The Best Pet Rabbit Breeds
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Rabbits are a popular choice for many families with an estimated 900,000 rabbits kept as pets in the UK! It's really no surprise though as rabbits are highly intelligent, inquisitive animals. Owning rabbits can be extremely rewarding. Rabbit's come in a variety of breeds, shapes and sizes and each bunny has their own unique personality. Typically they'll live for 8 - 12 years, but some may live for longer. Some people look for rabbits that are really small and cute, some look for rabbits with distinct features, such as long hair or large ears. Here we’re going to break down our list of the best pet rabbit breeds!
Lion head rabbit (pictured in banner)
If you’re opting for a lion head rabbit it’s easy to see why! They’re said to be one of the cutest rabbit breeds available and they make great pets which makes them a popular choice. They’re typically lively, sociable, friendly and good natured but they can be a little timid. This makes them more prone to being easily scared and startled and from that, they can sometimes show signs of aggression. Because of this, we don’t suggest you keep this breed in your home if you have small children, both for the safety of the child and for the rabbit (kids can be a little heavy handed).
With that glorious mane does come a bit of effort and attention to detail on your part though. They do need to be brushed out at least once a week, and if they’re molting you need to step this up to 3 times a week, or every other day. If you don’t, they can get what’s known as Fur Block, and it can be fatal.
Their little nails should be clipped around once a month, while you’re doing this or even as part of your grooming sessions, check your bun for abnormalities. This includes things such as abscesses or malocclusion which is a hereditary dental problem. Other than that, you’ll want to be feeding them high quality pellets (around 1 cup per day) and also give them as much timothy hay as they can nibble on. Give them clean water, and due to the additional fur these guys have, some fresh pineapple every few days would be beneficial too.
If buying fresh is not an option, you can use canned – but make sure it is unsweetened, in 100% natural juice, or chewable supplements can also be used, broken or crushed up, and added to their pellets. They do well in a 24 x 24 cage, however, because of their level of activity, a larger cage would be better, or the allowance of having a larger area available on a regular basis to provide ample space for exercise. Furthermore, Lionheads – as it is with all rabbits – should never be bathed.
The Holland/Miniature Lop
Next up we’ve got the Holland Lop, or the Mini Lop. Starting with the Holland Lop, the breed was created through mixing other breeds in the Netherlands. Specifically, Adriann de Cock was the person who created this breed, by mixing French Lops with Netherland Dwarf in an attempt to make a smaller version of the French Lop. Welcome, Holland Lop! The Miniature Lop is the British equivalent of this - it has some English Lop genes thrown in too and can be smaller than the Holland Lop. Quick note, the British Mini Lop and the American Mini Lop are two different breeds altogether, so don’t get these mixed up!
This is a small, compact breed of rabbit which has a short, stocky body, a broad head, with a well- defined crown at the back of the head, and the ears are lopped (hanging downwards rather than standing erect). Their fur is short, dense, and glossy when in good condition. Holland’s typically weigh between 2 – 4 pounds. This breed is very popular and well known for having a sweet temperament and therefore they are often a favorite breed to have as a pet, as they tend to do well with children and can be quite playful!
Holland Lops are small and easy to handle and require only basic grooming. They do well with weekly brushings, and regular nail trimmings being done on the average of once per month. They also do well on a wire-bottomed surface in their cage; which assists in keeping their fur clean. Additionally, as with all rabbits, they should not be bathed. Otherwise, they should be in a cage that is a minimum of 18”x24”, however “the bigger the better” is always a great rule of thumb to follow in regards to cage space.
Their diet should primarily consist of timothy hay, plus a good, high quality pellet feed, as well as clean, fresh drinking water. Giving treats is ok, as long as it is done so in moderation and only with rabbit-safe items. Additionally, they always appreciate a good ‘chewy’, such as an untreated chunk of wood or a few willow or fruit tree twigs. They also tend to be fans of playing with pet-safe toys, which could be bought at local pet stores, or even made from recycled household items. One such idea which is a fan favourite at the office, is a bunch of timothy hay stuck into a toilet paper roll. They’ll spend quite a while grabbing onto it and throwing it around to get the hey out.
These guys were bred specifically for the purpose of exhibition among fancy English Victorians in the early 1900s. In fact it’s believed that they may be the first breed developed with lopped ears. Their ear length was due to the hotter climate of the algiers - the ears of rabbits are used for hearing, but also as a form of regulating their body temperatures.
During the Victorian Era, english lops were on the rise as a popular house pet until they were eventually crossed with the Continental Giant breeds which created what would become the French Lop, then as we say, crossed with the Netherland Dwarf to create a Holland Lop. So the Miniature Lop is like an English Lop that’s been on a European Holiday and seen some things…
English Lops are a fancy breed of rabbit that is easily distinguishable at first glance, due to their extra -long lopped ears, which typically measure from 21 to 32 inches in length from tip to tip, with the length being completed by only 4 months of age. Their bodies are long and resemble a mandolin, and their fur is smooth, short, silky, and flies back when stroked from back to front. Otherwise, they have calm, laid-back and friendly temperaments, and are often referred to as being lazy. They are known to make wonderful pets, even for children – although supervision of children with rabbits is always required.
These rabbits need a large hutch, allowing plenty of room to move around without standing on their ears to do so. The floor of the hutch should be of solid material, such as wood or plastic, rather than wire. They should have a water-bottle rather than a crock as well, to prevent their ears from getting wet and / or dragging through the water. During the winter, extra care must be provided to prevent the ears from getting wet, as they will freeze. If the tips of an English Lops ear freeze or become frost-bitten, they will actually fall off. They should also be checked frequently for ear infections and / or ear mites, and toenails must remain trimmed to prevent injury to the ears.
Mini Rex rabbits are a small, compact breed that has a very plush undercoat and extremely soft, velvety feeling fur, which comes in a wide variety of colors. The recessive gene that causes this variation in fur causes the hair-strands to stand straight up, rather than lying flat against the body, as other breeds’ fur does. They tend to have a calm, easy-going nature; however that is not always the case so anyone interested in having this type of rabbit should be aware of each individual rabbits’ temperament to ensure that you are not getting one that is not aggressive - go and visit the mini rex you plan to adopt first, interact with them and get a feel for their character.
Furthermore, due to their small size, Mini Rex is a good breed for those who are not otherwise experienced in raising and/or showing rabbits. They make good pets, and are very popular at shows.
American Fuzzy Lop
An American Fuzzy Lop, essentially, is a Holland Lop rabbit that carries a wool gene. The size of the bunny remains to be the same as that of the Holland, with the preference given at 3.5lbs. Furthermore, they are available in many colors, and in both broken and solid patterns. Otherwise, “Fuzzies” as they are called by most breeders, also have similar personalities and characteristics of Hollands, including their social skills, being playful and active bunnies, and the enjoyment of attention given by their human pals. They also like playing with a variety of toys, such as pine cones, cat balls, and wooden bird-type toys. All of these traits combined, make them excellent pets – for those who are “grooming minded.”
The biggest difference in caring for an American Fuzzy Lop compared to Hollands or other non-wool breeds, is of course two parts. First, Fuzzy Lops require an owner who is committed to grooming their coats on a much more consistent basis than what non-wool breeds require. Failure to do this can cause tangling and matting, which can be very painful and can even cause infections and other such problems, as bacteria can and will build up. Secondly, wool breeds – included but not limited to the “Fuzzy”- require a consistent amount of papaya to be included in their diets.
This prevents problems with Wool-Block, caused from the bunny licking and swallowing the fur, which can quickly become deadly if not caught and treated in time. Other than these things, care for an American Fuzzy is the same as any other breed; assuring that they have proper housing and diet, along with routine healthy checks and lots of attention.
Thanks for reading our guide to the best pet rabbit breeds! For more info and guides on Rabbits and other small animals, check out our "Small pets" blog section!