Bunny breeds fall into two main categories: domestic and wild. This article focuses on domestic bunny breeds that can be raised at home, used for shows, or used for commercial purposes, like meat and fur. Bunnies come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. They also have diverse personalities and different care or handling requirements, so it can be difficult to choose one as a pet.
Whatever your reason for getting a bunny, there are a surprisingly large number of breeds to choose from. And most of them are very cute! Some bunny varieties make excellent pets; however, you should consider gender, size, and the type of coat before taking home your new pet – and remember: bunnies can live up to 16 years of age!
Let’s look at gender to begin with: Bucks (male bunnies) are easygoing and love to be cuddled. Does (female bunnies) also make good pets but can sometimes become territorial as they get older. From a behavioral point of view, it’s better to have both genders neutered or spayed at 6 months. And it’s also healthier for the bunny as it tends to live longer.
Bunnies can be expensive and can require a lot of care, so when looking at breeds, consider how much time you have for grooming. Long-haired or wool bunny breeds require daily brushing! And all bunnies require at least one hour of exercise per day. Smaller bunnies are more energetic than larger bunnies, which tend to be lethargic. All bunnies love lots of attention, and the more time you spend with your pet, the more friendly he will become.
The breeds mentioned in this article are some of the 48 breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA).
Small bunnies are more popular as pets – but be careful not to get too small a bunny, as these, like the Britannia Petite, can have heart attacks if they get a fright or can be aggressive or have genetic problems. Some smaller bunnies to consider, depending on their individual characters and temperaments, are:
- American Fuzzy Lop
Weight: 3 to 4 pounds. Their wooly fur needs regular grooming. They come in numerous different colors and patterns and have lopped ears.
- Britannia Petite
Weight: Under 2.5 pounds. The smallest of the standard breeds. They are quite nervous and delicate, so they need careful handling.
Weight: Up to 5.5 pounds. These are popular as pets as they generally have lovely personalities.
- Dwarf Hotot
Weight: Up to 3 pounds. White with black rings around its eyes. They like attention and are great companions.
Weight: 2.5 to 4.5 pounds. White coat with distinctive black, chocolate, blue, or lilac markings on its ears, feet, and tail and around its nose.
- Holland Lop
Weight: 2.75 to 4 pounds. Has lopped ears and soft, fine fur in many shades and patterns. Very popular as pets.
- Jersey Wooly
Weight: 2.75 to 3.5 pounds. Fluffy coat with short, erect ears. They come in many different colors.
Weight: Up to 3.75 pounds. Have long hair around the neck and shoulders and are adorable as pets. They need daily grooming though.
- Mini Rex
Weight: 2.75–4.5 pounds. A favorite bunny breed. Has a plush, luxurious coat in many different colors.
- Mini Satin
Weight: Up to 3.75 pounds. Shiny, satiny coat.
- Netherland Dwarf
Weight: Up to 2.5 pounds. Calm, inquisitive with a sweet demeanor. Very active and popular as pets. Come in many different colors. They are tiny, so care needs to be taken while handling.
Weight: Max 3.5 pounds. Mild temperament. Coat colors are black, blue, chocolate, white, and broken.
These smaller bunny breeds weigh less than 2.7 kilograms. Many of the lop-eared bunny breeds as well as Netherland Dwarfs suffer from serious teeth and eye problems, so if you get your bunny from a breeder, check there is no history of this in their family. Some of these smaller bunnies tend to frighten easily and nip to protect themselves.
Medium-sized bunnies are classed as weighing between 2.7 and 4 kilograms. These breeds need bigger cages, so if you have limited space in your home, then these would not be an option for you. Some examples are given below:
- American Sable
Weight: 7 to 10 pounds. This is a peaceful, friendly, and likeable bunny. With dark brown extremities and a sepia-colored body, it looks a bit like a Siamese cat!
- Belgian Hare
Weight: 6 to 9.5 pounds. This is not a hare but looks like one, with a racy, lean body and alert, upright ears.
Weight: 8 to 10.5 pounds. Generally has a good temperament and it is good with children. Has a white body with dark extremities.
- English Spot
Weight: 6 to 8 pounds. Active but has a nervous temperament. White body with a black stripe down its back, black spots, black ears, and a big black marking around its nose.
- French Angora
Weight: 7.5 to 10.5 pounds. Has lovely, long fur on its body, which needs to be groomed daily. Its hair is short on its face, ears, and front feet.
- Giant Angora
Weight: 8.5 to 9.5 pounds. Long hair on its entire body, which requires daily grooming.
Weight: 7 to 9.5 pounds. Has a friendly, playful, and gentle temperament. Coat is mostly patterned in black and orange.
Weight: 8 to 11 pounds. Entire body is white, with black rings around the eyes.
Weight: 5.75 to 8 pounds. Docile temperament. Gray-pink fur.
Weight: 8 to 10.5 pounds. Beautiful golden fur.
Weight: 7.5 to 10.5 pounds. Friendly and enjoys company. Has fine, silky, velvety hair in many colors and patterns.
Weight: 6.75 to 10 pounds. Has an easygoing nature. Tricolored, with a white body and orange and black markings.
Weight: 8 to 10.5 pounds. Its coat is soft and dense and has a satin sheen to it. Comes in many different colors.
- Satin Angora
Weight: 6 to 9 pounds. Has fine, glossy, long fur in a variety of colors.
- Silver Martin
Weight: 6.5 to 9.5 pounds. Timid, but can make a good pet. Fur colors are black, blue, chocolate, and sable.
Large bunnies are sometimes preferred as pets as they are laid-back and affectionate. Of course, being large, they require big cages, lots of exercise, and more food than a dwarf or mini bunny does! A bunny is classed as large if it weighs between 4 and 5.4 kilograms at maturity. Several of these large bunnies are preferred as meat breeds due to their large, meaty loins.
Weighs 9–12 pounds. White or slate blue. Endangered.
- American Chinchilla
Weighs 9–12 pounds. Critically endangered and has fur banded in slate blue near the roots, becoming white and then black in the top band.
Weighs 8–12 pounds. Its dense fur comes in black, blue, and white.
- Champagne d’Argent
Weighs 9–12 pounds. Distinctive in that its coat changes color from black at birth to silver when mature.
Weighs 8.5–11 pounds. Cinnamon-colored, with gray ticking down its back.
- Crème d’Argent
Weighs 8–11 pounds. Beautiful creamy white coat with underlying orange color.
- English Lop
Weighs 9 pounds and over. Enormous, lopped, long ears. Friendly, good-natured, and extremely intelligent, but needs special care as its ears are susceptible to disease and injury.
- New Zealand
Weighs 9–12 pounds. Great as a pet and comes in white, black, or red.
- Silver Fox
Weighs 9–12 pounds. Has a calm temperament and silvery black fur. Critically endangered.
Giant bunnies tend to have a much shorter lifespan than smaller bunnies. They live for only 4 to 5 years as opposed to the average 12 years for other bunnies. Bunny breeds that come in giant size (5 kilograms and over, with no maximum) are:
- Checkered Giant
Weight: minimum of 12 lbs. White with black or blue spots. Prone to injury.
- Flemish Giant
Weight: minimum of 14 lbs. Comes in a variety of colors. Is docile and loves attention. A good pet – if you can lift it!
- Giant Chinchilla
Weight: minimum of 12 lbs. Banded fur in slate blue, white, and black.
If you’re looking for a bunny for commercial use, then bunny breeds popular for their meat, fur, and show are listed below:
American, American Silver Fox, Californian, Champagne d’Argent, Checkered Giant, English Spot, Flemish Giant, Lilac, New Zealand, Palomino, Satin
American, American Silver Fox, Angora Wooler, Checkered Giant, Chinchilla, Havana, Lilac, Marten, Rex, Satin
American, American Silver Fox, Angora Wooler, Belgian Hare, Beveren, Californian, Champagne d’Argent, Checkered Giant, Chinchilla, Dutch, English Spot, Flemish Giant, Havana, Himalayan, Lilac, Lops, Marten, New Zealand, Palomino, Polish, Rex, Satin, Silver, Tan
Bunny breeds are also classified into five different body shapes:
Built for agility and speed, it stands on its toes a lot, alert and ready to bolt. The back forms a large arch all the way from the neck to the tail. Lots of space under the tummy.
– Breeds: Britannia Petite, Rhinelander, Belgian Hare, Checkered Giant, English Spot
Resembles a half-cut pear when sitting and is usually found on a large or giant bunny.
– Breeds: American, Beveren, English Lop, Flemish Giant, Giant Chinchilla
Typically well muscled and of medium body length, these bunnies are mostly used for meat purposes as they gain mass quickly.
– Breeds: American Chinchilla, Angoras (French, Giant, Satin), Argentes, Californian, Cinnamon, French Lop, Harlequin, Hotot, New Zealand, Palomino, Rex, Satin, Silver Fox, Silver Marten
Most small- and medium-sized bunnies fall into this category. Their bodies are round, well balanced, and tightly constructed.
– Breeds: Dutch, American Fuzzy Lop, English Angora, Dwarf Hotot, Lilac, Holland Lop, Jersey Wooly, Mini Lop, Mini Rex, Polish, Mini Satin, Netherland Dwarf
Only one breed of this shape is recognized by the ARBA. Long, with a straight top line.
– Breed: Himalayan
After looking at all the above breeds, you must have found a favorite. Now it’s time to decide whether to get a baby or adopt a more mature bunny.
Remember that baby rabbits require house training, the same as dogs and cats. Also, you can never be sure of their personalities until they are mature. If you decide on a mature rabbit, rest assured, you will still be able to bond with it, and the bonus is that it will be more loving and calmer than a baby. Baby bunnies also have to go through their ‘teenage months’ and these are not fun! Your sweet, adorable bunny could turn into a tyrant and remain that way! A mature bunny is age 12 months and over and is usually neutered or spayed. Many can be found in rescue shelters awaiting loving homes. If in doubt, get a bunny from a shelter rather than a baby bunny from a pet shop.