Smallest rabbit breeds make popular pets. The Netherland Dwarf rabbits, with their cute and energetic personality, are a favorite. From the name itself, this breed originated in the Netherlands, quickly gaining popularity across various countries.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) first recognized the breed into its Standard of Perfection in 1969. According to the book Rabbit Breeds: The Pocket Guide to 49 Essential Breeds by Lynn M. Stone, the Netherland dwarf ranked as the third most common purebred rabbit registered between July 2013 to June 2014.
The Netherland Dwarf is the smallest of the breeds recognized by the ARBA, weighing only 2 to 2.5 pounds for both bucks (male rabbits) and does (female rabbits).
Finding that balance
Netherland dwarfs have a very short and compact body. They have a round physique due to the shoulders being deep and wide, equal to the midsection up to the hindquarters. These characteristics define the good balance and conformation that dwarf rabbits must have.
The following are characteristics of a Netherland Dwarf according to the Standard of Perfection 2016-2020 of ARBA.
Not advisable for young children
Although it is commonly thought that small animals are a better match for small pet parents, Netherland Dwarfs are not suitable for young children.
According to People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, “They don’t enjoy being picked up and have very fragile backs that can break easily if they are dropped.” They are very skittish but can get used to interactive play with their human companions through repeated and good exposure.
Big things come in small packages
Netherland dwarfs weigh no more than 2.5 pounds, but don’t be fooled by their small built as they are extremely active and full of energy. They require more exercise than most rabbits.
What is it like to have a Netherland Dwarf?
We interviewed some rabbit parents to share their experience with Netherland Dwarfs and here’s what they had to say:
“I had no problem with their temperament; as a matter of fact, they can be very tame . . . [They] require a smaller space compared to other rabbit breeds.” – Cecille Lorenzo
“Very gentle, sweet and energetic! [Those are the] three words to describe my Netherland dwarf. He is very easy to train as he always comes when called. What I like about [these rabbits] is that they require lesser maintenance when it comes to food and space because of their very compact size.” – Eugene Buenavista
“[Their temperament, I would say is] 50-50. My NDs started out as aggressive meanies but they eventually calmed down. Sometimes, they would still be jumpy but would calm down after petting. [Cons of raising NDs would include their being] accident-prone due to their small size, and they would be difficult to treat. [They require less] in terms of food, housing, and maintenance. Their cuteness comes in small packages!” – Dr. Pamela Tan, DVM
Curious to learn more about different rabbit breeds? Stay tuned as we introduce them one by one in future issues!
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s June 2019 issue.