Are Dwarf Rabbits Good Pets?

are dwarf rabbits good pets?

Little bunnies are so adorable. People are drawn to dwarf and mini breeds of rabbits because their compact cuteness makes them so appealing. You may also believe that mini rabbits require less space than bigger ones because of how small they are (but this is only partially true).

As cute as they may be, dwarf rabbits tend to be the little devils in disguise of the rabbit world. They are generally more active, more skittish, and more aggressive than larger breeds of rabbits. This isn’t always a bad thing. You can definitely see their personality shine through, but it is something you want to take into consideration before bringing a tiny bunny home.

Dwarf rabbits are great pets for people who are willing to put up with an energizer bunny. If you’re willing to put a lot of time into rabbit-proofing your home and ensuring your rabbit has ample opportunity to exercise, they can be excellent, adorable,  and highly social pets.

Before I go any further, I want to reiterate that all rabbits are individuals. I’ll go over some characteristics that are common for most dwarf and mini breeds of rabbits that I’ve seen, but the specific rabbit you bring home may have a much different personality. 

For example, while most small rabbits have somewhat hyper personalities, my sister has a Holland Lop that’s one of the most laidback rabbits I know. In the end, I really recommend going to a shelter or rescue center and meeting the rabbits to find one that’s the right match for you. However, it can still be helpful to have an idea of the personality different types of rabbits can have.

Important: This post contains affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

Are dwarf rabbits good pets for children?

Before getting into the topic of dwarf rabbit pets in general, I want to talk about small rabbits as pets for children. It’s not uncommon for people to want to get a small pet for their child and think that dwarf rabbits are a good fit. 

I generally don’t recommend rabbits as pets for children at all, but mini rabbits tend to be particularly bad choices.

This is because dwarf and mini breeds of rabbits are more delicate than larger breeds. It’s a lot easier for a child to accidentally hurt a small rabbit. In addition, smaller rabbits are usually more assertive. They are more likely to attack with their claws or teeth if they feel cornered, meaning they are also more likely to hurt a child who doesn’t understand how to respect an animal’s boundaries.

How to decide if dwarf or mini breeds of rabbits are good pets for you

With that out of the way, let’s talk about how dwarf and mini rabbits behave as pets. Their care is very similar to other types of rabbits, but there are some common differences you frequently see with rabbits of a smaller size.

Remember, this is just general behavior that you can expect. The best way to know what your rabbit’s personality is going to be is by going to a shelter and meeting the rabbit before adopting them.

1. What to expect from dwarf and mini rabbit personalities

In general, smaller rabbits are more energetic, assertive, and skittish than larger rabbits. They tend to zoom around and exercise more, which is adorable to watch. The energy can also lead to more types of troublemaker behavior, chewing and digging into things they shouldn’t. All rabbits do this to some extent, but mini rabbits can be a bigger handful to deal with.

Dwarf rabbits also are more likely to be aggressive by biting and scratching to assert their boundaries if the rabbit feels cornered or just doesn’t want people near at the moment. This is often linked to overly timid and anxious behavior, meaning small rabbits are slower to trust people.

2. Dwarf rabbits (usually) like to be cuddled less than other rabbits

Linked to their more energetic personalities, is the tendency to avoid long cuddle sessions. You may notice your rabbit will stay still for a few minutes while you pet them on the floor, but then they’ll get up and hop away from you because they’ve had enough interaction. They’re also less likely to want to hop up onto your lap and sit still while you pet them.

This is a characteristic that is not common among all dwarf rabbits. There are many small bunnies that I’ve come across that enjoy a good massage and cuddle on the floor or sofa. However, it’s less common among smaller rabbits than larger rabbits.

how to set up a rabbit enclosure diagram
A rabbit enclosure should include a soft flooring along with a litter box, hiding house, food and water bowls, hay and a variety of fun toys.

3. Dwarf rabbits still need a lot of space

You may think that because dwarf rabbits are small, you can get away with giving them less space. However, because dwarf rabbits are so active, giving them ample hopping and exercise space is extremely important for keeping them mentally stimulated and overall healthy. 

As a general rule, I recommend getting a pet exercise pen as your rabbit’s enclosure, rather than a standard rabbit cage (which is usually much too small). You also need to make sure your rabbit has ample time (multiple hours a day) outside of the enclosure, so they can explore and zoom around a bigger area, especially in the morning and evening when rabbits are most active

If you’re up to the challenge you can also try to free-roam your rabbit by letting them have free access to the home (or a room in the home). However, it’s pretty common for small rabbits to be big troublemakers, so you need to make sure everything is thoroughly rabbit-proofed before taking this step (similar to baby-proofing a home).

4. Dwarf rabbits tend to have (slightly) longer lifespans

The average lifespan of rabbits in general is around 8 to 12 years. Usually, larger rabbits will be at the shorter end of this spectrum, while smaller rabbits are at the longer end of the spectrum. Of course, this comes down to the overall care and health of your particular rabbit, but you’ll want to be prepared to care for your rabbit for a long time.

overgrown rabbit teeth
Overgrown rabbit incisors can appear uneven, spread outward, or curl into the mouth.

5. Dwarf rabbits are more prone to dental problems

Most breeds of dwarf rabbits were bred to have slightly shorter faces than medium and larger breeds. It’s not always an issue, but sometimes this causes the rabbit’s top and bottom jaw to be misaligned (especially the incisors, the front teeth).

This is a problem because rabbit teeth continue to grow throughout their lifetime. The high-fiber foods that they eat naturally wear down their teeth, so this is usually not a problem. However, if their teeth are misaligned, they get worn down properly and end up causing malocclusions (overgrown teeth). In the worst cases, this can prevent the rabbit from eating at all. 

If your rabbit develops malocclusions because of their genetics, it’s likely that they will need to have their front teeth regularly trimmed by the vet, or even removed completely.

6. Dwarf rabbits are really hard to catch

Most rabbits don’t particularly like being held, but mini rabbits are particularly good at evading people’s hands and avoiding being picked up. This is at least partially because the rabbits are so small that it’s hard to catch them as they’re running away. The skittish nature of many small bunnies also makes them more likely to have quick evasion skills.

That being said, I believe it’s important to treat our pets the way they want to be treated. If your rabbit doesn’t like being held, trying to pick them up all the time will only cause them to distrust you. With most dwarf rabbits, this means you should really only pick them up if you need to for safety reasons, medical reasons, or for grooming (clipping nails, etc.). If this is a deal breaker, a dwarf rabbit might not be the best pet for you.

7. Dwarf rabbits can get through tiny spaces and jump over fences

When I was a teenager, my family had a Netherland Dwarf rabbit, Frankie, who was always getting into places he wasn’t supposed to go. We were always trying to find new ways of blocking off areas where he shouldn’t go, but somehow Frankie always found ways to squeeze through the smallest holes.

Dwarf rabbits are notoriously difficult to keep out of places you don’t want them to go. If they’re not squeezing through tiny holes, they’re jumping over fences you didn’t think were possible. A one-foot-tall fence would probably stop a large rabbit with no problem, but you probably need one that’s at least four feet tall for a small rabbit. 

The smaller your rabbit is, the taller your fences need to be and the smaller the gaps in your blockades.

8. Dwarf rabbits stay small forever (but they might not be as small as you think)

It’s true, dwarf rabbits are small and cute, and they stay that way forever. However, when I think of a small rabbit, it might be different from what you’re thinking. I can’t count the number of times that someone came to see the rabbit at the shelter or my family’s mini rabbits and exclaimed at how big they are when they are only 3 to 4 pounds (a little too big to fit in your pocket).

Most people think that the rabbits we see outside (cottontail rabbits in most of America) are indicative of an average rabbit size. However, these are a different species than domestic rabbits and are quite small (usually only about 2 pounds). An average-sized rabbit is going to be around 5 to 8 pounds when they are fully grown, and some rabbits can even be more than 10 pounds. 

So to me, someone who has experience with a whole lot of different rabbits, 3 pounds seems quite small. But if you’re only used to seeing wild cottontails, your dwarf rabbit might seem pretty big. 

In my opinion, it’s not very important. Rabbits are excellent pets, both big and small. But it’s a good idea to keep your expectations in check when it comes to your rabbit’s size.

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Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt is a lifelong rabbit owner who has been specializing with rabbits at the Humane Rescue Alliance. She helps to socialize the rabbits and educate volunteers on the care and behavior of these small mammals.

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