A smaller breed, the Mini Lop still steals plenty of hearts and is one of the more popular rabbit breeds. What accounts for this popularity? Perhaps the lop ears, the smaller size, the laid-back personality, the array of colors for the breed — the list goes on. Maybe it’s a combination of all factors. This cute breed was developed in Germany using at least six different breeds. Whether they are Monarchs of the Fancy or Lops of Excellence, Mini Lops are here to stay.
Colors: ARBA recognizes more than two dozen colors of Mini Lop
Year Recognized By ARBA: 1980
• The breed’s nickname in the United States varies between the two Mini Lop breed clubs. One calls the breed “Monarch of the Fancy” and the other uses “Lops of Excellence.”
• The British Rabbit Council calls this breed the Dwarf Lop.
• Mini Lops are slightly larger than Holland Lops and also have longer ears than Hollands.
• There are two Mini Lop breed clubs: Mini Lop Rabbit Club of America formed in 1980. The newer club is the American Mini Lop Rabbit Club
Chinchilla, French Lop, English Lop, New Zealand, Polish, Dwarf Lop
Although not a true dwarf, the Mini Lop is still one of the smaller breeds. It weighs in at no more than 6.5 pounds. Despite the relatively small size, the Mini Lop is a stocky and sturdy breed with a compact body shape and short neck. The lop ears hang down the sides of the face and have rounded, furred tips. The fur is normal length, with a soft under layer covered by longer guard hairs. The fur is rollback, which means that it gradually returns to position when brushed backward.
People often get confused about whether a rabbit is a Mini Lop or a Holland Lop. Weight can usually give you the best clue, as Mini Lops are larger than Holland Lops. A video posted to YouTube by PetRabbits also sheds some light on this question.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes many colors for Mini Lop rabbits. They come in seven color groups. The colors include:
Agouti: Chinchilla (black, blue, chocolate, lilac, sable, and smoke pearl), Chestnut Agouti, Lynx, Opal
Broken: Broken, Tri-Colored
Pointed White: Pointed White (black, blue, chocolate, lilac)
Self: Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, White
Shaded: Frosted Pearl, Sable, Sable Point, Seal, Smoke Pearl, Tortoise
Ticked: Silver, Silver Fox, Steel
Wide Band: Cream, Fawn, Orange, Red
According to Bob D. Whitman’s book “Domestic Rabbits & Their Histories,” the Mini Lop’s story began in Germany in the 1950s with two different breeders. The breed was called Klein Widder. Whitman mentions several breeds being used in the development of the Klein Widder, including Chinchilla, French Lop, English Lop, New Zealand, Polish, and Dwarf Lop. It was recognized by the German Standard in 1973. An American breeder brought it to the United States in the early 1970s. The breed’s initial introduction didn’t cause much of a stir. After changing the name to Mini Lop and with the help of other breeders, the Mini Lop gained ARBA recognition in 1980. It’s now one of the most popular breeds in the United States.
The Mini Lop rabbit is sometimes categorized as laid-back because of being a Lop breed. But generalizations about smaller rabbits often characterize them as more hyper. The truth lies somewhere in between. Why? Because all rabbits are individuals. Making generalizations based on breed alone might cause false expectations. When choosing a rabbit, consult with the rabbit rescue operator, breeder, or whomever you are adopting from to decide about temperament. Take time to observe the rabbit to make your own conclusions about his or her behavior.
Rabbits are prey animals, so they are wary of sudden movements, new situations, and new people. Allow your Mini Lop to approach you on his or her own terms. Sit on the floor and let the Mini Lop come to you and explore in a rabbit-safe area. Offer treats and generally take things slowly to gain your new friend’s trust. Once your bunny is comfortable in your home, you’ll see his or her personality start to shine through.
A brief discussion on the Rabbit Talk forum offers some insights about Mini Lop personalities versus Holland Lop personalities based on personal experience from a few owners. And the Rabbits United forum had a thread discussing Mini Lops.
Food, shelter, and companionship are the basic needs to meet for proper rabbit care, and caring for a Mini Lop is no exception.
One thing that every mammal requires is fresh, clean water — as much as they want. Monitor your rabbit’s water intake, because suddenly drinking more or less could be a sign of a health problem.
Hay is king in the world of rabbit nutrition. Clean, fresh grass hay is a low-energy, high-fiber food that’s perfect for adult rabbits on a maintenance diet. Rabbits spend a lot of their time every day chewing on hay, and that’s healthy. It helps to wear down their constantly growing teeth to minimize the chance of overgrowth. Rabbits with overgrown teeth or with malocclusion caused by genetics develop dental problems that can be life-threatening. Note that all hay is not the same. Alfalfa hay is higher in energy and calcium, so only offer it to rabbits who need the extra calories and calcium. This includes growing, pregnant, or sick rabbits. Consult with your rabbit-savvy veterinarian about any food changes for young, pregnant, or sick rabbits.
Although hay makes up the majority of a rabbit’s diet, they enjoy eating limited quantities of fruits and vegetables. Rabbits gain additional water from these food sources. Offer only those that are rabbit-safe, and limit fruit treats to very small portions because of the sugar content in them. Consult your veterinarian about which vegetables and fruits are safe for rabbits to eat. Some that are safe for people can actually harm rabbits.
Pellets are a small but important part of a rabbit’s diet. They offer vitamins and minerals that are missing from hay, vegetables, and fruit. Offer only pellets made specifically for rabbits, and follow the portion guide recommended by the manufacturer.
Rabbits enjoy treats beyond fruit and veggies, and these can be used in training. Offer only healthy treats. As with pellets, only offer treats in portions recommended by the manufacturer. You don’t want your rabbit to fill up on treats instead of the all-important hay.
Your rabbit’s home needs a few basics. The home itself needs to be about four times the size of your rabbit and allow your Mini Lop to move freely, lie down, and stretch after the space is outfitted with bedding, a litter box, food and water dishes/bottles, a hideaway, and some toys. If you have a bonded pair, the cage needs to be larger. Choose the habitat that works best in your home. This could be an exercise pen, a large cage, a rabbit-proofed room, or some combination of these.
Your bunny’s home needs daily spot-cleaning of the litter box and any messes, and weekly cleaning of the entire space. This promotes better health. A dirty cage or habitat can make your bunny sick. Temperature, noise, odors, and activity level of the room where your bunny spends his or her time are also important to consider for good health. Nothing in the environment should cause stress or be dangerous.
Bunnies do best in pairs or groups because they are social animals. Getting a bonded pair or trio is ideal, as long as they are the same sex or spayed/neutered to prevent pregnancy. Note that spayed/neutered rabbits face fewer health risks as they age, because reproductive cancers are almost eliminated. Spay/neuter might also reduce spraying or some aggression in adult rabbits.
Bunny buddies keep each other company, but you are part of the bunch. Spend time daily with your rabbits. Play games, groom, and just hang out. If you have a single rabbit, daily interaction is even more important.
Brushing your Mini Lop daily helps minimize shed fur and fur ingested by your buddy when he or she grooms herself. This might prevent fur block of the GI tract. Brushing also gives you an opportunity to regularly check your rabbit’s ears, mouth, and tail area for lumps, discharge or signs of any problems. Nail trims are another grooming task that bunnies need help with.
You shouldn’t need to bathe your Mini Lop. If he or she goes on a digging spree in dirt or gets into something, spot cleaning usually suffices. Any baths should only be done in shallow water with rabbit-safe shampoo or merely a water rinse. Carefully and thoroughly dry your Mini Lop, because wet fur can cause a health problem.
Mini Lop rabbits are subject to the same health concerns as other rabbit breeds. These concerns commonly include GI stasis, malocclusion, respiratory disease, mites, and, in unspayed females, uterine cancer. It’s possible that the smaller size of Mini Lops might put them at higher risk of dental problems and their lop ears might make them more prone to ear problems.
Giving your Mini Lop the best chance at a happy, healthy life merely means meeting a few basic needs. Offering a proper diet, clean home, daily exercise and interaction all go a long way. Catching problems early by taking your furry friend in for regular veterinary checkups also helps.
Another big health concern for rabbits is heat stress. Rabbits deal better with cooler weather rather than warmer weather. If you’re warm, your rabbit is likely hot. Try to keep your rabbit in an environment that reaches no more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize the risk of heatstroke. Be aware that humidity can make temperatures feel warmer.
Any sudden change in your rabbit’s behavior is usually a sign that you need to contact your rabbit-savvy veterinarian. This includes loss of appetite, failure to drink water, change in litter box habits, sudden lethargy, excessive sneezing, etc. Any unusual discharge (from nose, mouth, eyes, ears, anus) or strange lumps on your rabbit is another sign that veterinary advice is needed.
On The Internet
Ready for some fun? Mini Lop rabbits on social media are soaring. A video of Luna the Mini Lop eating has more than 188,000 views. And Exempel the Mini Lop on Instagram has more than 178,000 followers while Alfie and Biscuit’s Instagram account has more than 130,000 followers!