Netherland Dwarf Rabbits

Netherland Dwarf Rabbits

Netherland Dwarf rabbits are bred to be small and compact, cute little pets. They behave similarly to other rabbits, though their small size means that they eat less, require slightly less space than large breeds, and are also more sensitive than larger bunnies.

As the name implies, the breed originates in the Netherlands and was first bred in the early 1900s. Crossbreeding with wild rabbits made this breed smaller and smaller, but also more skittish and, well, wild!

Luckily, the breed has been around for long enough to become more domesticated over time, as less desirable traits such as fearfulness and aggression were bred out.

In this full guide, we’ll discuss everything there is to know about Netherland Dwarf rabbits including their adorable appearance, care requirements, how to house them, and more!

What do Netherland Dwarf Rabbits Look Like?

Netherland Dwarf rabbits are born in a variety of colors, including black, brown, fawn, grey, and so many more! When it comes to Netherland Dwarf rabbit colors, the possibilities are endless.

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Colors. A Netherland Dwarf Rabbit.
A Netherland Dwarf Rabbit.

Their fur is short and smooth. When you run your hands through it backward, the fur will fall back into place rather than standing upright—which can be super soothing when mindlessly petting your rabbit!

Their ears are short and upright, and their eyes are large and clear. Their heads are also quite large compared to their bodies, giving them a very cute appearance!

How big do Netherland Dwarf Rabbits Get?

Since they are dwarf rabbits, Netherland Dwarves weigh only around 2 pounds. Some are even smaller than this, and scarcely weigh over a pound, while others are slightly larger at 2.5 pounds.

They are 7.5-9 inches long.

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Diet

Netherland Dwarf rabbits eat hay, vegetables, rabbit pellets, and fruit. We’ll talk more about how much to feed your Netherland Dwarf below, but first a few notes:

  • Bunnies have sensitive stomachs, so it’s important to introduce new foods slowly.
  • Your Netherland Dwarf should have constant access to a water dish, never a water bottle. Bottles make it too difficult and slow for bunnies to drink.
  • Rabbits love to chew, but can get into trouble with their teeth! Bunny-proof your space by covering furniture, baseboards, cords, and putting toxic items out of reach. Provide your bunny with chew toys and untreated wood items to chew instead of your things!
  • Rabbits need 24/7 access to fresh hay—it should never, ever be limited or taken away.

What do Netherland Dwarf Rabbits Eat in the Wild?

Domesticated breeds of rabbit, like the Netherland Dwarf, don’t exist in the wild but are descendants of the European rabbit.

In the wild, the European rabbit lives in Spain, Portugal, and France. They also exist throughout Europe and are sometimes found on other continents as an invasive species.

These buns eat primarily grass, which we replicate for our domestic buns by providing fresh hay. They also scavenge for veggies and fruit, and prefer dark leafy green vegetables.

In the winter months when grass isn’t as plentiful, they will gnaw on tree bark, twigs, and other wooden materials.

What Should You Feed Your Netherland Dwarf Rabbit?

Domestic rabbits tend to live longer than wild rabbits, and part of that comes down to their diet. We’re able to provide much more quality, fresh food than your typical wild bun would find themselves.

One thing we don’t typically provide fresh for bunnies is grass. This is because constantly providing fresh grass would be a huge hassle for most people, while fresh hay retains much of the same nutrients and is sufficient for bunnies.

It does the same things as hay, such as helping to grind down bunnies’ teeth and providing fiber and other nutrients they need to stay healthy.

  • Hay should be over 70% of your rabbit’s diet. It should never be limited or taken away, and should be refreshed at least once daily. Bunnies won’t eat soiled hay, such as hay they’ve peed on in the litterbox.
  • Vegetables should be fed daily and in variety. Rabbits need about one cup of veggies for every two pounds of body weight.
  • Pellets should be limited—some bunny owners don’t even feed their rabbit pellets, since they don’t provide anything you won’t find already in a balanced diet.
  • Fruits can be used as treats. They contain a lot of sugar, so they shouldn’t be fed in abundance.

Hay can either be fed in hay racks, hay bags, or in piles. If you want your bunny to be litter trained, it’s best to provide hay inside of the litterbox—or in a hay rack they can reach from the litterbox—since bunnies use the bathroom as they eat.

Be cautious with hay racks, since some of them have small holes that require the bunny to struggle to eat their hay. You want hay to be abundant and easy to access so that your rabbit eats enough of it daily.

It’s best to pull the hay partway out regularly to make it easier to access or purchase a hay bag with large holes.

The best vegetables to feed are dark, leafy greens. You should provide a wide variety of veggies, and rotate them regularly so that your bunny has exciting meals to look forward to.

Introduce veggies slowly, one by one, into your bunny’s diet until they have a wide variety.

Pellets are controversial since they do contain access nutrients and may stop your bunny from eating their droppings, which is actually essential for them to do!

If you choose to feed pellets, choose a high-quality pellet that contains at least 18% protein. Plain-looking pellets are better than artificially dyed ones. Feed pellets in moderation.

Fruit can also be fed in moderation, usually as a treat or in small amounts alongside veggies. Bunnies can have small amounts of fruit daily.

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Toxic Foods List

When feeding your Netherland Dwarf, it’s important to know which foods to avoid. Some common foods are toxic to rabbits, including items you might not consider such as fruit pits, raw leeks, and iceberg lettuce.

Here is a list of foods that are toxic to rabbits:

  • Avocados
  • Chocolate
  • Fruit pits and seeds
  • Raw onions
  • Raw leeks
  • Raw garlic
  • Chives
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Broad beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Rhubarb
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Processed foods
  • Raw potatoes

In addition, common houseplants and outdoor plants are often toxic. Always supervise your bunny outdoors, and place indoor plants far out of reach. Watch for things like fallen leaves, which your rabbit may eat.

Even the grass or non-toxic plants on your lawn may be toxic to your bunny if they are treated by pesticides or fertilizers, or other animals have gone potty in the area.

Lastly, be sure to put up any cleaning supplies so that your bun doesn’t ingest them. Avoid using harsh cleaners on their items. Instead, use cleaners like dish soap or vinegar.

How Long do Netherland Dwarf Rabbits Live?

Netherland Dwarf rabbits can live anywhere from 7-12 years. Some will live shorter lives than this, while others will grow even older!

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit.  Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Live 7-12 Years.
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit.

How long your rabbit lives will depend on their genetics and care. Ways to keep your Netherland Dwarf rabbit alive longer include:

  • Routine veterinary care
  • Spay or neuter surgery
  • A balanced diet that provides limitless fresh hay and water
  • Indoor life with adequate space to roam
  • Companionship with at least one other bunny
  • Socialization with you and your family

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Grooming

Netherland Dwarf rabbits require regular grooming to keep them healthy. However, as short-haired buns, they are relatively low maintenance.

Brush them once weekly to remove loose hairs. This will keep their coat slick and healthy. It also prevents fur digestion and lessens the amount of shed fur around the house.

While brushing your rabbit, you should also perform a health check, which is a quick inspection to ensure your bun is doing okay. We’ll go more into detail below.

Grooming and Health Checklist

It’s recommended to give your rabbit a health check regularly, and this is super easy to fit into their grooming routine.

Here’s a checklist to make things easy:

  • Check your rabbit’s skin. Part their fur and look for any redness, dry skin, lumps, or pests. These can easily hide beneath their furry coat.
  • Brush them regularly to reduce shedding. This will keep your home cleaner for longer, and you’ll have to vacuum up fur less often. It can also help to keep your rabbit’s coat healthy.
  • Check their butt for cleanliness. Sometimes a rabbit might get poop stuck in their fur or sit in their own mess. Use pet wipes or a damp cloth to clean them up—never give your bunny a bath or get them soaking wet.
  • Check their eyes and ears. They should be clean, without discharge or discoloration. Bunnies’ eyes should look bright and clear.
  • Look at their teeth. Rabbits’ teeth are always growing. They use hay and wood to wear down their teeth so that they don’t grow too long.
    A quick check of your rabbit’s teeth will let you know if they need extra help from a veterinarian in this department!
  • Weigh your rabbit. Small fluctuations in weight are normal, but larger ones should be seen by a veterinarian.

Can you Bathe a Netherland Dwarf Rabbit?

No, you shouldn’t bathe any rabbit! Netherland Dwarf rabbits have dense fur that takes a long time to dry out. This can lead to illness, hypothermia, and even death.

Being submerged in water is also stressful for bunnies, which can cause even more health problems including shock and heart attack.

Rabbits are self-cleaning animals, and you shouldn’t notice any odors or messy fur. If your rabbit smells, it may be due to a small, dirty enclosure—giving them adequate space and spot cleaning the area once a day will help.

Occasionally, your rabbit may become dirty by sitting in their urine, have poop stuck to their hind end, or need their scent glands cleaned. Clean them up with pet wipes or a damp cloth.

In the case of sitting in urine, you can prevent this from happening again by providing a large space for your bunny, cleaning daily, and giving your bun things to do so that they move around instead of sitting in the same, soiled areas.

If your bunny sits around all day and seems sluggish and tired, make an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure it isn’t due to a health issue.

How to Trim Your Netherland Dwarf Rabbit’s Nails

Your Netherland Dwarf rabbit’s nails should be trimmed once monthly. This will ensure that they don’t curl painfully into their paws, which can cause sores. A rabbit with overly long nails will have pain and trouble walking.

You may notice limping, lethargy, bleeding, or sores on the undersides of their paws.

Three options to handle rabbit nails are to see a veterinarian, a groomer, or clip them yourself. Ensure your veterinarian or groomer is knowledgeable about small animals and knows not to bathe your rabbit.

To cut your bunny’s nails on your own:

  • First, socialize your Netherland Dwarf rabbit. Get them used to being picked up and having their feet handled. Provide treats to encourage them along the way!
    This will also teach you the best way to hold your rabbit when you do begin nail trimmings.
  • Locate the quick of the nail. It’s pink and filled with blood—you never want to fracture or cut into the quick, as this will cause your rabbit great pain.
  • Collect your supplies. You’ll need a sharp, clean pair of nail trimmers (human or cat clippers work fine), treats or food, a towel, and another person (optional, but recommended!).
  • Wrap your rabbit in the towel tightly, ensuring not to hurt them in the process. Remember they’re small and fragile! Hand your bun over to your helper now, if you have one.
  • Offer a treat to your rabbit, ideally something that takes a minute to eat! This will keep them occupied and they may not struggle quite as much. It also rewards them for sitting still.
  • Pull one foot out of the towel. The rest should ideally be all wrapped up, which avoids your bunny kicking and struggling to get away.
  • Trim the tip of the nail. Too long is better than too short—you can always go back and try again later! Make clean, straight cuts, and remember to avoid the quick.
  • Move slowly—you don’t have to trim all the nails in one sitting. Even clipping a single nail is an accomplishment, and you should praise your bunny instead of seeing it as a failure.
  • If the nail bleeds, apply flour or cornstarch. These will stop the bleeding in most cases. In the future, be sure to cut closer to the tip of the nail because cutting too short hurts your bun. It also makes them less likely to accept nail trims in the future!
  • Continuous bleeding or failure to heal should be seen by a veterinarian. Watch your rabbit to ensure the cut nail heals properly and doesn’t become infected.

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Hutch

Unfortunately, most hutches and cages sold in stores are way too small for bunnies—even the tiny Netherland Dwarf.

This is because rabbits need space to live their lives to the fullest. They love to do zoomies, which is when they run around like mad, and binkies which is when they twist in the air while jumping.

The best thing you can do for your rabbit is to keep them without a cage and let them free-roam in your home. This takes some extra work when it comes to bunny-proofing and litter-training, but is worthwhile!

Your bunny will be happier, and the bond between you will grow since you won’t have bars getting in the way of your interactions.

Old hutches or cages can be used as part of your bunny’s “home base,” storing hay, water, and litter. Containing the hay inside can even make it easier to clean up after your Netherland Dwarf.

If you need to contain your rabbit, you can confine them to a single room, purchase a large dog exercise pen to act as the “cage,” or build your own large C&C (cubes and coroplast) rabbit enclosure.

Any enclosure should be large enough for your bunny to hop around in and tall enough for them to jump inside of without hitting their head or escaping the enclosure.

How big of a Hutch do Netherland Dwarf Rabbits Need?

All rabbits need free-roaming time. Ideally, they’re allowed to free-roam full-time, but this isn’t always possible.

In these cases, a large enclosure can be used to contain your rabbit for part of the day. This may be while you’re at work or sleeping.

Here is what to look for in a Netherland Dwarf rabbit enclosure:

  • Space to move around. It should be tall—either topless with walls too high for your bun to jump or tall enough to prevent them from hitting their head—wide, and long. Your rabbit needs space to run, jump, and play!
  • A comfortable, non-slip bottom. Bunnies can slip on hard materials such as linoleum floors, and wire-bottomed cages will injure their feet. Make sure to provide lots of soft areas for your bunny to snuggle in, and cover slippery surfaces with something soft that provides traction for them while running.
  • At least 2-3 hidey houses. Each bunny needs at least one hidey house that they can climb into to feel safe and secure. Bunnies like hiding and sleeping in dark, cozy areas.
  • A friend. Bunnies are social animals, and they should never be kept alone. Human companionship isn’t enough no matter how much time the two of you spend together. Your bunny will surely love you, but think of it like this: Can you imagine living with only a rabbit and no other humans to interact with?
    Your rabbit needs someone around who “speaks bunny,” and someone to keep them company while you’re away.
  • A constant supply of fresh hay and water. Bunnies should always have access to these things, even if they’ll only be in their enclosure for a few hours. They have very fast digestive systems and need to constantly consume hay and water to survive.
  • Enrichment, such as toys. These will keep your bunny occupied, especially when you’re away.
  • Be careful with cage covers. It’s great to drape a piece of fabric over part of the enclosure to give your bunny a comfy space, but covering the entire enclosure can be dangerous. This will trap heat and prevent airflow, potentially leading to heatstroke or suffocation.

How to Clean up After Your Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

When you get a new pet, their care and clean-up can be overwhelming! We promise it’s not bad once you work it into your schedule, but here are some checklists to get you started:

Every day:

  • Scoop your bun’s litterbox
  • Refill their hay
  • Sweep or vacuum the area to clean any stray poop, hay, and fur
  • Replace soiled bedding and items; remove any destroyed toys
  • Wash the food and water bowls with soap and warm water
  • Refill the water bowl

Every week:

  • Deep clean the enclosure or home base
  • Wash your rabbit’s bedding
  • Scrub the litterbox with soap and water. Soak the box in vinegar for 20 minutes to remove pee stains if needed, then refill with fresh, clean litter.
  • Vacuum and mop the area thoroughly

How to Free Roam Your Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

Another intimidating part of rabbit care for so many people is free-roaming. Some people want to give their rabbits more space but are afraid their bunny will destroy their home. Especially if you’re renting, this is a huge concern!

Truth be told: your bunny will damage your home if you allow them to. They’ll chew wood, including furniture and baseboards, gnaw through cords, destroy your favorite shoes, and can even hurt themselves if they get into something toxic.

This is no reason not to free-roam! Do you know who else will do most of the above? A puppy!

Admittedly, puppies are more trainable than rabbits, but we still puppy-proof our homes before bringing one home. Rabbit-proofing is essential before taking your bun out of that too-small hutch or cage.

If you’re still unsure, start with one room! This is actually plenty of space for a small rabbit-like a Netherland Dwarf, and it’ll give you an idea of whether or not you’d like to expand their space.

Rabbit-proof your home by:

  • Taking any toxic food, houseplants, or cleaning products and placing them well out of reach.
  • Gathering items from the floor, bottom shelves, and other in-reach places that you don’t want your bunny to chew. This includes clothes, shoes, and books.
  • Covering furniture legs, baseboards, and cords to prevent damage. Try cord covers and the cube organizer grids used for C&C cages to block off baseboards. They can also be used to block off other places you don’t want your rabbit going, like under your bed.
  • Make sure your rabbit can’t climb under furniture. You don’t want them to hide where you can’t reach them, or make messes in hard-to-clean areas.
  • Use baby gates or grids to block of dangerous areas, such as stairs.
  • Create a “home base” where your bunny can hang out with their food, litterbox, hay, and water all accessible. This can be wide open, or a place to shut your bunny in when needed (just make sure it’s large enough before doing so).
  • Cover hard floors and surfaces with rugs, blankets, or towels so that your rabbit doesn’t slip while doing zoomies!
  • Keep your bunny away from predator animals, like dogs and cats. They might be best free-roamed in a single room, closed off from these pets.

How to Litter Train Your Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

Rabbits are clean animals, like cats, and they like to do their business in a single place, like dogs! This makes them easy to litter train, though you can never expect 100% perfection from them—they’re always going to poop outside of the box occasionally.

Placing a pad outside of the litterbox and anywhere else your bunny commonly has accidents can make their mess easier to clean up. Luckily, their droppings are easy to clean so long as they are healthy—a broom or vacuum can handle things well.

Below is a step by step guide to litter training your Netherland Dwarf:

  1. Have your rabbit spayed or neutered. This won’t only make litterbox training easier, but also comes with many health benefits for your rabbit—including a longer life!
  2. Create a home base if your rabbit doesn’t yet have one. This will give you someplace to contain them while litter training. We talked about home bases above, but they should have everything your bunny needs—space to run and jump, hay, water, hidey houses, and cozy places to sleep.
  3. Put a large litterbox in the corner. Rabbits naturally eliminate in corners, so this will use their instincts to your advantage! The litterbox should be big enough for your rabbit to climb into completely.
  4. Fill the litterbox with hay. Rabbits have fast digestive systems, and often eat while they go potty. This will encourage them to potty in the litterbox.
    You can use only hay, which will cause more hay waste, or line the bottom with paper pellet litter. Stay away from doggy pee pads, clay litter, and clumping litter, as these are all dangerous if your rabbit consumes them.
  5. Replenish the hay often. Bunnies won’t eat soiled hay, and often are fussy about pieces that aren’t fresh, or are too small. Fresh, long strands of green hay are also best for wearing down their teeth!
  6. Place accidents in the litterbox. Once your bunny’s scent is there, they’ll understand where to go.
  7. Sometimes, your bunny chooses another corner. Simply move the litterbox to that corner instead if this happens. It’s easier to go with it when they’re training themselves to use one area!
  8. Never punish your rabbit for accidents. They are normal and expected, even for a trained bun. Punishments also don’t work, and will only harm the relationship between you and your furry friend.
  9. Give your rabbit more space once they’ve been successfully litter trained.
  10. You can always go back to square one. Some bunnies regress in their potty training and need to be enclosed for a while so they can be retrained without making messes all over the house.
  11. Clean the litterbox daily. For your bunny, going in a dirty litterbox is like using a filthy public restroom. No one wants that, and it might make them decide to pee or poop elsewhere.
  12. Empty and scrub the litterbox weekly. This will remove any odors so that you and your rabbit don’t have to smell them! Soap and water are usually sufficient, but pee stains can be soaked in vinegar for easy cleaning.
  13. You may need more than one litterbox. Sometimes bunnies are territorial over the litterbox, so you may need multiple for more than one bun. Large spaces should also have more than one box so that it’s easy for your bunny to use their litter.
    This also provides a great place for hay, which should also be constantly and easily accessible.

Can Netherland Dwarf Rabbits Live Outside?

No, your Netherland Dwarf rabbit shouldn’t live outside. They’re small rabbits, which makes them even more vulnerable to things like weather and predators than larger species.

They’re fragile and sensitive prey animals, who can die just from the stress of living outdoors. Nearby predators can cause them to go into shock or have a heart attack—even without the predator directly harming your bun!

It’s also better for your relationship to keep your rabbit indoors—this way, you can see each other all the time and form a great bond!

Here are some risks to Netherland Dwarfs living outdoors:

  • They can suffer from heatstroke. If the temperature goes over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s dangerous for your rabbit to be out in it. Shade isn’t enough—they need to be indoors.
  • Rabbits can develop hypothermia in freezing temperatures, especially if they can’t burrow.
  • Bunnies shouldn’t be wet. Rain or snow can be hazardous to their health, and make it difficult for them to regulate their own body temperatures.
  • Predators can kill your rabbit, either physically or by causing great stress.
  • You can’t monitor your rabbit as well. It’s important to know your rabbit’s daily routines and behaviors, as changes to these often indicate a health problem. Because they are prey animals, it’s easy to miss these signs until it’s too late—this is especially true if you don’t spend as much time with your bunny.
  • They will get lonely, especially if they don’t have another bunny to keep them company. Most people spend more time indoors than outside, and will thus spend more time with an indoor rabbit!

Something that’s always important to remember is that our domesticated pets aren’t the same as their wild counterparts. They tend to be more sensitive to things like living outdoors.

It’s also important to note that wild bunnies don’t live very long, and that’s sadly due to the factors listed above.

When we bring in a pet, it’s our job to care for them to the fullest!

Giving Your Bunny Supervised Outdoor Time

If you like the idea of your bunny going outdoors but want to keep them safe, supervised outdoor time is a great idea!

Some bunnies will love running in a pen in the backyard, while others may be very stressed by the experience. See how your rabbit does, and don’t force it if they are scared.

Outdoor time isn’t a must—it’s just for fun!

Here are some things to consider before letting your bunny outside:

  • Parasite prevention and vaccines. These will keep your bunny safe from pests and illnesses that they can catch very quickly outdoors.
  • Supervise your rabbit at all times. This way you will know if there are predators nearby, your bunny starts trying to dig their way out of their enclosure, or it begins to rain!
  • Use enclosures, not leashes. Harnesses and collars can be dangerous to rabbits because their bones are very fragile.

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Behavior and Training

Netherland Dwarf rabbits are gentle and sweet when properly socialized, but they can also be nippy and skittish when they aren’t.

This is because rabbits are prey animals, and their instinct is to avoid predators like humans. Especially if you’re loud, make quick movements, or are rough with your rabbit, they will likely avoid you out of fear.

It takes time and gentleness to bond with a rabbit. They aren’t toys for children, and they don’t act the same as predator animals like dogs and cats.

Bonding with your bun is incredibly worthwhile, though. In the end, you’ll get a calm, lovable pet. Many Netherland Dwarfs will give you little bunny kisses, cuddle, and love to be pet on their faces!

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit, black and white
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit, Black and White

Bonding with Your Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

The number one mistake bunny owners make when bonding is trying to pet or pick up their bunny from above. You think you’re going to hold and cuddle your rabbit, but what they see is a predator like a hawk sweeping them into the air!

A scared rabbit may run, hide, or even bite you in fear. To avoid this, bond with your bunny properly:

  • Get down to your bunny’s level. Sit or even lay down on the ground. This makes you seem smaller and less intimidating.
  • Bring food or treats. This is the way to your Netherland Dwarf’s heart! Once they associate you with good things like food, they’re bound to love you.
    Set a veggie nearby or place a slice of fruit on your leg, and see how fast they come to eat.
  • Let them come to you. Don’t rush this process! Your bunny will feel safer when they’re allowed to make the first move.
    If it’s taking some time and you get bored, try bringing some entertainment with you like a book or your phone.
  • Slowly pet your rabbit’s face. Reach from below, not above, and don’t make any quick, sudden movements. Bunnies love to be pet on their cheeks and behind their ears!

How to Handle Netherland Dwarf Rabbits

When you pick up your Netherland Dwarf rabbit, ensure you’re supporting their entire bodies. A common, safe way to hold them is by placing one hand underneath them to support their midsection and one hand on their bottom to support their hind end.

Start by getting down to their level and petting them, then quickly scoop them up in the way described above. Turn them toward your chest to support their feet as well.

Rabbits can be squirmy and their bones break very easily, so keep them low to the ground until you’re sure you can pick them up. Otherwise, you can drop them or they can jump from your arms and hurt themselves.

Most bunnies don’t like being picked up, but will enjoy time in your lap—especially if you bring some food!

One way to get around picking your rabbit up is to use a bed, carrier, or cuddle sack. Coax your rabbit inside (you can even teach them to do so on command!) and gently lift them up.

When using a bed or cuddle sack, block the bunny with your hands to make sure they don’t jump out. Support the item’s bottom so that your bunny is secure.

Carriers are best for travel, such as when going to the veterinarian since they keep your bunny fully contained.

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Veterinary Care

Your rabbit should see the veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up. This lets your veterinarian get a good baseline for your rabbit’s health, and they’ll be better able to help if something goes wrong.

A regular check-up can also help to catch health concerns early on.

You should also be observing your bunny daily. If you notice changes in their behavior, especially litterbox use, sleep patterns, and appetite, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.

Lastly, we recommend taking a quick look at your bunny every week during grooming. This is just another way to catch health problems early.

Check your bunny’s eyes, ears, teeth, skin, and underside. We have a checklist above if you’d like to give it a look!

Common rabbit illnesses to watch for include:

Adopting a Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

There are four ways to get a Netherland Dwarf rabbit:

  • Reputable breeders
  • Rehoming
  • Rescues
  • Shelters

We always recommend rescue first, because there are so many bunnies out there already in need of homes! There’s really no need to breed more of them.

Rescuing a Rabbit in Need

If you need a rabbit with a certain temperament, adopting from a rehoming situation, small animal rescue, or rabbit rescue is usually your best option.

Adult rescues have grown fully into their personalities, unlike baby rabbits. Rescues typically utilize fosters to keep bunnies in homes, which gives them (as well as current owners) the best idea of how a bunny will act when you take them home.

Shelters also do excellent work, but a bunny kept in a crowded shelter may act differently due to stress. Overworked shelter staff may not be able to observe every animal individually, and so might not have the best idea of their personalities.

Some shelters may not even keep bunnies at all, but instead, they help current owners rehome their rabbits by listing them on their websites. One of my local shelters works in this way.

If you don’t need a bunny with a certain disposition, shelters are a great avenue. Either way, you’re saving a life!

When bonding your current bunny to a new bunny, keep in mind that some shelters and rescues will allow you to return the new rabbit if things don’t work out.

Some will also allow you to bring your rabbit in for bonding, to “date” various rabbits and find a good match!

Purchasing from a Breeder

If you choose to purchase from a breeder, know that it takes research and effort to do ethically. There are many unethical and even abusive breeders out there who are only in it for the money.

The first golden rule is to never buy a rabbit from a pet store. These often come from bunny mills, which function like puppy mills.

Parent rabbits are kept in small cages, neglected, and don’t receive adequate screening or veterinary care.

Baby bunnies are then born into unhealthy conditions and sold with only profit in mind—not the animals’ wellbeing.

The next important thing is to avoid backyard breeders. These breeders may want a quick buck or see breeding as a hobby where they get to raise cute baby bunnies.

The problem is, they don’t know anything about breeding, the Netherland Dwarf rabbit breed, or sometimes even ethical bunny care!

Here’s how to find a reputable breeder to ensure you adopt a healthy baby bunny and don’t fund bad breeding practices:

  • Visit the breeder’s home. A reputable breeder keeps their bunnies in their own home. They should have a large space, not be locked in tiny cages, and you should be allowed to see the parent bunnies as well as the babies.
  • All the bunnies should look healthy. They should be clean, their faces free of debris, and have no other noticeable health problems.
  • Look at the veterinary paperwork. A breeder not vetting their animals is a big red flag! They should have the parents checked for genetic conditions and the babies vaccinated.
  • Check out the space. The bunnies should have everything they need, including a clean, large environment, constant access to hay and water, hidey houses, and toys.
  • Ask questions about the breed. The breeder should answer honestly and be knowledgeable. Red flags include not knowing much about Netherland Dwarves, saying the bunnies aren’t prone to any health problems, or refusal to speak with you openly.
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