What to Know About the Dutch Rabbit

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on November 22, 2022
5 min read

Dutch rabbits are small, distinctly marked rabbits that are popular to keep as pets. Owning a Dutch rabbit can be a fun and rewarding experience for children and adults.

Keep reading to learn more about Dutch rabbits and how to properly care for a pet rabbit.

Dutch rabbits are among the most popular rabbit breeds in the United States. They are often kept as pets, used in laboratories, and bred for rabbit shows.

The first Dutch rabbits came from Holland, but English rabbit breeders began developing the breed in the 1830s. Their unique two-tone pattern makes them one of the most easily recognizable rabbit breeds.

Dutch rabbits have short, straight ears and soft fur. Their unique color pattern makes Dutch rabbits easy to recognize.

The front half of their bodies are white, while the back half of their bodies, their ears, and around their eyes will be a darker color. The most common color is black, but they can also be blue, chocolate, and gray. Other fur colors include chinchilla, steel, and tortoise types.

Dutch rabbits are one of the smaller rabbit breeds. An adult Dutch rabbit shouldn’t weigh more than 5.5 pounds.

Dutch rabbits have long been popular pets because of their easy-going and calm personalities. Properly handled and socialized Dutch rabbits make friendly and curious pets.

It’s important to remember that rabbits are prey animals, so they might be shyer at first than other pets like dogs or cats. Pet rabbits rarely bite but might scratch if picked up or mishandled.

Each animal will have their unique personality. Some Dutch rabbits might naturally be more social than others. Time and patience will help create a loving bond with your pet rabbit.

Owning a pet Dutch rabbit will be a long-term commitment. Dutch rabbits have an average life expectancy between 6-9 years.

A healthy and well-cared-for rabbit can potentially live long enough to become a teenager—up to 15 years.

Pet rabbits can live happily either inside or outside. Both indoor and outdoor rabbits need hutches or cages that give them a safe and comfortable place to live. Dutch rabbits need a cage at least 24 inches long and 18 inches wide, but the larger the space your rabbit has to hop, the happier they will be.

Make sure to choose a sturdy cage that can withstand your rabbit’s chewing and is easy to clean. Cages with all-wire bottoms can hurt your rabbit’s feet. Make sure they have a space inside with solid bottom to rest. Line the bottom of the cage with rabbit-safe bedding or hay for your pet to lay on.

Rabbits will naturally use one corner of their cage to pass waste. Including a medium-sized litter box in your rabbit’s cage can help keep the bedding fresh and make cleaning easier.

Your rabbit’s habitat should have a covered area to feel safe and hide. Wooden or cardboard boxes are great options for indoor rabbits.

Dutch rabbits are active and intelligent pets, so they need toys and time outside their cages to chew, play, and hop. Good rabbit toys include paper bags or tubes, plastic baby toys, wooden blocks, and sticks.

It’s best to supervise your pet Dutch rabbit when they aren’t in their cage. If you want your Dutch rabbit to roam freely indoors, you must create a rabbit-proof space. 

Rabbits love to chew just about everything around them. Unsupervised rabbits can damage furniture, baseboards, carpeting, electrical cords, and other items that aren’t kept out of reach.

Rabbits have delicate digestive systems, so it’s important to feed your rabbit a safe and healthy diet. A good Dutch rabbit diet will be high in fiber and vitamins A, D, and E.

Dutch rabbits should always have a supply of fresh grass-based hay to chew and be given small amounts of fresh vegetables and rabbit pellets daily.

Carrots are a common treat for rabbits, but be careful how many you give your pet. Carrots have a lot of carbohydrates and can cause stomach issues for Dutch rabbits. Instead, offer your rabbit leafy vegetables and herbs such as:

Dutch rabbits are a very calm breed, so some will be fine being picked up and held. However, rabbits are prey animals, so most won’t like being lifted off the ground. Many rabbits become stressed and startled when they are suddenly or improperly picked up.

A scared rabbit might accidentally scratch you if they struggle to get away. Dutch rabbits can also break bones or injure their backs if they jump out of your arms.

Proper Dutch Rabbit Handling 

Dutch rabbits are easy-going pets, but it’s important to be patient and gentle when handling them.

Instead of picking them up, bend down to their level and pet them near the ground. Many rabbits that are afraid of being lifted will be very happy to sit beside you.

If you must carry your rabbit, hold them close to you. To avoid injuring your rabbit, hold them gently but securely and support their whole body. Never lift your rabbit by their head or ears.

Rabbits are affectionate, social, and easy to care for pets. Here are some tips to keep your pet Dutch rabbit healthy and happy:

Some rabbits prefer drinking water from bowls, while others happily drink from sipper bottles. Whichever your Dutch rabbit prefers, make sure they always have fresh, clean water in their cage.

Keep your rabbit healthy by keeping its cage clean. Spot clean to remove any soiled bedding daily. Deep clean and disinfect their cage weekly.

Applewood products make great toys for your pet, but cherry wood is toxic to rabbits.

Not all hay is good for Dutch rabbits. Alfalfa contains very high levels of protein and calcium that can be harmful in large quantities. Choose a Timothy or orchard grass hay instead. 

Limit your rabbit’s treats to small amounts of fresh fruit every few days. Apples, pears, and berries make great rabbit treats. Avoid cookies, bread, nuts, and seeds.