Rabbits shed a lot! This can come as a surprise to many new rabbit caretakers, but grooming is an inevitable part of any rabbit shedding season. Unfortunately, rabbits can be pretty picky about the brush you use for grooming. When choosing a brush for your rabbit, you’ll have to think about the tool’s effectiveness and your rabbit’s willingness to tolerate it.
The most effective brush for grooming a rabbit during shedding seasons is the Hair Buster. However, rabbits with sensitive skin may not tolerate this tool. In these cases, you may need to use a rubber glove or resort to grooming your rabbit by petting them frequently.
I tested seven different grooming tools that are used for rabbits to figure out which ones are most effective and which ones my rabbits hated the least (they didn’t seem to actually like any of them). Based on these simple tests, I determined the best use for different types of brushes. In the end, you will have to make the best decision for your situation based on your own rabbit’s preferences.
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Criteria for choosing a good rabbit brush
Before we go over the specific brushes that are best for rabbits, I will explain the criteria I use for judging whether or not the brush or comb is a good choice for your rabbit. This is important because the same grooming tools are not going to be best for all rabbits. Depending on their fur type and skin sensitivity, you may have to make a different choice.
How effective is the brush?
The most effective brushes will be able to help your rabbit shed their fur from the undercoat as well as their overcoat. They will be able to loosen the fluff that gets stuck during shedding to help your rabbit grow a new coat without developing any matted areas of fur. The most effective grooming tools are different types of fine-toothed combs (including flea combs, the hair buster, and other fine-toothed hair combs).
The least effective brushes will only be able to remove the already-loose fur from the surface of your rabbit’s coat. These grooming tools would not be able to do anything to prevent matted fur or remove soiled areas. Rubber brushes are typically much less effective than combs as grooming tools, and soft bristle brushes tend to be the least effective.
Will rabbits tolerate the brush?
Many of the most effective brushes are also the most uncomfortable for rabbits. Rabbits have sensitive skin, so when a brush or comb pulls at their fur, it can cause the rabbit to be uncomfortable with the sensation. Sometimes it’s necessary to use the less effective grooming tools simply because those are the only ones your rabbit will let you use.
Because different rabbits will tolerate different types of brushes, you may have to try a couple of different options before you find the right brush. Some rabbits are especially sensitive and will not tolerate any type of brush or comb, so I’ll also go over a technique you can use in these situations.
The best brush for shedding season: Hair Buster
You will need to brush your rabbit most often during their heavy shedding seasons (typically twice a year as the weather changes). The most effective brush to help your rabbit lose their old coat while they grow the new one is a comb called the Hair Buster.
This grooming tool is a type of fine-toothed comb, but the reason it’s more effective than many other models is because of the rubber band along the bristles to help it catch more fur. It can easily pull at the loose fur from the rabbit’s undercoat to help them shed quickly.
To help your rabbit tolerate this grooming tool more easily, you want to avoid poking the comb directly down on the skin. Instead, place the comb almost flat against your rabbit’s fur and comb them in the same direction as the hairs lay. This will prevent painful poking of the bristles, and it will keep you from pulling too hard on your rabbit’s fur if it’s not ready to come loose.
The best brush for sensitive rabbits: Rubber grooming glove
Unfortunately, not all rabbits will tolerate the Hair Buster. Even if you are very gentle, they may not like the sensation of the comb pulling on their fur. In these cases, my recommendation is to use a rubber grooming glove as a brush for your rabbit.
These grooming gloves will not be able to get the tufts of fluff that are stuck on the rabbit’s undercoat, but they are a lot gentler with the rabbit’s skin. These gloves don’t pull as hard on the rabbit’s fur when grooming, so for many rabbits, the glove feels similar to petting (which is a pleasant sensation for rabbits). If you use a grooming glove, you will have to brush your rabbit more often during shedding season since it doesn’t do as thorough a job.
The best brushes for long-haired rabbits: Plastic cat brush and flea comb
Long-haired rabbits, like angora and lionhead rabbits, will require a much more involved grooming routine to prevent matted and soiled fur. For most other rabbits, the purpose is simply to help them shed their coats more easily, but long-haired rabbits will require regular grooming even when it’s not shedding season.
The process of grooming a long-haired rabbit can take quite a while. If the fur is in good condition, the process will take at least two steps. First, you will need to use a plastic cat brush to smooth out any large tangles or matted areas. Focus on the undercoat since this is the area that tangles more easily.
After the fur is more-or-less smoothed out, you’ll want to go through with a fine-toothed flea comb to make sure there are no knotted areas of fur. Start on the bottom layer and make your way through the thick rabbit coat until you’ve removed all tangles. You can simply clip off tough matted sections to prevent more serious knots from forming.
It’s also a good idea to keep long-haired rabbit fur trimmed short. Use rounded grooming shears to keep the length of the rabbit’s coat to about an inch in length. You’ll still need to groom your rabbit multiple times a week, but the shorter fur length will make the process much quicker and easier to maintain.
Which brushes to avoid
In general, the two types of brushes to avoid using with rabbits are the soft bristle brushes and the metal bristle brushes.
Soft-bristled brushes have many fiber bristles. They are the least effective of all the different grooming tools. These brushes will simply push loose fur from one spot on your rabbit’s back to another. Even if your rabbit can tolerate this one, it’s ineffective enough that it’s not even worth using. Simply petting your rabbit does a better job at helping them lose their excess fur.
The other type of brush to avoid is a metal bristle brush. This type of grooming tool is very effective, but it’s also the roughest on rabbit skin. There is no way to lay this type of brush flat against your rabbit’s coat, so the bristles will inevitably dig into their sensitive skin. It will also pull very roughly on the rabbit’s undercoat, which many rabbits will not appreciate. While effective, I don’t recommend this type of grooming product because most rabbits will hate it.
What to do if your rabbits hate grooming
For rabbits who will not tolerate any type of grooming tool, there are still some options for you. I have found that there are actually a lot of rabbits who hate grooming, so I’ve had to find other ways of helping them lose their excess fur.
The first step is to simply pet your rabbit frequently. By petting your rabbit, you are removing the excess fur from the surface of the coat and helping to loosen the fluff on the undercoat to make it fall out more easily. Then, as you are petting your rabbit, you can start to pluck the tufts of fur that stick from your rabbit’s coat (I call this butt-plucking). This action can be a little jarring to some rabbits, so make sure to keep your rabbit relaxed by continuing to pet them.
You can also run a lint roller over your rabbit’s coat to help catch the fur from large areas. This is slightly less effective than a grooming glove, but it can help to get a lot of the loose fur off of your rabbit’s coat.
I should note that this is not a technique you can use with long-haired rabbits. Angora, lionhead, and fuzzy rabbits need regular grooming with effective tools to prevent matted and soiled fur. However, most other breeds of rabbits will be okay with frequent petting and butt-plucking. You may still need to attempt to use a grooming glove during heavy shedding seasons.