No matter the breed, rabbits are arguably some of the cutest critters on the planet. With their long ears and signature "bunny" noses, rabbits are difficult to resist. Ranging in size from the two-pound Holland lop to the 20-pound Flemish giant, the bunnies on this list are all popular pets that rival the Easter Bunny in terms of looks and personality. (And before you get too mesmerized by these beauties, read 8 things to know before getting a pet rabbit so you know what you might be getting into!)
1. American Chinchillas
If there's one rabbit breed that looks most like the Easter Bunny, it's the American Chinchilla. These classic rabbits are known for their coloration, which resembles that of the South American chinchilla — hence the name. There are three types of chinchilla rabbits: American, Standard and Giant.
Legend has it, the first chinchilla rabbit was bred by accident by a French engineer and rabbit breeder named Monsieur Dybowski. Dybowski later became known as Le Bonhomme Chinchilla, once people got a look at the gorgeous slivery-pearl colored fur of his rabbits.
The American Chinchilla was bred to be a "supersized" version of its French cousin and generally weighs between 9 to 11 pounds in comparison to the 5- to 8-pound standard Chinchilla. Giant Chinchillas, as you might expect, are even bigger, weighing in between 10 to 16 pounds.
It's no wonder that angora rabbits are also known as 'wooly wabbits.' (Photo: James Joel/Flickr)
Angora rabbits are bred for their silky soft wool. First bred in Turkey (along with angora cats and goats,) angora rabbits became popular pets of French royalty in the mid-18th century. They made their way to the United States in the early 1900s. There are several angora breeds, four of which are recognized by the official American Rabbit Breeders' Association: English, French, giant, and satin, as well as German, Chinese, Swiss, Finnish, Korean and St. Lucian.
Angora rabbits are generally calm, docile — and extremely fluffy! They require lots of brushing and cleaning to keep their long silky locks in top condition.
The lionhead rabbit is a relative newcomer. Original bred in Belgium, these rabbits made their way to the U.S. in the 1990s and became officially recognized as a stand-alone breed in 2014. Lionheads are best known for their "manes," although unlike the African cats for which they're named, these rabbits are rather diminutive, typically weighing between two and four pounds.
Lionheads are categorized according to the number of mane genes that they possess. Single-maned rabbits have the classic fur around their head, ears, chin and and sometimes even on their chest and butt. They also tend to lose their manes as they age. Double-manes, with two copies of the mane gene, have manes completely encircling their heads as well as on their flanks, and this is often referred to as a "skirt."
Do your ears hang low? They certainly do if you are a lop-earred rabbit. As you might guess, these cuties are known for their low-hanging ears. There are 19 breeds of rabbits that fall within the lop family, with the most popular being the American fuzzy lop, mini lop, Holland lop, English lop and the French lop. They range in size from the Holland lop, which weighs two to three pounds, to the French lop which weighs 10 to 13 pounds. (You might think the smallest would be the mini lop, but these guys generally weigh 5 to 8 pounds.)
American fuzzy lops, a crossbreed of lops and angora rabbits, were bred to have both the signature low-hanging ears and fluffy fur. The oldest of the lops, the English lop, was first bred in England in the mid 1800s before becoming a popular pet of the rich in the Victorian era.
5. Belgian Hares
Despite the name, the Belgian hare is not actually a hare but rather a domestic rabbit bred to look like a wild hare. They were first bred in Belgium in the early 1700s and made their way to the U.S. in the mid 1800s. Compared to other breeds of domestic rabbits, Belgian hares are sleek and slender, with long ears and even longer back feet. They are sometimes referred to as the "poor man's racehorse."
Belgian hares are known for their smarts and are considered by many to be the most intelligent domestic rabbit species. They are companionable, although some might be described as "skittish," but that's probably just because they love to play and need lots of exercise. Fortunately, their short, sleek hair means that they don't require much in the way of grooming.
6. English Spots
The English spot stands out in the bunny world thanks to its signature markings. There are of course, the spots along each side of its body, but these bunnies also have nose markings that look like a butterfly, eye circles, cheek spots, colored ears, and a line of color that follows the spine called a "herringbone."
These medium-sized bunnies are described as friendly, inquisitive, and they have just enough "spunk" to make them playful companions. Originally bred in England in the mid-19th century, English spots have been a popular breed in the U.S. since they made the trip across the pond in 1910.
7. Flemish Giants
While other bunny breeds might be cute and tiny, the Flemish giant is a beast of a breed — more like a small dog than a rabbit! As one of the largest domestic rabbit species, Flemish giants can weigh upwards of 20 pounds and stretch out to lengths as long as 32 inches. Despite their intimidating size, these rabbits are gentle and tolerant of humans and other animals, as long as they're treated well.
There is some controversy among Flemish giant historians about the true origins of this breed, but most contend they date back to the 16th century in Belgium. They have been a popular breed in the U.S. since around 1890. These large bunnies were originally bred for their meat and fur, but thanks to their docile demeanor — and expensive diets — it became more practical for them to be pets.
Harlequin rabbits are a colorful breed with coats that resemble the calico coloration in cats. They were originally bred in France for their coloration and markings rather than for their fur or body type. These gentle, playful bunnies are broken down into two types: Japanese harlequins, which are a mix of orange and other colors (such as black, blue, chocolate, or lilac,) and Magpie harlequins, which have white instead of orange as their primary color. Harlequin rabbits generally weigh around seven pounds.
9. Jersey Woolies
A cross between the Netherland dwarf rabbit (a small breed of domestic rabbit,) and the French angora, Jersey woolies are known for their petite size and poof of fur. New Jersey native Bonnie Seeley is credited for popularizing the breed when she introduced it at a convention of the American Rabbit Breeders' Association in 1984.
These small, gentle rabbits have soft, silky fur similar to an angoras, but it's less quick to mat, making them much easier to care for. Jersey woolies weigh around three pounds and make for an adorable and fluffy companion.