Dwarf rabbits have become a popular household pet. People love them because they’re small and adorable, and many dwarf breeds have great temperaments as well. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about adopting a dwarf rabbit, including:
- Why a dwarf rabbit is called a dwarf
- If dwarf rabbits make good pets
- Care and grooming for dwarf bunnies
- If dwarf rabbits are cuddly
- Dwarf rabbit life span
- Dwarf rabbit size
- Playing with your dwarf bunny
- Seven common dwarf rabbit breeds
What Makes a Dwarf Rabbit a Dwarf?
A dwarf bunny is not simply any bunny that weighs less than four pounds. Dwarf rabbits have a specific dwarf gene that gives them characteristics exclusive to dwarves. In addition to being smaller, they’ll also have shorter ears, a rounder head, and a shorter nose. Dwarf breeds come in a variety of colors, in long or short fur, with regular or lop ears.
For pet owners and breeders, it’s important to know the difference between dwarf rabbits and rabbits that are just small.
Why? The dwarf gene can be lethal in a newborn bunny if it’s doubled. Rabbits inherit two sets of genes from their parents – one from the mother and one from the father. When a rabbit inherits the dwarf gene from only one parent, it’ll be a dwarf. If the rabbit inherits zero dwarf genes, it’s a regular rabbit.
However, if a bunny inherits dwarf genes from both the mother and father, then it’ll only live a few hours, days, or weeks. These double-dwarf rabbits are called Peanuts, and they can’t develop properly with a dwarf gene from both parents.
Those breeding dwarf rabbits should be aware that some kits in a litter might not survive for this reason.
Does a Dwarf Rabbit Make a Good Pet?
Dwarf rabbits are like all other bunnies – they make great household pets if cared for properly. Dwarf breeds will have many of the same considerations as regular rabbits when it comes to care and adoption.
Their smaller size makes them more fragile than most breeds, though. They must be handled correctly and don’t do well outside, in changing weather conditions. Households with small children should also avoid adopting dwarf bunnies.
Dwarf rabbits also tend to do better in pairs than solo. If you have two dwarf bunnies, they can keep each other company, develop good social grooming habits, and play together.
Factors to consider when adopting a pet rabbit
One important factor to keep in mind when adopting a new rabbit is the age. Most people like to get young rabbits, so they can extend the time they have with their pet. Young rabbits require more maintenance than adult rabbits, though. It’s best to wait until they’re at least 4 months old before adoption.
Also, go to a certified breeder to adopt a dwarf rabbit. In a pet shop, a young bunny has undergone a dramatic change in environment, and that stress can cause lasting digestive problems. A breeder will also be more qualified to guide you on proper care for your dwarf rabbit.
Care and Grooming for Dwarf Rabbits
For the most part, dwarf bunnies will groom themselves. But you should intervene as well, trimming their nails and brushing their fur. If they aren’t brushed often enough, these rabbits will get large hairballs that they can’t cough up, leading to gastrointestinal problems. Also, if you leave their nails untrimmed, they can grow long and sharp, potentially injuring you or other pets around them.
If you’ve never groomed a rabbit before, take your pet to the veterinarian for its first grooming. Watching the vet carry out a regular grooming session and inspection is beneficial for new rabbit owners – you can learn exactly how to care for your bunny.
Like most rabbit breeds, dwarf bunnies can be trained to use a litter box as well.
Potential Health Problems
Dwarf rabbits, because of their small face size, are prone to malocclusion. Rabbits’ teeth never stop growing, and when the lower and upper incisors don’t meet together and wear down properly, it causes malocclusion.
All rabbits are at risk for this dental problem, but it’s especially common in dwarf rabbits. Their incisors become overgrown and can perforate the rabbit’s cheek. If this happens, your rabbit will be in severe pain and unable to eat.
To avoid malocclusion in dwarf bunny breeds, you’ll have to take your bunny to have her teeth trimmed regularly by a veterinarian. In some cases, a vet might extract an overgrown incisor to prevent mouth infections from occurring.
Dwarf rabbits might also experience health issues associated with all types of rabbit breeds, like breathing problems, gastrointestinal stasis, and uterine cancer in non-spayed female rabbits. Be on the lookout for these common health problems in your dwarf bunny.
Dwarf bunnies have similar dietary needs as normal-sized bunnies. A good diet for a dwarf bunny includes the following:
- A consistent supply of timothy hay or brome grass
- Supplement of rabbit pellets with a minimum of 15-19% protein and 18% fiber
- 2 cups of dark leafy greens such as dark leaf lettuces, collard greens, turnip greens, and carrot tops
- Fresh water each day
Growing dwarf rabbits can have an unlimited amount of pellets, whereas adults only need one-fourth of a cup of pellets.
Are Dwarf Bunnies Cuddly?
Rabbits are skittish animals and it takes a while for them to bond with humans. Once they do, though, they will happily cuddle with you or sleep on your chest, where they feel safe. You will establish trust with your dwarf rabbit by handling her properly.
After you first bring your rabbit home, don’t expect to be able to pick her up right away. Give your rabbit some time to grow accustomed to you, and spend time with her without picking her up. When you do handle a rabbit, always support her back legs so she feels secure. And never grab a rabbit by the ears – they might respond aggressively.
How Long Do Dwarf Rabbits Live For?
A dwarf rabbit can live between seven and 10 years, and some as many as 13 years. Although it’s not proven, it’s believed that rabbit life spans are similar to those of dogs.
Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger breeds and dwarf rabbits might also outlive their larger counterparts. Domestic rabbits also live longer than rabbits in the wild. When they aren’t living in a household with a human owner, wild rabbits only last one to two years.
Your dwarf rabbit will live longer if you take good care of her too. Regular checkups and maintaining dental hygiene are important for healthy rabbits.
How Big Do Dwarf Rabbits Get?
Dwarf bunnies are no bigger than four and a half pounds. Some breeds will even be as small as two and a half pounds.
For regular rabbits, there’s no standard size as it varies from breed to breed. Some rabbits can weigh over ten pounds and others might stay closer to between five and six pounds. And just because a rabbit is small, it doesn’t mean she’s a dwarf.
Dwarf rabbits have become popular as a domestic pet because people find their tiny stature cute. Smaller rabbits are also great for people living in small homes or apartments as they take up less space than regular-sized rabbits.
Can You Play with Your Dwarf Rabbit?
Although you wouldn’t expect it, rabbits are playful creatures that love to hop around and explore. Once you bond with your dwarf rabbit, she’ll want to play all the time. Keep in mind that rabbits don’t like being lifted or handled too much, to never pick a rabbit up by the ears, and to support a rabbit’s hind legs and hold her close to your chest if you do have to lift her.
Rabbits are also social creatures and they love to have companions. If you aren’t planning to spend a lot of time playing and socializing with your dwarf rabbit, then consider adopting two bunnies instead of one.
Dwarf Bunnies – Habits and Behaviors
If you want to care for your dwarf bunny properly, you should familiarize yourself with their habits and behaviors.
- Growling or biting are both signs your bunny is unhappy or angry. Sometimes bunnies will nibble on you to show affection, but they’re more likely asking you to stop doing whatever it is you’re doing.
- Teeth grinding, when soft, is similar to a cat purring and indicates your bunny is happy. Heavy teeth grinding, on the other hand, means your bunny is upset.
- Bunnies rub their chins on something to mark their territory. They have a scent gland underneath their chins.
- Lying down, stretched out, with the ears pulled back are signs your dwarf bunny is content and about to drift off to sleep.
- Binkying is when a bunny hops around and twists in the air, and means your dwarf rabbit is happy and excited.
Dwarf Rabbit Breeds
Since dwarf bunnies are genetically distinct, only seven breeds are recognized as dwarf rabbits by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. The breeds share some characteristics, but they are distinct in certain ways as well.
American Fuzzy Lop – The American Fuzzy Lop is a variation of the Holland Lop. Rabbit breeders wanted a Holland Lop that had a spotted pattern on its fur, rather than the solid color characteristic of the breed. They bred Holland Lops with English Lops, and then with French Angoras to get the spotted American Fuzzy Lop with wooly fur. They can weigh up to four pounds.
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit – Netherland Dwarf rabbits weigh up to two and a half pounds, one of the smallest recognized rabbit breeds. They were originally bred in the Netherlands in the early 20th century, with Polish rabbits and other small wild rabbits. The Netherland Dwarf rabbit breed used to have aggressive temperaments, but through selective breeding, they’ve become milder and make great household pets. This breed is very fragile and is therefore not recommended for families with small children.
Holland Lop – A Holland Lop weighs between two and four pounds and is a result of breeding between the French Lop and the Netherland Dwarf. They come in a variety of colors and are one of the most popular rabbit breeds in the United States and the United Kingdom. Holland Lops have distinctive ears, which hang down 4.7 inches from their heads. These dwarf bunnies are also active and love exercise and playing with chew toys.
Jersey Wooly – The Jersey Wooly is a three-pound rabbit, resulting from a cross between the French Angora and the Netherland Dwarf. They’re also considered docile and their gentle nature makes them great pets. When properly cared for, a Jersey Wooly can live between seven and ten years.
Dwarf Hotot – With white fur, black eyes, and a dark ring of black fur around their eyes, Dwarf Hotots are known as the “Eye of Fancy.” They weigh up to three pounds and their striking features are a variation of the Blanc de Hotot, a larger rabbit they were bred from. The Dwarf Hotot is an easy breed for children to handle.
Lionhead – Lionhead rabbits weigh anywhere from 2.5 – 3.75 pounds and have a mane of fur around their heads like male lions. Lionheads are a friendly breed, but they can also be skittish. They’re an intelligent rabbit breed, so they can be trained easily. These rabbits can have either a double mane or single mane, but the only time you can tell the difference is when they’re young.
Mini Rex – One of the larger dwarf breeds, Mini Rex rabbits weigh up to four and a half pounds. They have plush-like fur and come in a wide variety of colors. They also have friendly personalities, helping make them one of the most popular breeds in the United States. The Mini Rex was developed from the Rex and the Netherland Dwarf.
Mini Satin – The Mini Satin is a large dwarf breed, weighing up to four and a half pounds. They were bred from the standard-sized Satin rabbits. Mini Satins make great pets if socialized early and their small size qualifies them as perfect indoor pets. Like most dwarf breeds, they shouldn’t live outside, as they can easily become prey for larger animals.
Dwarf Bunnies – The Perfect Pets
When cared for properly, dwarf rabbits make excellent pets. They’re cute, lovable, and some breeds are friendly and sociable with humans. With several dwarf breeds to choose from, you can easily find one you’ll love!