Dwarf Rabbits are the smallest rabbit breeds and they also live longer. They are usually no more than one to five pounds fully grown and are often characterized by distinctive ears and a unique facial structure.
There are many different breeds of rabbits that are characterized as dwarf rabbits. Some of them earn this classification for their small size. Others possess an active ‘dwarfism’ gene.
So how can you tell the difference? What rabbit breeds don’t have the dwarfing gene?
What are the different sizes and characteristics of various dwarf breeds? Keep reading to learn all about dwarf rabbits as pets!
What is a Dwarf Rabbit?
Dwarf rabbits are commonly thought to be rabbits under a certain weight size. However, this isn’t necessarily true.
Many experts separate ‘dwarf’ rabbits into two categories. True Dwarfs and False Dwarfs.
Physical Differences Between True and False Dwarf Rabbits
The most common is build. While true dwarfs almost always have a rounded body, false dwarfs come in many different physical configurations.
True Dwarf Rabbits
True Dwarfs are those breeds, or rabbits, which exhibit all of the main characteristics of the dwarf genetic trait.
True Dwarf rabbits have an inactive HMGA2 gene. It contributes to their small size.
Dwarf Rabbit Characteristics
- Round compact body
- Small ears
- Short noses
- Short neck
- Heads disproportionate to their body size
- Baby-like facial structure
The American Rabbit Breeders Association only recognizes certain breeds as True Dwarf breeds among domesticated rabbits.
False Dwarf Rabbits
False dwarfs are rabbits that possess the small size of a dwarf rabbit but do not have the inactive HMGA2 dwarfing gene.
While they can possess similar features to a True Dwarf they don’t necessarily share all the characteristics.
False dwarfs are brought into existence via selective breeding. Sometimes they are bred with true dwarfs to maintain the small size while lowering the risk for unhealthy characteristics.
Due to breeding for small size, some rabbits in False Dwarf breeds may naturally present the dwarfism gene.
Can You Breed Two Dwarf Rabbits Together?
Experts say it is very risky to breed two True Dwarf rabbits, as a double dwarf gene is fatal.
Dwarf Rabbit Breeds
There is some debate about exactly how many official dwarf rabbit breeds there are. According to most sources, it appears there are only seven or eight True Dwarf rabbit breeds.
These breeds are known to possess all of the characteristics of the dwarfism gene.
American Fuzzy Lop Rabbit
- Originally bred as a cross between a Holland Lop, an English Lop and an Angora
- Known for its wooly fur and spotted coat
- Some consider this a variation on the Holland Lop, not a separate breed
- Maximum size: Four pounds
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit
- Netherland Dwarf rabbits are often considered the original and most popular dwarf rabbit breed
- Originally a crossbreed between Polish Rabbits and small wild rabbit breeds
- Bred to be docile – used to be more aggressive
- One of the smallest dwarf breeds
- Fragile – not recommended for people with small children
- Maximum size: 2-2.5 pounds
Holland Lop Rabbit
- Crossbreed between a Netherland Dwarf and a French Lop
- Very active rabbits
- Come in a variety of colors – usually one solid color
- Distinctive mark – lop ears that hang 4.7 inches from their heads
- One of the most popular dwarf breeds in the United States
- Maximum size: 2-4 pounds
Jersey Wooly Rabbit
- Bred as a cross between a French Angora and a Netherland Dwarf
- Very gentle and docile
- Known for their soft, wooly fur
- Maximum size: 3 pounds
Dwarf Hotot Rabbit
- Originally bred from the Blanc de Hotot rabbit
- Distinctive features: White fur, black ring around the eyes and black eyes
- Also called the Eye of Fancy
- Reputed to be easy for children to handle
- Maximum size: 3 pounds
- Lionhead rabbits are bred to have a thick mane-like ruff around the head
- Can have a single or double mane
- Skittish but friendly
- Intelligent and easy to train
- Maximum size: 2.5-3.75 pounds
Mini Rex Rabbit
- Bred as a cross between a Rex and Netherland Dwarf
- One of the largest Dwarf breeds
- Known for their plush fur
- Friendly personalities
- Maximum size: 4.5 pounds
Mini Satin Rabbit
- Bred from regular Satin rabbits
- Great pet rabbit
- Recommended that you socialize early
- Maximum size: 4.5 pounds
Small Rabbit Breeds
Though there are few True Dwarf rabbit breeds, there are several other small breeds.
The dwarfism gene breeds cute rabbits, but they’re also at greater risk for certain health issues.
If you’re concerned about health issues or breeding concerns, one of these ‘false dwarf’ rabbit breeds may be a better fit for you.
According to the American Rabbit Breeders Association, these are ideal choices if you’re looking for a small rabbit without the defined ‘dwarf’ gene.
- Also known as the Polish in Britain
- Very active and energetic
- Requires patience to handle and train
- Prized as a small show rabbit
- Maximum Size: 2.5 lbs
- Originally bred in Germany
- Original Name: Dwarf Check
- Generally stocky with bold, round head
- Well known as a show animal
- Maximum Size: 2.5-4.5 pounds
- Also known as the Russian Rabbit and Black-Nosed Rabbit from China
- Known for distinctive facial markings
- Very laid back behavior
- Considered an excellent animal for children and adults
- Often bred for shows and competitions
- Maximum Size: 4.5 pounds
- Thought to have originated in Britain
- Very popular small pet rabbit
- Similar body shape to Britannia Petite
- One of the smallest of rabbit breeds
- Maximum Size: 3.5 pounds
Mini English Angora
- Compact with rounded body
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Long, dense wooly fur
- Guard fur is less likely to get matted than some other breeds
- Maximum Size: 3.5 pounds
Mini Cashmere Lop
- Reputed to have a thick and powerful build
- Generally well rounded and well muscled
- Thick, broad, rounded ears
- Often reported to have a ‘horseshoe appearance’ from the front
- Silky dense fur
- Maximum size: 3.5 pounds
While these are all the breeds that might be considered ‘dwarf’ breeds (even though they technically are not) there are still other small rabbit breeds not listed.
Rabbit Breeds Greater Than Five Pounds
Several breeds have a maximum weight just over the reputed ‘five-pound’ mark to be considered a dwarf. However, their small size marks them as ‘minis’ to some breeders.
With their small size and breeding, these breeds can produce ‘dwarf’ rabbits, despite not being True Dwarf or False Dwarf Breeds.
Small Rabbit Breeds Greater Than Five Pounds
- Tans – 5.5 lbs
- Thrianta – 6 lbs
- Mini Lops – 6.5 lbs
- Havana – 6.5 lbs
- Florida White – 6 lbs
- Dutch – 5.5 lbs
If you’re looking for something small but slightly larger than a dwarf these are all good options.
Dwarf Rabbit Care
Much of the necessary care for dwarf rabbits is similar to that of regular rabbits. However, there are some things you’ll need to be aware of when bringing a dwarf rabbit home.
In terms of equipment, Dwarf rabbits need much the same as any other rabbit.
- Litter Box
- Soft, slightly absorbent floor of wood shavings or similar
- Water bowl
- Food Bowl
- A place to play
- Toys to play with and stimulate them
- Appropriate food and chew toys
Dwarf Rabbit Environment
In terms of the needed environment for a dwarf rabbit, there are two things you’ll need to remember.
- My opinion is that dwarf rabbits should be kept indoors for their safety
- Dwarfs need continuous onitoring when out of their pen or enclosure
These things are necessary because of a dwarf rabbit’s small size. An outdoor enclosure is too unsafe. Dwarf rabbits are simply too much at risk from predators.
Outside of their pen, they should be watched carefully. Their small size makes it easy for them to wander into unsafe situations.
Dwarf Rabbit Care Tips
In terms of care, you should remember the following:
- Food portions need to be MUCH smaller than for other rabbit
- Food should still be a mix of roughage such as hay, pellets as supplements, and small servings of fresh greens and herbs
- Make sure food is cut to avoid choking hazards
- Frequent grooming is needed to prevent hairballs, which can be dangerous
- Be cautious about picking up or handling your rabbit – they can be easily frightened
- Regular visits to a veterinarian specializing in rabbits are recommended
- You need to trim your rabbit’s nails regularly to prevent possible foot injuries
- Clean cage regularly – minimum weekly – to keep rabbit healthy
- Regular exercise both inside and outside of enclosure is important
- You need to keep your rabbit stimulated to keep it happy.
- Rabbits, dwarfs included, are social animals. Consider buying more than one, or make sure you have extra time to spend with them
- Dwarfs, due to their small size, are often skittish and sometimes fragile. Keep other pets and small children away from them, especially while they’re acclimating to a new home
- Regular brushing is required to maintain health and proper grooming
Dwarf Rabbit Health Issues
When it comes to health care, dwarf rabbits are much like their larger cousins. However, dwarf rabbits may be more prone to or more sensitive to certain health conditions.
- A common issue among rabbits
- Preventative measures, such as spaying at a young age, are recommended
- A respiratory condition common to rabbits
- Caused by certain bacteria
- Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, and sometimes ear infections
- The short nose common to dwarf breeds can be more easily clogged by the snuffles
- Results in difficulty breathing
- A state in which the digestive process is slowed or stopped
- Symptoms include pain and weight loss
- Can result from blockage caused by hairballs if the rabbit is not groomed regularly
- Other causes include improper diet, lack of exercise, or overabundance of stress
- Other health problems can also lead to GI stasis if not treated early enough
- Can be fatal if not treated properly and promptly
- Requires veterinary intervention to correct
- A problem resulting from not having enough rough food to chew
- Rabbit teeth are always growing, rough food wears them down
- Without rough enough food, they do not wear enough
- Overlong teeth can cause pain, trouble eating and mouth infections
- Recommended that a vet assist with tooth trimming if needed
- The Most Common Health Problem for Dwarf Rabbits
- Cranial structure of True Dwarfs often causes this issue
- Longer lower jaw and shorter upper jaw means teeth don’t align
- Prevents healthy wear of teeth
- Severe cases can even cause perforations in your rabbit’s cheeks
- Requires regular professional tooth trimming to prevent complications
- In some cases, tooth extraction may also be required
Are Dwarf Rabbits Good Pets?
Yes, dwarf rabbits can make great family pets. You do have to be more aware of their special needs though and give them the proper attention they require.
Despite their small size, dwarf rabbits are a high maintenance pet so don’t hastily jump into getting one without prior consideration.
Dwarf rabbits will need daily attention which includes cleaning their pen, making sure they have food and water, and plenty of opportunities to exercise.
Cute Dwarf Rabbit Names
If you have a dwarf rabbit as a pet you need a great name for them so here are some suggestions!
- Sweet Pea
Related Dwarf Rabbit Questions
Can a Pet Dwarf Rabbit Live Outside?
Yes, if given a proper enclosure and bedding to keep warm a pet dwarf rabbit can live outside. You need to be cautious and on the lookout for potential predators and other possible hazards.
Just because a dwarf rabbit can survive ok being outside it will not always be the best situation so plan accordingly and give it some long thought.
Can a Dwarf Rabbit Be House Trained?
Yes, a pet dwarf rabbit can be taught to be house trained. Dwarf rabbits are smart and very trainable!
What is a Dwarf Lop Rabbit?
Dwarf lop rabbits are basically just smaller rabbits usually weighing between four and five pounds.
Dwarf lop rabbits are most often bred to be pets and are friendly animals.
What Does Lop Mean?
When you hear the word lop associated with rabbits it is referring to their dropping ears. Lop rabbits have ears that are long and droop down.
What is a Mini Lop Rabbit?
A Mini Lop rabbit is a small rabbit but not as small as a dwarf lop rabbit. Mini lops usually weigh between five and six pounds and are not considered dwarf rabbits.
What is a Cavy Rabbit?
Cavy rabbits are a unique set of breeds. According to some experts, they’re actually guinea pigs that resemble rabbits. The American Rabbit Breeders recognizes 13 breeds as ‘cavies’.
What is the Smallest Breed of Rabbit?
The smallest breed is the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit. They’re a wild breed found only in one place in the US. At full size, they only weigh about one pound.
What is a Rabbit Kit?
A kit is what you call a baby rabbit. Sometimes a mother can have 10 to 14 kits at birth! The term Kit is basically an abbreviation for the word kitten.
What is a Peanut Rabbit?
Peanut is the term used for a baby rabbit that inherits a double dwarfism gene. Peanuts rarely live longer than a few days, due to development issues.
Where Can I Find a Dwarf Rabbit?
The best place to find a dwarf rabbit is from a reputable breeder or quality pet store. Contact the American Rabbit Breeders Association for a list of breeders in your area.
How Much Does a Dwarf Rabbit Cost?
The average cost of a dwarf rabbit is usually between $25-$75 dollars for the most popular breeds. However, the exact cost will depend on the specific breed you’re looking for and where you purchase it.
Adopting a rabbit from a local shelter may be slightly less expensive.
How Long Do Dwarf Rabbits Live?
Barring health complications, the lifespan of a dwarf rabbit can be seven to 12 years or more.
Do Dwarf Rabbits Bite?
Yes, a dwarf rabbit can still bite you! In general, dwarf rabbits probably don’t like to be held and for sure, they don’t like to be handled in a rough manner.
Handling them improperly could result in sniffing and growling which could lead to them nipping at you or scratching you.
How Can I Tell if My Dwarf Bunny is Happy?
A telltale sign of a happy bunny is when they are lying still with their ears laying back along their body.
Do Dwarf Rabbits Smell?
No, a rabbit that is well taken care of will not have any strong odors. In fact, rabbits love to be clean and work hard to keep themselves that way!
Do Dwarf Rabbits Require Shots?
I don’t know of any states that require vaccination for dwarf rabbits but keep where you live to make sure!
Can My Dog or Cat Vet Treat My Dwarf Rabbit?
This is a great question and something that every potential pet rabbit owner needs to consider BEFORE they bring home a pet rabbit.
It may not be easy to find a veterinarian where you live that specializes in treating rabbits. Make sure you call around to the local vets and ask before you decide to get a pet rabbit.
Having a local vet that can treat your dwarf bunny is an important thing to keep in mind.
Can Dwarf Rabbits Be Show Rabbits?
Yes! Many people take their dwarf rabbits to compete with each other at shows. Generally, show criteria are that the animal is one of the recognized American Rabbit Breeders Association dwarf rabbit breeds.
What is the American Rabbit Breeders Association?
The American Rabbit Breeders Association traces its roots back to 1910. The organization was formed due to the emerging popularity of pet rabbits. They have over 20,000 members worldwide and recognize 49 unique rabbit breeds.
Tiny rabbits are rapidly becoming popular pets because they are so cute and seem like they would be easy to take care of. Yes, if given proper care and attention they can be a cute companion for a long time.
However, a dwarf bunny does have challenges that you may not have with larger rabbits.
If you have a family with children, a dwarf rabbit might not be the best choice. However, many experts recommend them as quiet and lovable pets for older individuals.
Pet dwarf rabbits are an excellent choice if you have limited space for a pet.
Before you bring home a dwarf rabbit, it’s probably a good idea to make sure there is a rabbit-savvy vet nearby and talk to experienced breeders about what to expect.
Dwarf bunnies can make great family pets but their unique challenges mean you have to provide a little extra care.