Now that you have decided to get your first bunny, let us introduce to you the rabbit breeds. Rabbits come in a variety of breeds. Different rabbit breeds shall have different colours, sizes, coat types and even behaviour.
Identifying rabbit breeds may require some professional breeders’ experience and an average owner may not be able to differentiate one breed to another closely-match breed. We suggest that you do not be too bothered by the exact rabbit breeds if you are just looking to adopt a rabbit as pet.
However, if you are a serious rabbit breeder or someone who is interested to enlist your pet rabbits for rabbit show, the information in this article may not be sufficient for you. You may want to visit a professional rabbit breeder.
If you are just an average pet rabbit’s owner, then, likely you may get your first bunny from a pet store or from an animal shelter. We suggest that you start with an animal shelter first. Every year, many rabbits are abandoned and these cute bunnies need a home.
If you are getting your first bunny from a pet store, note that a pet store rabbit is not necessarily a pure breed or meet the ideal breed standards. In choosing your pet bunny, you should pay attention to the followings: the size and the coat.
If you have children at home, a small-size bunny rabbit may not be a good choice. Rabbits have delicate skeletal and a small-size rabbit may be easily injured by the child. On the other hand, you may not want a giant-size rabbit as a pet rabbit. Some the rabbit breeds are bred for meat and are not meant to be adopted as pet rabbit.
You should also consider the coat. Longer coat breeds need more grooming from the owner. Rabbits vary in size from the smaller dwarf breeds (weighing under 2.5 lbs) to some giant breeds (weighing up to 16 lbs).
In this article, we shall present breeds that are recognised by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. You may want to visit the American Rabbit Breeders Association official website to look at some photos of each rabbit breed.
Small Breed weighing from 2 to 6 lbs (0.9 to 2.7 kg)
The followings are the smaller rabbit breeds:
American Fuzzy Lop
American Fuzzy Lop weighs from 3.5 to 4 lbs (1.6 to 1.8 kg). They have a variety of coat colours. They have compact muscular body, dense and coarse coat. Just like other lop-ear rabbit, their ears folded over to slightly below the jaw.
The Britannia Petite rabbit breed weighs under 2.5 lbs (1.1kg). They have ruby eyed white, black otter, black, chestnut agouti. They have slender, fine boned build with a sleek, silky coat.
The Dutch rabbit breed is a fancy rabbit breeds weighing up to 5lbs. Breeders are always trying to breed perfectly marked examples. Miss-marked bunnies are always available and make excellent pet rabbits. The Dutch rabbit breeds come in various colours, black, blue, chocolate, yellow, tortoiseshell, steel grey, brown grey and pale grey.
The Dwarf Hotot rabbit breed weighs under 3 lbs (1.4 kg). They are white in colour with black eye rings. They have rounded bodies.
The Florida White rabbit breed weighs from 4 to 6 lbs (1.8 to 2.7 kg). They are pure white and have rounded bodies.
The Havana rabbit breed weighs from 4.5 to 6.5 lbs (2 to 3 kg). They come in black, blue and brown colour. They have compact and rounded body. The Havana rabbit breed is believed to have been bred from a Dutch doe that was stabled with other breeds. They were an important rabbit breed to England in the early 1900s.
This breed weighs from 2.5 to 4.5 lbs (1.1 to 2 kg). They have long, snake-like body and a short, white coat with brown, black, blue or lilac point. Colouration develops on the cooler part of the body such as the ears, nose, tail, feet and the legs. They are very docile and make excellent pet rabbits.
The Holland Lop rabbit breed weighs under 4 lbs (1.8 kg). They come in agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, ticked, or wide band color groups. They have muscular build, lop ears.
The Jersey Wolly rabbit breed weighs under 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg). They come in a wide variety of colours and have long woolly coat. They are also known as the Dwarf Angora.
The Mini Lop rabbit breed weighs from 4.5 to 6.5 lbs (2 to 3 kg). They come in agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, ticked, or wide band color groups. They are muscular and have compact bodies.
The Mini Rex rabbit breed weighs from 3 to 4.5 lbs (1.4 to 2 kg).
This rabbit breed weighs under 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg). They were introduced into the UK in 1950. They are bad tempered, especially among bucks (male adult rabbits). However, the adult dwarf doe (female rabbits) are very docile and can make wonderful pet rabbits. They have short ears and are bred in a wide variety of colours and patterns.
The Polish rabbit breed was first bred in Holland and weighs under 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg). They are one of the most popular breeds in England and in the U.S. They have a lively temperament that makes them unsuitable for children. They come in black, blue or brown colour and have blue-eyed or ruby-eyed white. They also have very short ears. The English Polish rabbit breeds that have only been introduced to the U.S. is classified as a different breed and is known as the Britannia Petite.
This breed weighs from 4 to 7 lbs (1.8 to 3.2 kg). They have either black, brown, fawn with silver/white guard hairs. They probably originated in France where it was known as the "Riche" which means valuable.
The Tan rabbit breeds weigh from 4 to 6 lbs (1.8 to 2.7 kg). These are the oldest breeds of domestic rabbits. They were bred by chance in a warren containing wild and domesticated rabbits. They have deep golden tan as part of the colouring, with the rest in either black, blue, brown or lilac colour.
Medium-size Rabbit Breeds weigh from 6 to 9 lbs (2.7 to 4.1 kg)
The followings are the medium-size rabbit breeds:
The Alaskan rabbit breed originated from Germany. They weigh from 6 to 8.5 lbs (2.7 to 3.9 kg). This rabbit breed has no visible neck. They are black in colour and their furs are thick and shiny on the surface. The belly of this bunny is black and matt. This rabbit breed has dark brown eyes and their toe nails are dark in colour.
The Angora rabbit breed is one of the oldest breeds of rabbit. They are thought to have originated in Turkey hundreds of years ago and were initially breed for their wool. There are four types of Angora: English angora | 5-7 lbs (2.3-3.2 kgs) | long silky hair; the French angora | 7.5-10.5 lbs (3.4-4.8 kg); the Giant Angora | 8.5 lbs (3.9 kg) and up | soft fine undercoat (wool), straight stiff guard hairs, and a wavy fluff with a guard tip in-between; and the Satin Angora | 6.5-9.5 lbs (3-4.3 kg) | very fine wool.
The English Angora is adorned growths of wool on the tips of the ears and front feet that are known as “furnishings”. They have rich ruby red eyes.
The Argente rabbit breed comes in the family of Argente Crème, Argente Bleu, Argente de Champagne and Argente Brun. They weighs from 5 to 8 lbs (2.3 to 3.6 kg). The Argente Crème is the smallest of the Argente rabbit breed. They have orange under colour and top creamy white colour interspersed with long orange hairs.
The Argent Bleu rabbit breed is a compact breed with under colour of lavender and top bluish white coat. The Argente de Champagne was bred and kept in France for many years. They were bred for both fur and meat. They have silvery colour and the under colour is dark slate blue and the top coat is whitish blue shot with black. The Argente Brun is rarely seen now.
The Belgian Hare breed originated in Flanders and was imported to England where it was selectively bred until the present day form. They weighs from 6 to 9.5 lbs (2.7-4.3 kg). At one time, they were the most popular fancy rabbit and was responsible for bringing to notice the domestication of rabbits to the US and UK population.
Although they are called hares, they are in fact rabbits. They have reddish tan or chestnut colour bordered by black ticking along the length of the body and around the ears. This rabbit breed has slender build and fairly stiff coat. They often takes top honour at rabbit shows.
The English Spot breeds weigh from 5 to 8 lbs (2.3 to 3.6 kg). They come in white with black, blue, brown, gold, grey, lilac or tortoise colour. They have butterfly mark on the nose, colored ears, eye rings, spine marking (which is herringboned) and a spot on the cheek and a chain of spots along the body. They have long arched body like a hare.
The Harlequin rabbit breeds weigh from 6.5 to 9.5 lbs (3 to 4.3 kg). They were originally bred in France from the Tortoiseshell Dutch. They were first shown in UK in the 1880s and known as the Japanese breed. It is quite a large rabbit and is evenly coloured in black, golden orange on the head, ears, legs and the body. Some have alternating bands of colour and white, with half the face in white and the other half coloured, and the ear on the have side coloured and the other side alternates.
This breed weighs from 5.5 to 8 lbs (2.5-3.6 kg). They were first bred in the UK in 1913. They have dense silky fur evenly coloured in lilac. They have compact bodies.
The Rex rabbit breeds weigh from 7.5 to 10.5 lbs (3.4 to 4.8 kg). All the Rex rabbit breeds are of the same type – a graceful rabbit gently sloping up to well rounded hindquarters. They are good nature rabbits and make excellent pets. They come in colours of black, black otter, blue, broken group, californian, castor, chinchilla, chocolate, lilac, lynx, opal, red, sable, seal or white.
This breed weighs from 6.5 to 10 lbs (3 to 4.5 kg). They are white in colour with black and bright golden orange markings (6-8 round markings on each side of the back part of the body, as well as a spine marking, butterfly mark on the nose, eye circles, colord ears, and round cheek spots).
No information is available for this rabbit breed. Refer to the Angora rabbit breed.
This rabbit breed weighs from 6 to 9.5 lbs (2.7 to 4.3 kg). They have black, blue, chocolate, sable with silver-tipped guard hairs.
The Standard Chinchilla rabbit breed has chinchilla coloration and has rounded body. They weigh from 5 to 7.5 lbs (2.3-3.4 kg).
Large Rabbit Breed that weighs from 9 to 11 lbs (4.1 to 5 kg)
The followings are the large-size rabbit breeds:
The American Sable rabbit breed has mixed English and French ancestry. They first shown in Paris in 1914. They usually weigh from 9 to 12 lbs (4.1 to 5.5 kg). They usually come in slightly blue and white fur. The sable breed also comes as the marten sable that have a white underside or Siamese sable, without the white underside. Their fur is silky and dense. The American Sable rabbit breed has a narrow head. They are very placid rabbit.
The American Chinchilla rabbit breed weighs from 9 to 12 lbs (4.1 to 5.5 kg).
The Chinchilla originated in France and was first introduced after the First World War. The under colour of the fur should be slate blue at the base, the middle portion pearl grey, merging into white and tipped with black. The whole of the pelt should be ticked with long black guard hairs. They weigh from 5.5 to 6.5 lbs (2.5 to 3.1 kg).
The Beveren is one of the oldest and largest of the fur rabbits. It was first bred in Beveren, which is a small town near Antwerp in Belgium. Around 1915 it became very popular in England because meat was very scarce, the flesh at that time was far more important than the fur. Because of their size, they need good-sized housing. However, they make excellent pet rabbits for small children.
The Californian rabbit breed weighs from 8 to 12 lbs (3.6 to 4.5 kg). They are white in cloour, with black nose, ears, feet and tail. They have rounded body, medium build, and short smooth coat. They were first brought in the UK from the U.S. in the 1950s. They are calm, gentle rabbits and make excellent pets
The Cinnamon rabbit breed weigh from 8.5 to 11 lbs (3.9 to 5 kg). They have rust or cinnamon color with grey ticking on back and grey on belly. They also have rust colored spots inside hind legs as well as butterfly mark on nose and eye rings.
The English Lop rabbit breed weighs over 9 lbs (4.1 kg). They come in Agouti, broken, self, shaded, ticked or wide band color groups. They have very long lop ears. The Lop rabbit breed is one of the oldest breeds of domesticated rabbits. They were given a class of their own in 1920s when they reached high standard of excellence. Other varieties of the Lop rabbit breed include the French Lop which is thought to have been crossed bred between the English Lop with an unknown breed and the Dwarf Lop that originated by cross-breeding the French Lop with the Dwarf.
Refer to the Angora rabbit breed above.
The Hotot rabbit breed weighs from 8 to11 lbs (3.6 to 5 kg). They have well-rounded bodies and comes in white with black eye ring.
The New Zealand rabbit breed weighs from 9 to 12 lbs (4.1 to 5.5 kg). They have long muscular body and comes in black, red or white. The New Zealand Red is a bright golden red with a slightly harsher coat than the other colours. The New Zealand White was first bred in the USA for commercial purposes. Nowadays it is bred for showing and is a consistent winner.
The Palomino breed weighs under 9.5 lbs (4.3 kg). They come in golden or lynx.
The Satin breed weighs from 8.5 to 11 lbs (3.9-5 kg). They originated from the U.S. and were exported to England in the 1940s. They come in a range of colours with the best being in Ivory Satin.
The Silver Fox breed weighs from 9 to 12 lbs (4.1-5.5 kg). The first Silver Fox rabbits were exhibited in 1926 followed by blue, brown and lilac. There are the most popular of the fur breeds. Because of its long and dense coat, it may be suitable to be made pets.
Giant-size Rabbit Breeds weigh 11 lbs. (5 kg) and over
The followings are the giant-size rabbit breeds:
American Checkered Giant
The American Checkered Giant rabbit breed weighs from 11 lbs or greater (5 kg). They come in white with black or black or blue markings fur along the spine, body spots, cheek spots, colored ears, eye circles and butterfly mark on nose.
Flemish Giant (Patagonian)
The Flemish Giant (Patagonian) rabbit breed originated in Flanders. They weigh 13 lbs (5.9 kg) and over. They are long rabbit and heavily built. They come in black, blue, fawn, light grey, sandy, steel grey or white.
The French Lop rabbit breed weighs 10 lbs (4.5 kg) and over. They come in agouti, broken, self, shaded, ticked or wide band groups. They are muscular and heavily built.
The Giant Chinchilla weigh 12 to 16 lbs (5.5 to7.3 kg). They have chinchilla colouration. They have rounded body and heavily built.
The Giant Papillon rabbit breeds weigh from 13 to-14 lbs (5.9 to 6.4 kg). They are white with markings - similar to English Spot except patches on sides instead of spots.
The following rabbit breeds are not listed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
The British Giant rabbit breed is a very large rabbit weighing 12.5lbs and over. They come in dark steel grey, black, white, blue, brown, grey and opal. They can make wonderful pets but they need a lot of space.
Blanc de bouscat
This rabbit breed originated from France and is quite rare in England. They are fairly large rabbits weighing around 12 pounds for the buck and up to 14 pounds for the doe. They are white and the fur is dense and silky.
The English rabbit breed has been popular for over 100 years. They are white with colour on the ears and body with chains and spots of blue, black, tortoiseshell, grey or brown.
The Siberian Rabbit was first bred in the UK around 1930. They are very graceful rabbit. They weigh between 5 to 7 lbs.
The Smoke Pearl
The Smoke Pearl rabbit breed was first bred in Scotland in 1926. It was originally known as Smoke Beige. They are light pearl grey and beige in colour. The Siamese version has smoke on the saddle shading to pearl grey beige on the flank, chest and belly. The Marten version has white ticking, eye circles and belly.
The Sussex rabbit breed is a recent introduction is becoming increasingly popular. They comes in gold and cream colours.
The Thuringer rabbit breed was first bred in Germany from Himalayans and the Argentes. They have yellow ochre coat or buff with bluish guards hairs. They weigh around 9lbs.
The Vienna rabbit breed is an old Austrian breed which has recently been introduced into the UK. They are sturdy rabbits with adults weighing between 8-12lbs. They come in two colours the Vienna Blue which has a dark, slate blue top colour with a lighter under colour and the Vienna White which has a silky white coat.
This is quite a long list rabbit breeds. As what was mentioned earlier not all the breeds are suitable to be made as pets. In our next article, we shall publish more on the common rabbit breeds that was adopted as pet rabbits and how to choose your first bunny.