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Choosing Your Rabbit 

This will probably make me very unpopular with a lot of people but my personal advice is do not buy your rabbits from a pet shop/pet superstore unless you are certain that the young are healthy and do not come from inter-bred adults. Most shop bought rabbits that I have had over the years have either died much sooner than privately or own bred rabbits, or have developed illnesses from an early age that they later died off (snuffles in particular).

Ideally you also want to see the mother and father that your rabbit was bred from to get an idea of not only the size it will, but also their condition of health as well.

You will also pay a much higher price for your rabbit from a pet shop rather than a friend, neighbour or an advert in a local paper.

If you do buy from a Pet shop then apply strict criteria to any establishment that is selling live animals.  Demand overall cleanliness in the surroundings; look for alert and healthy rabbits and insist upon intelligent answers to all your questions from the staff.  A shabby, untidy operation is unlikely to be indicative of good health and hardiness in the stock.  

One of the best places to get a new pet rabbit is a rescue centre, they are a great place to get your rabbit because they usually vaccinate, health check and neuter them before you adopt them which is a good start and they will give lots of advice if your a new owner too.

Always know as much as possible before purchasing a pet: be aware of what a healthy specimen looks like, how large a six-week-old rabbit should be, what characteristics are important in your chosen breed, and so on. If you are looking for a particular breed or a less popular colour variety of a known breed, a breeder may be your only possible source of supply.  Breeders generally are dedicated and highly knowledgeable fanciers; they are also interested in you and the kind of environment and home you intend to give your new pet.  

The best age to buy a rabbit is when it is from five to eight weeks old. Its eyes should be bright and clear. Its nose should not be runny - do not choose one with sniffles or sneezes. The coat should be sleek and evenly distributed. Stains or discolourations around the rear could indicate diarrhoea.

What breed you deicide to buy will depend on many factors - is it just a family pet, are children going to be handling it, do you want to show it, how big a cage/garden do you have? My personal favourites are Netherland dwarf rabbits.

There are rabbits as big as spaniels and as small as guinea pigs.  In between, there are rabbits of every size, shape and colour - more than 50 domestic breeds from which to choose your pet.  If this figure overwhelms you, find out from a pet shop or breeder the best breed for you.  Although it is not possible to present here every rabbit breed that is available, the following descriptions give the reader a thorough overview of some of the types of rabbit that are available to the hobbyist.


This rabbit is coloured similarly fore and aft, with a broad band of white around the front part of its body up to the head.  A small-to-medium character with a charming disposition, it comes in a variety of attractive colours.  It is no wonder that it has become popular as a pet.


This is the original dwarf rabbit, a small, lean individual weighing no more than 0.9kg. It is the same size as the more common Netherland Dwarf, but the complete opposite in body shape, having a log, graceful body and a racy, alert appearance.  The most usual variety is the red-eyed white, although many other colours exist, such as black, blue, smoke and sable.  The fur of the Polish is very short and shiny, as though it has been polished - hence the name (although 'Polish' is pronounced as if it was derived from Poland).  Unfortunately the Polish has a reputation for being bad tempered and is therefore not a pet for the novice.

Belgian Hare

One of the most intelligent of rabbits.  This attractive animal, whose weight can range from 2.7kg to 4.5kg, has beautiful lush fur that is reddish tan in colour.  Its body shape is similar to that of a hare, with very long legs and ears.


This red-eyed rabbit sports a white coat with black, blue, chocolate or lilac markings.  These markings are on the nose, ears, tail, feet and legs.  Medium in size, it weighs from 0.9kg to 1.8kg.


These beautiful rabbits are easily recognisable by the distinctive quality of their coats.  This breed is available in white and various other colours.  The Angora is more difficult to take care of than some other types of rabbit, but if you devote the necessary time and patience to brushing, cleaning and clipping it you will be rewarded by the beauty of this prized and unusual pet.


The hallmark of lop rabbits is their long, soft, dropping or 'lop' ears (which in some breeds are enormous in size in relation to body size).  In the larger lop breeds, ear lengths easily measure over 50cm.  The French Lop is the largest variety, growing as big as 6.8kg. It has a very round, compact body shape.  The slightly smaller English Lop is a mean, lean shape, with the largest ears of any rabbit.  The German Lop, the Dwarf Lop and the Mini Lop are all smaller versions of the French Lop, the Mini Lop being the smallest at approximately 1.4kg. The Meissner Lop has distinctive silver colouring, similar to the silver rabbit, and the Cashmere Lop is the longhaired version of the Dwarf Lop.  All Lops come in a great variety of colours and markings, and make excellent pets.


These beautiful rabbits are the choice of quite a few hobbyists.  Silvers, whose coats are short and even in length, are available in several colours, all of which are highlighted by the breed's characteristic silvering.  Adult members of the breed weigh from 1.8kg to 3kg.

Netherland Dwarf

These rabbits, often simply called dwarf rabbits, are a favourite of many in the fancy.  Their appearance is distinctive: short ears perched on top of an apple-round head, and a very compact body.  Netherland Dwarfs, which come in a variety of beautiful colours, are known for their even dispositions.

Chinchilla and Chinchilla Giganta

These are two recognised breeds and are similar in appearance.  The Giganta is larger, weighing about 4.9kg to 5kg while the Chinchilla weighs 2.7kg. The distinguishing characteristic of both is the unique colour, 'to resemble real chinchilla'.  The undercolour is dark slate blue at the base, light pearl at the centre, and the top banded in black; the chinchilla effect is produced by a very light band brightly ticked with jet black hairs in a wavy fashion.  The top colour of the Chinchilla Giganta is darker than the Chinchilla.

Rex and Satin breeds

These rabbits are 20th-century breeds. The Rex is characterised by short, dense fur that looks and feels like plush. It is the result of a mutant factor, that reduces the guard hairs to the length of the underhair. The Satin sheen is the result of a mutant factor causing the fur to roll back. Among the many Rex colours are opal, lynx, sable, seal, blue, castor, chinchilla, and others.  Colours often suffer from the lack of density of the coat. 


This is a medium breed of about 3.6kg/8lb. The pattern consists of a butterfly-marked snout, a narrow saddle along the spine, dark ears, dark eye circles, cheek spots and chain markings on the flanks. Colours are blue, black, tortoiseshell, chocolate or grey on white.  

Normal Havana

A furry Dutch rabbit, once dubbed the beaver, the Havana has been a well-known European breed since the turn of the century, exhibited widely in France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, and England.  Its present name derives from the brown variety's close colour resemblance to the Cuban cigar.  Short, cobby and wholly romantic, the Havana has dark eyes that twinkle a rich ruby glow in a darkened room.  The fur is approximately 2.5cm in length.

Flemish Giant 

This is a long and powerful rabbit with a notably square and wide body.  Colour, which is always uniform, can be any solid except white.  As its name suggests, this rabbit blossomed in Flanders, Belgium, where it was known as the Patagonian and favoured for its tremendous size.  Its coat is strikingly full and bright, and always of one length.


A pure white rabbit with black Himalayan markings on the body, this is a 'Roaring Twenties' rabbit creation, achieved by crossing a Himalayan and a Chinchilla.  The body is medium long, appearing full and somewhat rounded.


Beveren is a small town in Belgium where this rabbit was first bred in the early 1900s.  Its initial popularity in England was with butchers, as opposed to pet shop keepers, as meat was very scarce during the First World War.  The Beveren's body is shaped like a mandolin and it enjoys being stroked.  Considered one of the largest of the fur breeds, the Beveren can weigh up to 4.5kg.


This medium sized rabbit is a well-furred, good-eared little darling who sports a very rich sepia-brown colour, which extends as deep as possible.  The eyes are brown with a distinct ruby glow.