Dutch Rabbit – Breed Guide and Care Tips

Dutch Breed History

The Dutch Rabbit actually has a slightly misleading name. Given the title, many people assume that this breed originated in the Netherlands. However, this is actually an English breed. During the 1830’s, many rabbits were imported from Belgium to England to be sold for meat at the market.

One of the breeds that was often imported to market was the Petit Brabançon. Although the exact genetics of the Dutch breed are not clear, it is thought that they can be traced in part back to the Petit Brabançon, which were commonly found to have Dutch markings. Breeders used the Petit Brabançon to breed from because of their markings and we now have what is known as the Dutch.

There was a point in time where the Dutch was the most popular breed of rabbit for pets in the world. Their popularity has certainly dwindled somewhat, but they are still among the top 10 most popular breeds in America. They are popular both as pets and for showing purposes.

An Overall Description of Dutch Rabbits

Appearance

The appearance of this breed is one of the things that makes them so popular as pets. The first thing that you will notice with Dutch rabbits is what is known as the blaze. This is the triangular patch of fur that goes up the middle of the face.

The blaze, the saddle, the neck and the stops (the hind feet) on this breed are white. The middle of the back is divided into two parts and the rear part of the coat is the same colour as the cheeks and ears of the bunny.

Their ears are fairly short and quite broad at the base. They aren’t very pointed in comparison to similar breeds. They have very round cheeks, bright eyes and are quite rounded in shape.

Dutch Rabbit

Size and Coat

The Dutch rabbit is a small to medium breed, making them ideal family pets. Typically, they weigh around 2kg, though this can vary slightly either way. This breed requires minimal grooming because they have fairly short, glossy coats which don’t shed much. However, the Dutch will still benefit from a weekly brushing.

Colors

There are a number of different colors that you can find with the Dutch breed. Colors include black, tortoiseshell, tri-color, chinchilla, blue, chocolate, grey and more. New colors are under development by specialist breeders all of the time.

Temperament

One of the things that makes the Dutch so perfect for a pet is it’s temperament. Typically, these rabbits are calm, sociable, good natured and have bags of energy. Another good thing about these rabbits is that they are known for being highly intelligent which makes them very easy to train.

It is important to remember that because of their high levels of intelligence, the Dutch can get bored quite easily. This is why it is a good idea to make sure that you are prepared to offer a lot of interaction with your rabbit and provide plenty of toys and games to keep their minds active.

As with most rabbit breeds, the Dutch isn’t overly fond of being picked up. However, once you have built a good bond with your rabbit, it is likely that they will seek out this type of affection from you.

Dutch Rabbits as Pets

As we have mentioned above; these rabbits were once one of the most popular breeds for pets in the world. Still to this day, they remain in the top ten most popular rabbit breeds. Due to their calm and sociable nature, they really do make the perfect family pet.

How Long Does the Dutch Rabbit Live?

The Dutch bunny actually has a very reasonable life span of between 6 and 9 years, which is another thing that makes them a great family pet. There are, of course, various health issues that can affect their lifespan, but with the right care, these rabbits can live for quite a long time as part of the family.

Health Issues in the Dutch Rabbit

As with all rabbit breeds, there are certain illnesses and health issues that the Dutch will be susceptible to.Fortunately, the Dutch is one of the breeds that isn’t at any more risk of health problems than any others. Below we will provide you with some information on some of the different health problems that you should be aware of so that you can take the best care of your rabbit possible.

GI Stasis

As anyone who knows anything about rabbits will tell you, they have exceptionally sensitive stomachs. In fact, one of the first signs that something is wrong with your Dutch may be a slowing or total cessation of petite. One of the problems that your bunny may encounter is GI Stasis.

This gastrointestinal problem occurs when there is a blockage which can cause a build up of gas. If left untreated, this can be potentially life threatening. The best way to avoid anything like this from happening is to make sure that you take your bunny straight to the vets if you notice any change in their eating habits, especially if they have stopped eating completely.

Dental Problems

One thing that a lot of pet owners are totally unaware of is the fact that unlike most other animals, the teeth of the rabbit never actually stop growing throughout their lifetime. This is why it is so important that they are able to naturally grind them down through consuming the right types of food, among other things.

If your rabbit isn’t being fed the right food types then it is very likely that they will go on to develop dental problems, which can not only be painful, but also lead to other issues too such as cessation in eating completely.

Another common dental issue with rabbits is misalignment. When this happens, the rabbit is unable to naturally grind down their teeth. One of the tell tale signs of this being a problem is drooling. If you suspect that your Dutch is suffering from dental problems then it is very important that you take them to your vet.

Depending on the cause of the problem, your vet will usually be able to use a general anaesthetic so that they can easily access your pet’s teeth and grind them down to make them more comfortable.

Respiratory Problems

Most rabbit breeds are susceptible to breathing related health issues. Certain breeds are more at risk, but there is certainly a risk for all breeds because of the positioning of the teeth. Infections and inflammation can occur at any point in time and they can spread very quickly. If you suspect that your Dutch is suffering from any respiratory related issues then it is very important that you take them straight to your vet.

Uterine Cancer

This is a problem that all unspayed does are at risk of. If you are planning on buying a Dutch female rabbit as a family pet with no intentions of breeding, then it is definitely a good idea to have her spayed as soon as it is safe to do so. There are so many problems that a female rabbit can encounter through not being spayed and uterine cancer is definitely the most dangerous. The only way to make sure that this doesn’t happen to your furry friend is to have her spayed.

Caring for the Dutch Rabbit

Grooming

Something else that makes the Dutch such a good family rabbit is that it doesn’t require much grooming at all. This is because it has short, glossy fur. These types of rabbits do much of their grooming by themselves and often groom each other too. However, if you want to form a good bond with your Dutch then it will definitely benefit from a grooming session at least once a week. This will allow you to build trust as well as help them to keep a healthy coat.

Housing

Ideally, the Dutch is a breed that should be housed indoors. It thrives on human interaction and affection so tends to cope better in an indoor cage rather than a hutch outdoors. It is important that you make sure that you have a cage that is large enough for your bunny to comfortably stand on its’ hind legs and there is plenty of room for it to move around.

When it comes to bedding, there are a range of options to choose from. Typically, sawdust is not the best idea because it can cause breathing problems later on in life. It is a better idea to head to your local pet store where you will be able to find the most suitable bedding for your rabbit. If you want to litter train your bunny, then make sure that you use paper or wood based litter as this is more suitable than clay based cat litter.

Diet

The Dutch bunny’s diet is no different to most rabbit breeds. First and foremost, your bunny should have unlimited access to fresh, clean water. It is also vitally important that they have access to at least their body weight in straw every day. This should be accompanied by roughly two tablespoons of rabbit nuggets and a few handfuls of rabbit friendly fruits and vegetables. It is very important that your bunny has access to the right foods as this is what helps them to avoid gastrointestinal and dental problems.

Interaction and Exercise

As we have already mentioned, the Dutch is a very friendly and sociable rabbit. They thoroughly enjoy human interaction and they also enjoy both giving and receiving affection. To start off with, you will need to gradually build a bond with your rabbit. This can take a lot of patience, but the Dutch is the perfect breed to do this with because it is so calm and laid back.

In terms of exercise, your Dutch should be able to run around outside during the right conditions in a large, secure run. For indoor rabbits you can also let them roam around the home once you have litter trained them. Because the Dutch is so intelligent, training them is a very easy process and can also be another great bonding exercise.

We hope that you now have all of the information that you could possibly need to help you build a fantastic relationship with your new Dutch bunny.

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