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Top 6 Smartest Rabbit Breeds (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

Keen intelligence is one of the most crucial traits that has allowed rabbits to survive for hundreds of years as prey animals. Though their skulls may not house exceptionally large brains, their finely-honed instincts and quick decision-making abilities make them every bit as intelligent a pet as any dog or cat.

For some rabbit breeds though, their natural intelligence has been refined through generations of selective breeding. This makes them spry, quick-witted, and even trainable. As a special bonus, complex interbreeding also has a tendency to increase these rabbits’ lifespans – keeping them smarter for longer.

If you’re thinking of keeping a rabbit as a pet, this list of the smartest rabbit breeds will fill you in on everything you need to know in choosing only the most intelligent of rabbits. Whenever you’re ready to find out which buns have the biggest brains, read on!


1. Belgian Hare

Belgian Hare
Image: Quimby, Wikimedia

With a recognized heritage dating back to the late 1800s, the Belgian Hare has stood the test of time as a lithe and intelligent breed. The product of breeding between wild and domestic rabbits in Eastern Europe, it has a distinct and striking presence that is indicative of its lightning-fast cognition. Though sometimes known to show , the Belgian Hare is also very responsive to training.

2. Continental Giant

Continental Giant Rabbit
Image: The Bunny Maker, Flickr

A truly gentle giant, these massive rabbits hold the world records for both longest and heaviest rabbits ever recorded. Their laid-back, friendly, docile nature might lead you to think that there’s not much going on upstairs… But this is entirely untrue!

Not only are they curious and intelligent, they are also very easily trained (as seen in this video). Their exceptionally large size makes them best suited to being handled and taken care of by person with previous experience owning rabbits.

3. Harlequin

Harlequin Rabbit
Image: Wikimedia

Once known as the “Japanese”, Harlequins made their way to the U.S. via England by way of France and Japan. It’s unknown whether the breed truly originated in Japan, but the lack of obvious ancestors in Europe and North America seems to support this theory.

These uncommon rabbits display a peculiar coloring unlike any other breed, with the color of their faces split down the middle. Curious and mischievous, they always seem to be poking around and testing the boundaries of wherever they call home.

4. Holland Lop

Black Holland Lop
Image: Pickpik

As the smallest of five recognized lop breeds in North America, the Holland Lop has gained fame due to its combination of diminutive size (under 4 pounds), huge variety of colors, and generally friendly and intelligent temperament. Small, thick, and compact, they are markedly different from the previous three breeds – but no less intelligent!

5. Mini Lop

Mini Lop
Image: vjmarisphotos, Flickr

The slightly larger cousin of the Holland Lop, Mini Lops often display a more relaxed temperament than their counterparts. Being the product of a complex interbreeding program involving no less than 7 purebred rabbits, they possess a unique combination of high intelligence and a more docile nature. Fun fact: Their original German name was “Klein Widder”, or “Little Hanging Ear”.

6. Netherland Dwarf

Netherland Dwarf
Image: Wikimedia

Take just one look at a Netherland Dwarf, and you might suspect that it’s up to something… And chances are, you’d be right. These incredibly energetic and compact little Dwarves are nothing short of extremely intelligent. Available in a huge variety of colors coming from complex interbreeding, they have become a favorite breed among first-time and experienced rabbit owners alike.


Final Thoughts on the Smartest Rabbit Breeds

The most intelligent rabbits are often the result of many different breeding influences. It seems that the more unique genes are put into a new breed, the greater the potential for its intelligence.

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Featured Image: Peakpx

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.