Netherland Dwarf Rabbit – information and facts about the Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Breed. Learn more about Netherland Dwarf Rabbits in this article. Breed photos are included.
Most of the time, the Netherland Dwarfs are likened to Holland Lops. This association is heavily due to the fact that they are the only breeds with compact body type that are posed with their heads off high off the table. Aside from that, they also hold titles with their sizes. The Netherland Dwarf, for the knowledge of everyone, is the smallest rabbit breed. The Holland Lop, on the other hand, is the smallest lop rabbit.
In terms of their bodies, Netherland Dwarf and Holland Lops should both have broad and medium length bodies, complemented with short ears. This close resemblance between the two breeds is the reason why breeders who raise either of the breeds also raise the other. However, if we take into account the proper type of the breeds, based on the standard assessment of the American Rabbit Breeders Association, they are quite different in a couple of aspects.
An ideal Holland Lop is described as more blocky in shape. Its head is road and “mug-shaped”. Its body type is easily compared to a dice with knocked off corners, precisely because its topline extends from the shoulders to the hips. On the other hand, the Netherland Dwarf is well rounded. According to other rabbit breeders, the best way to describe a Netherland Dwarf is to imagine a ball head that is set atop a ball body. At least there, the breed is loved and well lauded for its unique shape.
The Netherland Dwarf rabbit breed is so popular and widely raised all over the United States. Indeed, because of its fame, the quality of the breed also has a large range. There are purebred Netherland Dwarfs that are long and lanky that they closely resemble Polish rabbits or Britannia Petites that are of poor quality. This close association sometimes leads into confusion, so much so that some bunnies are being sold at pet stores as Netherland Dwarfs even if they hail from a mixed or unknown heritage. As a precaution, it’s very important for breeders to check the standards based on the winners profile of the website of American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club, ANDRC.com. Checking whether the breed is a full pedigree is also a must-to-do before purchase.
The ‘Dwarf’ part of the breed’s name is attributed to the fact that people would often label rabbits ‘dwarf’ due to small size, regardless of the nature of their genetic background or breed line.
For the record, being a pedigreed Netherland Dwarf does not necessarily mean that it is of show quality. A dwarfing gene is present in the genetic pool of a correctly bred Netherland Dwarf. Rabbits that only have one copy of this gene would appear round and small. Moreover, for those rabbits that don’t have the two normal genes, instead of having a normal and a dwarfing gene, will have a bigger body and longer ears. While these types may not be ideal for rabbit show, they can still be used in the breeding process. Those rabbits that get two ‘dwarfism’ genes will appear very small and would suffer from a digestive disorder, causing them death in a matter of days. These three types of Netherland Dwarfs can be produced when two Netherland Dwarfs of show quality are bred together.
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Facts
Before 1900s, breeders do not have an idea of the dwarfing gene. It was not only until a breeder in Holland made a successful crossbreed that changed the landscape of the rabbit industry. He bred Polish rabbits to a local wild rabbit, producing unusually small bunnies that have large heads and short ears. This development was well received by the rabbit breeding community.
In the year 1948, the Netherland Dwarfs made appearances in the United Kingdom after an importation. United States then imported its first Netherland Dwarfs around 1960s and 1970s.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognized the Netherland Dwarf in the year 1969, which gave rise to the development of other small breeds. The Netherland Dwarf accepted by ARBA is a modification of the British Standard of the breed.
During these times, the Netherland Dwarfs were quite fearful and aggressive. According to many accounts, this resulted from crosses with wild breeding animals to achieve their size. This is the reason why the first batches of Netherland Dwarfs are not preferred as pets. Fortunately, successful selective breeding of the Netherland Dwarf made it friendly and gentle, although it still retains an energetic disposition compared to other larger rabbits.
Today, the Netherland Dwarf still remains as one of the most widely raised rabbit breeds all over America.
2. Characteristics and Appearance
The Netherland Dwarf is a very small rabbit, way smaller than most of the rabbit breeds. Its weight range is from 1.1. pounds to 3.5 pounds (500 g to 1.6 kg). Due to their small size, they are usually used as pets or exhibition animals, rather than sources of meat or fur.
The breed is a very famous pet precisely because of its babyish look. This becomes more apparent especially when compared with other rabbits. The ears and size o f the breed are disproportionately big in comparison with its body. This feature is due to genetic dwarfism. Its ears are small, upright, and are carried high in the head. The face is well rounded and shortened. The body of the breed is classified as compact and rounded. All in all, these characteristics of the Netherland Dwarf add up to them looking infantile even at the age of maturity.
When a Netherland Dwarf is crossed with another breed, they also tend to exhibit some of these remarkable features. However, they don’t look as babyish as the Netherland Dwarfs, and instead, are larger in size.
Netherland Dwarfs come in many varieties, including Himalayan, Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Smoke Pearl, Sable Point, Tortoiseshell, Chestnut, Siamese Sable, Opal, Lynx, Squirrel, Chinchilla, Otter, Tan, Silver Marten, Sable Marten, Smoke Pearl Marten, Orange, Fawn, Steel, Broken, Blue-Eyed White and Ruby Eyed White. Aside from these, there are also other colors that appear in Dwarfs that are not of show quality.
3. Personality and Traits
Despite its small size, the Netherland Dwarf is a very active rabbit. Indeed, rabbit breeders who want to raise the breed need to consider the amount of space allowances in hutches or cages to enable the rabbit to move around and exercise. As a matter of fact, it’s a big mistake to associate a small rabbit size to a lesser space requirement.
Netherland Dwarf’s behavior is closely linked to the basic behavioral traits of dogs and cats, further proving that they are ideal pets. They can be litter trained, though the success of its development is still contingent on the skill of the trainer.
The Netherland Dwarfs that we have today are docile, contrary to earlier accounts of their aggressiveness, which resulted from crosses with wild rabbits. Thanks to selective breeding, the Netherland Dwarfs are not skittish and wild anymore. However, diversity still needs to be properly accounted.
While they are generally described as curious and gentle, this can also vary from one rabbit to another. Thus, it’s very important to acquaint the rabbits to human interaction as early as possible for them to enjoy companionship with their owners. They are referred to as excellent pets for people of all ages. They are able to keep up with the call of times, such as active play and handling.
70 to 80% of the Netherland Dwarf’s diet should consist of hay or grass, or a combination of both. Having these twois essential in maintaining a healthy digestive health for the rabbit. Cur grass should be avoided. A small amount of vegetable can be given occasionally.
There are many guidelines on how to optimize the dietary requirements of the breed. These guidelines should be properly followed in order to prevent digestion problems such as diarrhea and gut stasis. In any case, they should also not be overfed.
There is so much to learn more about this very popular rabbit. But the best way to learn them all is by raising the breed for experience. This should be easier as the Netherland Dwarf is widely raised all over America. This means that there are also many accounts and information profiles of the best tips and strategies in raising the breed.