Dutch rabbits on porch

Rounded and balanced — that’s the body shape of an ideal Dutch rabbit. These small rabbits, typically 3.5 to 5.5 pounds, sport distinctive markings that make them unforgettable. Dutch is the only breed to guess when you see the white blaze on the nose, white collar around the neck, and white saddle on the back. Despite the name, this popular breed was actually first developed in England. Dutch rabbits are recognized in seven color varieties and were one of the first breeds recognized by the precursor to ARBA.

Life Span
About 8 to 10 years
Weight
3.5 to 5.5 pounds
Origin
England

Colors: ARBA recognizes seven varieties of Dutch rabbit.

Year Recognized By ARBA: 1910

• “You can’t beat the Dutch” is the slogan of the breed club in the United States.
• Dutch rabbits are one of the breeds that can have blue eyes.
American Dutch Rabbit Club

Related Breed
Brabancon

Description

Dutch rabbits on porch
The Dutch rabbit breed originated in England. Benjamin Hayward/YouTube

The Dutch rabbit is probably one of the easiest breeds to identify because of the distinctive white markings. The white blaze on the nose, and the white collar and the “saddle” on the back are a dead giveaway. Dutch are a small breed, but not a dwarf. The fur is normal length, with a soft under layer covered by longer guard hairs. The fur is flyback, meaning that if brushed opposite to the direction of growth, the fur quickly snaps back to normal position. Ears are upright.

The breed standard for Dutch rabbit calls for a compact body. It should be rounded and balanced. Ears are upright and the markings must be distinct.

Colors

Dutch rabbit in x-pen
Dutch rabbits are recognized in seven colors in the United States. Alisha
Vargas/Flickr

The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes seven varieties of Dutch rabbit colors, all mixed with the white markings characteristic to the Dutch. The colors are: black, blue, chinchilla, chocolate, gray, steel, and tortoise. A lilac color is currently in development. Recognized eye color ranges from brown to brown with a ruby cast to dark brown to blue-gray.

Bergene Rabbitry posted a video to YouTube in 2012 showing six of the seven Dutch rabbit colors, and a separate video of the then proposed, and now recognized, chinchilla color.

History

map of EnglandThe Dutch rabbit is among the first rabbit breeds recognized by the National Pet Stock Association, the forerunner of the American Rabbit Breeders Association. The NPSA was founded in 1910 and had several name changes until becoming the ARBA in 1952. According to Bob D. Whitman’s book “Domestic Rabbits & Their Histories,” the Dutch breed is descended from the Brabancon breed out of Belgium. It got its name by 1835, and the first written account describing the breed appears in “Manuals For The Many,” dated 1865. Whitman credits the original Dutch breed to England.

Personality

Dutch rabbit lying on grass
Dutch rabbits are considered friendly and easygoing. M. Falk (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Dutch rabbits are considered an easygoing, friendly, intelligent breed. Of course, generalizations always have exceptions. Discuss the personality of any Dutch you’re considering adding to your family with the rabbit rescue operator, breeder, or person you might adopt from. Also, quietly observe the rabbit for several minutes to see how he or she looks and acts.

When interacting with any rabbit, earn their trust before you attempt to touch them or pick them up. Give them time to settle into your home before introducing them to the entire family or to your friends. Observe your new furry friend to learn his or her likes and dislikes, and allow them to approach you to interact with you on their terms. Always move slowly around your rabbit, and learn how to properly pick them up before attempting to do so.

The Rabbits Online forum included a discussion about Dutch rabbit personality.

Care

two Dutch rabbits
Once you get the basics down, caring for your Dutch rabbit becomes routine. Poot the Dutch/Flickr

Caring for a Dutch rabbit begins with offering a healthy diet and a safe, loving home. Get these basics down, along with some extras, and your Dutch should thrive.

The key food for rabbits is hay. Both clean, fresh hay and clean, fresh water are two things rabbits must have free access to at all times. The type of hay matters. For healthy adult rabbits who aren’t nursing, fresh grass hay rules. This includes timothy, orchard, oat, and other grass hays. Young rabbits, nursing mothers, or sick rabbits need the added calories and extra protein and calcium from alfalfa hay. Hay is important for rabbits because chewing it provides a wonderful way for rabbits to wear down their constantly growing teeth. This can prevent some dental problems. About 70% or more of a rabbit’s daily food should be hay.

Besides hay, rabbits enjoy eating leafy greens and vegetables. Fruit is also appreciated, but the sugar content means you must offer only small portions. Consider vegetables and fruit as treats, particularly fruit. You don’t want your rabbit filling up on these and not eating enough hay. Consult your veterinarian about which vegetables and fruits are safe for rabbits to eat. Some that are safe for people can actually harm rabbits.

A pelleted food formulated specifically for rabbits is a small but important part of the rabbit diet. This provides vitamins and minerals that might otherwise be missed.

People like treats, and so do rabbits. Check out Hey!Berries and other healthy treats that you can offer your rabbit. And follow manufacturer suggestions for portions so you don’t overfeed.

Your rabbit’s habitat needs to be spacious and outfitted with a litter box, bedding, food and water dishes or bottles, toys, and hideaways. This could apply to a rabbit-proofed room, an exercise pen, a large cage, or some other accommodation that fits into your home. Keeping your bunny’s abode clean is as important as outfitting it and placing it in a good location. Daily spot cleaning, weekly cleanup, and a monthly deep clean promote good health and happy bunnies.

Bunnies? Yes. Rabbits are social animals and most prefer to hang out with another bunny or two. If you do adopt multiple bunnies, be sure they get along. And to prevent unwanted pregnancies, keep them in same-sex groups or have them spayed/neutered. Spayed/neutered rabbits actually face fewer health risks as they age, because reproductive cancers are almost eliminated.

But just because your bunnies have buddies doesn’t mean they entertain themselves. Be sure to interact with your furry friends daily. Petting your rabbits, playing games with them, and just hanging out adds to their life, and yours.

Rabbits do a lot of self-grooming, just like cats. Bunny pairs and groups also help groom each other. But rabbits still need help from you to keep their nails trimmed and their fur brushed. Rabbits with longer fur especially need daily brushing to prevent mats. Regularly check your rabbit’s ears, mouth, and area around the tail for signs of any problems. Note: Rabbits rarely need baths. If you choose to bathe a rabbit, never submerge him or her fully in water. Keep the water level to an inch or two. When drying, be gentle and keep them warm, but not hot, until fully dry. This can take a while for wool or rex breeds.

bag of Hey!Berries surrounded by sample treats and the fruit and hay ingredients

Health

The average Dutch rabbit seems no more or less susceptible to the usual rabbit ailments. Among those are GI stasis, malocclusion, respiratory disease, mites, and, in unspayed females, uterine cancer. A healthy diet, a safe, clean home, and plenty of chances for daily play and interaction minimize many of the health risks. Rabbits with blue eyes might be more sensitive to light.

Be aware that if the environment is uncomfortable for you, it’s likely uncomfortable for your rabbit. This is particularly true about warm temperatures. Keep your rabbit in a cool area, ideally no more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, to minimize the risk of heatstroke. Rabbits tolerate cooler temperatures better than warmer. And keep in mind that higher humidity can make temperatures feel warmer.

Contact your rabbit-savvy veterinarian if your rabbit suddenly changes behavior or routine, or if he or she has unusual discharge from anywhere on the body. A rabbit who stops eating, drinking, or eliminating needs immediate veterinary care.

On The Internet

In today’s world of social media, many Dutch rabbits have found followers or had a viral moment of fame. A YouTube video posted by BunnyLife chronicles the growth of a litter of Dutch rabbits from birth to Day 36. It has more than 200,000 views.

And check out these Dutch rabbit Instagram and Twitter accounts: