Something I’ve encountered around the interwebs lately is the individualization of rabbits. By that I mean people asking for recommendations about different breeds and being told, “Every rabbit is different.”
Well, I can’t argue that. Not every rabbit runs full-force into a glass sliding door and then turns around and does it again. And again. But I happen to know one individual who enjoys self-inflicted torture.
All joking aside, I understand where people are coming from. For the most part, these are pet owners who have one or two rabbits. Those who fall into that category would have more individual experiences. If everyone says Mini Lops are the spawn of satan but you have one that’s just all about love and cuddles, I could see where breed generalizations don’t really apply. (By the way, no one says that about Mini Lops.)
However, every breed does have very specific tendencies as far as temperament goes, and those are important considerations for rabbit owners. A rabbit that’s appropriate for a grown man may not be appropriate for a young youth breeder. A breed that’s perfect for an experienced rabbit owner may not be the best choice for a first-timer.
I have a very small herd, so I generally flirt with the fine line between “pet owner” and “breeder.” Even in my small herd, I definitely see themes in the breeds I work with. My Holland Lops are very even-tempered. They approach me for attention and aren’t usually phased by new people. They’re like the Golden Retrievers of the rabbit world – easy keepers, quiet personalities, and generally sweet rabbits. I would recommend them to anyone.
My Dwarf Hotots are…a bit different. They tend to be shy and reserved. They’re very alert and seem to be in sensitivity overdrive all the time. I’ve had issues with aggression in 8 week old kits – something I’ve never seen with the Hollands.
Are there exceptions to those rules? Yes. I’ve had mildly aggressive Holland Lops, and I have some incredibly sweet Dwarf Hotots. But those generalizations are important to me as a breeder and to those who purchase rabbits from me. I would be unlikely to recommend a Dwarf Hotot, for example, to a family with young children because of their less predictable tendencies. However, I’d absolutely talk with them about a Holland Lop or another generally easy going breed.
The same preferences can apply to different housing environments or time constraints. Few reputable breeders would recommend an English Angora for someone who maintains a full-time job, cares for six kids, owns three side businesses, and sits on the local school board.
Rabbits have more breed-specific needs than you might suspect upon first glance. They do have individual personalities, but every breed has significant differences among them too, just like you would expect with dogs or horses.
Those differences are worth noting, especially in the context of pursuing the right breed for your home.