Netherland Dwarf Rabbit – A Guide to Ownership and Care

Last Updated : October 27, 2021
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The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit has been around for over 100 years. They are small, active animals with wonderful personalities, all of which make them great pets.

If you are considering getting a Netherland Dwarf Rabbit or already have one, then this blog post will provide you with some helpful tips about how to care for your bunny!

Some things that we will discuss include: Breed History, Care guide including diet requirements, exercise needs, and more!

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit – Breed History

Dwarf hetherland dwarf rabbit in a cage eating hay

In comparison to many of the other popular dwarf breeds, Netherland Rabbits are a relatively new rabbit breed. As you have probably already guessed, they originate from the Netherlands. They came about as a result of breeding small Polish rabbits with wild rabbits. This is how they got their dwarf gene.

These small dwarf rabbits were not actually introduced to the United Kingdom until 1948 and much later in the 60’s and 70’s in the United States. They were accepted into the American Rabbit Breeders Association in 1969.

The early Netherland Dwarf Rabbits, even those back in the 80’s and 90’s, were not ideal pets. This is because they often showed a lot of fear and aggression due to their genetics being from wild rabbits. Through selective breeding, they are now very gentle and friendly pets; albeit very energetic.

What do Netherland Dwarf Rabbits look like?

netherland dwarf rabbit on blue background

Appearance

One of the things that makes the Netherland Dwarf Bunny such a popular breed is its’ unique appearance. Because this bread has dwarfism, these rabbits appear infantile even into adulthood.

They have incredibly small ears which are positioned high on the head; another feature caused by their dwarfism. Their eyes appear bigger than the rest of their features and often look disproportionate to the rest of their body.

Size and Coat

The Netherland Dwarf is actually one of the smallest breeds of pet rabbit.

They typically weigh between 1.1 and 2.5 pounds and are very small in stature. Their coat is very easy to maintain because it is short to medium in length and very soft. They do shed during shedding season but their coats are still very easy to take care of.

Colors

three netherland dwarf eating on the grass background

This particular breed comes in a huge variety of colors. Whilst common pet colors include black, chocolate and tan, there are also more rare colors including

  • Magpie
  • Siamese Sable
  • Silver Marten
  • Sable Marten
  • Marten Smoke
  • Tortoiseshell
  • Lilac
  • Himalayan
  • Harlequin
  • Orange fawn
  • Black blue

Temperament – Are Netherland Dwarf rabbits aggressive?

The early Netherland Dwarfs were found to have a temperament that didn’t really make them ideal for pets or for showing purposes. Because they were bred with wild rabbits, they were quite aggressive due to their fear.

It is often recommended that Netherland Dwarfs are pets for adults only. This is because they don’t typically like to be picked up or held tightly, which young children will naturally do. However, these bunnies do enjoy a lot of human interaction and

Because this breed of rabbit is often very nervous and timid, it can take quite some time to build a bond with them. Once they have bonded with their owner, however, they make very affectionate pets, and with the right supervision and bonding time, they make a great bunny for children.

Netherland Dwarfs as Pets

Despite its’ nervous disposition, the Netherland Dwarf breed can actually make a very good pets. They are cute, loving animals if care for well and kept in the right conditions.

Here is everything you need to know about this breed to make sure you form a solid bond and give them the best life possible.

The girl is holding a dwarf Dutch rabbit of black color with burns. Close-up.

How long do Netherland Dwarfs Live For?

Often people will assume that because of the dwarfism present in this breed that their lifespan will be shorter than other rabbit breeds. However, this is not actually the case.

The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit has a fairly good life span of between 7 and 9 years. However, as with any small pet, this will all depend on the care and diet that the rabbit receives.

Health Issues in Netherland Dwarfs

netherland dwarfs eating in a hutch

As with all rabbit breeds, there are some health issues that Netherland Dwarf Rabbits are going to be more susceptible to. Below you will find all of the information that you need about common ailments that your pet Netherland Dwarf may have to deal with at some point in their lifetime. As always, always consult your vet if you suspect your rabbit may be unwell.

Respiratory Tract Disorders

Respiratory tract disorders are, unfortunately, very common in Netherland Dwarfs. This is because the roots of their top set of teeth are directly below their sinuses. If your rabbit ends up with inflamed or infected gums then this can travel and cause a sinus infection which can be very uncomfortable for the rabbit. These types of infections have to be treated by a qualified veterinarian who will likely prescribe antibiotics among other treatments.

Dental Disease

As we have already discussed above, Netherland Dwarfs have a much smaller head than most breeds. Whilst this gives them a very cute appearance, it can actually cause them a range of health problems.

Because they have a smaller head and a slightly longer jaw, these rabbits often suffer with dental problems that are caused by issues with misalignment. Rabbits teeth constantly grow and they need to be able to grind them properly to keep them healthy. If their teeth are misaligned then they may end up with elongated teeth or even misplaced teeth which can cause problems with their stomach and many other aspects of their health.

To keep them healthy, it is important to have regular dental check-ups at the vets, as well as ensuring that your rabbit is consuming the correct diet to help keep their teeth healthy. If you have noticed that your rabbit’s teeth are causing them problems, then a qualified veterinarian will be able to grind down problem teeth and remove sharp pieces which may be making the rabbit uncomfortable.

Parasites

Unfortunately, parasites are common in all breeds of domestic rabbits. One of the most common parasites that are a huge cause for concern is Encephalitozoon cuniculi. This is spread by rabbits consuming or inhaling spores from infected faeces and urine. It has also been known for does to pass it on to kits.

The symptoms of this parasite are alarming and definitely something that needs to be addressed urgently. Some of the common symptoms include a head tilt, unsteadiness, paralysis, behavior changes, heart disease, lung disease and even coma. Some rabbits can carry this parasite without ever showing any symptoms of the disease, whilst others can become very sick in a very short space of time.

If you suspect that your Netherland Dwarf may be suffering from a parasite then it is important that you get them to the vets immediately.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Rabbits in general have very sensitive gastrointestinal tracts. They are also known to lose their appetites completely if they are stressed or unhappy. The problem is that Netherland Dwarfs are naturally a more nervous breed so they are more likely to lose their appetite if they are stressed.

The problem with this is that rabbits need an awful lot of fibre in their diets in order to maintain a healthy digestive system. If they lose their appetite then there is a risk that they will end up with a blockage or a build-up of a gas which can be potentially lethal if left untreated.

The best way to make sure that your rabbit doesn’t suffer with gastrointestinal disorders is to make sure that they have the correct diet. It is also important to get them straight to the vets if you have noticed that they are off their food.

Uterine Cancer

Unfortunately, uterine cancer is actually quite common in female rabbits. The best treatment is prevention in this case. This is why most vets will recommend spaying.

It can cause symptoms including still births, blood in the urine and a total loss of appetite. Fortunately, if the cancer is caught early enough then it can be treated by removing the uterus before the cancer has spread. However, most vets will recommend spaying your rabbit if you have no intentions of breeding.

Caring for a Netherland Dwarf Bunny

If you are about to become the proud owner of a Netherland Dwarf rabbit, then it is definitely a good idea to arm yourself with as much information as you possibly can so that you can give it the best care possible. Below you will find some very helpful information about caring for your new pet.

dwarf rabbit being stroked

Grooming

As we mentioned at the top of our post, the Netherland Dwarf breed tends to have a short to medium coat with very soft fur. One of the things that make these rabbits so popular is that they don’t require much grooming at all. However, it is important to note that grooming your rabbit can be a great bonding exercise and although their coats are easy to maintain, Netherland Dwarfs do actually enjoy being brushed once a day.

Housing

Because of their small size, Netherland Dwarfs are perfectly fine in a large cage or hutch, which must be rabbit safe. However, if you wish to let them roam in the house then you can do so.

It is important to remember that this breed is known for being very energetic, so you will need to give it plenty of space to run around, either indoors or outside, and a rabbit run.

It is also important to remember that their cage or hutch should be tall enough for them to comfortably stand on their hind legs, which is something these animals love to do

Diet

In order to keep your Netherland Dwarf healthy and happy, it is vitally important that they are given the correct diet. Because this breed has a more sensitive digestive tract than most other rabbit breeds, their dietary needs are quite specific. Ideally, they should be eating an eighth of a cup of rabbit pellets per day, roughly their body weight in hay, small portions of fresh vegetables and an unlimited amount of water.

If you are going to be feeding your rabbit fresh fruit and vegetables then there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly, don’t overfeed fresh food to your rabbit as this will upset their digestive tract. Ideally, your rabbit’s diet should be mostly fresh hay. Secondly and lastly, always make sure that you are feeding them foods which are safe for rabbits to eat

Interaction and Exercise

As we mentioned in the behavior section, Netherland Dwarfs are typically shy and nervous in nature. However, they do still enjoy human interaction. They don’t particularly enjoy being picked up and held, but once they have formed a bond with you they are very affectionate and do enjoy being brushed.

In terms of exercise, these rabbits are quite energetic, probably due to their small stature. It is important that they get fresh air and exercise in a secure run, much like all other rabbit breeds. However, you will find that they are very quick on their feet.

dwarf rabbit outside in run

To avoid bunny boredom, it’s important to give them plenty of toys and other items that they can chew on.

The best thing you can do is provide a variety of different textures so your pet will keep getting the mental stimulation he needs too!

A good rule of thumb is to find three or four new objects every week for them to discover and play with. this will keep your bunny happy and free from boredom.

Hopefully, you now have all of the information that you could possibly need about caring for your new addition and you are now fully prepared to care for the Netherland Dwarf rabbit.

1 thought on “Netherland Dwarf Rabbit – A Guide to Ownership and Care”

  1. I really enjoyed this information on Dutch bunnies. Thank you so much for putting it out My disabled Mimi lop female mated with a dwarf bunny we adopted and had a litter of two babies. One died and one is 15 days old now. Starlee, my mini lop female was a first born baby of a first time litter and I found her on my bathroom floor cold and not breathing. I resuscitated her not knowing that she had one good front paw and one good back leg. Some how these 2 bunnies mated and I have had to hold the baby to the moms tits because she is really built strange and cannot stand up. The baby looks small to me but it is quite active and loves to nurse. I thought that we had adopted a Dwarf Dutch bunny and wanted to find out what it would be like since I am spending so much time with their baby This is a story of a miracle Dad found in a drain ditch, a miracle Mom born dead who was my only female I had who outlived the rabbit virus and to the only baby she had who has survived. Dianne Bauer

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