a lot of room! Rabbits need space to roam and so a small or miniature rabbit will be better for apartment living.
Other factors such as how much your rabbit sheds their fur should also be taken into consideration. Some breeds are also more sociable than others, and so if you are out of the house for the majority of the day then some breeds may not be acceptable.
The 15 Of The Most Popular Rabbit Breeds
The Flemish Giant rabbit is one of the largest breeds of rabbit. They can weigh over 15 lbs! They are also one of the oldest breeds, but they are known for their wonderful laid-back nature. The Flemish is, for this reason, one of the most popular pets. They’re very friendly with everyone but do need to be encouraged to exercise as they can get lazy. They can also make an excellent show-rabbit and this breed often wins.
The Holland Lop is the smallest of the lop breeds and weighs a maximum of 4 lbs. They have lop ears and a short, thick coat that makes them extra cuddly! Their body is short and stocky and, thanks to their size, they fit well into many homes. They also have a friendly and calm nature and can be very affectionate with their owners.
Mini Lops are an extremely cute little rabbit! They are a cross breed of rabbit created by breeding multiple different breeds together and normally weigh between 3 and 6 lbs. They have a compact body but they’re very muscular and it often looks like they don’t have a neck! The Mini Lop loves attention and spending time with their family. In fact, if you don’t give them enough attention they can be known to bite and kick! That being said, they get on well with everyone and are easy to take care of.
The Dutch rabbit is known for it’s markings. These bunnies 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’. They usually weigh around 4 lbs and have a compact body and short, erect ears. Their temperament is fantastic — docile, friendly and very sociable. They make a great pet!
The Netherland Dwarf is one of the smallest breeds of rabbit and usually only weigh around 2.5 lbs! They have short, erect ears and come in many different colors. Despite their small size, they are very energetic and active and so need lots of time outside of their hutch exploring and exercising. If they don’t get enough exercise, they can show signs of aggression. Therefore, it is particularly important you let them explore and hop around the home and don’t leave them confined to their cage. They can make a great family pet, but you should supervise them around small children.
The Mini Rex is a smaller version of the Rex rabbit and are known for their unique rex fur. It is a velvety texture that is very soft and is often used to make fur coats with! Weighing around 4.5 lbs, they make a good pet and usually have a good nature. However, they can sometimes be a little aggressive and so you must be careful with children around them. They like to exercise and when socialized will get on with everyone in the family.
The French Lop is known for it’s sweet and intelligent nature. These medium to large sized rabbits have wonderful lopped ears and a box-style head. They have a soft and dense coat which needs to be kept groomed properly. As they can weigh up to 14 lbs, they are often not advised for families with young children. They are, however, very sociable animals and will enjoy spending time with the older members of the household!
The English Lop is known for it’s ears! These bunnies have excessively long lopped ears, normally measuring between 21-32 inches from tip to tip. The English Lop rabbit weighs around 12 lbs and so is a large breed, but have a very gentle, friendly and laid back nature that means they excel in any home. Many English Lop owners choose to show them because of their impressive appearance, but they can make a great companion pet too!
The Lionhead rabbit is a small rabbit and will usually grow to just under 4 lbs. They are easily recognized by their fluffy lions mane which is where they get their name from! While these rabbits have a good nature and get on well with children, they can become very bored easily. They will need to spend lots of time outside of their hutch exercising and playing with toys.
The Californian rabbit is usually seen as a show rabbit or is used as a meat rabbit. Easily identifiable, these bunnies have white bodies and colored ears, as well as markings on their ears, nose, tail and feet. A large breed, they usually weigh between 10 and 12 lbs, but don’t let this put you of! The Californian is commonly seen as a pet rabbit too, thanks to their docile nature.
The English Angora is known for it’s fluffy coat! The breed is the oldest breed of domesticated rabbit and usually sighs around 7.5 lbs as an adult. While this breed is calm, social and intelligent — all the candidates for a great pet — they require a lot of grooming! you must brush these bunnies daily, otherwise they can develop health issues if they ingest too much fur. Thanks to their wonderful coat, the Angora rabbits are usually seen as show-rabbits.
The Florida White rabbit is is known as an “all purpose rabbit” because they can be used as meat rabbits, show-rabbits or pets. They were originally developed to be a laboratory animal, because they are smaller than the previous breed of rabbit that was being used. The Florida White is a completely white rabbit with red eyes and usually weighs around 6 lbs. They are gentle and friendly and can make a great family pet.
The American Sable rabbit is known for it’s sable coloring, which comes in two varieties. They are of medium size, between 8 and 9 lbs, and so are relatively easy to care for and don’t take up too much room. They have a friendly and sociable nature and love to spend time with their people. The American Sable is also an active and energetic bunny that likes to spend time outside! While they make wonderful pets, they are also commonly seen as show-rabbits.
The New Zealand rabbit actually originated from America! A large breed, they usually weigh between 10 and 12 lbs and they have short fur that can can be white, black, ‘broken’ or various shades of red. Their ears are large and erect. These bunnies are generally docile and easy to handle, but when bringing them into a home you should always make sure you properly socialize them, especially around children.
The Harlequin rabbit breed originated in France and is a medium to large breed of rabbit. They usually weigh around 9.5 lbs in weight. Their coat and unusual markings is what makes them stand out. Their ears are different colors as are the different sides of their faces, and their feet are also different colors. The colors are usually black and orange. They are gentle and calm rabbits for the most part, but can also be playful and curious!
Other Breeds Of Rabbit
The ARBA recognizes 49 breeds of rabbit all together, but there are many other breeds out there. These include:
- American Chinchilla
- American Fuzzy Lop
- Belgian Hare
- Blanc de Hotot
- Britannia Petite
- Champagne d’Argent
- Checkered Giant
- Creme d’Argent
- Dwarf Hotot
- English Spot
- Florida White
- French Angora
- Giant Angora
- Giant Chinchilla
- Jersey Wooly
- Mini Satin
- Satin Angora
- Silver Fox
- Silver Martin
- Standard Chinchilla
As you can see, there are so many breeds of rabbit out there! Rabbits can range in size, shape, fur type, color and more and so, if you are thinking of adding one to your home, there are a few things to consider. The most important thing to remember when looking after rabbits is to ensure their hutch is large enough for them and they get enough exercise every day.
Bunnies can make wonderful additions to many families but they must be socialized properly and will love to spend time with their owners. No matter the breed, give them lots of love and attention and they’ll become your best friend! Which of these popular rabbit breeds do you think is right for you?