Dutch Rabbit

Oryctolagus Cuniculus

Last updated: November 11, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© iStock.com/MTomicic

Dutch Rabbit Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Lagomorpha
Family
Leporidae
Genus
Oryctolagus
Scientific Name
Oryctolagus Cuniculus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Dutch Rabbit Conservation Status

Dutch Rabbit Locations

Dutch Rabbit Locations

Dutch Rabbit Facts

Prey
none
Name Of Young
kitten
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
  • Sociable
Biggest Threat
disease and other medical conditions
Most Distinctive Feature
Dutch markings
Gestation Period
31 days
Litter Size
6-7
Predators
domestic dogs and cats
Diet
Herbivore
Average Litter Size
6-7
Lifestyle
  • Crepuscular
Favorite Food
Hay

Dutch Rabbit Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Grey
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Gold
  • Chocolate
Skin Type
Fur
Lifespan
5-8 years
Weight
3.5 - 5.5 pounds
Age of Sexual Maturity
3.5-4 months
Age of Weaning
one to two months
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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Summary

Once the most popular of all rabbit breeds, the Dutch rabbit is an old and distinctive breed. Also known as the Hollander or Brabander, the Dutch rabbit is not actually from the Netherlands as its name suggests. First developed in England during the 1830s, the Dutch rabbit comes from an ancient stock of meat rabbits that originated in Flanders, Belgium. You can easily identify a Dutch rabbit thanks to its characteristic white face, breast, and shoulders, also known as Dutch markings. 

5 Dutch Rabbits Facts

  • Despite its name, the Dutch rabbit was developed in England, not the Netherlands. 
  • Breeders in England created the Dutch rabbit from a stock of Belgian meat rabbits that date to the 15th century. 
  • The Dutch rabbit gets its name from its distinctive white collar and face markings, known as Dutch markings. 
  • Dutch rabbits are one of the oldest domestic rabbit breeds and also one of the most popular. 
  • The slogan of the American Dutch Rabbit Club is “You can’t beat the Dutch.” 

Dutch Rabbit Scientific name

The Dutch rabbit shares its scientific name, Oryctolagus cuniculus, with all of the 305 known domestic rabbit breeds. This is because all domestic rabbits come from the same wild ancestor, the European rabbit. The word Oryctolagus has its origins in the Ancient Greek words oryktos (dug up) and lagos (hare). Meanwhile, the meaning of the word cuniculus is slightly more complicated. In Latin, cuniculus means “burrow” or “underground dwelling,” but can also apply to rabbits in general.  

Dutch Rabbit Appearance 

Few breeds are as easily recognizable as the Dutch rabbit. Thanks to its characteristic markings, you can easily spot a Dutch, regardless of its color. The Dutch rabbit gets its name from its distinctive markings, known as Dutch markings. The markings include several different aspects. The blaze refers to a white triangle running up the rabbit’s face, which is hemmed in by the white circles on the sides of the face, known as the cheeks. The neck refers to the white wedge on the back of the head, while the saddle is a white stripe that runs behind the shoulders and continues underneath to the rabbit’s belly. Finally, the stops refer to the white markings on the feet or toes. 

Aside from these markings, Dutch rabbits can come in a wide range of colors. These colors include black, blue, chinchilla, chocolate, gray, steel, tortoise, and gold. That said, new colors continue to appear within the breed, as is the case with gold, which was only just recognized as a standard color in 2021. Dutch rabbits have short, glossy, “flyback” fur, meaning the fur springs back into its original position when a rabbit is stroked from head to tail. 

Dutch rabbits are a small-sized breed when compared to other domestic rabbits. They weigh anywhere from 3.5 to 5.5 pounds when fully mature. Their bodies are quite compact and well-rounded, giving them a short, stocky appearance. The ears are short and well-furred and stand erect on top of the head. 

Dutch rabbit appearance
While Dutch rabbits come in a variety of colors, the markings are virtually identical.

©imagebroker/Shutterstock.com

Dutch Rabbit Behavior

As is the case with most domestic rabbit breeds, Dutch rabbits are generally quite calm and easy-going. That said, Dutch rabbits are not all the same. Each rabbit has its own unique personality and will react differently in certain situations and with specific people. However, taken as a group, most Dutch rabbits are quite agreeable, intelligent, and easy to train. Like most other domestic rabbits, Harlequins are quite docile and good-natured. With practice and a proper reward system, they can learn to play games, run agility courses, do tricks, and come when their name is called.

When you interact with your Dutch rabbit, take time to earn their trust before you attempt to touch them or pick them up. All rabbits are quite skittish by nature, particularly smaller breeds such as the Dutch. Therefore, you don’t want to make sudden movements toward them or handle them roughly. Observe your Dutch rabbit’s behavior, so you can learn how to interact with them to earn their trust and affection. 

Dutch Rabbit Habitat

The first Dutch rabbits were developed in England in the 1830s. In turn, English breeders created Dutch rabbits from a stock of meat rabbits known as Petit Brabancon that originally came from Flanders, Belgium. Dutch rabbits later arrived in the United States sometime at the beginning of the 1900s. Today, you can find Dutch rabbits everywhere domestic rabbits are kept. 

As a domestic breed, you’re most likely to encounter Dutch rabbits indoors, in yards, or in gardens. That said, if Dutch rabbits escape or are set free, you may also find them in meadows or fields. The majority of owners choose to keep their Dutch rabbits inside, but you may also keep them in an outdoor hutch so long as they have enough shade to stay cool in the summer and heat to stay warm in the winter. 

Dutch Rabbit Diet

All rabbits are herbivores and, as such, eat a diet that consists almost exclusively of vegetation and plant matter. The most important part of a Dutch rabbit’s diet is grass, such as hay. Popular varieties include Timothy, orchard, oat, and meadow hay. In addition to hay, Dutch rabbits can eat a limited amount of fresh vegetables and fruits such as leafy greens, parsnips, broccoli, carrots, berries, and apples. Some owners also choose to provide their Dutch rabbits with a small amount of pellet food. That said, pellets should make up no more than 5% to 10% of a Dutch rabbit’s diet. 

Dutch Rabbit Predators and Threats

Because Dutch rabbits are almost exclusively kept as pets, they typically don’t have natural predators. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re completely safe from other animals. As a result, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your Dutch rabbit if you have other pets or let your rabbit play outside. Cats and dogs can both seriously harm a Dutch rabbit, as can birds of prey, coyotes, badgers, and foxes. Additionally, baby Dutch rabbits can be killed by weasels, ferrets, or stoats

In addition to predators, Dutch rabbits also suffer from a number of common rabbit ailments. Common conditions that affect Dutch rabbits include digestive and respiratory issues, uterine cancer, dental disease, parasites and mites, and head tilt. 

Dutch Rabbit Reproduction and Life Cycle

Like most small breeds, Dutch rabbits reach sexual maturity at quite a young age. Dutch rabbits tend to mature sexually at around 3.5 to 4 months old. Instead of relying on a hormonal cycle, the eggs in a female rabbit (doe) are released due to sexual intercourse. Due to their territorial nature, does are usually brought to a male’s (buck) cage for breeding. To increase the odds of conception, many breeders will mate the same doe in back-to-back sessions.  

On average, gestation lasts around 31 days. The typical litter size is 6 or 7 baby rabbits – also known as kittens – but can be as many as 12. Kittens are born completely blind and are hairless until they reach around 10 days old. For the first weeks of life, kittens will feed exclusively on their mother’s milk. They begin to eat some hay grasses at around 2 weeks old and are usually weaned within 1 to 2 months.   

The average lifespan of a Dutch rabbit is between 5 and 8 years. That said, they can easily live over 10 years, and a select few can reach up to 15 years old with the proper care. Most Dutch rabbits don’t reach such an advanced age due to common ailments and illnesses that affect rabbits such as digestive and respiratory issues, dental disease, head tilt, and uterine cancer. 

Dutch Rabbit Population

Dutch rabbits were originally bred in England from a Belgian breed of meat rabbit known as the Petit Brabancon. Shortly after its development in the 1830s, the Dutch rabbit went on to become the most popular domestic breed in the world. It remained extremely popular all the way up through the early 1900s when it first arrived in the US. Although it has fallen off in popularity in recent years, it remains one of the 10 most popular breeds in the world. It’s hard to say for sure how many Dutch rabbits exist worldwide, but the breed shows no sign of disappearing any time soon. 

Dutch Rabbit Locations:

You can find Dutch rabbits all over the world wherever people keep domestic rabbits. While they originated in England from a stock of Belgian meat rabbits, Dutch rabbits are also popular in the United States. While it’s hard to say where exactly Dutch rabbits live, you can likely find them in all 50 US states. 

Dutch Rabbit Conservation Status:

Given that the Dutch rabbit is a domestic breed, the IUCN lists it as a Not Evaluated species. Not enough data exists on its conservation, and although it may not be as popular as it once was, the Dutch rabbit remains one of the most popular domestic rabbit breeds in the world. Meanwhile, the wild ancestor of the Dutch rabbit – the European rabbit – is not so lucky. Due to decreasing populations in its native Iberia and elsewhere throughout Europe, the IUCN lists the European rabbit as an Endangered species. 

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Dutch Rabbit FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Dutch rabbits carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

Dutch rabbits are herbivores like all rabbits. About 80% to 90% of a Dutch rabbit’s diet is made up of hay. The remaining 10% to 20% of the diet can include fresh vegetables and fruits as well as a rabbit-approved pellet formula.

Are Dutch rabbits rare?

For years, the Dutch rabbit was one of if not the most popular domestic rabbit breeds in the world. Since the development of dwarf breeds, they have fallen off in popularity but remain one of the 10 most popular domestic rabbit breeds.

How long does a Dutch rabbit live? 

On average, most Dutch rabbits live between 5 and 8 years. That said, they can easily live over 10 years, with a select few living up to 15 years.

How much is a Dutch rabbit worth? 

Depending on its color and location, a Dutch rabbit can cost anywhere from $30 to $90. Show class rabbits cost more, as do rabbits bred with a specific color by select breeders.

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