So you probably have a lop-eared rabbit and you are wondering how long your pet rabbit has left. So you type in “how long do floppy-eared rabbits live” into google and see what you can find. Let me guess. Not finding a straight answer. Well, let me tell you I do not believe in sugar-coating things when it comes to animal care and I am going to give it too you straight.
Their lop ears shape has nothing to do with how long your rabbit lives. And has everything to do with size, genetics, and what you feed your rabbit. The smaller breeds tend to live longer than the larger breeds of rabbits.
While nothing else correlates from dogs to rabbits this is the one thing that I do agree with. The larger the dog breed the shorter life span they have. And the same goes for rabbits.
Average Age Of Rabbits In General
The internet loves to push that rabbits can live as long as 10-12 years. that is a gross exaggeration. There is such a small percentage of rabbits that live that long it’s unfair to give people the impression that their pets could live that long and then find out that most do not.
I will get into the specific ballparks of the different lop breeds in a second but here is a weight to life expectancy from my own personal experience.
Rabbits under 5 pounds can live to be 6-8 years old if they are lucky. Anything after that is a blessing and they will start to look ROUGH.
The Larger rabbits that reach 6-10 pounds would be an average of 6 years old.
And Giant rabbits or anything over 11 pounds standard weight will be lucky if they make it past 5 years old. My french lops start to look old and get out of shape after 4 years old.
Think about it. Wild rabbits only live to be 4-5 years old if they are lucky enough to survive the nest and not turned into a snack. Domestic rabbits are not so far removed that somehow they would have longer lifespans than their wild ancestors.
Estimated Age For Lop-Eared Breeds
Keep in mind that this is not a foolproof estimate but for each lop breed in this list is what you can expect to have each rabbit breed live on average from smallest to largest. Also keep in mind that if a rabbit is a mixed breed that will change the life expectancy as well.
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American Fuzzy Lop
ARBA Weights – Senior bucks and does that are 6 months of age or over should not weigh more than 4 pounds. The ideal weight for a buck is 3 1/2 and the ideal weight for a doe is 3 3/4ths pounds.
This breed of rabbit is one of the smallest breeds. They can have an average lifespan of 6-8 years old HOWEVER they do have wool (long hair that is fibrous) so they can run into wool block and that would cause them to pass much earlier. Things like pappa, rosemary, and oregano can all be a great help to them in living a long life.
According to the ARBA standard of perfection, they can be excitable. Think small and jumpy for some of the breed. You can find some that are clam.
Notes About The Ears – Th ears should be well balanced and fall vertically from a wide and slightly flattened ear base. The ears should be thick and the opening (ear canals) should be close to the cheeks and the ear should extend 1/2 to 1 inch below the jaw.
ARBA Weights – Senior bucks and does that are 6 months of age or over should not weigh more than 4 pounds. There is no minimum senior weight for holland lops. However, Junior bucks and does must weigh a minimum of 2 pounds to show.
A holland lop bunny is very similar to the last breed and is able to live 6-8 years old. They do not have wool so they would not have as much of an issue. They would be considered one of the “dwarf breeds” due to their small size even though the American rabbit breeders association does not classify them as a dwarf.
Mini Lop Rabbit
ARBA Weights – Senior bucks and does that are 6 months of age or over should weight 4-6 pounds. The ideal weight for a buck and does is 6 pounds.
These are slightly bigger but can be a smaller breed. They are still right on the edge of that 6-8 year mark but could be slightly less. Genetics are going to have a big impact on how long these lop-eared rabbits live.
ARBA Weights – Senior bucks that are 8 months of age should weigh 9 1/2 pounds or more. Seniors does that are 8 months of age and over should weigh 10 1/2 pounds or over. There is no max weight for this breed.
Note: Breeds that have an intermediate weight group like the English lop do take longer than 8 months to grow to their full weight. Some bloodlines can take as long as 14 months of age to reach their full potential.
These are a large breed rabbit but not as stock as the french lop so they could live to be more like 7 years or so since they have a slender build.
They are a larger breed and are affectionate and easy to handle. They like to be held and cuddled when young. One drawback to the breeds is there long ears do drag on the ground and that can cause them to tear. Leaving them with a bit more high maintenance.
Notes About The Ears – English lop ear growth will be done around 16 weeks of age or four months old. They could grow up to .5 inch due to the growth and expansion of the skull but that is all the extra growth you would see. To best measure, the ears yardstick should be set behind the base of the ears resting on the neck. The ears should then be stretched to the length of their greatest span similarly if you where going to measure the wingspan on a bird.
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ARBA Weights – Senior bucks that are 8 months of age should weigh 11 pounds or more. Seniors does that are 8 months of age and over should weigh 11 1/2 pounds or over. There is no max weight for this breed.
French Lops are the largest of the lop rabbits. The average life expectancy for them is 5 years old.
These as well as other stocky giant breeds like the flemish giant have large bodies that put weight on their joints and heart. Their large size causes them to have heart problems and they just give out once they reach about 5 years old. These are my favorite breed of course but if you want a rabbit that lives longer this is not the breed for you. Definitely go with a “dwarf lop” or a small breed rabbit.
What Can Cause Rabbits To Have Shorter Lives
I don’t want to turn this into a proper care post but there are some things that will cause your rabbit’s life to be cut short.
Be far warned I am going to step on some toes and annoy some people. But this all comes from my 20+ years of raising rabbits on top of seeing and helping A LOT of people with their rabbit-raising issues.
Rabbits have a VERY sensitive digestive system.
I am about to do some toe-stepping. Ready?
Rabbits should NEVER have access to carpet, fabrics, or anything that will shred up and cause them to ingest anything but rabbit food.
Toys covered in fabric and even bedding that is basically a dog bed is sold as safe for rabbits when that is the most dangerous thing they could have access to. The fabric will bind their gut and cause them to die. If you have had a rabbit that seemed fine one day and basically drops dead the next or if you see it happen and they slow down to almost a seizure-like action and then die, this is very likely what happened.
Hay Can Hinder Just As Much As It Can Help
This is another big one that people push to feed more hay than pellets all for seemingly good reasons. But I have arguments against each one so hang with me
In my early showing
There can be mold build up on the hay that you don’t see and can cause major health problems. I have not fed hay to my rabbits for other than 12 years and NEVER hand on God’s bible never lost a rabbit to bloat. You can read more about why I don’t here.
Pushing Hay Over Pellets Can Cause Malnutrition
Commercial rabbit pellets like manna pro or Heinold rabbit feed are meant to be a complete ration and balanced diet. And hay on average is 12% protein and that’s even the high quality hay. Rabbits need 16-18% protein which is the average percentage of commercial rabbit pellets. If you are pushing them to eat more hay than pellets you are lowering the percentage of protein they consume. Which leads them to eat a very poor diet.
What good are shorter teeth if rabbits aren’t getting the nutrition they need? This leads me to the next main argument for hay.
Keeping Their Teeth Short
Rabbits’ teeth are constantly growing. But they don’t “only grind their teeth on hay” like people want you to believe. The pellets are a much stronger texture than hay and the rabbits will grind their teeth on those just as long.
On top of that, they will chew on just about anything. They don’t need hay to fix all their dental problems and keep their teeth short.
Rabbits with floppy ears are going to be some of the best-tempered rabbits and are great for first-time rabbit owners The small size rabbits are going to live longer than large rabbits. The shape of the rabbit ears has nothing to do with whether or not they will live a long time.
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Keep An Eye Out For Abscesses
This is something that people may not even see on their rabbits but is one of the most common health issues. Indoor rabbits are just as susceptible to them as rabbits that live outdoors. All it takes is one small poke from something around the house or something they chewed on to cause an infection. If left untreated an abscess can go to the bloodstream and cause your rabbit to die without you really knowing why. You can find out how to treat it here.
Make sure to feel around your rabbit’s chin and face often. While they can get them elsewhere on their body the face and chin are the most common places for them to get an abscess. If you feel a lump under the skin that seems to float around and is as hard as clay or thick toothpaste then your rabbit likely has an abscess.
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Keep Weight To A Minimum
This is another reason to keep treats to a minimum. Rabbits can get demanding with treats and it will cause them to put on more weight which is bad for their heart and can cause them to pass early.
Make sure that if you do give treats it is unpredictable and they don’t learn your habits. Your rabbit will start to want “that thing” you are giving them and even go on strike and refuse to eat any of their good food. I have had this happen before and a doe I had refused to eat for two whole weeks. She became skin and bones before she finally gave in and started eating again. But I had to go cold turkey because she couldn’t survive on the supplement was basically candy to her.
As long as you meet the basic needs like clean water and pellets your rabbit will live a healthy life.