Boutique Bunnies of Austin

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The Gem of the Fancy

Personality plus! 

Every Netherland Dwarf is different. They tend to be either shy and reserved or very outgoing and curious. They are the second most popular pure breed recognized by the ARBA, and the smallest, weighing in at about 2 - 21/2 pounds. What they lack in size, however, they make up for in personality: these bunnies love to play with toys and other animals, and are very loving with their owners. Those familiar with Netherland Dwarfs consider them to be both spirited and a bit high-strung, making them most suitable for older individuals with some previous rabbit care experience and/ or mature children. The Dwarf’s small body is fragile and can easily be injured by being dropped, which should be considered by those seeking a pet for their young children. These adorable, spunky bunnies are popular as both pets and show rabbits, and in either case their miniature size makes them perfect for those with limited space. 

Showing Netherland Dwarfs:

Judges look for Dwarfs with short, compact bodies. The shoulders should be deep, broad, and the same width as the hindquarters, and the topline should show that the depth of the shoulders is carried through to a deep, filled-out hind. The legs should be short and medium to heavy-boned. The head should be large and balance with the rest of the body. Bucks will have larger heads than does. The shape of the head should be round and "softball-shaped" when viewed from all directions and be set extremely close to the body. Ears should be short and set on the top of the head, completely furred and with a good substance. The tips should be rounded with an ideal length of 2 inches. Dwarf eyes should be round, bold, and bright, with a color that goes with their color type. Fur should be of rollback variety with good texture that is not excessively long or thin. Flyback fur is undesirable in show. The eye and fur colors should match the stated guidelines of the ARBA for each color type.  


According to the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), there are 36 showable varieties of Netherland Dwarfs, organized into the following 5 groups:

Group 1 Self
* REW Ruby-Eyed White
* BEW Blue-Eyed White
* Black
* Blue
* Chocolate
* Lilac
Group 2 Shaded
* Siamese Sable
* Siamese Smoke Pearl
* Sable Point
* Tortoise Shell
Group 3 Agouti
* Chestnut
* Opal
* Chinchilla
* Squirrel
* Lynx
Group 4 Tan Pattern
* Silver Marten
* Smoke Pearl Marten
* Sable Maren
* Tan
Group 5 AOV (Any Other Variety)
* Broken
* Fawn
* Himalayan
* Orange
* Steel

In showing Netherlad Dwarf Rabbits, senior bucks and does 6 months of age and over are not to weigh over 2 1/2 pounds.  Junior bucks an does, under 6 months of age must be a minimum of 1 pound, but not over 2 pounds.  Juniors that exceed maximum weight limits may be shown in higher age classifications.  No animal may be shown in a lower age classification than its true age.

Schedule of Points 
35 for body conformation or type
15 for head
15 for ears
5 for eyes
10 for fur
10 for condition
15 for color
5 for condition

The ARBA Standard of Perfection is a helpful book which provides specific disqualifications and quality standards of the Netherland Dwarf and other breeds. This and the Netherland Dwarf Official Guidebook from the American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club (ANDRC) should be obtained by every breeder. The guidebook provides lovely color photos of all recognized colors and the disqualifications of each.


Netherland Dwarfs do not need to be groomed frequently, but during times of excess shedding, a slicker brush or even a damp cloth can be used to keep the coat even and prevent hairballs. These molting times usually occur during spring and autumn. A rabbit should never be bathed, as the stress can be too much for the animals and cause them to go into cardiac arrest. If your bunny has an exceptionally dirty spot, a light hand washing with cornstarch can help to remove the stain. The toenails of all rabbits need to be checked and trimmed regularly. A partner and a towel can make this process much less difficult. Most rabbits do best being trimmed on their backs, and can be trained to get used to this by holding them on their backs as babies. Light-colored toenails are easiest, as the quick of the toe shows through and is less likely to be cut. If the quick is cut, it is very painful for the rabbit and the foot may bleed. Dark nails are a little trickier than light ones, but a flashlight held behind them will help avoid any accidents. ​

Breeding Challenge 

Netherland Dwarfs can be a challenge to breed, as their small size produces an average of only 2-3 kits per litter. Their size also makes them more prone to complications in the birthing  process, especially babies getting “stuck” during delivery. Stillborn kits, weanling enteritis, and young doe syndrome can also occur, but these are possible with any doe. Sexual maturity comes quickly for the small breed, at the young age of three months, but it is safest to breed them at six months to allow both the does and the bucks to fully mature. It is very important to study the compatibility of color genetics before breeding Dwarfs to ensure the litter comes out with the most accepted color patterns and to provide the best genetic foundation for future generations. Breeding incompatible colors can cause genetic deformities and colors that are not accepted by the ARBA. The ARBA Netherland Dwarf Guidebook provides a list of the compatible colors for each color type. It is important to note that aggression in rabbits produce aggression in their babies, and breeders must take care to only breed rabbits with good temperaments and leave out the aggressive types. The difficulties in breeding are outweighed, however, by the joy of raising these wonderful bunnies, who truly live up to their name, the “Gem of the Fancy.”