Pet rabbit breeds

Best & Most Popular Pet Rabbit Breeds

Generally docile and friendly, not to mention off-the-charts adorable, domesticated rabbits can make affectionate and rewarding pets for animal lovers of all ages. While most rabbit breeds have more in common than not (they all require a diet of seventy percent hay, for example, and are susceptible to many of the same illnesses) they can differ significantly in temperament and in the care they require.

Before choosing a rabbit for a pet, you’ll want to know which type of bunny is best suited to your family and your lifestyle. The following list includes numerous rabbit breeds that, depending on your circumstances, can make excellent companions.

Best Rabbit Breeds For Children

SUSSEX RABBITS

Bred in the 1980s by crossing Lilac rabbits and Californians, the Sussex is a beautiful, medium-sized rabbit with a compact body. Docile and affectionate, the Sussex weighs around seven pounds fully grown and has a life expectancy of six to eight years.

The Sussex rabbit is a lovely cream or gold color, with a short, dense coat. Best suited to living indoors, these rabbits also enjoy time exploring the great outdoors.

An excellent pet for families with children, Sussex rabbits are affectionate and love attention. This breed can be a bit naughty, though, so be sure to keep an eye on them when they’re out of their enclosures, and especially outside!

While Sussex rabbits have no particular health issues, they tend to overeat, leading to obesity and further health problems. Be careful not to overfeed your cute little friend, as they may not know when to say when.

MINI LION LOP

In the early 2000s, Jane Bramley crossed the Mini Lop rabbit with the Lion Head to breed the Mini Lion Lop Rabbit. Bearing the distinctive mane and chest fur of the Lion Head, the Mini Lion Lop has the small, compact body and features of the Mini Lop.

These even-tempered rabbits weigh about three or four pounds by adulthood and have a long lifespan of around seventeen years, making them a great family pet.

The Mini Lion Lop has a soft, medium-length coat that can be one of various colors, including black, blue, sable, orange, and white.

Sociable and even-tempered, the Mini Lion Lop makes a great pet for families with children. This breed likes getting lots of attention and being around people. They also enjoy the company of other Mini Lion Lops! Be sure to provide your Mini Lion Lop with a large enclosure or activity area, as they need plenty of exercise.

HIMALAYAN RABBIT

Among the oldest rabbit breeds in the world, the exact origins of the Himalayan Rabbit are unknown. They were introduced to America around 1900 and were one of the first breeds to be recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA).

A small rabbit, weighing between two and five pounds by adulthood, the Himalayan has a cylindrical body shape. The breed’s short fur is always white, with markings of blue, black, brown, or lilac on their tails, ears, feet, and nose.

Himalayan Rabbits prefer indoor enclosures, as they, and especially their kittens, are quite sensitive to the cold. Also, while short, the Himalayan enjoys stretching to its full length and is happiest in a large enclosure. The Himalayan’s an excellent pet for children, as they have a calm, gentle temperament.

STANDARD CHINCHILLA

The Standard Chinchilla was bred in 1919, in France, by crossing Himalayans with Beverens and Wild Rabbits. A medium-sized rabbit with a compact body, the Standard Chinchilla should weigh between five and seven pounds when fully grown. The breed has an average lifespan of five to eight years.

Standard Chinchillas have an eye-catching, distinctive coat of soft, rollback fur that’s slate blue at the base and a darker blue on the surface, with light grey in between.

Intelligent, curious, and friendly, Standard Chinchillas don’t mind being handled, which makes them a suitable pet for families with young children. Like many rabbit breeds, the Standard Chinchilla doesn’t require much grooming. Should your pet rabbit’s coat need attention, spot clean with a damp rag. Don’t ever attempt to bathe any breed of domestic rabbit, as it causes them distress and can induce a heart attack.

HAVANA RABBITS

Sometimes described as “mink-like,” Havana Rabbits are a medium-sized breed with rounded, compact bodies. Bred in Ingen, Holland in 1989, Havanas earned the nickname “The Fireye From Ingen,” as their eyes appear to glow red from certain angles.

The Havana Rabbit has a sleek, short coat and might be colored blue, black, or chocolate. The breed gets its name because the chocolate-hued variety resembles the color of a Havana cigar.

A gentle, calm, and sometimes playful rabbit, the Havana is a great choice for a pet. They’re sociable with people and also with other rabbits. Havana Rabbits need lots of exercise and stimulation, and are suitable as pets for children.

FLORIDA WHITE

In the 1960s, Judge Orville Miliken bred the first Florida White Rabbits by crossing Albino Dutch Rabbits, New Zealands, and Red-Eyed White Polish Rabbits. The Florida White, named for Judge Miliken’s home state, are small, compact rabbits that, as adults, will weigh between four and six pounds.

The Florida White Rabbit has a short, soft, exclusively white coat and red-hued eyes. The breed has a lifespan of five to eight years and isn’t prone to any particular health problems.

With a docile and quiet temperament, the Florida White is a good choice of pet for families with children who wish to raise a rabbit indoors. Florida Whites can live outside but are better socialized when kept indoors.

CALIFORNIAN RABBIT

Breeder George West bred the first Californian Rabbits in 1923. First, he crossed Chinchillas with Himalayan White Rabbits, then bred the resulting buck with New Zealand Rabbits to increase the size. The result was the Californian Rabbit.

A medium to large breed, the Californian Rabbit will weigh between six and ten pounds when mature and has a life expectancy of five to eight years.

Californians are predominantly white, though they have some of the markings of the Himalayan Rabbit. The nose, ears, feet, and tail markings are dark, and their coats are dense and coarse.

Gentle and affectionate animals, Californian Rabbits prefer to be indoors and around people. Be sure to give your Californian plenty of time out of its habitat, as the more time it spends with humans, the more socialized it will become.

HARLEQUIN RABBIT

First shown in 1880s France, the distinctive-looking Harlequin Rabbit was initially named the Japanese Rabbit. That name was dropped during World War II, and the breed has since been called by its current name ever since.

A medium to large-sized rabbit, the Harlequin will grow to between seven and ten pounds and will live between five and eight years.

When it comes to coat color, there are two distinct types of Harlequin Rabbit: the Japanese Harlequin and the Magpie Harlequin. The Japanese variety has an orange coat with lilac, blue, black, or chocolate bands, bars, or belts. The Magpie is white, with the same shades and varieties of markings. Both types have soft, short fur.

Harlequin Rabbits are playful, affectionate, and outgoing, in other words, a terrific pet for a family with kids.

PALOMINO RABBITS

First bred in the 1950s and originally called the Washingtonian Rabbit, the Palomino is a medium-sized rabbit that will grow to between eight and ten pounds. Docile and sweet, Palominos should live between five and eight years.

The Palomino comes in two color varieties, the Golden and the Lynx. The Golden has a cream or beige surface coat with a white undercoat. The Lynx Palomino sports a silver or grey surface coat fading to white, beige, or cream. Both types have coats of coarse, short to medium fur.

Friendly, low-maintenance rabbits, Palominos make excellent first-time pets for rabbit lovers of all ages.

THRIANTA RABBITS

The story of the Thrianta Rabbit is the story of a breed that very nearly didn’t survive. First bred in 1930s Holland by breeder H. Andreae as a tribute to the Royal House of Orange, the Thrianta Rabbit flirted with extinction when it became a primary food source for soldiers during the Second World War.

Thankfully, a few survived, and these were mated with German Rabbits to produce the modern breed of Thrianta. A medium-sized rabbit with a compact body, the Thrianta will weigh from four to six pounds at maturity. The lifespan of the Thrianta Rabbit is between seven and ten years.

The Thiantra’s short, thick coat is an unmarked, beautiful fire-red. Docile and gentle, this breed is child and first-time-owner safe and has no particular health concerns.

Learn more about child-friendly rabbit breeds.

Best Outdoor Rabbit Breeds

BRITANNIA PETITE RABBIT

The Britannia Petite Rabbit evolved naturally from the Polish Rabbit. First noted in England in the 1800s, the Britannia Petite has since been selectively bred to produce a rabbit with a more upright stance and fine bone structure. In England, the Britannia Petite is still called a Polish Rabbit; because the ABRA already recognizes a breed by that name, it is referred to in America as the Britannia Petite.

A dwarf-sized rabbit, the Britannia Petite will weigh between two and two-and-a-half pounds at full size. Active, if a little nervous, Britannias prefer the outdoors and can even be trained to jump obstacles, thanks in part to their arched body type.

This breed has a short, soft coat in four color varieties: the Red Eyed White, the Blue Eyed White, Black/Sable, and Chestnut.

BELGIAN HARE

Closely resembling the Wild Hare, the Belgian Hare is a large rabbit, weighing six to nine pounds at maturity. First noted in eighteenth-century Belgium, the breed was imported to England in 1856. Breeders William Lumb and Benjamin Greaves developed the modern breed of Belgian Hare in 1873.

The Belgian Hare has a coat of short, glossy, rust-colored fur in a radiant reddish-orange tint.

Belgian Hares prefer outdoor enclosures and are bred primarily as show rabbits. Active and sweet, Belgians are nonetheless a nervous breed and are easily startled, making them a less than ideal pet for children.

NETHERLAND DWARF

Described as having “babyish” features and weighing only two pounds at full size, the Netherland Dwarf is the smallest domesticated rabbit breed. Its small size and short, thick body type make it a very popular rabbit in Japan, where it fits right into “kawaii,” or the Japanese “culture of cute.”

The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit was bred in the early 1900s by Jan Meyering. The breed comes in many colors, including black, turquoise, and opal.

While the Netherland Dwarf is undoubtedly adorable, it is, unfortunately, not a lap-pet. Neither are they suitable for small children, as they have an alert, energetic temperament closely resembling that of the Wild Hare.

BEVEREN RABBIT

There is some debate about whether the Beveren Rabbit originated in Beveren, Belgium, or England. A large rabbit, weighing eight to twelve pounds at adulthood, the Beveren has a mandolin, or semi-arch body type, and a life expectancy of between five and ten years.

The Beveren Rabbit has a short, dense coat of soft fur. The breed comes in various colors, though only three are recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association: solid blue, solid black, and blue-eyed white.

Intelligent, docile, and curious, the Beveren Rabbit prefers the outdoors and loves to explore.

LILAC RABBIT

H. Onslow Cambridge first exhibited the Lilac Rabbit in the early 1900s, and the breed was introduced in the United States and Canada in 1926, where it quickly caused a splash.

A medium-sized rabbit, the Lilac weighs between six and eight pounds when mature and has a compact body shape. The breed has a generous lifespan of nine to twelve years on average.

The Lilac Rabbit has a coat of short, soft fur colored a beautiful lavender or lilac hue. These docile and friendly beauties are gentle and prefer to be kept outdoors.

BLANC DE HOTOT RABBIT

A larger-sized rabbit, the Blanc De Hotot will grow to weigh between eight and eleven pounds by adulthood. The breed as we know it today was perfected in Hotot-En-Auge, Normandy by Euginie Bernhard.

The Blanc de Hotot boasts a short coat of soft white fur and dark brown circles around the eyes, known as “eyeliner.”

Active, friendly, and affectionate, Blanc de Hotot Rabbits make wonderful pets. Like all domesticated rabbits, though, they should be socialized as early as possible. This breed prefers the outdoors but is sensitive to extreme heat and cold.

ENGLISH SPOT RABBIT

One of the world’s oldest surviving rabbit breeds, the English Spot has been around since the mid-1800s and was first introduced to North America in 1910. English Spot Rabbits are a medium-sized breed, weighing five to seven pounds as adults. Friendly and curious, English Spots have a full arched body and an average life expectancy of five to nine years.

English Spots have beautiful coats of short, dense fur and come in various colors, including black, blue, turquoise, chocolate, gray, lilac, and gold. There are markings on the English Spot, too, such as butterfly-shaped markings around their noses, eye-circles, cheek spots, colored ears, and spots down the spine.

This sweet, affectionate breed makes a great pet but prefers to live outdoors.

AMERICAN BLUE/WHITE

Bred in 1917 by Lewis H Salisbury of Pasadena, California, the American Rabbit is a medium to large-sized, arch-bodied breed that should grow to between nine and twelve pounds. Quiet and docile, the American Rabbit will live an average of eight to twelve years.

The American Rabbit comes in two varieties, American Blue and American White, named for their soft, satiny fur colors.

While normally calm and docile to the point of laziness, American Rabbits are skittish around people, making them less desirable as an indoor or family pet. Nor does this breed take well to being handled, especially by inexperienced hands, so this is not a good choice of rabbit for a child.

GOTLAND RABBIT

Indigenous to Sweden, the Gotland Rabbit developed naturally over time. Modern Gotlands are descendants of Rabbits discovered on Gotland Island in the 1970s. Today, there are breeding programs to keep this breed from becoming extinct.

Gotlands are medium-sized rabbits with compact bodies. The Gotland should weigh between six-and-a-half and eight-and-one-half pounds at maturity and has an average life expectancy of nine years.

This breed has fine, usually straight short coats that may be nearly any color. Likewise, Gotland Rabbits may have any color eyes.

DEILENAAR RABBIT

First exhibited by a Mr. Ridderhof in Deli, Netherlands, the Deilenaar is a compact, medium-sized breed that grows to between five and seven pounds. Like the Gotland Rabbit, the average lifespan of a Deilenaar is nine years.

Deilenaar Rabbits boast distinctively-colored dense, silky, medium-length coats. The base coat is a rich slate gray, while the intermediate color is a rusty brown. Finally, like the finishing coat on a layered painting, there’s the stunning red agouti fur featuring ticking and mackereling of black.

Friendly and lively, Deilenaars are a great choice of pet. They can be lively and prefer to live outdoors, though, and are therefore recommended for experienced rabbit owners.

Best Indoor Rabbit Breeds

HOLLAND LOP RABBIT

One of the most popular rabbit breeds worldwide, the adorable Holland Lop is a dwarf-sized rabbit with a compact body. At maturity, this breed will weigh between two and four pounds. Bred by Adriann de Cock in the 1950s, the Holland Lop has a lifespan of seven to fourteen years.

The Holland Lop Rabbit sports a dense, glossy, smooth coat that may be solid or broken in color. Solid-colored Holland Lops are either chestnut, chocolate, or chinchilla in hue, whereas the broken-colored variety comes in tortoise, seal, or sable mixtures.

Curious and affectionate, the Holland Lop makes an excellent pet for first-time rabbit owners. Though they prefer to live indoors, they enjoy time outside. Just be sure and keep an eye on your Holland Lop when you let them explore the outdoors.

See our lop eared rabbits care guide.

GERMAN LOP RABBIT

Bred in Germany and recognized as a distinct breed in 1970, the German Lop is a large rabbit, weighing between six and eight pounds at adulthood. This docile breed has a life expectancy of between nine and twelve years.

The German Lop has medium-length, dense fur that is recognized in the following range of different and exciting color varieties:

The agouti type is either chinchilla, chestnut, or opal. The broken variety is white with colored spots. A German Lop with blue, black, chocolate, lilac, or sable fur tipped with either gold or silver is known as ticked. Shaded lops have sable fur with either pearl, sable, or tortoise mixed in and, finally, the wideband variety is either cream, fawn, red, or orange.

Docile and affectionate, German Lops make great pets for first time rabbit owners, and for families with children.

AMERICAN FUZZY LOP RABBIT

When Holland Lops were bred with French Angora Rabbits to produce a long-haired Lop, the result was a breed that possessed a recessive gene for a long coat. In other words, only a very few long-haired lops could be bred this way. Patty Green-Karl is credited with having developed the long-haired cuties that displayed the recessive gene into the breed as it is known today.

A dwarf-sized, compact-bodied rabbit, the American Fuzzy Lop will weigh between three-and-one-half and four pounds fully grown. The coat of this breed is actually wool and can be made into yarn. All American Fuzzy Lops have distinctive markings on their noses, circles around their eyes, and tinted ears.

Known to be active, playful, and curious, the American Fuzzy Lop makes an adorable and affectionate pet. Like many rabbit breeds that prefer to live indoors, the American Fuzzy Lop likes ample time to romp and explore the outdoors, supervised, of course!

CONTINENTAL GIANT RABBIT

A giant-sized rabbit with a mandolin, or semi-arched body type, the Continental Giant can grow to weigh anywhere from thirteen pounds to thirty-five-plus pounds. These friendly, docile rabbits will live, on average, from four to seven years.

The Continental Giant is one of the world’s oldest surviving rabbit breeds, having been around since the sixteenth century. They descended from the Belgian Hare and Belgium’s Flemish Giant Rabbits.

Sometimes referred to as “Contis” by their doting owners, Continentals have dense, thick coats of beautiful glossy fur. The breed comes in various colors, including white, light gray, steel grey, fawn, sandy, and black.

Obviously adorable, the Continental is also very smart. Pet Continentals have been known to play games, learn tricks, and even respond to their names. This breed prefers to live indoors but needs plenty of space due to its large size.

See our caring guide for giant rabbits.

HULSTLANDER RABBIT

First exhibited in 1977 Netherlands by J de Graaf, the Hulstlander is a small to medium-sized rabbit with a compact body. This striking breed weighs between five and six pounds at maturity and has an eight-to-ten year lifespan.

The Hulstlander’s luxuriant coat of dense, soft fur is white, displaying no off-white or yellowing of any kind.

Playful and intelligent, this breed enjoys being social and loves to be the center of attention. Hustlanders do best with a near-constant companion and dislike long stretches alone, making them wonderful pets for owners with lots of time, love, and attention to give.

NEW ZEALAND RABBIT

The New Zealand Rabbit is not from New Zealand; it was, in fact, bred in the United States by crossing Belgian Hares and Flemish Giant Rabbits. A large-sized breed, New Zealands will weigh between ten and twelve pounds when fully grown. A suitable pet for rabbit lovers of all experience levels, New Zealands will live, on average, between five and eight years.

Sporting chic coats of short, soft fur, New Zealands come in various colors, five of which have been recognized by ARBA: red, white, black, blue, and broken.

Even-tempered, affectionate, and good with children, New Zealand’s enjoy sitting on their owner’s lap and being pet.

BRAZILIAN RABBIT

Native to South America and Brazil, in particular, Brazilian rabbits may have been brought from Europe by Portuguese sailors. Brazilians are medium-sized rabbits, weighing between seven and eleven pounds at maturity.

Brazilian Rabbits have dense fur with thick undercoats. They vary in color, though most are shades of blue, black, and opal.

Social, gentle, and calm, Brazilians make great pets. They’re friendly and get along well with other pets. The breed is prone to infection and colds, though, so be sure not to expose your Brazilian to drafts or sudden temperature variations.

ENGLISH LOP RABBIT

The English Lop was first noted in England in the mid-1800s, but the breed may have its origins in Africa. A medium-sized rabbit with a semi-arched body and distinctive oversized ears, the English Lop should weigh nine or ten pounds fully grown and has a life expectancy of five to seven years.

English Lops have smooth, short coats that may be one of many colors, both broken and solid. They may be white, fawn, chinchilla, or blue, among other less popular colors.

Curious and friendly, English Lops make lovable pets. They like to be picked up and petted and will remain playful throughout their lives.

While English Lops are not prone to any particular diseases, this breed can develop health problems if their large ears aren’t adequately cared for. It would be best if you inspected your English Lop’s ears at least once a week to be sure wax isn’t building up. Also, it’s essential to keep its nails trimmed short, as this breed tends to step on its ears.

FLEMISH GIANT RABBITS

As the breed’s name would imply, Flemish Giants are large rabbits, weighing between fourteen and twenty-one pounds. They have semi-arched bodies and coats of gorgeous thick, glossy fur.

The ARBA recognizes seven colors of Flemish Giant: black, blue, fawn, light gray, sandy, steel gray, and white.

Flemish Giants are excellent companion pets if you’ve got the room to accommodate a large, indoor rabbit. They are affectionate and enjoy lap-sitting, but a word to the wise: Flemish Giants grow nervous quickly if mishandled, so they may not be ideal for small children.

See our Flemish giant care guide.

ALASKA RABBIT

Question: Where did the Alaska Rabbit originate? If you almost answered “Alaska,” then remembered the New Zealand Rabbit and smelled a trap, good for you! This breed was actually developed in Germany by Rabbit Judge Max Goth and named for the Alaskan Fox, whose coat he was trying to emulate with his new rabbit.

First exhibited in Europe in 1907, Alaska Rabbits are medium-sized, weighing between seven and nine pounds as adults. This intelligent, friendly breed will live between seven and ten years and have dense coats of long, glossy hair.

Alaska Rabbits are great pets for people who have children or other pets, as they are friendly, outgoing, and calm. Be sure to give your Alaska plenty of together time, as they love being with people.

JERSEY WOOLY RABBIT

The aptly named Jersey Wooly was bred in 1984 in High Bridge, New Jersey, by Bonnie Seeley. A dwarf-sized rabbit, the Jersey Wooly was produced by crossing the French Angora and Netherland Dwarf. Recognized by ARBA in 1988, rabbits of this breed weigh between one and three pounds and enjoy a lifespan of seven to ten years.

Sweet and even-tempered, the Jersey Wooly is not likely to kick or bite, making it a great pet for families with children.

Because of their distinctive wooly coats, this breed is susceptible to wool blocks. Like cats, rabbits ingest hair when they groom themselves. Unlike cats, though, rabbits don’t cough up hairballs. Instead, the wool stays in the poor animal’s stomach, causing it to stop eating until it eventually starves. If you notice your Jersey Wooly is eating less, leaving fewer droppings, or having trouble getting around, contact a vet right away.

See our Jersey Wooly rabbit care guide.

REX RABBIT

Intelligent and playful, the Rex Rabbit is a large breed, weighing between seven-and-one-half and ten-and-one-half pounds at maturity. Developed through selective breeding of Wild Gray Rabbits, the Rex was first shown in Paris, 1924 and has a lifespan of five to six years.

The Rex Rabbit has a unique, velvety coat of short, smooth fur. The breed is recognized in sixteen colors by ARBA, including white, opal, castor, seal, chinchilla, and black.

Known for being affectionate and calm, Rex Rabbits make lovable, low-maintenance pets suitable for families with children. Like all large breed domestic rabbits, the Rex needs an enclosure with enough room to stretch out and enjoys plenty of time to roam and explore.

See our rex rabbit care guide.

SILVER FOX RABBIT

When Walter B Garland of Ohio crossed Checkered Giants, Champagne de Argents, English Silvers, and American Blue Rabbits, he developed the second domestic rabbit breed to originate in America. Recognized by ARBA in 1925, the breed was initially called the American Silver.

A large rabbit with a life expectancy of five to eight years, the Silver Fox will grow to weigh between nine and twelve pounds. A scarce breed of domestic rabbit, the Silver Fox has what’s called a “standing coat,” which means it stands upright rather than lying flat. While the breed comes in many colors, only black Silver Foxes are recognized by ARBA.

The Silver Fox is even-tempered and calm, making it a great choice of pet for families with children who have enough room to accommodate a large rabbit.

Conclusion

Owning a domestic rabbit is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. All of the above rabbit breeds have the potential to be excellent pets; your particular circumstances will determine which breed might make the best companion for you and your family. Always remember that small children should be supervised, even when handling a rabbit breed known to be suitable for young people.

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