A rabbit is a perfect pet for many different people, and there are so many breeds to choose from. Some of the best rabbit breeds for pets include the Flemish Giant, the Holland Lop, the Angora, and the Silver Fox.
Whether you have been considering getting a rabbit or not, this blog post will be sure to give you some information on which breed would be best suited for your family!
Domesticating Rabbits – A Brief History
Rabbits have been domesticated ever since the Middle Ages and are now firm favorite family pets. Some breeds are also valued highly as prized show rabbits, and others live out their lives as wild rabbits in the woods.
You may even recognize some celebrity rabbits, like the Easter Bunny, Bugs Bunny, Peter Rabbit, and Jessica Rabbit!
However, did you know that rabbits and their close relative, the hare, are small mammals from the Leporidae Family?
Twenty-nine species of rabbits from ten genera have traversed the world and now live on every continent except Antarctica. Twenty of these species originate from the genus Sylvilagus, and they call North and South America home.
You may know these rabbits by their common name, the cottontails. These are wild rabbits, with most sporting a stubby tail with a white underside, and this characteristic gives cause to their name, the cottontails.
The rabbit has a long evolution line, with all modern-day rabbits descending from their wild ancestors. But with a hop, skip, and a jump through time, and over countless generations, new breeds have emerged.
Today, the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) has identified fifty unique rabbit breeds derived from the twenty-nine species.
Essentially, breeds are different types found within a species, and all have points of difference. Some have long hair, and others have short hair. Size-wise, some are known as dwarfs, some as medium, and others are giants.
An array of colors and patterns can also give rabbits strikingly magnificent hues. Blue steel, lilac chinchilla, sable, tortoiseshell, and chocolate are a few examples of the color palette range.
So, given the many different breeds and characteristics differences, it is safe to say that no two furry bunnies are alike.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) is a not-for-profit organization committed to advancing responsible domestic rabbit and cavy (guinea pig) ownership.
The ARBA recently published “Standard of Perfection,” the ultimate guide to rabbit breeds that includes the 50th and latest member introduced into the rabbit world, the Dwarf Papillon.
Click here to purchase the ARBA Standard of Perfection 2021-2025 Book on Amazon.
Best Rabbit Breeds for Pets
In no particular order, the following five breeds of rabbits have wonderful attributes that make them excellent family pets.
The Lionhead Rabbit
This rabbit is a small to medium-sized bunny and is particularly friendly. The Lionhead tends to bond well and subsequently is likely to require lots of attention.
This breed also sheds and requires a good grooming regime.
The Checkered Giant Rabbit
This breed is truly a giant in the rabbit world. It can weigh up to 11 lbs and is often a feature of the bunny show circuit because of its enormous size and tremendous appearance.
The Checkered Giant make marvelous companions. But beware! This rabbit requires a generous living space, and it has an abundance of energy to burn.
The Mini Lop Rabbit
This rabbit breed is medium in size and has many colors, including blue, black, lilac, chocolate, orange, white and beige. The drooping ears of a Mini Lop make them strikingly irresistible.
Nevertheless, this breed can be susceptible to dental difficulties and ear infections.
The Rex Rabbit
The Rex is a muscular-looking bunny with dense chinchilla-Esque fur and upright ears that tend to point back.
These rabbits are renowned for their intelligence, and they also have a reputation for being fine jumpers.
Despite being one of the giant bunny breeds, they are friendly and play very nicely with others!
This breed covers nineteen different colors and patterns.
However, it is essential to note that this breed has a chemical sensitivity to litter produced from cedar woodchips, so don’t use cedar in their bunny litter box.
The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit
This breed is the smallest of the domesticated rabbit, weighing under 2.5 pounds.
Nonetheless, the high-energy jumping antics and charismatic temperament of these rabbits make them popular pets.
However, Netherland Dwarfs are not fond of being picked up. Something to consider when these rabbits are in the company of young children, as their X factor often makes them irresistible to a cuddle.
The Jersey Wooly Rabbit
The Jersey Wooly’s fur feels like wool! This particular type would make an excellent pet because they’re gentle animals who enjoy being handled by people.
It should also noted these rabbits have been known to do well living outdoors if given enough space. It is important to give the Jersey Wooly protection from the weather with a quality outdoor rabbit hutch.
The Angora Rabbit
The Angora rabbit is a long haired rabbit. Angora rabbits are popular pets because they are very gentle and enjoy being handled by people.
They require regular grooming to keep their long hair from matting, but the effort is worth it because Angoras make wonderful pets!
Further Reading on Pet Rabbit Breeds and Care
If you are interested in learning more about pet rabbit breeds or how to care for a pet rabbit, then the following books might be a good start.
Rabbit Breeds – The Pocket Guide to 49 Essential Breeds
The Everything Pet Rabbit Handbook
Mini Encyclopedia of Rabbit Breeds and Care
Interesting Rabbit Trivia
Do you know that the collective noun for a group of bunnies is a fluffle?
If there were such a thing as the Animal Olympics, team members of a fluffle would represent the small mammal world as elite track and field athletes.
In the wild, speed and agility are the primary protective defenses at a rabbit’s disposal. A well-defined musculature body helps the big hind leg bones quickly spring into action so a rabbit can sprint and weave away from a predator or a perceived threat.
When rabbits run like this, they do so on their toes. This action is known as digitigrade locomotion. Their front feet each have four toes, and a dewclaw and their hind feet each have four toes but no dewclaw. The claws of the toes are strong enough for digging.
Now, there are some fun facts to impress your friends!
You may have also heard about or even seen the thumping action rabbits can display.
Rabbits generally do not vocalize, and this tapping of the back foot is a vital channel of communication to warn other rabbits of a danger that has been seen, heard, or smelt. Rabbits will retain this thumping posture until the threat has passed.
This behavior is instinctual, and both domesticated and wild rabbits exhibit this trait whenever they are in a vulnerable position.
Along with an imposing set of teeth that continue to grow throughout a rabbit’s life, their field of vision covering almost 360 degrees is also impressive. This anatomical feature is because of how the eyes are position in its skull.
Do you have a favorite rabbit breed? Let us know which breed has won you over and why. We’d love to hear your response!