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Since you are looking for the best breed of rabbit for first-time owners I am going to bet that you don’t have a rabbit yet and you are looking to get all the details.
I am going to share the best breeds for first-time pet owners based on experience NOT what seems popular.
Just because there are a lot of people with that breed does not mean those breeds of rabbits are good pet rabbit breeds.
Some of the “top rabbit breeds” I see on most of the guides out there are clearly not written by someone who has had experience with any of those breeds. CHeckard giants, English spots, and New Zealand’s I am looking at you.
Ok, I am off my soapbox.
I am going to share what I think are the best breed of rabbit for first time owners. Then share some tips to help you find the best pets. While the breed is a key factor. There are several other things that will affect the rabbit’s temperament.
What Was The Breed Meant For
I talk about this a lot with other species. Think about what the breed was meant for. Was it meant to be around a while and be handled often? Or was it developed to produce meat and not be around as long?
When a rabbit is going to produce meat it’s not as big of a priority to have a good temperament. You won’t’ have to deal with it for very long anyway.
If you want to look up more breeds and the full details of each breed here is a full list of the rabbits recognized by the ARBA linked to their breed club website.
Lop breeds are some of the best temperaments across the board I have seen. Of course like anything there are some bad apples. But on the whole, they tend to be very sweet and calm.
I will put a * for anything I have noticed about a breed that I would be careful of. All breed sizes and characteristics are pulled from the American Rabbit Breeders Association Standard Of Perfection
Here are the lop breeds smallest to largest.
American fuzzy lop – These are a great small breed with an ideal weight of 3.5 pounds for Bucks and 3 3/4 pounds for does. An adult rabbit should not weigh more than 4 points. The only word of warning I would say is that you would have the wool to deal with. Which would require weekly if not every other day grooming.
Holland Lop – They are basically the non-wooled version of the AFL. These are a great small breed with an ideal weight of 3.5 pounds for Bucks and 3 3/4 pounds for does. An adult rabbit should not weigh more than 4 points.
Mini Lop – Mini lops have an ideal weight of 6 pounds. But can weigh as little as 4.5 pounds. This is a breed I would recommend getting a better quality rabbit. Talk to a breeder. They are very competitive and can occasionally have a bad apple.
English Lop – This breed does not have a max weight so you could find some English lops to be a bit larger. But the minimum weight for bucks (males) is 9.5 points and for does the minimum is 10.5 pounds. * I have noticed that they can be a bit nippy. They also chew EVERYTHING so a wood hutch is not recommended.
French lop – The average weight for a french lop is 12-14pounds but the minimum eight is 11 pounds for bucks and 11.5 pounds for does. * This breed should not be aggressive if one grumbles at you do not buy it. They can be grumpy at shows because they like calm and quiet but biting should not be a thing with these guys.
Here is why I think angoras do make good pets. Like I mentioned before they were designed mainly to produce wool. So if you are shearing them or “plucking” (it is simply pulling off the loose wool don’t freak out) you don’t want to have a nasty rabbit on your hands.
The only hangup is they are going to need regular grooming and checked daily. So good temperament but you are signing up for a good amount of work.
English Angora – English Angoras are the smallest of the agora breeds. They have an ideal weight of 6 pounds and should not weigh less than 5lbs or over 7lbs.
Satin Angora – With an ideal weight of 8 pounds and they have a more silky wool. The hairs are finer than the other Angoras. They don’t tend to be as bad a felting up under the coat. They have a minimum weight of 6.5pounds and a max weight of 9.5 pounds for both bucks and does.
French Angora – French Angoras have an ideal weight of 8.5 pounds for the standard. But should not be less than 7.5 pounds or over 10.5 pounds.
Giant Angora – Giant angoras have a minimum weight of 9.5 pounds for bucks and 10 pounds for does with no max weight. They do have “bell ears” meaning they should have a tuff of wool at the tips of their ears.
As to be expected the angora breeds would not do well in the consistently warm climates. You would defiantly have to make an effort to keep them cool in the summer no matter where you live.
Dutch – A Dutch rabbit should be calmer for the most part. I have seen them be a bit on the reserved side but if you find the right one they could be a decent pet. However, I don’t see them coming up to see you at the cage door. The Dutch Rabbit has an ideal weight of 4.5 pounds with a minimum weight of 3.5 pounds and a max weight of 5.5 pounds.
Himalayan – These are a pretty rare breed to find but they do tend to be a calmer breed. Not much rattles them. They have an ideal weight of 3.5 pounds and weight a minimum of 2.5 pounds and a max weight of 4.5 pounds.
Jersy Wooly – These are a pretty calm breed and would be a good option for a first-time pet owner. However, you do have the wool to manage. So if you don’t want any more work than is necessary then I would not recommend this breed. They are an extremely small breed of rabbit with an ideal weight of 3 pounds a max weight of 3.5 pounds and no minimum weight.
Mini Rex – Mini Rex are much like the dutch rabbit and are fairly easy to handle but I would not consider them a cuddly or attention-seaking breed. They have an ideal weight of 4 pounds with a minimum weight of 3 pounds and a max weight of 4 -1/4th pounds.
Thrianta – This breed is a much lesser-known breed but they tend to be a more relaxed breed if you are looking for a calmer rabbit that does not have looped ears or wool. They have a minim weight of 4 pounds and should not weigh more than 6 pounds.
Breeds I Would Not Recommend For First Time Rabbit Owners
These are the breeds that are not the best breed of rabbits for first-time owner. While they are not all bad they do have some characteristics that are difficult to manage and are not recommended for someone without experience.
Racey High Strung Breds
Think racehorse of the rabbit world. These rabbits are a bit more “wild” minded and are often difficult to manage.
Checkered Giant – I can not count how many times walking past these breeds that I have seen someone struggle to get a hold of them. They are very large rabbits, skittish, and often have a fisty attitude.
Tan – They are an intelligent breed that is extremely active. They are not a “cuddly” breed. They would need to remain active and have space to move.
Belgian Hare – These are as close to a wild rabbit as you are going to get while still being “domesticated” High strung and unpredictable.
Breeds That Tend To Have Some Quarks
Netherland Dwarf – You have a very good chance of getting a high-strung rabbit with this breed. They tend to be a bit on the crazy side.
Polish – The Polish rabbits are a breed that I differ on from a lot of people. Some people do say they have good experiences with this breed but I have yet to find one that would make a good pet. They were developed to be a small meat breed and every polish I have run into tends to be a grouch.
Flemish Giant – These are the largest breed and while that can appeal to a lot of people they then to be a bit nippy. They would also be a lot to handle when moving them from place to place.
Californian – Californian rabbits are relatively calm but they are a meat breed and tend to be very reserved. They don’t tend to go looking for attention naturally and are not considered an affectionate breed.
Tips To Find The Best Pet
I see several things prove to be counterintuitive to people wanting to have good pets. WHile they might think they are doing something good they are causing the rabbit to not be the best pet for them.
Boys Make The Best Pets
A lot of people don’t know this but a doe (female rabbit) that is not fixed will be a bit hormonal if she has not been bred and had a litter.
Some does just get a little standoffish while others turn outright aggressive. It can take 1-3 months before she will start getting in a better mood.
The buck does not do this. They tend to stay much more even keel.
Get Them At 8-10 Weeks Old
Letting a rabbit stay in the litter longer is not doing you or them any favors. The female rabbit is done nursing her kits as early as 3 weeks old and should definitely be done by 5 weeks old.
Rabbits will start getting fussy with each other at around 12 weeks old. And will be all-out fighting at 14 weeks.
Aside from that the longer they are with other rabbits it tends to bring out the wild side in the rabbit. I once had to leave a buck with his mother until he was 11 weeks old because of how long it took people to come to pick up the rabbits they were buying and he was a total jerk for MONTHS after.
Also the longer they stay with the original owner the more likely they are to be attached to that person instead of you. Every rabbit I have gotten over 4 months old has taken me 6 months or better for them to be “ok” with me not being the person they where used to.
Why I Don’t Recommend Pet Stores
There are often farm supply stores that still sell rabbits which is fine but here is the issue with that.
Often times there are multiple rabbits together in one rabbit cage. So you hope that they are not “getting the job done” if you get my drift.
Like I mentioned before rabbits that are together for too long are starting to have their wild behaviors brought out and are not looking to humans for attention. Which does not make for good pet rabbits.
What Breeds Of Rabbit Are The Most Child Friendly?
First, let me say that if you are looking for a good first pet rabbits are a good place to start. BUT if your home is wild and crazy they are not going to work.
Rabbits like calm and quiet. So a screaming child who does not know how to be gentle should not have a rabbit.
The best breeds for children are going to be the rabbits that are a bit larger. They are less likely to get scared and will handle a little bit more without making them completely afraid of people. A lop breed like the holland lop, mini lop, french lop, or an Angora is going to have a good gentle nature.
But I can not emphasize this enough. If you want a rabbit with a calm temperament YOU have to be calm as well. They will sense your emotions and take them on themselves.
While you might think the dwarf breeds would be better for kids they are going to be jumpier. So larger breeds are going to be best for families with children.
The Problem With Rabbit Rescues
Yes, it sounds like a good idea to be saving a rabbit but here is the issue. You don’t know what that rabbit has been through and the quarks it has. You won’t know how to work with it and make it a good pet for a first-time rabbit owner. Never mind a good pet for children.
Do Not Get A Pair Of Rabbits
For goodness sakes, I don’t care what people say rabbits are not pack animals. They do not need another rabbit for a “buddy” especially if you want a rabbit to be friendly with you.
Just because a rabbit seems like a popular breed or someone is putting it on a list of popular rabbit breeds does not make it a good pet bunny. The best way to get straight answers about a breed is to talk to a reputable breeder.
What to read next: While many people show a rabbit as a house rabbit I HIGHLY discourage it. Read this post about the truth behind having a house rabbit.
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