An Introduction to Rabbit Breeds

Before you begin your rabbitry, take a quick tour of popular rabbit breeds in this excerpt from “How to Raise Rabbits.”

| June 2012

Whether your goal is to raise one rabbit or a larger herd, the expert advice in How to Raise Rabbits (Voyageur Press, 2008) will tell you all you need to know. With more than 200 color photographs, the book covers all aspects of raising rabbits, including organic and free-range rabbitries. Learn how to house and feed rabbits, breed your rabbits, show rabbits at fairs and more. In this excerpt from Chapter 1 “So, You Want to Raise Rabbits,” learn how to choose and buy the right rabbit breeds for you. 

Which rabbit breeds are right for your needs?

You are the only one who can answer that question. It may be as simple as knowing that you’ve always loved Rex rabbits and have always promised yourself that if you ever had the opportunity to raise rabbits, Rex would be your number-one choice. Or it might be a bit more complex. Perhaps you want to raise a popular breed so that you will have plenty of competition at the shows. Maybe you want to raise a breed that is recognized in a multitude of colors, or you might want to raise one specific color so that you can focus on achieving perfection in that particular shade. Perhaps you love lop-eared rabbits, or you don’t. Maybe you love the idea of raising an Angora breed for the wool, or you can’t imagine the grooming commitment. Perhaps you want to raise rabbits for meat, or you want to raise them for showing purposes.

Or perhaps you just don’t know what’s right for you. It is always good to start with the basics, which is why this article is devoted to discussion of the forty-seven breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), as well as information on the various sizes, shapes, fur types, and colors that you may encounter along the way. We’ll also take a look at some of the rare breed rabbits and discuss why you may want to consider raising them in your rabbitry. We’ll also have a brief discussion of some of the newest rabbit breeds that have not yet received ARBA recognition. Let’s get started!

Navigating the world of rabbit breeds

One of the first things that often surprises newcomers to rabbits is the vast array of breeds and varieties. With 47 breeds currently recognized by the ARBA, there are rabbits of every shape and size imaginable, and in every color, too! While the scope of these breeds cannot be fully explored within the limitations of this article, I would recommend my previous book, The Field Guide to Rabbits, to anyone wishing to gain knowledge of the details and history of each of the 47 rabbit breeds. In this article, however, we can certainly give each breed a quick overview.

If you’re looking for the cute factor (and many of you probably are!), then you can’t go wrong with the Holland Lop, the American Fuzzy Lop, the Netherland Dwarf, or the Polish. With weights ranging from 2 to 4 pounds, these petite bunnies are inevitable crowd-pleasers and very popular with those who like to show. Entries for Holland Lops and Netherland Dwarfs usually outnumber most of the other breeds at shows.

If the lop-eared look catches your fancy but you would like something larger than a Holland Lop or an American Fuzzy Lop, you might want to consider one of the other lop-eared breeds, such as the Mini Lop, the English Lop, or the French Lop. Mini Lops are a mid-sized rabbit with an ideal weight of 6 pounds, while the English and French Lops are larger rabbit breeds, often 10 pounds or more.

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