Dutch rabbits are also known as Hollander or Brabander rabbits. They used to be the most desirable rabbit breed before dwarf rabbits entered the picture circa 1940. Happy-go-lucky Dutch rabbits are potential show rabbits and suitable pets for gentle children approaching the double digits or older kids that can handle them confidently and safely.
The super soft Dutch rabbit is an old 19th-century breed with long ears and a sweet disposition. While their names imply a connection to the Netherlands, they're most likely from England. These small to medium-sized bunnies weigh around five pounds and have distinct color patterns. Their white facial hair is called a blaze, and it looks triangular. The feet, neck, shoulders, and saddle are also white, and the cheeks, ears, and rest of the body are a contrasting color, such as black, gray, or chocolate brown.
Dutch rabbits aren't aggressive, and they're not overly demanding. Rabbits are social animals that live in large and socially complex units in the wild. Bonded pairs need to be adopted together, and it's best to get more than one, in general, to keep each other company. A neutered male and female are ideal if you're only getting two. When not fixed, Dutch rabbits gestate for about a month before producing a litter of about six kits.
Dutch rabbits make good indoor rabbits because they're intelligent, trainable, and fit well into family life. They're small enough for an apartment with room to hop and run. But they can't be left alone for more than two days, so if you're planning a vacation, you'll need to get a sitter to replenish food and check that your furballs are doing okay.
Rabbits need access to clean water and drinking utensils 24/7. They're herbivores, so they'll require a low-calorie, high-fiber diet comprising mostly grass or green hay. Limit the number of pellets you feed your Dutch rabbit to prevent weight gain, supplement it with fresh veggies such as carrots, cucumber, cabbage, celery, and broccoli, and treat them with fruit once a week. Chewing prevents bunny teeth from growing too long.
If you've got a garden, you can keep your rabbits in a shaded hutch that provides adequate protection against predators, including feral cats, dogs, and owls. House your rabbits outdoors during summer and bring them indoors during winter if your region gets bitterly cold. Inside your home, you'll need a cage with separate hides for each rabbit. Housing needs to be spacious and high enough for your Dutch rabbit to stand up without grazing its ears against the roof.
Time outside the cage is essential. In the wild, rabbits roam far and wide. They need the freedom to explore to keep boredom at bay. If you don't have a garden, find a room in your home and make it rabbit-proof by ensuring they can't chew electric cables or get hurt. They can move without constraint and play with toys like stacking cups, pet-safe balls, sea-grass mats, rattles, and newspaper, for starters.
If you have a few Dutch rabbits, you'll notice them grooming each other. They're clean animals and don't need too much assistance in this department. Rabbits shed seasonally, so you'll need to brush them daily to speed up the process. During the rest of the year, aim to groom weekly, and the short fur will look healthy. Opt for spot cleaning over baths which can lead to shock and hypothermia.
Dutch rabbits can live for between ten and 15 years in captivity when well looked after. They have fragile backs like other rabbits and must be picked up and held with care. Female Dutch rabbits have a high risk of uterine or womb cancer, but desexing can eliminate the risks. Take your bunnies for a vet checkup when you first get them, and the clinic can advise about vaccines for viral hemorrhagic disease, myxomatosis, or area-specific concerns.
Dutch rabbits are active and fast and need a few hours to let loose and work off their energy. Rabbits love running, digging, and binkying, which is a turning leap. Without exercise, you might notice depression, destructive behavior, or poor physical health. A secure and large outdoor run is optimal, but a 24-square foot indoor space can work too.
You can potty train Dutch rabbits because they prefer doing their business in the same place. Litter training can take up to three weeks. You can also train them to fetch, spin, jump, and do agility courses. These rabbits enjoy snuggles with their fluffy companions, and if you're lucky, they'll let you enjoy some cuddles. Best of all, they can sit still and make good listeners.
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