There are lots of reasons people love rabbits as pets. Rabbits can learn to show love and affection to the whole family—or at least some breeds can.
In this article, I will tell you about ten breeds of rabbits that can become a cuddly, irreplaceable part of the family.
I will also tell you about three breeds that usually won’t. I’ll start with the breed my family found to be a wonderful pet.
Before diving into the list, it’s important to understand that every rabbit is unique, and their personality can vary depending on factors like their upbringing and environment. However, certain breeds tend to have traits that make them friendlier and more affectionate. The breeds we will discuss are known for their love of cuddling, their sociability with people, and their ability to bond with their pet parents.
When I was about nine years old, I started learning magic tricks. I wanted to be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat.
So, I asked my parents for the breed of rabbit that stars in magic shows around the world, a Polish rabbit.
Buns, as I called him, never really cooperated with my hat trick. He had a way of hopping out of my hat while it was still on my head (which got a bigger reaction than the successful rabbit out-of-the-hat trick would have).
But Buns was a great pet.
Polish rabbits weigh about 3.5 pounds (1800 grams) when they are fully grown.
As a result, they have delicate bones. They must be handled gently.
But they love being petted, and they can be happy even as apartment pets.
The Rex rabbit is often described as the “King of Rabbits.”
Actually, the “rex” in its name refers to its rex hair. Rex rabbits have uniform coats of short hairs, all the same color and all the same length.
The Rex rabbit’s rex hair feels like velvet. Petting your Rex rabbit is an enjoyable experience, particularly for people who may be unable to see their rabbit.
Rex rabbits come in black, blue, brown, chocolate, gray, lilac, red, and white, as well as in patterns of these colors. Because they reach a weight of 7.5 to 10.5 pounds (3.4 to 4.8 kilograms), they are comfortable being picked up and petted.
These rabbits love to play, but they will always stop to let their humans show them affection. There is even a Mini Rex breed for rabbit lovers who live in apartments.
Also read: Are Rex Rabbits Good for Meat?
These rabbits get their name from the fact they have a distinctive mane around their heads, reminiscent of a lion. But they grow to just 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) long and weigh in at 3.5 pounds (1800 grams) when they are fully grown.
Lionhead rabbits may be small, but they are very active. They love to play hide and seek with children. But make sure children know how to handle them gently.
Also read: How Big Do Lionhead Rabbits Get?
Mini Lops are pudgy little rabbits with ears that flop down almost to their feet.
These rabbits come in an amazing variety of colors. And the fact that they are mini rabbits, not dwarf rabbits, has several advantages:
- Mini Lops have floppy ears, but their ears aren’t so long that they can trip over them.
- Children need to handle Mini Lops gently, but they are not so fragile that their bones break easily like dwarf rabbits.
- Mini Lops are just big enough not to be intimidated by your other pets. They won’t aggressively defend their territory or hide when another pet comes into their space.
Mini Lops do require regular ear care. You will need to inspect their ears every week to make sure they do not have issues with mites or ear infections.
The only other special requirement you will have with your Mini Lop will be that it loves to play, play, and play some more.
Harlequins are eye-catching rabbits. Children love their colorful coats of white or orange marked with patches of chocolate brown, blue, and black.
Harlequins don’t make good lap bunnies. They prefer for you to come down to their level and sit beside them. They don’t like being picked up.
But Harlequin rabbits do like clowning around. They have a sense of humor in the creative ways they interact with their humans and with each other.
Weighing 6.5 to 9.5 pounds (3 to 4.5 kilograms) when they are fully grown, Harlequins are large enough that they won’t be easily injured by boisterous children. They aren’t intimidated by most other pets.
English Spots are a great choice for first-time rabbit owners.
They love to cuddle up next to their owners. They are large and sturdy enough to stand up to energetic play with children. And they come with black or brown spots on their white coats that make them the Dalmatians of the rabbit world.
The one thing you need to know about English Spots before you bring one home is this:
English Spot rabbits are more active at night than during the day.
This breed loves to play at night and sleep in the next morning. This makes them very different from most breeds of rabbits that are active around sunup and sundown.
Be sure not to let your English Spot rabbit play in your backyard at night unsupervised. Children who take their rabbit out to play as the sun is going down must be reminded to bring it back indoors for safety when night falls.
Jersey Wooly rabbits won’t kick. They won’t bite.
Despite the fact that Jersey Woolies are dwarf rabbits—an adult Jersey Wooly may only weigh 1 pound (450 grams)—they aren’t especially cautious rabbits. They enjoy being picked up and cuddled.
One thing you need to know about a Jersey Wooly rabbit before you bring it home is that it is a relatively high-maintenance rabbit.
Jersey Woolies have long hair that needs to be combed once or twice a week. It is important to keep their coats clean to avoid flystrike, a condition in which bot flies lay their eggs in the rabbit’s skin.
Always clean your Jersey Wooly’s coat with a warm, moist cloth. Never attempt to give your Jersey Wooly a bath. They cannot stand the shock.
The other thing you need to know about Jersey Woolies is that they are fragile. They can be seriously injured if they are dropped, or they fall off a ramp or stairs. They are not suitable as pets for small children.
Himalayan rabbits, as you might guess, seem to have originated in the Himalayas.
The American Himalayan Rabbit Association reports that they have been appearing in rabbit shows since the 1850s and have been bred as pets in North America since 1890.
For all those years, Himalayans have been bred to be show rabbits. As a result, they don’t mind being handled, and they love to be the center of attention.
Children will be fascinated by a Himalayan rabbit.
That’s because Himalayans are the chameleons of the rabbit world. The color patterns of these white rabbits with black or blue features change with temperature.
Cold weather makes markings darker and larger. A Himalayan rabbit exposed to cold can develop colored rings around its eyes.
Warm weather makes markings lighter. Extremely hot weather can even turn a Himalayan’s toenails white.
Himalayans prefer for you to get down to their level, instead of your bringing them up to your level. They like for you to get down on the floor to snuggle with them.
If your children want an affectionate pet rabbit that can also be the star of their next rabbit show, get them a Standard Chinchilla rabbit.
Standard Chinchilla rabbits have the same color fur as the South American rodent, the chinchilla. (Just to be clear, rabbits aren’t rodents, and South American chinchillas aren’t rabbits.)
A Standard Chinchilla rabbit is a beautiful pet.
It is important to understand that Standard Chinchilla rabbits tolerate being picked up. They don’t like being picked up.
Pick up your rabbit from the middle of its body, never by its head or tail, and absolutely not by its ears.
Your rabbit cannot see what is directly in front of its face. It will know it is being picked up by a friend if you pick it up by its side.
Havana rabbits have a great temperament for older owners.
These rabbits enjoy their playtime, but they also enjoy their naps. Their lifestyles are a good match for retirees and other adults who have relaxed schedules.
Rabbit lovers of all ages will be drawn to Havana rabbits by their beautiful, brown, soft fur. These rabbits are eminently pettable.
And because they are not especially high-energy rabbits, they can fit into any household.
Six Breeds of Rabbits That Don’t Make Great Pets
There are a few breeds that generally just don’t make good pets. Each of the breeds has some issues with people.
Belgian Hares are temperamentally “wild” rabbits. They do not bond with people.
Be forewarned that Belgian Hares are unusually long-lived. They live more than twice as long as most friendly breeds, up to 11 or 12 years.
Checkered Giants don’t like being cuddled. They will jump away if you put them beside you in your chair or on the couch.
French Lops generally don’t like being picked up or even being petted. They reject handling of any kind.
Holland Lops bite when they feel cornered. And because they are small, they feel cornered a lot.
It’s hard to get the extremely energetic Netherland Dwarf rabbit to sit still long enough to be petted.
Tan rabbits are another breed that have a wild temperament. They resist being constrained in any way.
What if you are really attracted to one of these six breeds and you would like to try to make it a family pet?
Rabbits are like people in that they each have a unique personality. Sometimes a rabbit of one of the breeds that usually aren’t people pleasers can be trained to enjoy petting and cuddling.
But socializing a rabbit from one of these six breeds will take a lot of time, beginning when the rabbit is very young.
Play with your rabbit an hour or more every day. Reward affectionate behavior with treats. With sustained attention, almost any rabbit can become an affectionate pet.
How to Encourage Affection in Pet Rabbits
Choosing one of the affectionate rabbit breeds is a great start, but there are more factors in making your bunny a cuddly and loving pet.
When your pet rabbit first comes home, they may be scared and uneasy around their new environment.
As prey animals, rabbits have a natural instinct to be cautious of danger. It’s important to create a safe and relaxed environment for your rabbit to feel secure.
Provide a quiet space and hideaways for them to retreat to when they’re feeling stressed or scared.
Building trust with your pet rabbit is essential for a strong, affectionate bond. Start by spending quality time with your rabbit each day.
Approach them calmly and offer your hand for them to sniff and explore. Even if they’re not initially interested, continue to gently interact with your rabbit to build a trusting relationship.
Treats can be an effective way to encourage bonding. Offer your rabbit their favorite treats from your hand, once they get used to your presence. Be patient and avoid making sudden movements that might scare them.
Developing a consistent routine is another key element in having a loving and cuddly pet rabbit.
Offer food, clean their living space, and provide companionship at the same times each day. Maintaining consistency helps to reassure your rabbit that they are safe and cared for.
Learn to understand your rabbit’s body language.
Rabbits communicate their emotions and needs through different behaviors, such as zoomies or chinning.
By paying attention to these cues, you can better understand and respond to your rabbit’s needs, leading to increased trust and affection.
Remember to always approach your pet rabbit with care and patience.
It takes time for them to become comfortable in their new home and with their new family.
Keep in mind that not all rabbits may become ultra-cuddly lap pets, but they can still establish strong bonds and offer companionship to you and your family.
Also read: Best Rabbit Breed For a Child’s Pet
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most cuddly rabbit breeds?
Lionhead Rabbits, Polish Rabbits, and Mini Lops are known for their affectionate nature. These breeds are usually friendly and enjoy being cuddled when handled properly.
Which rabbits have the best personality?
Holland Lops, English Spots, and Harlequin Rabbits are known for their friendly and sociable personalities. They adapt well to different environments, making them great pets.
Which rabbit breed is best for beginners?
For beginners, consider the Mini Rex breed. These rabbits are calm, and quiet, yet affectionate and friendly. They make lovely, low-maintenance pets, which is perfect if you haven’t had any experience with rabbits.
What are the healthiest rabbit breeds for pets?
Rabbits like the Flemish Giant, Havana Rabbit, and Standard Chinchilla Rabbit are generally known for their good health. You should still provide them with a proper diet, exercise, and regular veterinary checkups to ensure they stay healthy.
Are there any small, affectionate rabbit breeds?
Yes, breeds like Dwarf Hotot and Jersey Wooly Rabbit are small in size and known for their friendly nature. They can be great companions and fit well in smaller spaces.
Do Mini Rex rabbits enjoy being held?
As a breed, Mini Rex rabbits are generally amiable and friendly. Though individual personalities may vary, many Mini Rex rabbits do enjoy being held and cuddled when approached and handled correctly.
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