WHAT BREED OF RABBIT IS BEST?
Generally I prefer one with fur, four legs and two ears...I love them all!
There are over 40 different breeds recognized by the American Rabbits Breeders Association, many more European breeds and countless cross-bred rabbits from which to choose.
Cross-bred rabbits are usually hardy and every bit as lovable as pure-bred although not quite as easy to find a home for should the need arise.
The basic categories are:
Small (3-1/2 to 5 pounds)
Medium (8 to 10 pounds)
Large (10 to 14 pounds)
(See chart of breeds.)
Keep in mind that females are larger than males. The weight chart shows minimum and maximum weights according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association Standard of Perfection. Actual weights for rabbits sold as pets may vary as much as 2 or 3 pounds.
Chart of Breeds
Breed Ideal Weight Range in pounds
American 9 to 12
Angora, English 5 to 7
Angora, French 7-1/2 to 10-1/2
Angora, Giant 8-1/2 up
Angora, Satin 6 to 9-1/2
Belgian Hare 6 to 9-1/2
Beveren 8 to 11
Britannia Petite 2-1/4 to 2-1/2
Californian 8 to 10-1/2
Champagne d'Argent 9 to 12
Checkered Giant 11 up
Chinchilla, American 9 to 12
Chinchilla, Giant 12 to 15
Chinchilla, Standard 5-1/2 to 7-1/2
Cinnamon 8-1/2 to 11
Creme d'Argent 8-1/2 to 11
Dutch 3-1/2 to 5-1/2
Dwarf Hotot 2-1/4 to 3-1/4
English Spot 5 to 8
Flemish Giant 13 up
Florida White 4 to 6
Harlequin 6-1/2 to 9-1/2
Havana 4-1/2 to 6-1/2
Himalayan 2-1/2 to 4-1/2
Hotot 8 to 11
Jersey Wooly 3 to 3-1/2
Lilac 6 to 8
Lop, English 9 up
Lop, French 10 up
Lop, American Fuzzy 3 to 4
Lop, Holland 3 to 4
Lop, Mini 4-1/2 to 6
Netherland Dwarf 2 to 2-1/2
New Zealand 9 to 12
Palomino 8 to 11
Polish 2-1/2 to 3-1/2
Rex, Standard 7-1/2 to 10-1/2
Rex, Mini 3 to 4-1/2
Rhinelander 6-1/2 to 10
Sable 7 to 10
Satin 8-1/2 to 11
Silver 4 to 7
Silver Fox 9 to 12
Silver Marten 6 to 9-1/2
Tan 4 to 6
There are VARIOUS FUR TYPES as well. In addition to the "normal" furred rabbits there are breeds such as the Rex with a very short plush coat. The long haired breeds such as Angora, Jersey Wooly and American Fuzzy Lop.
Each bunny has it's own distinct personality regardless of breed and fur type. They each have their own likes and dislikes in terms of food, toys, affection and yes, they even have favorite people! They frequently attach themselves to one member of the household (not necessarily the owner)!
My personal favorites are the Mini Rex, Holland Lops, Beveren, Dutch, Flemish Giants and French Lops as pets and Netherland Dwarfs for a competitive challenge.
Rare Breed rabbits that are in danger of extinction are becoming more popular now as pets or for show. Breeds like Beveren, Palomino, American, American Sable and more.
A rabbit of any size is easily managed if handled properly from an early age.
Most people begin shopping for "a bunny that won't get too big so my kids can handle it."
Personal experience has shown that as a general rule the smaller breeds are more likely to be high strung than the larger breeds, similar to the comparison in dogs between the Chihuahua and Labrador Retrievers.
DWARF breeds such as Netherlands, Polish, Petite Britannia, Dwarf Hotot, Jersey Wooly, (adult weight 1 to 3-1/4 pounds) I refer to as "PG13". I don't recommend them for children under the age of thirteen. Certainly there will be many exceptions to my rule but the dwarfs typically don't do well in a household of small or rowdy children.
Everyone seems to love a lop eared bunny. They range in size and disposition as well.
Holland Lops: (currently one of the most popular breeds) are the smallest lop with an adult weight of 3-1/2 to 4 pounds. These are the dwarfs of lops and as such are likely to be slightly more high strung than the larger lops, but still generally wonderfully sweet and gentle. Very athletic little bunnies, they are lots of fun to watch. They are also more prone to stomach upsets than the larger varieties so watch their diets!
American Fuzzy Lops: These long haired beauties (3-1/2 to 4 pounds adult weight) hail from an ancestry of Holland Lops and Angoras, hence the long haired version of a Holland Lop! While they require more time as youngsters for grooming it is usually rewarded by becoming a very affectionate pet.
Mini Lops: The name is misleading to many who assume these are the dwarf variety. They are not as "mini" as the Hollands with an adult weight of 5-1/2 to 6 pounds (although I've seen a lot of 8 pound Mini Lops!) These are sweet and mild tempered in general. They are an excellent choice for beginning breeders because they are hardy and tend to have few difficulties kindling.
French Lops: These are the giants of lops with an adult weight of 10 to 13 pounds. French Lops are giant rag dolls that don't seem to care what you do as long as you do it regularly! Don't be put off by their size because they are very gentle and exceptionally good with toddlers. Little children seem satisfied to sit on the floor and the cuddle the big bunny without trying to carry it around which results in fewer scratches.
English Lops: The oldest of the lop breeds, these beauties have exceptionally long thin ears (over 20 inches from tip to tip) with an adult weight of 10 to 12 pounds with a much more refined body type; longer and narrower in the shoulders and head than the French Lops. Because of the long and somewhat more fragile ears and perhaps a bit more athletic disposition these are better suited to older children and adults. They are very loving and affectionate pets.
Dutch: A nice small size rabbit (adult weight of 3-1/2 to 5 pounds) with the distinctive bi-color pattern. The Dutch I have raised were either really sweet or really cranky! They seem to be the best mothers with bountiful milk supply. The Dutch in our barn are selected for sweet dispositions and the does who prove to be exceptional foster mothers.
Rex: These beautiful animals (8 to 9 pounds adult weight) are most frequently raised for their plush velvet-like fur, excellent meat and are, sadly, not too readily available as pets. Many have been sold from my rabbitry as pets with great success. I always figured God gave them that precious soft fur because they were meant to be cuddled! The Rex and Mini Rex were surely what the author of "THE VELVETEEN RABBIT " had in mind when they created the story line.
Mini Rex: A smaller version (4 to 4-1/2 pounds adult weight) of the Standard Rex, these have become increasingly popular as pets because of the smaller size with the wonderful Rex fur and consistently good dispositions. If I were to only have one breed it would probably be the Mini Rex based on disposition, hardiness and exciting array of colors.
Angoras: Both French (normal furred head and ears with long haired bodies) and English (tufted ears and face and long haired bodies) varieties are delightful pets but do require extra care in grooming and diet (to prevent Hairballs). The loving nature and cuddly feel make them well worth the extra effort of brushing.
Meat Types: New Zealand Whites (also red and black) and Californians are probably the most plentiful and reasonably priced rabbits on the market. They are white with red eyes. Rare breeds like Palominos, Americans, Beverens, Harlequins, Silver Fox etc. are more difficult to come by but worth the effort, These are hardy, generally good natured . They do, however, get big FAST ( 8 to 10 pounds but many does weigh in at over fifteen pounds!)
Unfortunately, too many are not what folks thought they were getting and are, all too often, abandoned or neglected when they get past the "cute bunny stage".
There are a great many more breeds equally exceptional in their own way. I have out-lined the most commonly available as pets.