Dwarf rabbits hold a special place in my heart, and it would take me a long time to list all the reasons. But for starters, here are three:
- They have so much personality! Some people say that dwarf rabbits are more high-strung and don’t make the best pets, but my experience with dwarf rabbits is that they are intelligent, inquisitive and interactive.
- They are cute! It’s tough to deny the adorable factor in dwarf rabbits — those tiny ears, those big eyes, those quivering whiskers…
- They are fun! Dwarf rabbits are interested in everything, and they love to explore. And they love toys, which makes playtime very entertaining.
What Is A Dwarf Rabbit?
Dwarf rabbits, as their name implies, are among the very smallest of rabbit breeds, generally weighing in at 4 pounds or less at maturity. Their small size makes them an appealing choice for many pet parents.
One thing you’ll want to remember is that dwarf rabbits are not just small rabbits; they are uniquely different from larger rabbits. Due to the presence of a dwarfing gene, dwarf rabbits often have smaller ears and shorter limbs than non-dwarf rabbits.
For the purpose of this article, I’ve included all breeds of rabbits that typically weigh less than 4 pounds (according to their official American Rabbit Breeders Association breed standards). The smallest breeds, topping the scales at 2.5 pounds, are the Netherland Dwarf and the Britannia Petite. These are followed by the Dwarf Hotot at 3 pounds, the Jersey Wooly and the Polish at 3.5 pounds, the Lionhead at 3.75 pounds, and the American Fuzzy Lop and Holland Lop at 4 pounds. Additional breeds, including the Mini Satin and the Mini Rex, may carry dwarf genetics — at least in some cases — but the breeds have developed to larger than 4 pounds, so are not included here.
Let’s meet the bunnies!
American Fuzzy Lop
What could be better than a cute, fuzzy rabbit? How about a dwarf fuzzy rabbit? The American Fuzzy Lop is one of the more recent dwarf breeds to be developed, and was officially recognized as an ARBA breed in 1988. Their small size, wooly fur and flopping “lop” ears are the result of their mixed ancestry, which includes English Spots, French Angoras, and their fellow dwarf breed, the Holland Lop.
Things can get a bit confusing here in terms of name — the Britannia Petite is actually called the Polish in its native Great Britain, but is referred to as the Britannia Petite in North America to differentiate from a distinctly separate American breed called the Polish (see below). Interestingly, the Britannia Petite is the only dwarf rabbit breed that is not of the “Compact” shape. Rather than being short and compact, the Britannia Petite exhibits the “Full Arch” shape shared by several larger breeds, with an arched back that extends all the way from their neck to their tail.
After existing for a time as a specific color variety of the Netherland Dwarf breed, Dwarf Hotot rabbits received recognition as their own breed in 1984. This is fitting, for while Netherland Dwarf rabbits are a major part of the Dwarf Hotot’s heritage, the Dwarf Hotot is a dwarf version of the larger Hotot rabbit, being completely white except for a black outline around each eye.
Via Willow Valley Rabbitry Thriantas and Dwarf Hotot/Facebook
The Dwarf Hotot breed was originally categorized as a specific color of the Netherland Dwarf breed.
If colorful rabbits are your favorites, then the Holland Lop is a good choice for you, as Holland Lops can be found in a wide range of different color varieties. One of the largest of the dwarf breeds, weighing up to 4 pounds, Holland Lops have endearing lop ears that are reminiscent of the English Lop and French Lop breeds from which the Holland Lops descend. They have lively personalities and some even make charming “purring” sounds.
Via Pride N’ Joy Rabbitry/Facebook
The Holland Lop is one of the largest of the dwarf rabbit breeds.
The lovely Jersey Wooly breed is renowned for its angora fur, similar to that of the much-larger French Angora rabbit, an immediate ancestor of the Jersey Wooly. The Jersey Wooly is an attractive, petite rabbit that requires an extensive commitment to daily grooming. Its beautiful angora fur requires frequent attention to keep it in optimal condition.
Via T-Squared Rabbitry/Facebook
The coat of the Jersey Wooly requires a lot of grooming.
The unique and popular Lionhead breed is the most recent dwarf breed to be recognized by the ARBA, joining the roster of official breeds in 2014. Known for their mane of wool that resembles a lion (hence their name!), Lionheads are found in many different colors and are among the most beloved and popular rabbit breeds, garnering a large following of dedicated breeders and owners even before they were accepted as an ARBA breed.
Via Bear Creek Hollands ‘n’ Lops/Facebook
The Lionhead is the dwarf breed most recently recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
The Netherland Dwarf is among the oldest of the dwarf rabbit breeds, having been established in Europe during the early 1900s. As a result, it has been the foundation of several other dwarf breeds, including the Jersey Wooly, Dwarf Hotot and the Holland Lop. The Netherland Dwarf is found in two dozen colors, and it’s a hugely popular breed with adults and children alike. It’s also one of the most popular “fancy” breeds for show.
Via Wascally Wabbits of Georgia/Facebook
The Netherland Dwarf breed was the foundation of several other dwarf rabbit breeds.
The Polish is another very old dwarf breed, dating back to the late 1800s, when it was developed in England as a fancy breed for show, similar to the Netherland Dwarf. Today’s Polish rabbits — while still very tiny! — generally exhibit fewer dwarf characteristics than the Netherland Dwarf while still retaining that petite size.
Via Bundles Of Bunnies Rabbitry/Facebook
The Polish breed dates back to the late 1800s!
Dwarf rabbits offer big personality in a small package, and their delightful antics, inquisitiveness and overall charm combine in a bundle of bunny bliss. It’s easy to see why so many people love dwarf rabbits — are you ready to join the fun?