Choosing an adorable pet rabbit might seem easy. When they're all cute, how could you go wrong? But there are almost 50 rabbit breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, and, though many of them make good pets for people who've owned rabbits before, not all of them are good pets for first-timers or for families with children.
Some rabbit breeds enjoy being held, while others might be OK with petting but not holding because of their moody temperaments. Regardless of what breed you end up choosing as a pet, make sure you’re well prepared before buying or adopting a rabbit. Rabbits require differently-sized cages or hutches, depending on their size, a specific diet, and their veterinary care can get expensive, according to VetStreet.
Though they might seem like good children’s pets, rabbits require supervised exercise, and many of them need regular socialization to be calm with people, so they're better for families with older children, couples, or single adults looking for a companion. Also, contrary to what you might think, small breeds of pet bunnies are usually not very good for children, because they’re easier for kids to drop or hurt. If you’re getting a pet rabbit for your family, make sure it’s a breed that will fit your lifestyle or expectations. With proper care and preparation, rabbits make incredible pets and friends. Here are some of the best breeds to chose from.
The Holland Lop is a relatively small breed — they weigh about 2 to 4 pounds — with a short, stocky body, according to RabbitPedia.com. They are known for their sweet temperament and are relatively low maintenance. RabbitPedia says they do well with children and enjoy exercise, but they need weekly brushings for their dense coat and monthly nail trimmings, meaning they're not a pet that a small child or likely even a teenager could care for entirely on their own.
Lionhead rabbits have their name for a reason — they have a mane of longer hair around their head and neck. Though they're definitely a bit smaller than a lion, weighing an average of 3 pounds, according to LionheadRabbit.com. Lionhead rabbits are well known for their affectionate and playful personalities. They enjoy lots of time outside of their cages to play with humans, making them great family pets that love to be picked up, held, and pet, according to PetGuide.
Their mane does require more grooming, usually about two-to-three times a week, and once per day if they're molting during shedding season, according to PetGuide.
Rex rabbits are known for their dense fur, which closely resembles the soft fur of a chinchilla, according to PetMD. They are friendly, athletic, intelligent, and very playful, which — combined with their incredibly soft fur — makes them very popular.
Mini Lops are obviously incredibly adorable, given their small size, lopped ears, and soft coat. Though they are relatively small, their bodies are muscled, well-rounded, and "pudgy," according to PetGuide. Like most rabbits, they require weekly brushing, which might need to be more frequent during their molting months. Mini lops are known to be some of the most cuddly rabbits, and they enjoy being picked up and pet.
Dutch rabbits are brown or black with characteristic white markings on their upper body and face. According to RabbitPedia, they should have an inverted "V" of white that covers their nose and muzzle and extends up in between their eyes. They are relatively easy to groom and care for, and they are calm and enjoy being cuddled, though they do best with children who are 10 or older, RabbitPedia notes.
Californian rabbits grow to be an average of 8-and-a-half to 10 pounds, making them a pretty large rabbit, according to Rabbit Breeders. They have dark or black points on their ears, nose, and feet, making them strikingly beautiful. As a result, Californian rabbits have been bred primarily for show or meat use, but they have a very docile temperament and make great pets, according to PetGuide. They require more socialization, with lots of time outside of their enclosure, but they will eventually become very close with their human families and more playful.
Though Netherland dwarf rabbits are very small, they are actually a highly active, almost wild breed, according to RabbitPedia. They can also be stubborn and skittish, according to PetGuide, meaning they're not good pets for families or children.
Polish rabbits are on the smaller side because they carry the dwarf gene, according to PetGuide, so their average full-grown adult weight shouldn't exceed 3.5 pounds. Their fur is soft and much easier to maintain than some other breeds, requiring brushing about once a week or biweekly.
PetGuide does not recommend small rabbits like the Polish as a pet for small children, because smaller rabbits are easier for kids to drop and hurt. But the affectionate, calm nature makes them great for adults or families with older children.
The medium-sized Thrianta rabbit is known for its striking scarlet and orange fur, according to Roy's Farm. They have little fawn accents under their tail and paws, and they're a compact, round breed with small, straight ears. Thrianta rabbits are curious, gentle, and sociable, and Roy's Farm notes that, like most other rabbits, they often enjoy or rely on the company of another rabbit.
The Cinnamon rabbit, like its name indicates, has a "ground cinnamon" color with a hint of orange, while their muzzles, ears, belly, and feet are a dark grey, according to the website Domestic Animal Breeds. It's only available in the United States, and it's actually relatively rare. They're considered a large rabbit, with an average weight of 9 to 11 pounds, and they're also a very active breed, so they need lots of supervised time outside of their cage in a safe enclosed area. They are very friendly and curious, making them great pets for families, couples, or singles.
The Dwarf Hotot breed is an adorably small, round rabbit with tiny ears, an all-white coat, and a small band of darker fur around the eyes, according to Caring for Pets. Dwarf hotots are a pretty friendly breed, but they can also be mischievous due to their high energy level.
The large English Lop rabbit has very big, hanging ears, and its coat can be many different colors, according to Petplan. They are known for being very laid back and easy-going, though they are still very curious and playful, especially when they're younger, according to PetGuide. They can become less active as they age because of their large ears, so Petplan notes that owners should be careful not to overfeed them and still take them out of their pens for regular, supervised exercise.
French Lops are described by RabbitPedia as "exceptionally friendly," and when they're socialized from a young age they make great pets and enjoy being held. But they are considered a large breed of rabbit, with a minimum weight of about 11 pounds for adults. (The rabbit pictured is likely a younger French lop!)
Their size means they're very strong — Pets4Homes notes that if they're startled they can kick out with their back legs strong enough to cause an injury, so they might not be good pets for first time rabbit owners.
Flemish Giants are exactly what their name indicates: giant. Their average adult weight is between 12 to 15 pounds, though some of the largest Flemish Giants can be up to 20 pounds, according to Wide Open Pets. Breeders haven't set a maximum weight for the rabbit because it can often become even larger, USA Today reported.
As a result, the Flemish Giant requires more space and resources (more food, a dog crate rather than an average rabbit pen, and more cleaning and care time), so anyone considering one should be well prepared. That said, they are popular because of how friendly and relaxed they are, so the companionship they provide would be worth the extra time.
Angora rabbits are usually bread for their wool, but they also make great pets. There are actually five different breeds of angora rabbits: the French, Satin, English, and Giant, according to Wide Open Pets. Though they have friendly personalities, they require a lot of maintenance, including shearing every three to four months, and daily grooming.