Harlequin Rabbit Breed Guide and Care tips

Last Updated : January 17, 2022
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One of the oldest breeds of Rabbit, the Harlequin Rabbit is famous for its markings which have made is a popular show bunny. Is this clown of the rabbit for you? Read on for our guide to the jester of the bunny world.

Harlequin Rabbit Breed History/Origin

The harlequin rabbit is the oldest breed of rabbits, and its origin is France.

It was first exhibited in the 1880s. The United States later recognised it in the 1920s. Formerly, it was known as the Japanese rabbit, although this name changed during the world wars.

The harlequin breed came as a result of crossbreeding the Dutch tortoiseshell breed with other truly wild breeds. In 1887, the harlequins were for the first time exhibited at an international event in Paris, and shortly after that, the breed made its way to England.

Because of its unusual colouration and markings, the breed became a popular show animal in England, but during World War II, it also became famous as a meat animal.

Overall Description


The harlequin rabbit’s coat type is full of fur that is usually short. The fur doesn’t need much effort to keep clean. Shedding of hair is very minimal. Once a week, brush them with a wire bristled brush, this will prevent fur from dropping and getting on clothes and furniture. If your pet has some dirt on it, you can use a damp towel to spot clean it. Bathing causes them high stress, so under no circumstances should you bath them, as it may result in a heart attack that might cause death.


Harlequin rabbits come in a variety of colors. The more common Japanese Harlequin is typically black and orange, but can sometime be found with brown or lilac in place of black.

The Magpie Harlequin are white with a mixture of black, brown or blue.

Check out this wonderful video showing various Harequin rabbit colors (turn up the sound, the backing track is great!)

Credit Rabbits Breeders Yourtube channel


The harlequin rabbit’s personality traits as pets are adorable.

They are relatively an excellent natured breed, with average weight, intelligent, docile and playful. They are considered ideal pets for kids because of their calm temperament.

These breeds are known to be brilliant, more than Guinea pigs and hamsters, and can be trained to learn their name. Although they are considered safe for children, an adult should supervise the care and handling of the pet. They are very playful and need things to climb on, crawl through, dig and chew.

The pets live to entertain, and love human interaction, making human beings great companions. So, you will forge an effortless bond in no time with them. They are very energetic and roam free whenever it’s safe to do so. The pets enjoy being petted and stroked and above all, they always want to be the centre of attention.

When showered with affection, they return it in spades, so, expect plenty of demands for cuddles and petting from your harlequins.

Care Requirements

The harlequin rabbits require enough enclosure to stretch their legs out comfortably. The breed size requires a good space that is enough to spend some of their time eating, sleeping, etc. An outdoor cabinet must be at a raised level, but also should have a ramp that can be used to lower it to the ground level.

Lowering helps them to feel the ground and some grass beneath their feet. Enclosures for indoor rabbits should have a wire and enough space that can allow them to stretch out. Litter used should be soft and must be cleaned every day. Make sure they lie down on a clean surface. Litter replacement should be done weekly.
The breeds diet should consist mostly of seventy per cent hay.

The rest of the food should be a healthy mixture of vegetables, fruits and pellets. Before feeding them with a new fruit or vegetable, research it first to be sure so as not bring harm.

If you’re unsure if a food is suitable for your pet, then best not chance it.

Some of the surprisingly dangerous foods include mustard greens, chives, leeks, onions, and some lettuces. Most lettuces may contain lactucarium that often causes diarrhoea. Brussels sprouts, watercress, parsnips and fennel are some of the leafy greens and vegetables that are safe for them.
The breeds are very active creatures. Because of their happy-to-go nature, they need a lot of outdoor activities to bond well with humans. During work time, they can be kept in their enclosure to keep them safe from any harm. When you are at home or doing household chores, it is good to let them roam around your house. They need this time to achieve their much-needed exercise while still bonding with their pet parents.


The pets are prone to general problems like overgrown teeth, but there are no known breed-specific health problems for this breed. Their teeth continue to grow even in adulthood – they grow well and never stop growing. Hay in their diet helps their teeth to shave down. Lack of hay fodder can lead to the teeth overgrowing into their jaws and become very painful. It’s advisable to monitor their teeth every week to make sure it’s nice and short. Monitoring can be done by taking a peek in their mouth.
It’s advisable to keep their nails nice and short. It will avoid them from accidentally hurting themselves or other people. You can use sharp nail clippers to do this, or you can take your pet to a veterinarian. If you’re doing it yourself, don’t cut their nails too short.


Generally, it is not easy to train them on how to litter.

It is a lot easier to train animals such as cats, dogs and birds than these pets. However, with perseverance and lots of patience, it can be possible to teach them. Many pet parents will have at least five litter boxes across their homes so that the pet can easily access them. Don’t be alarmed if your pet takes several months in potty training. The result will be well worth it.
These bunnys have a general personality of hopping around rooms, even if they have done that dozen of time before. They are outgoing creatures and likes to explore.

Harlequins are good-natured and will appreciate an occasional back scratch or an occasional pat on the head. They do well with younger ones as long as they are supervised while they play. The gorgeous coat will no doubt entice children and when they realise how energetic they are.
Pet parents should provide them with a few safe toys. The breed portrays different personalities and don’t be amazed when you see them picky.

You can spend some good dollars on a toy, but find that your pet doesn’t care about it. Some of them can get stimulations from something simple like cardboard, while others require an elaborate toy to make them happy. Pet parents must figure out the type of toy that their rabbit prefers to be satisfied.


We hoped this helps answer some of your questions abour the Harlequin Rabbit. If you have any comments, or futher questions about this wonderful pet, please do reach out to us. We love talking about Little Furry Pets!

1 thought on “Harlequin Rabbit Breed Guide and Care tips”

  1. I have just purchased some registered Harlequin rabbits and I’d like to start breeding them. Can you hook me up with Harlequin clubs and Breeders?


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