Lionhead Rabbit

The Lionhead Rabbit is a small rabbit with a distinctive ‘lions’ mane’ ruff.

Size and weight of the Lionhead rabbit

The Lionhead is a reasonably small rabbit weighing on average between 1 - 1.7 kg

Colour varieties of the Lionhead rabbit

The breed comes in a variety of colours including:

  • white
  • pearl
  • lilac
  • blue
  • sable
  • sable point
  • fox
  • squirrel
  • chinchilla
  • agouti
  • harlequin
  • red

Country of origin

Belgium

Time of original development

Late 20th century

Lionhead rabbit breed introduction and overview

A relatively new breed created in Belgium. The actual origin is uncertain, but Angora is somewhere in the mix as is Netherland Dwarf. The Lionhead mutation was fixed by selective breeding of rabbits with a rich fur ruff around the face and neck and with a bib of several centimetres in length, so creating a rabbit resembling a male lion which gives the breed its name. The Lionhead gene is dominant, so Lionheads can be bred with other rabbits to produce some offspring with the Lionhead ruff. Too much fur on the rest of the body, which often happens when Lionheads are bred, is unacceptable in show rabbits, but would be perfectly fine as a companion pet.

Habitat and feeding requirements of the Lionhead rabbit

Like all rabbits, this breed needs plenty of space to move around and exercise and a hutch that is large enough for it to stretch to its full height and length in all directions.

Feed a standard rabbit diet to ensure good digestion, avoid obesity and give proper wear on the rabbit’s continually growing teeth. Additionally a high fibre diet is particularly necessary to avoid the digestive tract coming to a stop owing to wool block. Plenty of water is needed too for the same reason. See our article on feeding your rabbit.

Does the Lionhead rabbit make a good pet for smaller children?

Despite their ‘cute’ appearance rabbits are not ideal for very small children to handle unless they are closely supervised together. Rabbits should be socialised young to human company and young people should be told how to hold a rabbit properly, so that it feels secure. If any rabbit becomes frightened, the rabbit’s desire to escape means that its powerful back legs can injure the human handler and can cause the rabbit to be dropped and injure itself.

Not recommended for children under 10 given the rabbit’s small size. Generally a good natured, playful and friendly rabbit that enjoys attention, though can be a little timid at first. They are quite energetic and enjoy running around so make sure there is plenty of room for your pet to do so and that they lots of time outdoors in a secure environment.

Always keep your rabbits safe from dogs and cats who may harm them. Even where pets ‘get on’, they should be supervised when together and you must ensure that your rabbit is not stressed by being exposed to other animals or people.

Grooming requirements of the Lionhead rabbit

The long coat around the head needs regular brushing to avoid tangles and dirt, and the rest of the rabbit will need brushing a couple of times a week, more during moulting. Additionally, as rabbits’ teeth keep growing throughout their lives, eating the right food will help to keep the teeth properly ground down, but you do need to check, on a frequent basis that this is happening properly, or your pet may need to have its teeth ground down by the vet.

Health issues in the Lionhead rabbit

This small rabbit may have some problems with impaction of teeth. Additionally, as with all rabbits, check that its bottom is clean of any debris and is kept dry to avoid the danger of flystrike. Please see our article on flystrike. Keep your rabbit at the correct weight so that it can move easily to groom itself.

Teeth and also toe nails should be checked frequently to ensure they are not growing too long.

Female rabbits should be neutered if you do not intend to breed from them to avoid cancers in later life. Males will become less aggressive if neutered too.

As with all pedigree pets, it is very important to obtain a young rabbit or rabbit kit from a reputable source where you can be guaranteed that it has been bred with a view to avoiding any inherent problems found in the breed.

Average lifespan of the Lionhead rabbit

A healthy Lionhead can expect to enjoy a life expectancy of between 7 – 10 years and sometimes longer.

Working out how much it will cost to keep your Lionhead rabbit

Expect to pay around £40 for a pedigree Lionhead rabbit. While the initial cost of a pedigree rabbit may seem very low compared to pure bred dogs or even cats, the costs of the following items and procedures make the cost of owning a rabbit mount up:

  • buying a sufficiently large hutch and run
  • specialised feeding and bedding
  • annual inoculations
  • neutering
  • on-going dental care
  • insurance

Rabbits should also be kept in pairs. It is estimated that two rabbits together could cost around £1800 a year throughout their lives (including the initial outlay). See our article on working out the cost of keeping a pet rabbit.