Dutch Rabbit – Breed Guide and Care Tips

Last Updated : January 26, 2022
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If someone asked you, “Where does a Dutch rabbit come from?” you’d probably sigh and politely answer, “The Netherlands, of course!”

Most people would do the same.

After all, it’s named the “Dutch” rabbit, so it has to originate from Holland, right?

Not exactly.

This adorable bunny has a misleading name, and the trickery doesn’t stop there.

Curious to learn more?

Awesome, then dedicate approximately 10 minutes to this blog post and find out all about the mysterious yet loving Dutch rabbit breed!

dutch rabbit cartoon

The History of the Dutch Rabbit

Alright, let’s get straight to your most burning question:

Where on God’s green earth do Dutch rabbits come from?

The answer might surprise you — England.

So why the name?

Because their forefathers, the Petit Brabançon rabbits, originated from the Belgian region of Brabant, which had previously been a part of the Netherlands until the Belgian Revolution of 1830.

These Dutch/Belgian rabbits with white markings made their way to England via the Flemish port city of Ostend as meat rabbits in the first half of the 1800s.

It was there that clever breeders realized their enormous potential and developed the Dutch rabbit breed in the 1830s by selectively crossing the Petit Brabançon rabbits with the finest coat markings.

It’s also thought that other local rabbit breeds contributed to the Dutch; however, we’ll never know for sure as their genetics have been lost in the mists of time.

What we do know is that the name “Dutch rabbit” stuck around despite everything.

And that’s not a bad thing because “Dutch” is much easier to pronounce than Petit Brabançon. 😜

Thanks to their beautiful markings, Dutch rabbits quickly spread in popularity as one of the finest breeds of show rabbits.

They were recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) as one of the first official rabbit breeds, appearing in a National Standard for Perfection in 1915.

They also became the most popular breed of rabbit for pets in the world, a title they kept until the appearance of new breeds (like the Holland Lop and the Netherland Dwarf — both actually Dutch).

But despite the increased competition from other pint-sized fluffballs, the Dutch rabbit is still among the top ten most popular breeds in America today.

Physical Description of Dutch Rabbits

Size and Appearance

Dutch rabbits, also commonly called Hollanders or Brabanders, are small to medium-sized rabbits with an ideal weight of about 3.5 to 5.5 lb (1.5 to 2.5 kg).

And they’re absolutely adorable.

One look is enough for any bunny lover to instantly fall in love with this breed of cute critters.

Prove us wrong:

pair of black and white dutch rabbits

So how do you recognize a Dutch rabbit?

By looking out for:

  • Distinctive markings — a white blaze (a triangular patch of white fur that runs up the middle of the face), a white saddle, a white collar (a.k.a. a clean neck), white front legs, and white stops (hind feet)
  • Colored cheeks, ears, and hindquarters
  • A rounded body and a rounded head (so cute!)
  • Fairly broad, short erect ears
  • Round cheeks
  • Round, bright eyes

Sound like a lot to look for? Don’t worry; spotting Dutch rabbit breeds will be as easy as pie once you get the hang of it.

P.S. Click here to read all about the current standards of perfection according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) and the British Rabbit Council (BRC).

Coat

A Dutch rabbit has a short, glossy coat with flyback fur.

This means that their compact body requires minimal grooming, and that’s pretty good news for a Dutch rabbit owner.

Colors

Two Dutch rabbits - black and brown

There are seven recognized Dutch rabbit colors in both the USA and the UK:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Chinchilla (or agouti)
  • Chocolate
  • Steel (or steel grey)
  • Gray (or brown grey)
  • Tortoise (or tortoiseshell)

In the UK, yellow and pale grey are also recognized.

New colors (like harlequin and lilac) are currently under development by specialist breeders.

N.B. The coat color only refers to the colored base coat as all Dutch breed rabbits have white markings on their bodies (i.e., blaze, saddle, and front legs).

Dutch rabbit breeds also have a range of recognized eye colors — brown, brown with a ruby cast, dark brown, and blue-gray.

The Personality and Temperament of Dutch Bunnies

Dutch bunnies aren’t just another pretty face…

They’re also calm, sociable, good-natured animals that love being in contact with humans.

They also possess tons of energy and above-average intelligence, which makes them a joy to train.

Try teaching your new furry friend to respond to their name, or use a litter box like a champ!

It’s important to remember that many Dutch rabbits can easily get bored when kept as domestic rabbits due to their intelligence and high energy levels.

This is why it’s a good idea to prepare your home for the arrival of energetic pet rabbits — buy them (or make them) some rabbit toys and games and bunny proof a few rooms (or your garden) to give them plenty of space to run around.

As with most rabbit breeds, the Dutch isn’t overly fond of being picked up. So take it slow and focus on building a strong bond with your rabbit first. When they’re ready, they’ll actively seek this type of affection out by hopping into your lap and arms.

Dutch Rabbits as Pets

Dutch rabbits make for phenomenal pets. There’s no doubt about it.

We might have already mentioned it, but it’s worth stating it once more — Dutch rabbits are among the top ten most popular pet rabbit breeds.

And for a good reason.

Their gentle yet energetic nature makes them perfect for families with children, seniors, young couples, and people living on their own.

How Long Do Dutch Rabbits Live?

Like many other domestic breeds of bunnies, the Dutch rabbit has an average lifespan of about five to nine years when kept as a pet.

This reasonably long life span is yet another solid reason why Dutch breed bunnies are fantastic pets for anyone looking for a lasting animal companion.

Caring for a Dutch Rabbit

black and white dutch rabbit on hay eating pellet food

Grooming

Thanks to their short fur (which is insanely soft btw), Dutch rabbits don’t require much rabbit grooming from their owners — once a week will suffice.

This small breed of bunnies takes care of the rest by grooming themselves daily (or sometimes hourly). Look out for this ultra-cute activity as it’s sure to evoke a few “ooo that’s adorable!”

Pro tip 1: Don’t skip your weekly grooming session as it helps you build trust with your buns.

Housing

Depending on your living arrangements and available space, you can choose to house your Dutch bunnies either indoors or outdoors.

However, if you decide to keep your fluffballs outside, you should:

Things are more straightforward if you house your Dutch rabbits indoors. They’ll immediately become part of the family as they’ll spend all day with you.

Just be sure to get them a large cage (without a wire floor) that’s big enough for them to comfortably stand on their hind legs and jump around in. We recommend you play it safe and get the roomiest cage your budget (and house) can afford.

There’s a ton of options to choose from when it comes to rabbit bedding — from paper pulp to fleece. However, sawdust and pine/cedar wood shavings are not one as they lead to respiratory disease.

Pro tip 2: Young Dutch rabbits require more bedding as they still have baby fur and basically no bladder control (even for a bunny).

A Good Diet

Dutch bunny’s diet is no different from that of other rabbit breeds.

First and foremost, your bunny should have unlimited access to fresh water and yummy hay.

Fresh hay (in the form of whole plant shoots) should make up 70-80% of their diet. Timothy hay is best for adult rabbits, while Alfalfa can be offered to kits and pregnant does.

The remaining 20-30% should be made up of fresh vegetables (like leafy greens and broccoli), delicious pelleted food, and a little bit of fruit as a special treat.

Pro tip 3: Many rabbits eat anything you give them, so always do your research before feeding them.

Interaction and Exercise

A Dutch rabbit is a friendly and sociable being.

This means that you need to play and cuddle with them daily for at least an hour or two.

It’s best to combine this bonding time with your bunny’s out-of-the-cage time as it’s indispensable to give a Dutch rabbit the chance to run and hop around in a large outdoor run or in a bunny-safe room.

Health Issues in Dutch Rabbits

A Dutch rabbit is a healthy, hardy animal that’s relatively low maintenance compared to other popular pets like dogs and cats.

This breed doesn’t suffer from specific diseases, so you only need to worry about the usual suspects.

Let’s cover four of the principal ones.

GI Stasis

One of the first things a bunny enthusiast will tell you this that rabbits have exceptionally sensitive stomachs.

One of the principal gastrointestinal issues rabbits face is GI stasis.

This health problem occurs when an internal blockage (like wool block) causes a build-up of gas. If left untreated, GI stasis can be potentially life-threatening.

The best way to avoid any serious complications is by taking your rabbit straight to the vet if you notice any change in their dietary habits (especially if they stop eating altogether).

Dental Problems

Rabbit teeth never stop growing, even as adults.

This is why it’s crucial rabbits consume a ton of hay, as chewing helps them naturally grind their teeth down.

If your Dutch rabbit doesn’t chew enough or they, unfortunately, have malocclusion, they can develop painful dental problems and difficulties eating.

Keep a close eye on your pet’s mouth and look for tell-tale signs like drooling and changes in dietary habits. If you notice anything strange, head to the vet immediately.

Pro tip 4: The nails on your rabbit’s feet also never stop growing, so either clip them whenever they’re too long or ask your veterinarian to do so.

Respiratory Problems

A Dutch rabbit is susceptible to breathing-related health issues.

Just like other breeds, Dutch bunnies can also catch the “snuffles” if they’re exposed to infected animals or suffer from stress or frequent temperature changes.

It causes a runny nose, frequent sneezing, and watery eyes, and it often requires veterinary care.

Uterine Cancer

Female bunnies (known as does) of all rabbit breeds are at risk of developing uterine cancer if they’re not spayed as soon as it’s safe to have the procedure.

In fact, a study highlighted that a whopping 85% of female rabbits contract uterine cancer if not spayed before age three.

So definitely plan on spaying your female Dutch rabbit after they reach sexual maturity (at five/six months old)!

Conclusion

A Dutch rabbit might not really be Dutch, but this undercover English bunny is a friendly, low-maintenance pet that’s a joy to be around for years.

Your entire family will love spending time with them, and regardless of which color you pick, you’ll end up with a show-worthy rabbit (at least according to you!) that’ll light up your home with its beautiful coat.

Enjoy bonding with them, and let us know about your experiences! 🐰 🐇 🤗

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