About The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

Size, personality and many available colors make the Netherland Dwarf rabbit a favorite breed for many people today.

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Netherland Dwarfs have a dwarfing gene that makes their legs and ears smaller than usual. Via Mark Philpott/Flickr

When it comes to rabbit breeds, I have a soft spot for Netherland Dwarf rabbits. Of course, I’m predisposed to love them because two of the first rabbits I had as a child were a pair of Netherland Dwarfs named Jasper and Jessica.

Fast forward through the years and I’m still a fan of Netherland Dwarfs — in fact, I have one today that I call Uncle Max, named for a character on The Sound of Music. But while my love of Netherland Dwarfs may stem in part from my early experiences with them — you never forget a childhood rabbit! — the truth of the matter is that the Netherland Dwarf is a highly appealing and wonderful rabbit breed that is worthy of all the accolades it has earned from rabbit enthusiasts across the country.

A Long Netherland Dwarf History

Given the immense popularity of Netherland Dwarfs in the United States, it might come as a surprise that they actually hail from Europe — until you recall their name. Developed in the Netherlands in the early 1900s and improved through the years since then, Netherland Dwarfs — like all dwarf rabbits — possess a dwarfing gene that keeps them small in size (up to 2½ pounds), but also makes them noticeably different than non-dwarf breeds in a couple of key areas; most notably, they have shorter limbs and smaller ears than their non-dwarf counterparts.

Because they have been around for so long, Netherland Dwarfs have been used as the foundation breed for many other dwarf rabbit breeds, including the Dwarf Hotot, Holland Lop, and the wonderfully wooly Jersey Wooly. The Netherland Dwarf was officially recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in 1969.

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Posted by Cotton the ND on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Rainbow Of Netherland Dwarf Colors!

Thanks to their long history, Netherland Dwarfs have been developed in many different coat colors through the years — an amazing 25 different varieties are currently recognized! To help keep track of all these colors, the American Rabbit Breeders Association has divided the colors into five different groups.

Self Varieties

This first category contains the ever-popular Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Blue-Eyed White and Ruby-Eyed White; in other words, this group contains all the solid color varieties in which the rabbit is entirely one color.

Shaded Varieties

The colors in this group are varying shades of brown and gray. The names of the colors in this group are Sable Point, Siamese Sable, Siamese Smoke Pearl and Tortoise Shell.

Agouti Varieties

The agouti pattern produces fur that has “rings” of varying shades, resulting in highly eye-catching coat colors that include Chestnut, Chinchilla, Lynx, Opal and Squirrel.

Tan Pattern Varieties

The colors in this group are variations of the colors in the Self group, but with an accompanying Tan pattern that produces lighter markings. The Tan pattern varieties include Otter, Sable Marten, Silver Marten, Smoke Pearl Marten and Tan.

Any Other Variety

The final group of colors is a catch-all for the other unique Netherland Dwarf colors that don’t fit in any other category. These include Broken (spotted rabbits with colored ears, eyes and noses), Fawn, Himalayan (white rabbits with colored points — ears, noses, tails and feet), Orange and Steel.

My little guy, Uncle Max, has Himalayan coloring, just like my childhood rabbit, Jessica. But Max is a Chocolate Himalayan while Jessica was a Black Himalayan. Jasper was a Siamese Smoke Pearl, a color that fascinated me as a child because the name sounded so elegant. The color is a form of gray coupled with blue eyes, and I thought he was beautiful.

three ruby-eyed white Netherland Dwarfs
Via National Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club/Facebook
Coat color is not the only thing that varies; eye color does, too.

Netherland Dwarf Popularity

Netherland Dwarf rabbits are one of the most popular rabbit breeds in the United States. In fact, 941 Netherland Dwarf rabbits were exhibited at the 2015 American Rabbit Breeders Association convention, making them the second-most popular breed at the show (the Mini Rex was most popular). And it’s not just adult rabbit enthusiasts who are showing Netherland Dwarfs — the breed was the most popular with youth exhibitors, who showed an amazing 237 of the Netherland Dwarf rabbits exhibited at the 2015 Convention.

Setting aside their extensive color varieties and their adorable good looks, there’s another reason that Netherland Dwarfs are so popular: their personality! Although dwarf rabbit breeds are sometimes stereotyped to be high-strung and nervous, many people would beg to differ (I would be one of them). In my experience, Netherland Dwarf rabbits are pleasant, outgoing and fun to be around. They’re curious about their surroundings and enjoy interaction and attention. But this isn’t necessarily true across the board. As with any breed, there are certainly Netherland Dwarf rabbits who are quiet, reserved and more high-strung in disposition; it just depends on the individual.

Netherland Dwarf posed with ribbon
Via twigs & honey/Facebook
Netherland Dwarfs are one of the most popular breeds exhibited at the American Rabbit Breeder Association’s annual convention.

Famous Netherland Dwarf Rabbits

It’s not every day that a Netherland Dwarf makes it into the Guinness World Records, but that’s exactly what George the Netherland Dwarf did. Guinness World Records named George the Oldest Living Rabbit at the age of 14. George later passed away and other rabbits have subsequently achieved the title of Oldest Living Rabbit, but it was a very special honor for George and for Netherland Dwarf enthusiasts everywhere.

Do you share your home with a Netherland Dwarf? What are your favorite characteristics of the breed?

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Critters · Rabbits