Rabbit breeds and their main characteristics

There are different breeds of rabbits, each one with different characteristics that make each one special.

In this post from Petlifey we explain the most popular types of rabbits that exist, their physical characteristics, behaviour, character, origin of each type of rabbit.

What are rabbits?

Rabbits are nocturnal and twilight animals, that is, they usually sleep in the middle of the day and at night, being active in the intermediate hours. There are many breeds of rabbits, all of them are very intelligent capable of recognizing you and recognizing their name, so we can teach them to do some tricks in exchange for a piece of vegetables or something they like. It is a social animal that needs affection and attention.

Rabbits have a round body and an oval head. They have 4 teeth, 2 of them very long, and ears that measure more than half of their head. A curious feature of their physique, apart from their ears, is that they have a small pompom-shaped tail.

The smallest breeds of this little pet weigh about 1.5 kg and the largest can weigh up to 8 kg. Rabbits have a body temperature between 38 and 40 ºC, so the perfect room temperature for them is between 18 and 21 degrees. Males of this species reach sexual maturity at 3-4 months and females at 4-6 months.

Are Rabbits Rodents?

The answer is no. The rabbit is the best example to explain the difference between rodents and lagomorphs, although for many years (practically until the end of the 20th century) it has been wrongly classified as a rodent.

The main differences between rodents and lagomorphs are:

  • The teeth: While lagomorphs such as rabbits or hares have 6 incisors, four teeth on the top and two on the bottom, all species of rodents have only 4 incisors, two on the top and two on the bottom. The greatest confusion on this issue stems from the fact that both lagomorphs how rodents wear their incisors in a similar way
  • The coat: Lagomorphs have all their limbs covered with hair, unlike rodents, which often do not have hair on their hands, feet and ears. This condition is called bare skin, however, we must bear in mind that there are many species of rodents.
  • Burrows: While lagomorphs always make their burrows underground, there are different ways rodents make homes and nests and not all are underground. Guinea pigs, for example, tend to sleep on the surface or under branches. and leaves and hamsters, on the other hand, build tunnels and nests.
  • Food: All lagomorphs are herbivores, none consumes any food or product of animal origin other than milk during lactation. In rodents, however, it depends on the species, while hamsters, rats, mice and gerbils are omnivores (they eat vegetables and meat) guinea pigs are strict herbivores, and only eat fresh vegetables and hay.

Most popular rabbit breeds

Hotot rabbit breed

The  hotot rabbit is characterized by having particular black spots that surround its eyes; they are usually between 3 and 6 mm wide. The rest of the rabbit’s body is pure white.

Its size is very small, which makes it suitable for living in a small apartment, although we must know that it requires free time to run and exercise. They are usually somewhat fearful but over time they will get used to your presence and you will be able to enjoy a calm and docile friend. In addition, it is quite resistant to diseases and very long-lived, it usually lives around 16 years.

It owes its name to its place of origin, Hotot-en-Auge, Normandy (France). Its breeder, E. Bernhard, was a renowned rabbit breeder. The hotot rabbit arose from crosses of the butterfly rabbit with white specimens such as the Flemish giant or the Vienna white.

It was exhibited for the first time in Switzerland at the beginning of the 20th century, but it was not officially recognized as a breed until the late 1940s. It began to be exported to the United States as early as the 1980s, and it was not long before it began to enjoy great popularity. popularity.

Rex rabbit breed

They are usually very active rabbits that need a family that allows them to run around the house at different times of the day. You can provide a safe area for them and leave the cage open. They are sociable and friendly.

It is characterized by its intelligence and its affective and maternal character, even adopting other breeds of rabbit. Their fur is considered one of a kind, with a soft and different texture, the product of a genetic mutation present in these rabbits. It can be of two sizes: The standard, which is usually larger, weighing up to 5 kg and the mini rex variety, which, unlike the previous one, weighs between 1 and 2 kg. Regarding its color we can find 14 variations for the Rex rabbit.

The Rex rabbit originated in France in the 1920s, and takes its name from the rex gene, responsible for its very special coat. Generally, the fur of rabbits consists of a shorter undercoat, interspersed with longer hairs. On the other hand, the Rex rabbit fur is considered the result of a genetic mutation that allows to maintain the same height for each hair of the animal, giving a velvety texture.

Lion Head breed rabbit

The lionhead rabbit  or  lionhead is very popular for its long and funny coat that recalls, as its name suggests, the head of a lion. Originally from Belgium, the lion head rabbit is considered a proper breed, although recently many breeders have mixed the belier rabbit and the lion head rabbit resulting in a somewhat larger specimen.  

They are not especially large, their weight is between 1 and 2 kg and they can be of infinite colors, always presenting a hairy head next to a body with medium / short hair. Their hair needs to be brushed often so that they don’t get knotted, especially the head.

This rabbit stands out for being a very good pet for those who love to have the rabbit in their arms for long hours since they are friendly and calm specimens. He will love that you caress him and that you pay attention to him.

Belier Rabbit

Its main characteristic is its  large drooping ears, but when they are small they still have them erect and as they grow they fall off. Its soft fur is also one of its hallmarks. We can find two variants within the Dutch belier or lop rabbit: the dwarf belier  (which weigh approximately between 2 and 3 kg) and the  miniature belier, which barely weigh 1 kg and a half.

We are talking about a docile and calm rabbit, especially sweet, that will make you fall in love with its delicate behaviour inside the home. They are animals that need socialization, both with humans and with other animals (although at the beginning we must always be present). They also require that we respect their own space.

Tan Rabbit

The original coat of the Tan rabbit has a very special black that is reminiscent of that of Rottweiler or Doberman dogs. The origin of the breed takes us to England, more specifically to Derbyshire, in the year 1887, when the first copies of this breed appear. Those were larger than those that have survived to this day. It has a constant alert attitude and it is an intelligent and curious rabbit of medium size (they weigh up to 2.5 kg).

We will hardly find a rabbit of this breed with a difficult character, thanks to the many selections that were made to eradicate this behavior from its DNA.

However, this does not mean that it is ideal for any type of owner, because although they are peaceful, it is a very active breed that requires a lot of attention and a lot of space to spend its inexhaustible energies. Despite their small size, they require more exercise than many larger breeds.

Giant Flanders Rabbit

The Flemish Giant Rabbit, despite being the same species as the rest of the common rabbits, is capable of measuring one meter and weighing more than ten kilos. Where does this animal come from?

This rabbit has a long history, several hundred years old. Its first records date back to the old 16th century and to the city of Ghent, in Belgium, although there are authors who say that the first giant rabbits of Flanders did not appear until the 19th century.

We find them in all colors including black, bluish, beige, gray, brown or white.

We usually talk about a docile, calm and very relaxed rabbit that coexists wonderfully with all kinds of pets , yes, we will never force the rabbit to interact if it does not want to. This large sloth needs a lot of space to move around although we will usually find it lying down and resting.

English Angora

Despite its name, the English Angora comes from Ankara, Turkey. It is a medium / large size rabbit since its weight is between 2.5 and 3.5 kg.

They stand out for their long silky hair and are sometimes bred exclusively for the purpose of taking advantage of their wool. The colors of the English angora are various, including white, black, chocolate or chestnut among others. You will need a daily brushing.

They are dogs, generally very docile and calm, although upon arrival home they will be shy and reserved.

Butterfly rabbit or English spot

Known as butterfly rabbits, English spotted or English spot, the butterfly rabbit is a breed of rabbit that is characterized by its beautiful spotted fur. The special thing about its spots is that they are distributed in a very particular way, giving this rabbit a unique appearance.

Although the exact breeds that gave rise to the butterfly rabbits are unknown , it has been established that they are probably a cross between English and German spotted rabbits .

They came to the United States in the first decades of the 20th century, the American club being founded in 1924. Since then, the breed has been gaining followers, becoming one of the most popular in the world.

The butterfly rabbit is a small-medium rabbit. In general, their weight ranges between 2 and 3 kilograms. The average life expectancy of these rabbits is approximately 12 years.

Rabbit Toy

The Toy rabbit or dwarf rabbit has long been a very popular pet. Its small size, adorable appearance and personable character make it the perfect pet for those who live in an apartment. 

It is really small, we are talking about a total length that is around 33 or 50 centimeters reaching an adult weight of between 0.8 and 1.5 kg.

The appearance of the dwarf rabbit is very sweet, only based on its physiognomy since we are facing a compact and short rabbit. It shows short and rounded ears as well as a small and flat nose that make it totally unmistakable.

They have soft, short hair that comes in a wide variety of very different colors including white, brown, gray or black.

They are a particularly nervous and fearful breed. To avoid this isolated behaviour of the rabbit, it is convenient to accustom them to us on a daily basis by playing and offering him treats, in this way we will have a sweet and friendly rabbit.

Californian Rabbit

It is one of the most popular breeds in rabbit farming and breeding.

These rabbits are of the commercial type, large and stout. They usually weigh between 3.5kg and 5kg and their hair is short, but very dense. Thanks to their fur, they are much more resistant to sudden changes in temperature and cold. Their ears are quite wide and long with rounded tips and are usually quite dark or totally black in color.

The rabbits of california live on average 5 to 10 years, but with proper care and good nutrition can be up to 12 years.

Other of the most popular breeds of rabbits that we can find are:

  • New Zealand Rabbit
  • Dwarf dutch
  • Harlequin
  • Mini rex
  • Mini lop
  • Wooly Jersey
  • Big chinchilla rabbit

Price of rabbits

Buying a rabbit in a pet store costs approximately 50-60 euros. Although, it must be said that this price will vary depending on the breed of the rabbit. Typically the smaller ones are more expensive than the medium sized ones. If you want to buy a rabbit, we advise you to inquire at a specialized rabbit farm.

Most demanded rabbit breeds

Here are the most popular domestic rabbits for their appearance and character:

  • Belier rabbit: it is one of the most popular. The main reason for its choice is its tender appearance, reminiscent of a lamb. This appearance is complemented by its calm and affectionate character, as well as intelligent and playful, and is that it can even learn basic tricks and commands. 
  • Angora Rabbit: Like the previous breed, it stands out for its sociability and receptivity to humans. However, its long and fine coat requires much more dedication, as it tends to tangle easily.
  • Lion Head Rabbit: The most notable physical characteristic is its diversity of fur, especially long and bushy around the head.

The strangest and most surprising types of rabbits that exist

Do you want to know which are the most amazing looking breeds?

  • Harlequin Rabbit: The pattern of its fur makes it a beautiful and spectacular animal. If the harlequin rabbits became popular for something, apart from their peculiar appearance, it is because of their benevolent and collaborative character.
  • Belier English: “The Dumbo of rabbits.” The greatest peculiarity of this rabbit is its  long, drooping ears, which drag it along the ground when it lies down. English beliers are very calm animals and their coat is usually one color.
  • Jersey wooly: Also called the Jersey woolly rabbit, it is a very docile and calm animal, of medium size. It is characterized by its  fluffy, woolly- looking fur and small ears. 
  • Rabbit hairless: These curious members animals in the order of lagomorphs, is known conversationally as  rabbit hairless , English hairless rabbits are natives of Australia, to the apparently responsible for this mutation is result of inbreeding or mating of specimens with a close family relationship.

Origin of the first rabbits

It seems completely confirmed that the Genus Oryctolagus, monospecies, or European wild common rabbit, and all the existing domestic rabbit breeds, have the same and only direct ancestor that was formed in the Iberian Peninsula, between
the last 50,000 to 200,000 years.

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