6 Best Breed of Rabbit for First-time Owners

young girl holding a rabbit

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The Humane Society of the United States reports that rabbits are the third most popular pets in America, after dogs and cats. Unfortunately, rabbits are also the third most abandoned pets in the country. To many, these fluffy pets evoke pleasant imaginations of Easter, Alice in Wonderland, or even Bugs Bunny.

But they are still oblivious to the kind of care rabbits need, their breeds & temperament, and how long they live. So, if you’re wondering what’s the best breed of rabbit for first-time owners, our curated list could be helpful. 

Quick list of the best breeds

  • Mini Rex Rabbits
  • New Zealand Red Rabbit
  • Harlequin Rabbit
  • Chinchilla Rabbits
  • Lionhead Rabbits
  • Himalayan Rabbits
girl holding a rabbit

Mini Rex Rabbits 

Mini Rex rabbits often pop up in the lists of the friendliest rabbits. These amicable rabbits were first bred in Texas in 1984. The Rex mutation, originating in France in the late 19th century, is recessive and causes their hair to stick outwards rather than lying flat.

The guard hair is also shortened to the undercoat’s length, giving them a plush, velvety coat. The miniature size and lustrous appearance also make Mini Rex Rabbits an ideal choice for exhibitions and competitions. 

  • Size: 3.5 to 4.5 pounds (fully grown)
  • Appearance: Long, upright ears and a short neck; straight, short legs and a rounded back; 18 kinds of color coats including opal, lilac, and silver
  • Temperament: Calm, easy-going, loves attention, will squirm when held tightly 
  • Grooming: Shorter coat (5/8 inch) means they’ll need less haircare
  • Age Expectancy: 5-7 years 

New Zealand Red Rabbit 

Short fur and a friendly demeanor, New Zealand Red can be the best breed of rabbit for first-time owner. First bred in 1910 in California for their luscious fur and meat, these rabbits quickly made their way into hearts and homes as treasured pets.

A result of cross-breeding between Belgian Hares and Flemish Giants, these ginger rabbits mature fast and make great mothers. Besides requiring an extra big pen, this sturdy breed makes having a pet rabbit a comfortable experience.

  • Size: 6.5 to 10 pounds (fully grown)
  • Appearance: Medium built with a slightly arched back; full cheeks and upright ears; a golden-red coat
  • Temperament: Relaxed during handling, calm, great with children
  • Grooming: Short hair requires minimal grooming; a robust exterior makes it easier to care for them
  • New Zealand Red Rabbit Age Expectancy: 5-6 years

Harlequin Rabbit 

Harlequins originally come from France and are known as the ‘clowns of the rabbit world.’ Why? It’s because these rabbits love to entertain, as well as needing attention and company. They’re bundles of energy and will explore every nook and cranny of your house.

Harlequin’s dynamic personality also makes them perfect playmates for young children. As they adore human interaction, you’ll never have trouble petting or cuddling them. Once you bring one home, you’ll effortlessly form a strong bond with your pet Harlequin.

Their extroverted personalities definitely make them an ideal and best breed of rabbit for first-time owner. 

  • Size: 6.5 to 9.5 pounds
  • Appearance: Mid-sized stature with a broad head; ears are two different colors, chest and front legs split into two unique colors; markings on the face
  • Temperament: Loves attention, cuddles, and company; great with children
  • Grooming: Short fur makes grooming easy, needs space to run and play
  • Harlequin Rabbit Age Expectancy: 5-8 years

Chinchilla Rabbits

Chinchilla rabbits were bred to look like chinchillas in the early 1900s. They’re not in any other way related to rodents—don’t worry. Chinchilla rabbits sport an unmistakable gray coat that adds to their already striking looks.

As they have large physiques, you have to release them from the hutch often. But it doesn’t mean they’ll run around and explore. Chinchillas’ size makes them easier to handle since they aren’t as delicate as smaller rabbits.

They’re not very energetic and often labeled as ‘low-maintenance rabbits’. Chinchilla is the best breed of rabbit for first-time owner who can’t keep up with all the handling and running.

  • Size: 5 to 7 pounds
  • Appearance: Compact body with a short neck; broad head and short, erect ears; super-soft coat
  • Temperament: Relaxed attitude, enjoys being held, interacts well with children 
  • Grooming: Short-medium fur requires minimum care
  • ChinChilla Rabbit Age Expectancy: 5-8 years

lionhead rabbit
Lionheads are one of the cutest rabbits you could own!

Lionhead Rabbits

A result of cross-breeding between Swiss Foxes and Netherland Dwarves, Lionheads are one of the most popular choices for pet rabbits in the US. And it’s not just the result of their majestic mane but also their smart and playful nature.

These good-natured bunnies are quite tolerant of children and love to play around, making them suitable for homes with kids. As long as petting and handling are introduced to them early on, your Lionhead rabbit won’t have any problem socializing.

However, a thick, long coat does demand a little extra care. So, is Lionhead the best breed of rabbit for first-time owner like you? It definitely can be.

  • Size: 3.5 to 4 pounds
  • Appearance: Short, well-furred ears with a high head mount; fabulous wool mane around the chest, chin, and head; 14 variations in color including Siamese sable and tortoise
  • Temperament: Playful, energetic, and smart; doesn’t mind being picked up or handled
  • Grooming: Requires frequent combing as fur can get tangled easily
  • Lionhead Rabbit Age Expectancy: 7-10 years 

Himalayan Rabbits

One of the oldest-known rabbit breeds known to men, Himalayan rabbits have had quite a long time to adjust to domesticity, haven’t they? That’s why they’re also one of our choices for the best breed of rabbit for the first-time owner.

These fluffy pets are known to be extremely calm, in addition to being good-natured and friendly. On top of that, their love for attention and playfulness make them a top choice in homes with young children.

If you decide to bring home a Himalayan rabbit, you’re signing up for unlimited cuddles and petting. 

  • Size: 2.5 to 4.5 pounds
  • Appearance: a slender build with stretched legs, a long head with tapering, upright ears, a white coat with colored points in colors like black and chocolate
  • Temperament: very calm and sociable, loves human interaction, tolerant and excellent with children
  • Grooming: These rabbits love to be groomed and also like to spend plenty of time in the sun. Just ensure they have access to shade whenever they need it.
  • Himalayan Rabbit Age Expectancy: 7-9 years

Final thoughts

By now, you probably know that there’s no one definitive answer to what’s the best breed of rabbit for first-time owners. Rabbits can be social and fond of humans like dogs or aloof and independent like cats.

The breeds we mentioned above are all suitable for new owners with no experience. If you want to bring home a pet rabbit, make sure to do plenty of research on what to expect, how to take care, and, most importantly, if your lifestyle accommodates one.

Hutch and Cage.com does not provide veterinary advice. Our aim is to provide the reader with information to enable them to make a good decision when making a purchase or caring for their pet. All content is therefore for informational purposes only. If you’re concerned about the health of your pet you should seek medical advice from a vet.

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