The Holland Lop rabbit is a Dutch breed initially developed by rabbit breeder Adriann De Cock of Tilburg, Netherlands. Holland Lops are the result of breeding a larger French Lop rabbit with a smaller Netherland Dwarf rabbit. The standards of perfection for the breed were adopted in Europe in 1964. The Holland Lop was officially recognized in the United States as a pure breed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 1979.
The typical Holland Lop life span is 7–10 years, and they reach a maximum weight of 4 pounds. Full-grown Holland Lops have a compact yet muscular body with heavy bones. The ARBA recognizes over 30 different coat color and pattern variations. Ideally, this rabbit has a large head, short and rounded nose, and characteristic floppy ears that fall close to the face.
Caring for a Holland Lop
Typically, Holland Lops are friendly, playful, and energetic pets. They can be skittish at times, so a quiet and calm household with adults or older children is ideal. Males are usually more outgoing than females, and can also be more destructive, but both female and male Holland Lops have been known to chew and damage their enclosures.
Proper handing is a must for these rabbits. They can startle easily and potentially hurt themselves when they struggle or jump out of a person’s arms. Their back legs are very powerful and when they kick they can strain muscles or injure their spine, which can lead to paralysis. All rabbits must be supported properly when they are held.
Holland Lops are social animals and thrive on companionship and interaction with their family. They need plenty of exercise and supervised playtime out of the cage. Many Holland Lops will also enjoy being groomed and having quiet snuggle time with their human family members.
Holland Lop Health Issues
While Holland Lops are not known to have any hereditary health issues, they are prone to various ailments. Pet health insurance is a practical investment and should be considered for these rabbits when they are young, before health issues develop and become pre-existing conditions.
Holland Lop rabbits are a bit more challenging to care for than other rabbit breeds because of their characteristic floppy ears. The ears on an adult Holland Lop are about 4–5 inches long and lie close to the face. This unique anatomy results in decreased airflow to the inside of the ears, trapping debris and moisture—which can lead to wax build up and re-occurring ear infections.
Weekly ear cleaning is recommended to maintain ear health and prevent infection. Use an ear cleaner that is labeled safe for rabbits, such as Vetericyn Antimicrobial Pet Ear Rinse. Pet parents should consult with a veterinarian on how to clean their rabbit's ears correctly so that they don’t injure the rabbit's ears or ear drums.
Rabbits, in general, have delicate digestive systems. A proper diet consisting of unlimited amounts of hay, a small amount of fortified pellets, fresh greens, and plenty of clean water, along with supervised out-of-cage time to exercise, can help prevent gastrointestinal problems.
While rabbits physically cannot vomit, when fed inappropriately they commonly develop a condition called gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. This is when their normal healthy GI bacteria change and the passage of food through their GI tract slows. As a result, they stop eating and ultimately stop passing stool.
If your rabbit shows any of these signs, develops diarrhea, or stops eating their night stools (softer, pale-colored stools that are passed late at night or in the morning that rabbits ingest to obtain nutrients), seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Rabbits are meticulous groomers and regularly ingest a good amount of fur while licking themselves clean. Holland Lops are known to molt (shed their heavy undercoat) for about two weeks out of the year, so extra brushing is necessary during that time.
If you notice your Lop is not eating or pooping, then a vet exam is needed along with an X-ray to determine if there is a wad of fur causing gastrointestinal stasis in the digestive system. Some rabbits need hospitalization or surgery to recover from GI stasis, and if left untreated this condition can be fatal for any rabbit.
Dental issues such as overgrown or mal-aligned teeth may be prevented by feeding a properly balanced diet containing unlimited amounts of hay (which promotes chewing and wearing down of the teeth), with smaller amounts of fortified pellets and fresh greens. Rabbits' teeth grown continuously throughout life (about 2 mm/week!), so plenty of hay and wooden chew toys made to be safe for rabbits help wear your Holland Lop bunny’s teeth down.
Signs of a dental problem include:
Decreased or no appetite
Swellings along the jaw if a tooth root abscess develops
Rabbits with suspected dental problems need to be examined and treated by a veterinarian who will likely sedate the rabbit, do a thorough mouth examination, trim or file overgrown teeth, and sometimes take an X-ray of the head if they suspect a tooth root abscess.
Cheyletiella, also known as “walking dandruff” is a skin mite that can cause your Holland Lop bunny to be extremely itchy and have patches of hair loss and flaky skin. Cheyletiella is usually treated with prescription medications such as oral or injectable ivermectin or topical selemectin (Revolution).
Encephalitozoon cuniculi (E. cuniculi) is a small intracellular parasite that can cause severe nervous system problems and kidney damage. This parasite is transmitted by ingesting or inhaling the spores in urine from an infected rabbit. E. cuniculi can be treated with prescription dewormers such as fenbendazole or ponazuril combined with an anti-inflammatory medication. This skin parasite often causes hair loss and flaky skin along the neck and back. It is contagious to humans, so if your rabbit is diagnosed with this parasite, be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect your bunny's environment, and see your doctor if you develop and skin problems. This organism can be very difficult to treat and can persist in the environment wherever there is rabbit urine. Even after treatment, rabbits can suffer from residual neurologic signs, such as head tilting or falling over.
What To Feed a Holland Lop
Feeding a proper diet is the key to having a healthy pet rabbit. Commercially made pelleted diets are available, but the bulk of your Holland Lop's diet should be roughage in the form of hay, such as Oxbow's Western Timothy Hay. All pet rabbits should be fed according to the following guidelines:
Unlimited amounts of hay
A smaller amount of fresh greens
1/4 cup of fortified pellets/4–5 pounds of rabbit per day
Treats should be given only occasionally, with high-fat/high-sugar treats being avoided. Rabbits may also benefit from a digestive supplement, such as Oxbow's Natural Science Papaya Support.
Holland Lop Temperament and Behavior
In addition to being adorable, the Holland Lop has an endearing personality. They can be a bit shy and jumpy at first, but once they are comfortable in their surroundings, they are so much fun! Playful yet easy going, your Holland Lop bunny will enjoysupervised time outside of the cage every day to exercise and release some energy. Many also like to spend quiet time snuggling with their favorite humans as well. Males tend to be more outgoing than females, but both are overall easy to handle.
Holland Lop Grooming Guide
Holland Lops require routine brushing at least once or twice a week, and daily brushing while molting. Their nails grow continuously and should be trimmed every one or two months with a nail trimmer. Weekly ear cleaning, under the direction of a veterinarian, may help reduce the frequency of ear infections.
Holland Lop rabbits should not need to be bathed in water. Instead, use pet-safe grooming wipes if your rabbit gets dirty. Never attempt to trim a rabbit's fur with scissors or clippers, as their skin is very thin and can tear easily. If your bunny's fur becomes matted or extremely soiled, contact your veterinarian. They can sedate your bunny for grooming and bathing to reduce the rabbit's stress level.
Grooming your Holland Lop should be a part of your daily interaction, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to build a trusting bond between you and your rabbit. A consistent and thorough grooming routine will help keep your rabbit healthy and happy.
Considerations for Pet Parents
In general, Holland Lop rabbits are friendly and social. They are great family pets in a quiet and calm household. Because they can be startled easily, a home with children 9 years or older is best. Rabbits can kick their strong legs and break their backs easily if their hind ends are not supported properly when being held. All children should be supervised when they are handling rabbits.
Holland Lops have a sweet and gentle personality, but they also require plenty of exercise and playtime out of their cage to stay physically healthy and mentally happy. Regular grooming such as brushing, ear cleaning, and nail trimming are a must to avoid common health issues. A diet of mostly Timothy hay is crucial to maintain a Holland Lops sensitive digestion.
A social animals, Holland Lops are not well suited to life in a cage and can be destructive or self-mutilate (pulling out fur causing bald spots or sores) if they do not get enough exercise and social interaction. Pet parents should expect to spend time playing, grooming, and cuddling with your Holland Lop rabbit every day.
Holland Lop FAQs
Is a Holland Lop bunny a good pet?
Holland Lops make wonderful pets in general, but do best in a quiet and low-stress household with adults or older children. Proper rabbit care is essential for any breed.
Are Holland Lops hard to take care of?
Rabbits in general have very specific dietary requirements. Holland Lops also require more grooming in the form of ear cleaning than rabbits with pointed ears.
Are Holland Lop bunnies cuddly?
Holland Lops are very social and typically enjoy quiet cuddle time with their human family members.
Are Holland Lops easy to train?
Holland Lop rabbits are intelligent and thrive on spending time with their humans, so training exercises are a great way to bond with them. Many Holland Lops take to litter box training well, and can even learn basic commands and tricks.
Featured Image: iStock.com/AEKKARAT DOUNGMANEERATTANA
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