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Trying to find the friendliest rabbit breed?
It’s tempting to choose a rabbit breed that you like the look of first. Buuuut that does not mean you will choose one of the most friendly rabbit breeds.
After raising rabbits for the past two decades I can tell you firsthand that not all rabbit breeds are the same. I have some thoughts and real-life experiences that cause me to have some thoughts and opinions that go against the mainstream media norm.
There are also some key factors that will have an effect on a rabbit’s personality. Causing it to be not so friendly.
So let me share some tips with you to help you get the friendliest rabbit possible. And then I will share my top choices for the friendliest rabbit breeds. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule but these are going to give you a great start in finding th best rabbit for a pet.
This post is all about how to find and choose the friendliest rabbit breed as a pet.
Sex Plays A Role In The Rabbits Personality
If you are looking for a good pet rabbit make sure you are getting a male (buck) rabbit. All-day every day.
The female (doe) rabbits will become hormonally out of balance (ladies can I get a witness) become fussy and even aggressive if she is not bred often enough. Typically having a litter once a year will keep her in a good mood. It’s odd to say, but it is the truth.
That is not to say that all does will be like that but you don’t know until they reach maturity.
Some does (female rabbits) are fine or will just ignore you for a while. But some are a monster to handle even if they are normally very sweet. This happens with about 50% of my french lops.
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The Age You Get The Rabbit Will Have An Effect On Its Personality
If you get the rabbit at 12 weeks or older it has started to get used to the original owner or breeder. This is a fine balance and as a rabbit raiser, I do my best to play with them just enough to keep them friendly but not attached to me. Ideally, you want to get your rabbit at 8 weeks old.
I have bought rabbits that are over 4 months old and it takes MONTHS if not a year or more before they are completely trusting of me and “forgive me” for not being the person they are used to.
Staying With Siblings Or Momma Too Long
When siblings stay together too long they will start to fuss with each other. To be safe I want all of my rabbit litters separated by 10-12 weeks old no questions asked.
This also helps them look for attention from people not from each other. Which is what you need if you want to have a nice friendly pet rabbit that wants to be with you and does not ignore you.
This goes alongside that but your rabbit does not need a rabbit buddy. I have a blog post about this in more detail.
Rabbits are not pack animals. Let me say that again for the people in the back!
Rabbits are not pack animals! They are loners and come together to do one thing. Make babies. So don’t feel guilty about it.
The shortest way to make my point is do you want your rabbit to be buddies with you or another rabbit? Rabbits have a very small “circle of friends” If they fill it with a rabbit then you’re out.
Sometimes The Rabbit Temperament Is In The Blood Lines
This tip will be of more use if you are involved in rabbit shows. Some bloodlines will have a tendency to be on the aggressive side because the breeders want to have the best body type possible so they won’t cull a rabbit that has too much natural aggression.
Other times it is just the breed. Some breeds are just hard to handle. I’m looking at you Checkered Giants.
But if you are willing to put up with their shenanigans then get the breed you love.
Like any animal, on occasion, you might find that bad apple in these breeds I am going to recommend. That one rabbit was just downright mean and that does happen. If that is not a natural characteristic of that breed don’t be afraid to try the breed again.
What Was The Breed Ment For
Every breed and species was meant for something. And as animal owners or potential animal owners, you need to do your homework to understand what the bread was meant for so you don’t get in over your heads.
If they are a market animal (intended to be eaten) then it is not as big of a deal if they are friendly and easy to handle. A market rabbit is going to be are going to be gone in about 12 weeks anyway. Make sense?
Now I am not saying that all meat rabbits are nasty but they definitely have a tendency to be grouchy and not make the best pets.
Whether you are looking for a rabbit as a pet, 4h project, or to produce meat for your farm. You don’t want a breed that is a total jerk. Yes, jerk
You want to at least find something that will be easy to handle and not attack you if you do something it doesn’t like.
The latest on Youtube:
Friendliest Rabbit Breeds For Pets
Here are several breeds that are not hard to find, naturally calm, and make good pets.
Keep in mind that I have not owned all of these breeds. But I do come in contact with them and get to see how most of these breeds react at shows and other events. I have not recommended any breeds that I have not seen in real life and gotten to see their natural behavior of the overall breed.
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Lop Rabbit Breeds
Lop breeds on the whole are pretty calm by nature and would be a safe bet if you are looking for a good first-time rabbit pet.
English Lop (have owned)
(I took a picture of these two while at a rabbit show. These are not my animals)
The English lop is definitely one of the friendliest rabbit breeds for pets. However, they do have some special needs because of their long ears. If they can get caught on things very easily and tare. So make sure to read up on them before you try to buy one.
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standard Size – The English Lop weighs a minimum of 10.5 pounds with no max weight. They have an ear span at a minimum of 21 inches from tip to tip for the breed.
Rabbit Temperament: They naturally have a very calm temperament and are good-natured, but are chewers. So if in a wood hutch you will need to make sure they cannot get to the door edges or corners they can get their mouth around. The breed will be lazy for the most part, however, they are also very curious and can become bored. Some kind of toys is recommended to help keep them entertained, if not you could have some behavioral issues show up due to boredom.
Con: There are two issues I would say that
The second one is their long ears. If you will keep them outside their ears are easily torn and also need to have protection from the cold because they will get wet and freeze to wire or get water on them and stick to the cage.
French Lop (Currently own )
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standard Size: French lops have a minimum of 11.5 pounds and no max weight so you can see as large as 18 pounds. Their body mass is about the same as a 20lb dog.
I would say these are one of THE BEST rabbit breeds for a pet because they are really big and can handle a lot, but they are easygoing and are not a jumpy breed.
Rabbit Temperament: French lops are like little dogs. Very good temperament and easy to care for. They are very big but will put up with a lot so they are a good breed for small children to sit on the floor next to them. Some animals of this breed enjoy to have a few toys but are often content being lazy and some will not even mess with a toy. Some like to through things like their food blows so it is best to have their feed secured to the cage.
Con: The main issue with this breed due to their size and strength. they are VERY hard on cages and wire. I build my own cages and floors are needing replaced every other summer.
I don’t consider the size a con but you just have to make the choice for your family. I do think they are a great rabbit for kids BUT do to the size that can be an issue. So if you are willing to move the animal for your child then I think french lops would be great for kids.
If you want to get on the waiting list for our french lops learn how to do that here.
Must have water bowl for large rabbits.
This is the type of bowl I water my french lops out of and I COULD NOT live without them. They take a lot of abuse and are great for getting the ice out in the winter.
Mini Lop Temperament (have owned)
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standard Size – Mini lops have a minimum weight of 4.5 pounds and a max weight of 6.5 pounds for the breed. These guys are about half the weight of French lops and are often confused with Holland lops.
Temperament: Mini lops again are a very easygoing breed, you might have the occasional fussy one but that is not normal for the breed. If you find one that seems to be naturally fussy you should consider a different animal.
Holland Lop Temperament
Image Cred: Jack & Birdie’s Rabbitry located in central Florida – Click to visit.
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standard Size – Holland lops have no minimum weight and have a max weight of 4 pounds for Sr. rabbits.
Rabbit Breed Temperament: These little guys are the best choice if you have little space and would like to keep a rabbit indoors. You would be hard-pressed to find an aggressive Holland lop. They are a good breed for a small child (8-12) who has the drive and will to start their own herd of rabbits. They are easy to manage and do not have the strength of a larger breed.
Con: I have heard that they are not the greatest breeders and struggle with having litters. This does depend on the bloodlines and sometimes years are just bad for breeding.
Rabbit Breeds With Wool
These breeds are pretty easy going BUT You are getting yourself into a LOT of work if you choose to get a breed with wool. They need to be groomed at least weekly if not every few days. Some of the breeds may even need to be sheered.
English & FrenchAngora
These next few pictures are of the breed representation in the ARBA standard of perfection. With not owning these breeds it is difficult to find good photos of each breed that I know is purebred.
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standard – English Angora Weight
- Senior Bucks – 6 months of age and over should have a weight of 5-7lbs
- Senior Does – 6 months of age and over should weigh 5-7.5lbs
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standard – French Angora Weight
- Senior Bucks – 6 months of age and over should have a weight of 7.5-10.5lbs
- Senior Does – 6 months of age and over should weigh 7.5-10.5lbs
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The angoras are both very calm breeds and to be honest, are not supper active as adults. If you are wanting a breed to be entertaining then this is not it. But they are great calm rabbits. Along with them being calm comes A LOT of grooming. If you don’t they will become felted and it could constrict the rabbit.
Be SURE you want all that work before jumping in with this breed. One Angora is probably equal to ten normal furred rabbits.
The real difference between the two is the slight difference in size and the French Angoras don’t have wool on their ears and face while the English Angoras do.
Jersey Wooly – Have Owned
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standerd Size: Senior Bucks and Does – 6 months of age and over should not weigh over 3.5lbs
I had this breed as my starter breed when it came to showing and learning this whole world. They are a great small breed to start with. They do have a bit easier wool to deal with but do need more grooming than most rabbits.
Since they are smaller they do have a little more energy but should not be aggressive by nature.
American Fuzzy Lop
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standerd Size – Senior Bucks and Does – 6 months of age and over should not weigh over 4lbs
American fuzzy lops have no minimum weight and have a max weight of 4 pounds for Sr. Rabbits.
Temperament: Again are a very good breed for small spaces or children but they do come with a little bit of extra work with the wool. They do need extra brushing or they will become matted if not groomed. Very calm but you can occasionally find a fuzzy lop that is a little more standoffish.
Other Friendly Rabbit Breeds
Mini Rex (have had)
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standerd Size – Mini Rex has a minimum weight of 3 pounds and a max weight of 4.5 pounds for Sr. rabbits.
Temperament: This is another small breed that is not as laid back as the lop breeds but you can still get a good temperament in the breed if handled on a regular basis. They are slightly more jumpy but would not be a problem for even a young person to handle.
Tools you’ll need
- #1 Grooming Rake – I don’t know what took me so long to find this thing but it is great when they are molting to get large amounts of hair out of the undercoat.
- #2 Nail Clippers – These are much stronger than rabbit or ncat nail clippers and will last you a long time.
- #3 Comb (This is an awesome set)
- #4 Lockdown Bowls – 14oz bowl – Rabbits are masters at throwing things. These will stop food waste.
- Clippers – I love these clippers and the animals are totally chill when I use them too.
- 5.5-inch J-Feeders (These are the most common feeder used by any rabbit raiser.
- Hanging cages to let the waste fall to the ground. Perfect for sheds, barns, or lean-to style hutches.
Netherland Dwarf (have had)
American Rabbit Breeders Association Breed Standerd Size – Netherland dwarfs have the smallest A.R.B.A. standard weight with a max weight of 2.5 pounds for Sr. rabbits.
Temperament: These little guys are energetic (so a slightly larger cage is recommended) but still have good temperaments for the most part. They are not naturally aggressive. They do make good pets for smaller spaces but still need room to move. If they feel confined in a cage that does not have enough space this can cause behavioral issues.
Top Breeds I WOULD NOT Recommend As A pet
Here are some breeds that I would not recommend as a pet. especially if you are a first-time rabbit owner. It doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be a nice one in the bunch. But on the whole, the norm for these breeds are not for beginners.
- Checkered Giant – They are like the racehorse of the rabbit world. High strung and on the wild side.
- Flemish Giant – (have owned) They tend to be nippy.
- Tan – Wild temperament not cuddly.
- Belgian Hair – Wild temperament not cuddly.
There are a few others that are middle of the road but these are the key ones that are not going to do well for you.
If you’re not sure if a rabbit breed will make a good pet ask a breeder.
Before you buy a rabbit and you are not sure if you will like the breed. Try to find a breeder that will give you all the info. If they are open and practically unload on you. Then you know they are being honest. But if they are short-answered you might not be getting the full story.
It takes time to learn about animals. Don’t be in a rush if you’re not sure a breed is right for you.
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