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Home > Rabbits > 9 Great Rabbit Breeds for a First-Time Owner (With Pictures)

9 Great Rabbit Breeds for a First-Time Owner (With Pictures)

young woman with adorable rabbit indoors

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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

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When most people think of adopting a pet, cats and dogs are at the top of their list. However, rabbits have become increasingly popular pets, with many breeds now being bred solely for companionship. In the past, most domestic rabbits were utilized for their fur or meat, and many companion breeds sprouted from these originally domesticated rabbits.

Domestic breeds come in all shapes and sizes. You can find Flemish Giant rabbits at upwards of 20 pounds and Netherland Dwarf rabbits at only 2 pounds. Some rabbits have longer coats that need more regular grooming while others have a short lower maintenance fur. Rabbits have distinct personalities, this will partly be determined by the personality traits its breed is known for but is also affected by how they are raised and socialized.

Therefore, it’s vital to choose the best rabbit breed for you. Which rabbit breed works best depends on your wants, needs, and lifestyle. A rabbit that’s going to live outside has completely different considerations than a completely indoor rabbit, for instance.

Let’s take a look at some of the best rabbit breeds for first-time owners.


The 9 Rabbit Breeds for First-Time Owners

1. Harlequins

Harlequin Rabbit
Harlequin Rabbit (Image By: Lynn Gardner, Wikimedia commons CC BY 2.5)
Size: Medium
Temperament: Friendly
Lifespan: 4–8 years

Unlike most domestic rabbits, Harlequins have an outgoing personality. They’re child-friendly and don’t take long to warm up to others. They’re very affectionate and love to cuddle. Many people describe them as acting more like dogs than rabbits. Therefore, they make great pets for first-time owners.

These rabbis come in a range of beautiful colors, as well. They look a bit like calico cats, though they come in a wider range of color combinations. Magpie Harlequins come in black and white, blue, and chocolate. Japanese Harlequins can come in fawn, orange, black, blue, and chocolate.

Once fully grown, these rabbits can live up to 8 years (though many may not live longer than 4). They can weigh up to 9.5 pounds, putting them into the medium category.

These rabbits love people, so they require a lot of attention. They work best for families that have lots of extra time on their hands. They don’t require any extra grooming, though they are quite fluffy. They’re naturally resistant to matting. Harlequins are too big to stay in a hutch all the time, so they require extra room to exercise.

2. Polish

polish rabbit
Image By: Jne Valokuvaus, Shutterstock
Size: Dwarf
Temperament: Calm
Lifespan: 5–6 years

Despite the name, this rabbit breed originated in England. They’re considered a dwarf breed, making them much smaller than your average rabbit. Therefore, they may be a good option for owners with less space and time. They’re easier to maintain than other rabbits, as they can live perfectly fine in most indoor hutches. However, their smaller size doesn’t make them suitable for outdoor hutches.

These rabbits come in many different colors and patterns. They’re extremely calm and don’t tend to frighten as much as other rabbits. However, they aren’t as outgoing as Harlequins. Polish rabbits love attention, so you will need to set aside time each day to spend with them.

3. Mini Rex

Mini Rex Rabbit standing in grass
Image By: Mandz11, Pixabay
Size: Dwarf
Temperament: Very friendly
Lifespan: 7–10 years

The Mini Rex enjoys a lot of popularity. In fact, they may be the most popular companion rabbit, especially in the United States. They’re family-friendly and love children, but they’re also a bit smaller than most rabbit breeds. Therefore, they require less room to exercise and tend to be easier to maintain. They also come in a range of different colors, so most people find them aesthetically pleasing.

They require the same type of food as other rabbits, and their immune system is top-notch. They’re very healthy rabbits.

They’re calm rabbits, but they do require a bit of exercise. You’ll need to take them out of their hutch at least once a day for socialization and exercise. These rabbits can live up to 10 years—much longer than your average rabbit.

4. Mini Lop

mini lop rabbit
Image By: FiledIMAGE, Shutterstock
Size: Small to medium
Temperament: Friendly and active
Lifespan: 5–10 years

The Mini Lop is a small to medium rabbit. The word “lop” in their name comes from their floppy ears, which many rabbit owners find extremely cute. This breed is newer and took a long time to get off the ground. However, today, they enjoy plenty of popularity.

Thanks to their smaller size and temperament, they work well in families with children. They’re quite affectionate and love lots of attention. Their adorable ears are also hard to beat.

Caring for this rabbit is pretty straightforward. They aren’t expensive, and you shouldn’t have to pay a lot for their care. While they are smaller, they do require a decent amount of exercise. Therefore, you should consider a larger rabbit hutch or plan on taking them out of the hutch regularly.

5. Himalayan

Himalayan rabbit
Image By: Linn Currie, Shutterstock
Size: Small to medium
Temperament: Calm and patient
Lifespan: 5–8 years

The Himalayan is one of the oldest domesticated rabbit breeds in the world. Because they have been domesticated for a very long time, they’re also extremely calm and not too difficult to take care of. They originate from the Himalayan mountains, hence their name.

These rabbits are mostly white. However, they often have blue, black, or chocolate markings.

The Himalayan isn’t difficult to maintain. It is probably one of the easiest species to take care of. They litter train easily to make cleaning up after them more straightforward, making them a good choice for newer rabbit owners. They’re also quite small at only 2.5–5 pounds and may live up to 8 years.

6. Holland Lop

Holland Lop rabbit
Image By: Yakinkate, Pixabay
Size: Dwarf
Temperament: Curious
Lifespan: 7–10 years

The Holland Lop is a dwarf breed, meaning that they are extremely small. They only reach 4 pounds max. Despite their smaller size, they get along well with children. They’re pretty family-friendly, making them a good option for first-time owners. They’re decently popular and widely available, so you should be able to find them in most areas.

They’re very fluffy and have droopy ears. Most people consider them absolutely adorable, which is one reason they are so popular. It’s just hard to resist their charm.

This bunny has a longer lifespan—up to 10 years. They’re pretty healthy and aren’t hard to take care of. Their vet bills should be relatively low for this reason. They require more exercise than other beginner rabbits we’ve discussed. You should provide at least 4 hours of roaming a day. Therefore, we recommend them for owners with more time on their hands.

7. American Chinchilla

American Chinchilla Rabbit
Image By: The Livestock Conservancy and the American Rabbit Breeders Association
Size: Large
Temperament: Calm and friendly
Lifespan: 5–8 years

The American Chinchilla was bred for farming purposes, including both its meat and coat. They’re still utilized for this purpose today, especially in the United States. However, they also make suitable companion animals, as they have been bred to be very hardy and calm. They require no special care and are extremely affordable.

This rabbit can endure extreme temperatures and is weather-hardy. Therefore, they are one of the best options for families that want to keep their rabbit mostly outdoors. They’re also a relatively large breed, weighing up to 12 pounds. They look just like you’d expect a rabbit to look, with a soft, dense coat.

Despite their use as farm rabbits, they’re very friendly and people-oriented. They aren’t skittish like other breeds and do well within most environments. Therefore, they’re great for first-time owners looking for a hardy species.

8. Lionhead

Lionhead rabbit sitting in the grass
Image By: Camraw26, Pixabay
Size: Small
Temperament: Active
Lifespan: 7–9 years

The Lionhead remains one of the most popular rabbits around the world, largely due to their woolly mane and fluffy fur. They require more care than other rabbits, but that doesn’t keep many from adopting them. They’re friendly with children and can make good family pets, assuming you have the time to take care of them.

This breed also costs more than others because of its popularity. They’re pretty easy to find, but breeders will still charge a pretty penny for them. You’ll have to groom them regularly due to their long coat and provide at least 4 hours of exercise. You can use a playpen for their exercise or provide them with supervised time.

They aren’t necessarily the best option for beginners due to their higher upkeep, but that doesn’t prevent many from purchasing them. If you do decide to purchase one of these bunnies, be sure you understand the extra care and cost that comes with them.

9. English Lop

English Lop rabbit
Image By: Napa Chaichanasiri, Shutterstock
Size: Medium
Temperament: Curious and Active
Lifespan: 5–7 years

If you’re looking for a more active rabbit, the English Lop may be a good option. They have long, fluffy ears that many people find irresistible. They don’t require any special care beyond what a normal rabbit needs. While they are active, they don’t require huge amounts of exercise. Their fluffy coat also doesn’t require any particular grooming beyond the usual. They’re simply easy rabbits to take care of.

On top of being adorable, these rabbits have some of the lowest maintenance needs around. For this reason alone, we highly recommend them for beginners.


Adopting a rabbit is a completely different experience from adopting a cat or dog. However, there are some similarities. One of these is all the breeds of rabbits you have to choose from. Just like a Jack Russel and German Shepherd are hardly anything alike, different rabbit breeds have varying traits, appearances, and needs. Some require a lot of exercise, while others require regular brushing.

Generally, we recommend hardy, low-maintenance breeds for beginners. If you’ve never cared for a rabbit before, you should choose the most forgiving rabbit you can find. Usually, these breeds are also some of the most popular.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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