The Swiss Fox Rabbit is a rare rabbit breed that resulted from a cross between the Havana rabbit and the Angora rabbit. They have not caught on globally but are well-known throughout Europe and are used as show rabbits.
In this article, we share everything that you need to know about the Swiss Fox Rabbit, from their origination to how to raise them properly. It might be a challenge to find one of these rabbits outside of Europe, but many owners say that it is worth the initial hassle because they make such lovely pets.
Quick Facts About the Swiss Fox Rabbit
|Species Name:||Oryctolagus cuniculus|
|Temperament:||Friendly, intelligent, calm|
|Diet:||Hay, rabbit pellets|
|Minimum Enclosure Size:||30” x 30”|
|Enclosure Set-Up:||Smaller indoor with larger outdoor play space|
|Compatibility:||First-time owners, families with older children, seniors, singles|
Swiss Fox Overview
The Swiss Fox Rabbit was first developed in Switzerland in the 1920s by Hermann Leifer and Muller. They wanted to create a rabbit with a pelt similar to Arctic foxes because their fur was coveted and incredibly expensive at that time.
However, the breeding experiment failed. Instead of resulting in a breed with a foxlike pelt, the rabbit had longer and more delicate hair. At first, this lessened their overall popularity. Over the years, though, they became more popular with breed enthusiasts because of their beautiful, soft dove-gray fur.
Interestingly, their continued existence as a modern-day breed is thanks to Switzerland’s neutral stance during World War II. The rabbits had grown popular in Germany. However, they entirely disappeared during the war and in surrounding countries due to their association with Germany. They maintained a strong presence in Switzerland, though, and made a comeback in Europe at the war’s close.
The Swiss Fox Rabbit is considered a medium-sized breed. They make excellent pets due to their docile temperament and beautiful, soft hair. They are best for families with slightly older children because rabbits are relatively fragile creatures when handled inappropriately.
How Much Do Swiss Fox Rabbits Cost?
It is best to purchase a rabbit from a breeder because they are more likely to have a tame and docile temperament. Pet stores are generally not careful about whom they source their rabbits from or what the parentage is like.
A typical rabbit from a breeder costs between $20 to $50. However, the rarity and beauty of the Swiss Fox make them slightly more expensive. Often, the pricing for an average rabbit starts around $65 and rises from there. The price will be higher depending on their pedigree, sex, and coat quality.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
One of the reasons that the Swiss Fox was growing in popularity and wasn’t abandoned as a breed when the breeding experiment failed is due to their fine temperament. They are incredibly docile and friendly rabbits. They tolerate being handled and tend to enjoy getting their coats brushed.
Swiss Fox Rabbits are also quite intelligent. They can be trained to use a litter box, similar to a cat. These rabbits can also learn other tricks with time and patience. Overall, they are cuddly bunnies, and as long as they are correctly handled, they will be more than happy to sit in your lap or your arms.
Appearance & Varieties
The Swiss Fox Rabbit has a compact body shape and weighs between 5.5 and 7.5 pounds. These rabbits have long ears, about 4 inches, that they typically hold upright and strong. Their bodies are well-muscled, and they have short necks that help hold them in more of an upright posture.
The Swiss Fox has no facial markings, unlike its predecessor, the Angora rabbit. Instead, they have dove-gray fur all over the body that doesn’t vary much in color. The length changes from the head and ears to the rest of their body. On their heads, they have short fur that steadily gets longer on their neck until it dusts the floor from their bodies.
Swiss Fox rabbits might not have foxlike fur, but it is still beautiful. It is also effortless to groom, making them an excellent match for someone who wants a longhaired rabbit without the time that it takes to manage a breed like the Angora.
The rabbit’s coat has two layers and both are quite dense. Their underlayer has hair that is typically a lighter gray than their overcoat. The overcoat varies in gray tones but is normally more of a lilac or dove-gray shade.
The Swiss Fox Rabbit breeders initially created them with a blue coat inspired by the Arctic fox. This kind of coat is the typical standard, but other accepted coat colors include chinchilla, havana, black, and white, with red or blue eyes.
How to Take Care of a Swiss Fox Rabbit
Habitat, Enclosure & Setup
Caring for the Swiss Fox Rabbit is not more challenging than for any other breed. These rabbits are quite relaxed and friendly. Even their long coat is low-maintenance because of its texture and density.
Almost all rabbits require about the same kind of enclosure or habitat setup. These rabbits are particularly well-suited to living in an indoor hutch because they were bred for commercial purposes before becoming beloved pets.
If you need them to be, they could adapt to living in an outdoor hutch. However, you should expect more coat maintenance and socialization time if you opt for the outdoors.
They do need a spacious cage. It should be at least 30” by 30” by 24” so they can comfortably hop, stretch, and sit up. In addition, they should be given plenty of time outside their cage to get exercise. You can put them in a playpen either inside the house or outdoors. When they are outside, ensure that they are protected from predators.
Inside any rabbit’s enclosure should be proper bedding. Ensure that your rabbit has a comfortable home by laying down an inch-high layer of bedding. You can use things like straw or wood shavings for this.
As soon as their bedding gets soiled, clean that section out, or the rabbits will become uncomfortable. Clean their entire cage out, and replace all the bedding once a week. If you have more than one rabbit, you might need to do this more frequently.
Even though the Swiss Fox has a longer coat, they are still considered low-maintenance to groom. Brush through their fur at least once a week to keep it free from tangles and mats. This time is also perfect for bonding between you and your rabbit.
Rabbits molt at least once each year. Since the Swiss Fox has such a dense coat, they shed quite a bit during this period. Although they try to groom themselves, they will need more brushing to prevent too much fur from ending up in their digestive tract and making them sick.
The Swiss Fox Rabbit is quite social. They need quality playtime if you want to maintain their happiness. It is best to allow your bunny to play outside and for you to play with them for at least part of that time.
If you intend on being gone frequently, then you should consider getting a pair of these rabbits. They will keep each other entertained while you are gone and will have overall happier lives.
Does the Swiss Fox Rabbit Get Along With Other Pets?
Swiss Fox Rabbits tend to get along with other rabbits, especially those in their breed. It is best to introduce them slowly, and it might be necessary to give them separate living spaces and only put them together in a larger playtime pen. Females tend to be more territorial than males, but this doesn’t always manifest.
Keep in mind that rabbits are relatively low on the food chain. If you have any other animals, like dogs or cats, you should keep them protected and entirely separate. These larger animals have instinctual prey drives that might cause them to harm the rabbits unless they socialized with them from a very young age. Even then, you should always monitor their interactions.
What to Feed Your Swiss Fox Rabbit
Swiss Fox Rabbits require a similar diet as any other kind of rabbit. They thrive on foods that are rich in fiber, and they like to eat roughage. You should provide them with a continuous hay supply because hay is an essential feature in any rabbit’s diet to control their teeth growth and overall digestion.
Other than hay, give your rabbit plenty of vegetables and fruits to fill out the nutritional aspect of their diet. You can also give them rabbit pellets to balance their intake.
Keeping Your Swiss Fox Rabbit Healthy
Swiss Fox Rabbits can struggle with digestive issues, primarily due to their tendency to overgroom their long coats. If too many of these hairs end up causing something like GI stasis, they can become sick. In the most severe cases, this can even lead to death.
To prevent this, keep them well-groomed, particularly while they molt. If you notice strands of hair in their poop or constipation, then take them to a vet right away. Another way that you can prevent this is to give them plenty of hay. The roughage will help the hair move through the digestive tract instead of clogging it.
Overgrown teeth are the cause of many other health issues in rabbits. You can mitigate this by feeding them plenty of hay.
Breeding a rabbit is primarily about timing and pairing. However, if you decide not to breed your rabbits, we advise you to spay your does. Female rabbits are prone to uterine cancer, and spaying is the best way to prevent this fatal disease.
Some people house all their rabbits together throughout the year. If they are not spayed or neutered, you will likely naturally end up with baby bunnies, or kittens. If you keep your rabbits separate, always bring the females to the males because females are more likely to fight any new rabbit entering their territory instead of mating.
Are Swiss Fox Rabbits Suitable for You?
Swiss Fox Rabbits are well-suited to most new owners. They make an excellent option for those who are just beginning with rabbit ownership but are an equally perfect choice for people who have had rabbits for many years.
As with any rabbit breed, it is best not to allow very young children to handle rabbits because they can cause them harm by picking them up incorrectly or scaring them.
From singles to seniors, this docile and beautiful breed of rabbit makes a wonderful pet.
Featured image credit: BlackRabbit3, Shutterstock