What type of rabbit should you choose and which breed?

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Are you looking for a pet rabbit but not sure where best to start?

Not all rabbits are the same so it can be quite challenging to choose the “right” one.

Certain types of rabbit won’t suit a household with young children due to their character, while others are likely to suffer from health complaints, which can be distressing and expensive.

If you’ve not previously owned a rabbit, it can be hard to know which breed(s) may suit you best so we’ve put together some tips to make things less confusing.

Here’s what you’ll need to think about when you’re looking to choose your first pet rabbit.

Baby bunnies versus adult rabbits

Baby rabbits are undeniably cute but they’re also rather lively.

This can make them more of a challenge compared to adult rabbits, who are usually easier to house train – especially if they have been neutered.

Choosing a breed

There are around 60 rabbit breeds recognised by the British Rabbit Council so this can be overwhelming if you have no prior knowledge of them.

Even if you’re predominantly looking for a rabbit that could happily live indoors, this doesn’t necessarily narrow things down much further. Any rabbit can potentially live indoors.

Health and longevity are bigger concerns for many rabbit breeds.

Larger breeds tend not to live as long as their smaller counterparts, with giant breeds often struggling to make it beyond 4-5 years of age.

In comparison, dwarf breeds can live twice as long as this.

Here are some of the rabbit breeds that you may come across, along with their characteristics:

  • Netherland Dwarf: This breed is gentle and affectionate and can be trained to carry out simple tasks such as using a litter tray, however it is also very energetic. Dental issues are common. They have a relatively long life span and are fairly low maintenance, although they will need good grooming during moulting season.
  • Himalayan: The Himalayan rabbits have a docile character, are gentle and patient. They tend to need only minimal grooming and have a good life span. There are no significant health issues to be concerned about but their prominent eyes do increase the potential for eye injuries. They are not known for scratching and biting so are ideal for families with younger children.
  • New Zealand: These large rabbits are a good choice for families. They are sociable, calm and friendly and relatively easy to handle – perfect for children once they’ve been shown how to pick up bigger, stronger bunnies correctly. They are clever and can also be trained to use a litter tray.
  • Polish: The Polish breed are small in size and therefore not suitable for very young children – who may not handle small rabbits correctly – but their gentle and loving nature makes them popular with families. There are no prominent health concerns associated with them and they only need minimal grooming. They have a life span of around 5 or 6 years when properly cared for.
  • Sussex: This medium sized breed is another friendly, affectionate and sociable type, living for 6- 8 years and the Sussex can also be trained to use a litter tray. They only need minimal grooming outside of the moulting season. They can gain weight easily and the round shape of their head can predispose them to teeth and eye problems.

Where to buy

Buying from a breeder is the best way to find a rabbit with specific characteristics but if you’re not fussy, adopting a rabbit from a rescue centre will save a bunny that may otherwise be overlooked. Rescue rabbits will often have been neutered and vaccinated too, although this won’t always be the case.

What are the characteristics of your rabbit’s breed? Share your know-how with others in the comments section below.

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