Posted by Layla on June 8, 2014 at 12:05 AM
One of the most commonly asked questions that I get is, "What's the friendliest breed of rabbit?" Though all rabbits have individual personalities, certain breeds are predisposed towards bad tempernaments. Here, I'll lay out some of the friendly (and not so friendly) breeds based off of my experience with them and talking to other breeders. If you have a question about another breed not lsited here, send me an email and I'll help out the best that I can!
- Himalayans: By far one of the sweetest-tempered breeds around. I think Himalayans are one of the few breeds that rarely kicks, bites, or shows any aggression. They love to cuddle and be held, and they have funny, intelligent personalities. Some people are turned off by their red eyes, but they have beautiful markings and are definitely a breed that I highly reccommend to new rabbit owners. They stay small at about 2-4 lbs. and have a unique cylindrical body shape.
- Holland Lops: One of the most popular breeds, Holland Lops are adored for their cubish faces, short ears, and small size. I have owned some absolutely wonderufl Holland Lops who love being held, never struggle, and have great personalities. On the flip side, I've owned some who are very hyper, jumpy, and skittish. Holland Lops are known for a unique action called "popcorning" which is when they sporadically jump when being posed or pet. For these reasons, I'd say it's a good idea to meet the rabbit and the parents before buying because they can be skittish. A calm mannered one is good for children because of their small size at 2-4 lbs.
- Mini Lops: Another popular breed, Mini Lops are the bigger, more muscular version of Holland Lops. They are not for everyone because of their larger size at an average of 6-7 lbs. If the larger size doesn't scare you off, Mini Lops make wonderful pets because they are calm and friendly. I've noticed my does tend to be cuddlier than the bucks, but bucks don't have as much attitude. Be careful what breeder you get them from because they have a tendency to be highly aggressive if they're not bred right.
- Polish: Though I've never personally owned Polishes, all the breeders and people who own them say they have some of the best personalities . They are calm and well-mannered, not to mention small at 2-3 lbs. full sized, making them easy to handle. They are a compact little breed and are known for they're curious and outgoing personalities. Again, be careful where you get them from, a nasty disposition is prominent in bad lines. They are popular with 4-Hers.
- French Lops: A less well-known rabbit on the larger end of the scale, French Lops are the biggest of the lop rabbits. They weigh in at a minimum of 10.5 lbs. for bucks and 11.5 lbs for does, with no maximum weight; I used to own one that was 18 lbs! Their large size makes them unsuitable for new rabbits owners, but experienced rabbit owners will find a calm, docile rabbit in the French Lop. They do not paticularly like to be held, but they will comfortably sit next to you on the couch and watch tv or take a romp in the yard. Mine even played with dog toys and played fetch.
- Mini Rex: A very popular rabbit breed, the Mini Rex is prized for its small size at 3-4 lbs and its incredibly soft and beautiful fur. However, I would exercise caution before getting this breed. They have a tendency to be skittish and jumpy. The ones I've owned never liked to be held and would rather be running around. If you're looking for a more active rabbit then the Mini Rex is a good choice, but they are not very cuddly and won't sit still to be handled.
- Dutch: A rabbit with unusual markings, the Dutch is unique in its specialized colors and markings. They are small, weighing in at 2-4 lbs. I have owned some that are cuddly and very affectionate, as well as known breeders who love their personalities. However, I had one that would lunge at anyone that came near him and bit several people; ultimately he had to be put down because he was a liability. Another time a 4-H girl's Dutch took a nice chunk out fo her finger. In conclusion on the Dutch, be cautious before purchasing and make sure you know the breeder's reputation and the tempernment of the parents.
- Mini Satin: One of the newer breeds, Mini Satins have super shiny and soft fur that comes in beautiful colors. They are about 3-4 lbs. They are known to be skittish and a potential to be aggressive, yet I've seen a lot of 4-H kids with them, mkaing me think that if they're from a good breeder they have the potential to be nice. I had two does who were highly territorial and absolutely hated to be held.
- Satin: The larger and older version of the Mini Satin, they can be a bit much to handle at around 8-11 lbs. Several people have reported them to have sweet, gentle personalities. Yet my 4-H leader breeds them and had quite a problem with aggression issues, so much that he put down his whole line and started fresh.
- Flemish Giant: The largest breed of rabbit in the US, Flemish Giants are a minimum weight of 14 lbs, but a more average weight of 18-20 lbs. Because of their size, they are NOT GOOD for inexperienced rabbit owners or ones with little kids. This is a lot of rabbit to handle with powerful back feet that can break a rib or two. That being said, Flemish Giants can have wonderful, dog-like personalities. They are intelligent and easily trained. However, make sure you go to a good breeder because there is a tendency for aggression issues.
Breeds to Consider Carefully
- Any "Full Arch" body type: Any rabbit breed under the "Full Arch" body type will most likely will be high-strung and potentially aggressive. Breeds include Tans (4-6 lbs), Checkered Giants (11-12 lbs but may get much larger), Brittania Petites (2.5 lbs), English Spots (6-8 lbs), and Belgian Hares (6-9.5 lbs). With their unique body types, they appeal to many people, yet they are not good unless you plan to try and work on their aggressive tempernment.
- Netherland Dwarf: Widely popular for its chubby face and small size at 2-4 lbs, the Netherland Dwarf is commonly found with 4-H kids. However, this is another breed with aggression issues and may not be the best choice for inexperienced rabbit owners. Many breeders work hard to get out this aggressive streak but it takes years. Just because they are small doesn't mean their bite doesn't hurt!
- Angora rabbits: Angoras come in distinct breeds; English, French, Satin, and Giant. The reason they are on this list is not because of their personality, but the amount of work associated with them. They must be brushed and blowdried at least every other day to keep their coat clean and pretty, as well as sheared twice a year. Many people get them and don't realize the amount of work they are, so they get tired of grooming the rabbit. This results in a miserable rabbit with matted wool and skin problems. If you're not prepared to brush and shear a rabbit like a sheep, then I would stay away from the Angora breeds.