You may have seen rabbits in all different colours and sizes. Even though all domesticated rabbits came from the European rabbit (read the history of rabbits ), different rabbit breeds are available. As they can vary in needs and temperaments, here is a brief description of most of the breeds. I will begin with the smallest group of bunnies and end with the largest. The breeds included here are not recognised by all rabbit associations, thus are not eligible breeds for showing, depending on your location. The list of breeds are from the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) and the BRC (British Rabbit Council). I have left links for clubs for those interested in showing or pages with more information about the breed in question. The max weights mentioned are there for reference only. Those are max weights for show animals and rabbits bred for pets may not necessarily follow those maximums.
Dwarf Rabbit Breeds
This category of rabbits are the ones that you would have probably seen on little cards and calendars. They are not all recognised as ‘breeds’ but they are popular little rabbits. When buying a dwarf rabbit, one must be careful as there has been cases where pet shops do not know the parents of their bunnies and the ‘dwarf rabbit’ turns out to have mixed parents, and can grow to a large size. Dwarf breeds are considered to be under 1.81kg and most of them carry a dwarfing gene with the exception of the Britannia Petite.
American Fuzzy Lop – max 1.60 kg
Recognised by ARBA, this is a dwarf breed that has a wool similar to angora. They are fluffy small rabbits with a sociable nature. They enjoy attention and work well with people and other rabbits.
American Fuzzy Lop Rabbit Club
Britannia Petite – max 1.20 kg
This breed of rabbit is one of the lightest in the category. They make poor pets for children as without proper handling, they are more likely to nip. With patience, these very active rabbits can be decent pets. However, they are less forgiving if you do not use a positive approach to training them. Britannia Petites are extremely active and require plenty of room for exercise.
Information about Britannia Petites
By Gilberte at nl.wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5], from Wikimedia Commons
Dwarf Hotot – max 1.36 kg
Dwarf Hotot’s are all white with a line of black around their eyes, like eyeliner. They are very small and compact bunnies. Unfortunately, this breed does not appear on the BRC.
American Dwarf Hotot Rabbit Club
Holland Lop/Miniature Lop – max 1.81/1.60 kg
Depending on which association you look at, this rabbit has two names. ARBA call it the Holland Lop and BRC refer to this breed as a Miniature Lop. There are also fundamental differences in the rules both associations have for showing these rabbits, based on factors like maximum weight, poses etc. Aside from these and despite two different names, they are essentially the same thing. This lop has a short round face and a rounded body. It has a good temperament and can be very cuddly.
UK club, The National Miniature Lop Rabbit Club
American equivalent, Holland Lop Rabbit Speciality Club
Jersey Wooly – max 1.578 kg
Bunnies of this breed have an easy to care for wooly coat. They are playful and friend rabbits.
National Jersey Wooly Rabbit Club
Lionhead Rabbit – max 1.70 kg
This breed is not recognised by the ARBA however, the BRC do see it as a legit breed. They have a mane of hair around their head which explains their name. These rabbits can have both lop and upright ears. They are generally friendly and calm rabbits. Easily tame, they are able to learn basic commands.
National Lionhead Rabbit Club
Miniature Lionhead Lop – max 1.60 kg
As if the Lionhead was not small enough, this is a slightly smaller version with lop ears. Like the Miniature Lop but with the addition of a mane, this breed is friendly, active and affectionate. It has been referred to as a ‘lap rabbit’ by some owners.
Information about Mini Lionhead Lops
Miniature Cashmere Lop – max 1.60 kg
This small rabbit has a coat that requires regular grooming so if that’s not something you can commit to, then this isn’t the breed for you. The Mini Cashmere Lop has an angora-like fur in a large variety of colours and lop ears.
National Cashmere Lop Club
Netherland Dwarf – max 1.134 kg
Most dwarf breeds owe their thanks to the dwarfing gene that is found in the Netherland Dwarf. However, this gene can be lethal if two true dwarf rabbits are bred, leading to a small percentage of their litter dying. To reduce these kinds of deaths, breeders tend to mix true dwarfs with false dwarf. Small wild rabbits played a big part in the breeding of the Netherland Dwarf so some rabbits of this breed can be a bit nervous or ‘wild’ compared to other breeds. However, with selective breeding, most Netherland Dwarfs make good pets and are quite docile. They are small but strong.
American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club
National Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club – UK
Small Rabbit Breeds
Small breeds are heavier and bigger than dwarf rabbits. They tend not to get heavier than 3.2kg. They make better pets for young children as they are not too much bigger than a dwarf yet they are hardier and less likely to nip.
Dutch – max 2.26 kg
This is a beautiful rabbit with very distinctive markings. Dutch rabbits make popular and are caring mothers. Because of this caring nature, Dutches have been used as foster mothers in certain situations. Most dutches have white fur with coloured patches over the eyes, cheeks and ears. This leaves an upside down ‘V’ of white on their forehead. They then have a large block of colour starting midback and ending at the feet, leaving them with white socks. Dutches have a variety of colours, with black & white, blue & white and brown & white being seen more often in pet shops. There is something called a tri-coloured Dutch which has three colours instead of the two colour pairing seen in most Dutches.
English Angora – max 3.402 kg
The Angora rabbit requires a lot of grooming and care due to the wooly fur that covers its entire body. This gives the rabbit an appearance of a ball of fluff. This wool can be used in the making of garments and can be cut off as when the rabbit is moulting (rather like the harThe English Angora is not suitable for young children because of the level of care that is required in keeping this rabbit. There are other types of Angora but the English one has a unique facial features in that it is the only one to have wool all over the eyes. They are laid back gentle rabbits who enjoy company.
National Angora Breeders Rabbit Club
Florida White – max 2.72 kg
Florida Whites are completely white with red albino eyes. They were bred to be lab rabbits and as a meat rabbit. This breed is not recognised by the BRC. Like the Dutch, these rabbits make good mothers.
Florida White Rabbit Breeders Association
Havana – max 2.72 kg
These rabbits are famous for their high luster fur and are known as the ‘mink’ of the rabbit family. Havanas have short bodies and legs. They do not look particularly special to pet owners as they tend to have one colour.
Havana Rabbit Breeders Association
By Mjm91 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Himalayan – max 2.041 kg
An old breed that originated somewhere in Tibet and China, that has white fur and coloured points. Their eyes are red. Personality wise, they are very gentle rabbits that make good easy pets.
American Himalayan Rabbit Association
Hulstlander – max 2.75 kg
A newer breed that is completely white with blue eyes. They are very temperamental and territorial, boxing and biting being common with this breed. This challenging breed may be beautiful but is probably better suited for experienced owners. There does not seem to be a specific rabbit club for this breed but there are breeders showing this rabbit.
Barrow Bunnie’s Hulstlanders
Mini Lop – max 2.38 kg
Mini lop is also known as the Dwarf Lop in UK. Despite the name, it is not a dwarf breed. This sturdy lop eared rabbit is a good rabbit for children and is not too large. They are an intelligent breed and can learn commands. These friendly rabbits are not afraid of showing you their disapproval if you do not give them enough attention.
Mini Lop Rabbit Club of America
Mini Rex – max 2 kg
The Mini Rex is a smaller version of the Rex. This breed is famous for its soft velvet coat which is the result of a mutation that causes guard hairs to be as short as the undercoat. The Mini Rex comes in a huge variety of colours.
British Mini Rex Club
by Carly & Art
Silver – max 2.72 kg
One of the older breeds, the Silver has longer ears and a longer body. The name comes from the silver white coloured hairs scattered across the coat, known as ticking. The Silver rabbit has become increasingly rare with less than 100 annual registrations in the USA.
The National Silver Rabbit Club
UK National Silver Rabbit Club
By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Standard Chinchilla – max 3.1 kg
As the name implies, the Chinchilla rabbit has beautiful fur which was the result of Himalayan/Beveren/Wild Rabbit pairings. This breed is known for being gentle and energetic at the same time making them ideal for kids. The Chinchilla breed is most often used for showing or for the fur.
American Standard Chinchilla Rabbit Breeders Association Club
Xoxi at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons
Tan – max 2.041 kg
A friendly rabbit that is known for reddish brown marks on the feet, ears, belly and face. It is a thin and longer looking breed. Interestingly enough, ARBA allows Tan rabbits to move around freely when being judged whereas other rabbits are supposed to keep still. They are not lap or cuddly bunnies but are extremely active and can be trained to complete in rabbit agility courses.
American Tan Rabbit Speciality Club
By Kelly Flynn – Blue Ribbon Rabbitry (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-2.5 or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Thrianta – max 2.75 kg
A less well known breed, the Thrianta has dark brown eyes and an orangey red fur colour. They are slightly rounder and plumper rabbits. They are easy going rabbits that are friendly and are likely to get on with other household pets.
This one is an interesting breed because it is not yet recognized by either ARBA or BRC. The Velveteen Lop is a lop rabbit with rex like fur. It may be a few more years before this rabbit breed becomes officially recognised. This rabbit has long ears and a mandolin body. Since it has not been standardised yet, there is not much to say about what kind of temperament Velveteen Lops are most likely to have.
Velveteen Lop Rabbit Club of America
Medium Rabbit Breeds
Being larger, these rabbits also require more space. If you are thinking of having house rabbits and you are limited in space, be aware that medium breeds and larger need bigger cages. In some cases, using puppy play pens or even crates are better and cheaper options for housing a medium sized rabbit. It also follows that if the rabbit is to live in the garden, the hutch should be larger. They would require more food but are generally considered more outgoing and tolerant of handling although this varies from breed to breed.
American Sable – max 4.5 kg
The American Sable came from crossing Chinchilla rabbits. They have a particular fur colouring that is quite like a siamese cat: whilst the main body colour is a light beige, the head, tail, ears and feet are a darker brown. Eyes tend to be slightly red. A peaceful and friendly breed that may spend most of the day resting, the American Sable can be a good companion to either a human or another rabbit.
Belgian Hare – max 2.08 kg
A rabbit, not a hare – this article on rabbits and hares provides more info. Whilst the Belgian Hare looks like a hare, it is basically a rabbit that looks more racey. This is an old breed with an arched body shape and deep red fur. In America, this breed is considered hard to breed properly and tends not be very popular as a pet. However, the shape and appearance of this rabbit makes it a unique one to choose.
Blanc de Hotot – max 4.98 kg
Similar to the Dwarf Hotot, this is the medium sized version. There was once a Giant Hotot but that breed has now become extinct. The body is completely white apart from a ring of black around the eyes, a bit like eye liner.
Californian – max 4.5 kg
Created by crossing the Himalayan, Chinchilla and New Zealand Whites, this rabbit has a white body and black ears, nose, feet and tail. The breed was made with the intention of becoming a meat rabbit with a good pelt. Their good temperament makes them ideal for children.
English Spot – max 3.62 kg
An interesting looking breed, this rabbit has a distinct patterning. English Spots have a white base fur with a coloured (there are several colours but common is black) line down the centre of the back, a butterfly marking on the nose, lined eyes and a series of spots that go across the sides. As it is a full arched rabbit, they are allowed to move when being judged at a show. They are active rabbits that enjoy jumping around but can be nervous.
French Angora – max 4.76 kg
The French Angora has fur that can be harvested for wool. This rabbit has no wool on its face, front feet and ears. Grooming is an important part of looking after an angora rabbit which means this breed is only suitable for those who are willing to brush them every day. However, this pays off as you can learn to harvest and use the wool of your rabbit. French Angoras come in many colours.
By Loggie-log (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Giant Angora – max 4.5 kg
With white fur and ruby eyes, the Giant Angora produces the most wool due to a dense undercoat. Most of its body is covered in wool. Like other angoras, grooming is necessary every day. This larger angora breed takes a year or more to mature fully.
Harlequin – max 3.62 kg
Brightly coloured, to the untrained eye, the Harlequin’s patterns look random. Some people believe Harlequin to be a fur colour rather than a breed, however, it is recognised by both BRC and ARBA. The common colours is black and orange and the main aim is to have half the face one colour and the other half the second colour. The rest of the body should be half-half in colour too. This is a friendly breed that is both playful and gentle.
Lilac – max 3.16 kg
A rabbit with a pink shade of dove colour. The Lilac is a docile breed that is slow to mature. The litters produced by this breed are very small compared to other breeds.
Palomino – max 4.5 kg
This rabbit has large upright ears and brown eyes with fur colour being either a golden or a lynx colour. Palomino rabbits were bred using a variety of breeds including meat rabbits as the aim was to create a meaty rabbit with a nice appearance.
Rex – max 3.62 kg
The bigger version of the Mini Rex. It should be noted that the max weight here follows BRC standards. The ARBA standards asks for a heavier rabbit. The Rex has a fine silky textured fur that comes in many colours and patterns. Due to their fur having guard hairs the same length as the undercoat, their fur demands less grooming. In terms of personality, it is often reported that Rexs are friendly maternal rabbits that enjoy company.
Rhinelander – max 4.5 kg
An arched breed, this rabbit is known for its white background with black and orange butterfly markings. ARBA also accepts blue and fawn spotting. They are not an aggressive breed and are laid back in nature. The Rhinelander is allowed to pose and run as it likes when being judged as it is an arched breed.
Satin – max 3.62 kg
As you may have already guessed, the Satin rabbit has a satin like fur. They are larger in the US as they are regarded as a meat breed over there whereas in UK the Satin is a fur breed. Satin rabbits have a gene mutation that causes the guard hairs to become transparent and reflect light to create that satin sheen.
By Blauglanz at de.wikipedia(Original text : blauglanz) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Satin Angora – max 4.30 kg
An Angora breed with finer fur, the Satin Angora is covered in angora fur all over apart from on the ears and the head. The fur has a shiny sheen to it. Like all Angoras, this breed would need special grooming and diet.
By Clevername (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Silver Marten – max 4.30 kg
The Silver Marten has fur that has a soft polished look to it. Colours that this breed comes in are black, blue, chocolate and sable. This breed is a result of Chinchilla breeds crossed with Tan rabbits. Whilst they are a bit timid, they are still regarded as decent pets.