Small Pets

Meet 10 Smallest Rabbit Breeds, Dwarfs and Non-dwarfs Included

Are there rabbits that stay small forever? What makes a dwarf rabbit breed different? Is caring for a small rabbit harder than a normal-sized rabbit?

Yes, there are rabbit breeds that stay small forever. Not all of them are dwarf rabbit breeds but they’re still tiny bundles of love, so we’ve included them. Many of these breeds were a result of the breeding craze of the 80s, where breeders all over America were trying for smaller versions of popular show breeds.

Today, we’re going to look at some of the smallest rabbit breeds. You’ll learn a bit about them and how owning a small or dwarf rabbit differs from a regular-sized rabbit. Let’s get into it.

Dwarf Rabbits Vs. Small Rabbit Breeds– What’s the Difference?

The dwarf gene in rabbits is very similar to the gene found in humans. It’s simply a mutated gene that causes dwarfism. Some individuals carry it without displaying the characteristics. Others display the gene on top of carrying it.

Here’s how you can tell the difference between a small rabbit and a dwarf rabbit:

  • A dwarf rabbit weighs under 4 lbs and not only carries the dwarf genes but also displays the characteristics like shorter snout or ears, smaller feet, more compact body, etc.
  • Smaller rabbits weigh anywhere from 2-5 lbs. They may or may not carry the gene but do not display any dwarf characteristics.

Which Rabbit Breeds Carry the Dwarf Gene?

  • Netherland Dwarf (duh)
  • Dwarf Hotot
  • Holland Lop
  • Jersey Wooly
  • Mini Rex
  • American Fuzzy Lop
  • Lionhead

10 Smallest Rabbit Breeds

The world’s smallest rabbit is the Columbian Basin Pygmy Rabbit, a tiny Canadian rabbit breed that weighs less than a pound. It’s a wild rabbit breed that almost went extinct, but thanks to breeding programs, it’s making a comeback.

While there are no domestic breeds as small as that, there are quite a few small rabbit breeds that weigh practically nothing. Here are the world’s smallest domestic rabbit breeds.

1. Netherland Dwarf

Netherland Dwarf

The Netherland Dwarf is what most people picture when they think about a dwarf rabbit breed. And technically, they’re not wrong. Almost every dwarf breed can trace its lineage back to a Netherland Dwarf.

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These buns are quite small, usually weighing under 2 lbs, and have much smaller features than the average rabbits. These are the trademark dwarf traits, including short ears, a short snout, and small feet. They’re playful and energetic buns that live up to 12 years.

2. Polish Rabbit/ Britannia Petite

Fun fact: The Polish Rabbit isn’t from Poland at all. In fact, they’re a small rabbit breed from England, where they’re more commonly called the Britannia Petite. These rabbits weigh up to 2.5 lbs and have compact bodies. They’re gentle, friendly, and affectionate, and live up to 10 years.

The Britannia Petite is not a dwarf rabbit breed, meaning these rabbits don’t carry or display the dwarf gene. Their ancestry is somewhat in question, but most believe them to be a result of breeding Dutch and Himalayan rabbits.

3. Dwarf Hotot

Dwarf Hotot

The Dwarf Hotot (pronounced Oh-Toe) is a dwarf rabbit breed known best for its eyeliner-like markings. They have a complex breeding history. But in short, they were created to have the trademark look of the Blanc de Hotot, but in the size of a Netherland Dwarf.

They weigh between 2-4 lbs and live a comparatively long life of 12 years. These rabbits are also curious and energetic. Their soft coat only comes in white with their envy-worthy eye markings.

4. Jersey Wooly

Jersey Wooly rabbits

The Jersey Wooly is one of many breeds that came to be during the 80s craze for smaller rabbit breeds. They were bred for showing purposes, specifically for an angora-like coat with fewer grooming requirements.

These rabbits weigh up to 3.5 lbs (which is probably ⅓ fur) and display the dwarf-like characteristics of a dwarf rabbit breed. They live up to 10 years and have a very laid-back personality.

5. Dwarf Angora

The Dwarf Angora is the smallest of all the Angora rabbit breeds. Clearly, it’s a dwarf rabbit breed, gaining the gene from its ancestor, the Netherland Dwarf. This breed also displays the trademark coat of the French and English Angora breeds but only weighs 3.5 lbs.

Dwarf Angoras are pretty high-maintenance where grooming is concerned. But they make up for it with their charming personality and long lifespan of 10 years.

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6. Lionhead

Lionhead rabbit

Lionheads are dwarf rabbits, although their origin is still unknown. What we do know is that they come from Belgium. It’s thought that they come from a cross between a Swiss Fox rabbit and a Netherland Dwarf.

These rabbits are smaller, weighing a maximum of 3.75 lbs. Their funky hairdo comes from a mutated gene, commonly called the mane gene, which is not all that different from Angora’s “woolly” gene, just not as prominent.

7. Mini Rex

Mini Rex rabbit

The Mini Rex is a dwarf breed and an aptly-named smaller version of the Rex rabbit breed. These buns are just like their bigger counterparts, with the same personality and that famously short velvet-like coat.

Their size, of course, is the one exception, weighing in at a maximum of 4.5 lbs. Mini Rexs have a pretty average lifespan for a rabbit, at 10 years. If you know about the Rex breed and are experienced with smaller rabbit breeds, this playful breed will be a perfect fit.

8. American Fuzzy Lop

American Fuzzy Lop

The American Fuzzy Lop is one of the smallest lop breeds. It’s a dwarf breed that originated in the 1980s (like many dwarf breeds) as a cross between the Holland Lop and French Angora.

These little guys weigh 3-4 lbs and have a shorter lifespan for a dwarf rabbit breed, at 5-8 years. Their coat is much like the Angora’s, although it’s shorter and (thankfully) needs less grooming.

9. Mini Satin

The Mini Satin was bred for one purpose– to be a smaller version of the regular Satin Rabbit. And the breeders achieved that goal during the dwarf breed trend of the 80s. These beautiful buns weigh 3-5 lbs and have a satin-smooth coat that requires little maintenance.

Mini Satins also don’t have the longest of lifespans, but their outgoing and quirky personality makes up for it. Some owners say that Mini Satins can be vocal when excited and not because they’re in pain. (This is almost unheard of in other rabbit breeds.)

10. Holland Lop

Holland Lop

Holland Lops are dwarf rabbits first bred in the Netherlands during the 60 and first shown in the 70s. This breed is the foundation of the American Fuzzy Lop, and its ancestry lies with the Netherland Dwarf and English Lop.

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The average weight for Holland Lops is 2-4 lbs, which makes them the smallest lop breed. They have the typical lop ears, although they’re much shorter than the average lop rabbit. But, true to both parent breeds, these rabbits are active, curious, and love attention.

How Owning a Small Rabbit Breed is Different From Owning an Average-sized Rabbit Breed

You may not think so, but having a small rabbit is much different from a large rabbit breed or even average-sized rabbit. Let’s talk about why.

Behaviour Differences Between Larger and Smaller Rabbit Breeds

The rule of thumb with most animals is the smaller they are, the more aggressive they’ll be. But this isn’t the case with rabbits.

In reality, the breed doesn’t matter. Every rabbit has a different personality. Some are outgoing, and some are more introverted and prefer not to be bothered.

Do Dwarf Rabbit Breeds Live Longer Than Normal-sized Rabbits?

Some dwarf breeds have a longer lifespan than the average rabbit. But others have a shorter lifespan than regular-sized rabbits.

Lifespan is very breed-specific and should not be categorized by size alone.

Are Smaller Rabbits Harder to Care for?

In short, no. Smaller rabbits require the same amount of cleaning, feeding, and other everyday care. However, smaller rabbits are a lot more delicate than larger rabbits. So, they require more care when handling, and they don’t tolerate stress or illness, as well. So in that respect, they are much harder to care for.

Also, because they’re smaller, there are a lot more places they can get into, which means doubling and sometimes tripling your regular rabbit-proofing efforts.

Are Smaller Rabbits Good for Kids?

Absolutely not. In my opinion, rabbits are not suitable pets for young children at all but dwarf rabbit breeds are the least suitable. Because they’re smaller, they’re more fragile and can’t come back from injuries like a bigger rabbit could.

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