5 Most Popular Rabbit Breeds

By PetMD Editorial on Apr. 14, 2017
Image: Oksana Shufrych / Shutterstock

The Five Most Lovable Rabbit Breeds

by Cheryl Lock


Rabbits are one of the most fun pets you can have. With their adorable features, quirky personalities, and their ability to be litter trained, bunnies can make ideal companions.


While you’ll likely find that any breed of rabbit has its attributes, there are a few breeds in particular that tend to be the most popular year-in and year-out. “Breed popularity varies based on numerous factors, including geographical region, and may regularly change within that region,” says Natalie L. Reeves, a rabbit advocate and founder of rabbit rescue and education organization Big Apple Bunnies. Despite this fairly regular change in breed popularity, some breeds tend to be consistently popular.


Keep in mind that rabbits are not the right choice for everyone, and they don’t necessarily make the best starter pets. “Most do not like to be picked up, and rabbits’ medical needs are vastly different from those of dogs and cats, so as a result far fewer veterinarians are qualified to care for them,” said Reeves. “Plus, with good care, rabbits can live for 13 or more years, so they are a long-term commitment.”


If you’ve already given this a lot of thought and know you’re ready to care for a rabbit, perhaps one of the following breeds would make a good addition to your family.

Image: KanphotoSS / Shutterstock

Lionhead Rabbit

Physical Description:

Long hair on head and neck, medium-to-small in size, a bit muscular (for a bunny)


What Makes Them Special:

Lionheads tend to be friendly and like to bond to people, says Dr. Tiffany Margolin, DVM, founder of From The Heart Vet. “They are not as bossy as some other breeds, and they can bond to people or be bonded to a compatible rabbit buddy,” she added.


Special Needs to Consider:

Lionheads have high environmental needs, as do all rabbits, but this breed in particular tends to require more attention from humans than some other breeds do. “They love to play, chase around their humans, and will enjoy toys,” said Dr. Margolin. “They also kick back and make nice little ‘lap bunnies’ when you want to relax.”


This breed sheds more than others, so they need to be brushed often to reduce ingestion of loose hair, which can cause problems with their gut. Regular grooming also prevents their hair from matting, Reeves added.


Image: Dagmar Hijmans / Shutterstock

Mini Lop Rabbit

Physical Description:

Medium sized with ears that droop like a hound dog; comes in all colors


What Makes Them Special:

Mini Lops are undeniably adorable, and their cuteness makes them hard to resist, says Reeves.


Special Needs to Consider:

Mini Lops may be more prone to ear infections and dental problems, said Reeves, which can become very problematic if left untreated.


As with all rabbits, free range exercise is important for at least a few hours a day, so remember to bunny-proof the rabbit enclosure’s wires so they are cannot be chewed through, and keep smaller bunnies indoors with a pen area for exercise, says Dr. Margolin.


“If your rabbit is outside, you must make sure the area is predator-proof, and only keep them out during daylight hours,” Since all bunnies are prone to heat stroke at elevated temperatures, keep two 1-liter bottles of frozen water around in a pen for them to use to cool down in warmer months, Dr. Margolin recommends.


Image: Kassia Marie Ott / Shutterstock

Rex Rabbit

Physical Description:

Rather long, muscular and athletic look. Their ears are back and upright, and they are known for their dense, thick, Chinchilla-like fur that stands straight up from the skin


What Makes Them Special:

Their amazing fur and friendliness are very appealing, says Dr. Margolin. They get along with each other and are athletic jumpers, plus “they seem more intelligent than some species, and are very playful,” she added.


Special Needs to Consider:

Dr. Margolin cautions that this breed has some chemical sensitivities and may react to cedar litter moreso than other breeds. But in general, she says, experts caution against using cedar litter with any rabbit. Also, “due to their shorter, thicker hair, they may be more disposed to the problem of sore hock,” Dr. Margolin added.


Image: Preediwat / Shutterstock

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

Physical Description:

The smallest breed of domesticated rabbit, the Netherland Dwarf is more delicate, weighting only about 1-1.4 kg. “They are one of the more popular ‘Easter’ bunnies around this time of year,” said Dr. Margolin.


What Makes Them Special:

Their small size, cute, upright ears, and funny jumps and personality make them a charming breed, says Dr. Margolin.


Special Needs to Consider:

While their small size makes these bunnies particularly enticing to children, most Netherland Dwarfs actually don’t like to be picked up, says Reeves. Additionally, “many believe these rabbits are easier to keep because they are small and need less space, but actually these bunnies can be high energy and should have as much space as larger rabbits,” Reeves said.


Image: Simon Tang / Shutterstock

Polish Rabbit

Physical Description:

This breed is a dwarf-sized rabbit with short, upright ears, full round heads, and a compact body. They generally weigh between 1.2 and 1.7 kg.


What Makes Them Special:

With beautiful markings, large eyes, and a sweet and docile nature, it’s not surprising the Polish is a popular breed.


Special Needs to Consider:

Depending on their markings, certain lines of this breed — particularly those with dark spots and a white background — are very predisposed to “Cowpie Syndrome,” a chronic and difficult condition in which the large intestine is enlarged, resulting in persistent soft stool.


“Because a rabbit is only as healthy as its gastrointestinal tract, this often results in ongoing problems and is ultimately life-threatening,” said Dr. Margolin.