English Spot Rabbit (Size, Color, Temperament, Behavior)

English Spots are the Dalmatians of the rabbit world.

Easily recognized by their white fur with black spots, English Spot rabbits are also cuddly, affectionate, and sturdy enough to make a good pet for children and first-time rabbit owners.

These medium-sized rabbits are known for their distinctive markings, including a butterfly-shaped nose marking, eye circles, cheek spots, herringbone, and a chain of spots along their body.

Is there anything not to love about English Spot rabbits?

If you are a night owl, English Spots are a great choice for a pet.

This breed is active at night and through early morning and likes to take naps during the day. Your English Spot needs to have its playtime on its own schedule.

Even if you like to turn in for the evening early, however, you can have a happy experience owning an English Spot.

Not just pretty to look at, English Spots also possess friendly personalities, making them excellent pets in addition to being prized show rabbits.

Read further for the essential facts about English Spot rabbits, and then everything you need to know about the history, appearance, temperament, and care of this unique rabbit breed.

Essential Facts About English Spot Rabbits

Scientific name: Oryctolagus cuniculus

Appearance: Medium-sized rabbit with as many as six kinds of markings on a white background, including a butterfly pattern of color across the nose, circles around the eyes, spots on the cheeks, color on the ears, herringbone pattern on the back, chain of spots across the body.

Colors: White, usually with black, but sometimes with blue, chocolate, gold, gray, lilac, or tortoise shell accents.

Usual size: 6 to 8 pounds (a little under 3 kilograms to a little under 4 kilograms).

Temperament: Laid-back, not fussy, but needs to be socialized to other rabbits and people early in life.

Care requirements: Same as other rabbits.

Life Span: 5 to 9 years, occasionally longer.

Not a common breed.

History of the English Spot Rabbit

English Spots are one of the oldest and best-established breeds of rabbits. English Spots have been raised in England since at least 1850.

The history of the breed goes so far back that its exact origins have been lost to history.

Most rabbit experts believe that they originated from the Great Lorrainase rabbit (now known as the Giant Papillon rabbit), while others believe the breed originated with the Checkered Giant rabbit.

French rabbit breeders began referring to the “Lapin Papillon Anglais,” the English Butterfly rabbit, in the 1800s.

English Spots arrived in the United States between 1910, and the first English Spot Rabbit Club in the US was organized in 1924.

This breed was initially developed for show purposes, which was uncommon during that time since rabbits were mainly used as sources of meat.

By the time this rabbit breed was introduced to the United States around 1910, they had already established themselves as a unique and sought-after “fancy” rabbit breed.

Appearance of the English Spot Rabbit

English Spots are often called “butterfly rabbits.” That’s because the pattern of an English Spot’s spots is reminiscent of a butterfly.

If you persuade your English Spot to lie down quietly on its stomach, you will notice that, although most of its fur is white, there is a line of unbroken color from its neck to its tail.

This pattern of color is known as herringbone.

On either side of the dividing line of color on its back, your English Spot should have exactly eight spots of the same color on either side of its body.

English Spots also have dark coloration on their ears and around their eyes.

It will have spots on its face, and a solid color in a butterfly pattern across its mouth and nose. The colors on its ears remind observers of the antennae on a butterfly.

What colors do English Spots have on the background of their white fur?

The most common color of an English Spot’s spots is black, followed by chocolate brown.

English Spots with gray spots sometimes produce offspring with “gold” spots, although the color is closer to wheat gold than metallic gold.

Some English Spots will have markings of blue, lilac (pinkish purple), or tortoise.

English Spots are medium-sized rabbits. Most English Spots will weigh between 5 and 8 pounds (2.3 to 3.7 kilograms).

They have an arched body type. When you place them on a table, you will be able to see daylight between their two front paws.

These rabbits have long, slender legs. Their bodies are rounded but muscular. Their ears stand vertically.

If you raise English Rabbits to enter shows (English Spots are popular projects for elementary school students in 4-H), keep in mind that judges don’t look just at your rabbit’s color.

They also look for the form the American Rabbit Breeders Association specifies for this breed.


There are six types of body markings that characterize the English Spot Rabbit:

  1. Butterfly nose marking: This is a distinctive marking around the nose that resembles a butterfly. The marking peaks in the middle with wings on both sides of the rabbit’s nose.
  2. Eye circles: These are the circular markings around the eyes, adding to the rabbit’s unique appearance.
  3. Cheek spots: Located on the cheeks, these spots enhance the rabbit’s facial features.
  4. Colored ears: Adding contrast to the English Spot Rabbit’s white coat, their ears are colored to match their other markings.
  5. Herringbone: This marking is a strip of color that runs down the rabbit’s back.
  6. Chain of spots: A series of spots can be found on each side of the rabbit’s body, contributing to their eye-catching appearance.

Temperament of the English Spot Rabbit

English Spot rabbits make great pets for children. They are friendly. They are inquisitive. They love to play.

Many English Spots are acrobats that can keep your children entertained for hours at a time.

If socialized early and accustomed to being handled, these rabbits become highly affectionate companions. Their easy-going personalities fit well with most households, providing joy and entertainment with their playful antics.

Because English Spots are so active, they absolutely need play space.

Every English Spot will need a fenced, secure backyard or a dedicated playroom inside the home for several hours every day.

As a medium-sized breed, English Spot Rabbits need ample space to fully stretch their legs and express their lively personalities.

They’re ideal as indoor or outdoor pets, as long as they’re given protection from extreme weather conditions and predators.

Taking Care of Your English Spot Rabbit

It is not difficult to take care of English Spot rabbits.

They are large enough that they are not skittish around children and cats, and they scamper away fast enough that you are not likely to step on them.

They are not prone to any breed-specific diseases, and they generally stay healthy throughout their lives.

However, keeping your English Spot happy and healthy requires attention to some basic needs.

Food, Water, and the Litter Box

English Spot rabbits have some dietary requirements that other pets don’t.

Rabbits feed on grasses. Most of your rabbit’s diet should be dry, fresh, clean timothy hay. (Alfalfa hay has too much calcium in it. It can cause kidney stones in adult English Spot rabbits.)

The fiber in hay and green leafy vegetables is important for your English Spot rabbit’s health for two reasons.

One reason is that your rabbit’s teeth continue to grow throughout life.

Chewing high-fiber foods keeps them growing so long that your rabbit develops malocclusion, the inability to fit its teeth together.

The other reason that high-fiber natural plant foods are important to your rabbit’s health is that they prevent a condition called gastrointestinal stasis.

When rabbits are fed mostly pellets, or they are given high-carb foods intended for humans like bread or cereal, the digested food forms a lump in the rabbit’s digestive tract.

Sometimes, you can even see the lump beneath the rabbit’s throat.

The other natural foods your rabbit eats can’t get where they need to go in the digestive tract.

The colon cannot absorb water, so your rabbit can develop diarrhea. Alternatively, a severe blockage can cause severe and potentially fatal constipation.

Don’t let this happen to your rabbit. Make sure your rabbit always has all the fresh timothy hay it wants (about the same volume as its body every day) and all the fresh, clean water it wants.

Rabbits also feed in their litter boxes. That is because they eat their poop.

Grass is a low-fat food. Probiotic bacteria, however, can transform fiber into fatty acids. However, to do this, they need oxygen.

Rabbits chew grasses. and the chewed fiber mixes with bacteria in the gut. The fiber and the bacteria pass out of the rabbit as soft pellets.

These pellets of poop lie on the ground and create the needed fatty acids. Rabbits eat their soft pellets, and the poops pass into a part of the gut called the cecum, where the rabbit gets additional nutrients.

They pass out of your rabbit a second time as hard pellets that your rabbit does not eat.

Train your rabbit to use a litter box by picking up soft pellets and putting them in a hay-lined box.

If your English spot stays outside in a hutch, you can just let the rabbit’s soft pellets fall to the ground from the second-floor living area.

Rabbits become house-trained very quickly when you pick up the poops for a week or so because eating soft fecal matter is an essential part of their nutrition.


Brushing your rabbit’s coat, outdoors, once a week, is sufficient to prevent shedding in their living area.

Health Concerns

English Spot rabbits live problem-free lives if you:

  • Prevent contact with wild rabbits, which can carry mites, ticks, and worms.
  • Protect them from aggressive pets and carnivorous wild animals.
  • Always give them fresh water and fresh hay, with a minimum of commercial rabbit food (about 2 tablespoons a day).

Breeding and Reproduction

When it comes to breeding English Spot rabbits, it’s important to know the basics of their reproduction habits.

This will help you provide the best care for your rabbits and maintain a healthy breeding process.

  • Age of Maturity: English Spot rabbits reach sexual maturity at different times depending on their size. Medium to large breeds become mature at 4 to 4.5 months, while giant breeds may take 6 to 9 months, and smaller breeds like the Polish Dwarf and Dutch become mature at 3.5 to 4 months of age.
  • Selective Breeding: One of the challenges in breeding English Spot rabbits is ensuring that the kits have the breed-specific markings. Through selective breeding, the distinctive markings, including the butterfly nose, eye circles, cheek spots, herringbone, colored ears, and a chain of spots were developed. Maintaining these markings requires careful pairing of the rabbits and working with reputable breeders.
  • Breeding Process: Always introduce the doe (female rabbit) to the breeder’s enclosure, as this helps reduce the risk of territorial aggression. Female rabbits release eggs during sexual intercourse, rather than through a hormone-based cycle like humans do. Keep an eye on the mating process to ensure that it goes smoothly.
  • Litter Size and Gestation: After successful mating, the gestation period for English Spot rabbits is typically around 30 days. A doe will give birth to a litter of about five to seven kits.
  • Post-Breeding Care: Make sure your rabbits have a clean, stress-free environment both before and after mating to reduce health risks. Don’t forget to provide the doe with a comfortable nesting area to give birth and take care of her kits.
  • American English Spot Rabbit Club: If you’re serious about breeding English Spot rabbits and want to become more knowledgeable in the process, consider joining the American English Spot Rabbit Club. They offer helpful resources and a community of experienced breeders that can provide guidance and support.

Popular Bunny Names for English Spot Rabbits

Here’s a table with popular English Spot Rabbit names, reflecting their breed characteristics.

The English Spot Rabbit is known for its medium size, distinct spots and stripes, and energetic personality.

Many of these names are inspired by their unique appearance and lively nature.

Boy Bunny Names for English Spot RabbitsGirl Bunny Names for English Spot Rabbits

These names emphasize the distinctive spots and stripes, medium size, and energetic nature of the English Spot Rabbit breed, making them fitting choices for your rabbit.

Also read: Names for Pet Rabbits

Frequently Asked Questions About English Spot Rabbits

How much will an English Spot rabbit cost?

An English Spot rabbit intended to be pet can cost as little as $10 to $50. Show-quality animals may cost as much as $200.

Where can I buy an English Spot rabbit?

It is always better to buy rabbits from professional rabbit breeders.

You can find a list in the Rabbit Breeders Directory or Rabbits for Sale.

If my English Spot rabbits mate, will their kits have the same markings that they have?

Baby English Spot rabbits not only may not have the same kinds of markings as their parents, but sometimes they will not have any markings at all!

The greatest variation in colors occurs when you breed two English Spot rabbits with gray marks

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