Pet rabbits come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be completely different from one another. Some of them, however, can look quite similar at first glance, which leaves us wondering if there is any relevant difference we should be aware of before welcoming a new furry friend to the household. Mini lops and Netherland dwarfs are two of the most popular rabbit breeds, and they are both one breed among others of their respective categories. All lops are characterized by their long, fluffy, droopy ears. This feature is found in at least 15 breeds of rabbits. Dwarf rabbits were purposely bred to obtain smaller pets, and the Netherland dwarf is the smallest among domestic dwarf rabbits. On the contrary, Mini lops – despite their name – are not the smallest lops. The Holland is the smallest among the lop breeds, but it is still smaller than the Netherland dwarf.
The size difference in itself might not be a sufficient factor to be able to choose between them, so is there anything that makes one better than the other? In a nutshell, the mini lop might be a better candidate as a furry addition to the family, although the differences are barely relevant and mostly relate to their temperament. The Netherland dwarf is in fact known for being easily frightened and nervous, which tends to make it an irritable pet. However, each individual rabbit ultimately has its own disposition and character, so generalizations should not be taken as a strictly valid rule. Another point in favor of the mini lop is given by its robust body structure, compared to the more delicate and fragile Netherland dwarf’s one. Without further ado, let’s dig a little deeper into the pros and cons of both breeds.
Mini lops main characteristics
Mini lops are small rabbits with signature lop ears hanging on the sides of their head. They are much appreciated for their cute appearance, and their adorable features made them popular on social media platforms. They are quite muscular for a small rabbit and have a robust, compact body. They can weigh up to 6.5 pounds but are usually lighter, and their lifespan goes from 7 to 14 years. Their price can be anywhere between 30 and 100 USD, with significant variations for a show-quality pedigree, which can cost hundreds of dollars.
Like all pet rabbits, they require much care and attention, but they are naturally clean creatures who don’t need to be bathed unless they get unusually dirty. They clean themselves and can be litter trained just like cats. They are very intelligent pets with a friendly and bright personality, they can also be very curious and require time and space to explore, in a safe environment, outside of their cage. Despite their sweet and affectionate character, mini lops – like most small rabbits – can be wary and get defensive at first. They will need to gradually get used to their owner before allowing pets, and it can take some time for them to adjust to being touched or picked up. Once they get comfortable, they can be very loving animals who enjoy cuddles and even allow being held. Be patient and don’t rush physical contact or they will see you as a threat! Due to their inquisitive and playful personality, they will eventually approach you themselves when they feel comfortable enough to do so.
Although they are pretty clean animals, their cage, needs to be cleaned on a daily basis, as rabbit’s urine’s odor can be quite strong and can be very unpleasant. Their diet is relatively simple, and not different from other bunnies’ one, but it is equally strict. Proper food, such as hay and grass needs to be provided daily, and can be accompanied – but not substituted – by fresh, raw vegetables. A portion of hay a day is essential for the proper functioning of their digestive system. That leaves no room for mistakes: if we run out of rabbits’ food supplies, we cannot simply substitute them with human food, not even temporarily. Therefore, we need to be well organized and ready to plan ahead. Access to wood and/or chew toys is also important for their teeth health.
Netherland dwarf main characteristics
Netherland dwarfs require are very similar to mini lops in size, needs, and personality. The price range is very similar too (30 to 90 USD), while the expected lifespan is a little shorter, going from an average of 7 to 10 years.
The main visible difference is noticeable in their ears, much smaller, that stand high and erect on the head. Their average weight goes from 1 to 2.5 pounds and can get to a maximum of 3.5 pounds according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association. This makes them the smallest breed of domestic rabbits. Their size makes them look incredibly cute, but it doesn’t come without cons: these tiny creatures need to be handled with extreme care to avoid hurting them or damaging their fragile bone structure. For this reason, children – especially toddlers – should not be allowed to spend time with them without supervision.
Moreover, as mentioned above, they have quite a skittish temperament and can get very defensive out of fear. This is quite common among small rabbits, mini lops included. The reason why the Netherland dwarf could potentially be more skittish than a mini lop lays in its smaller size. Usually – although not necessarily – the ill-temperament is inversely proportional to the size of the rabbit: the smaller it is, the more vulnerable it feels, which could sometimes turn into being grumpy or even aggressive. This also depends on how much care is put into training the rabbit and making the environment suitable for its need.
For this reason, when dealing with a Netherland dwarf it is especially important to respect its boundaries and to approach it carefully, without sudden movements, patiently allowing time for our new pet to get comfortable with us. They prefer quiet environments but are still very active and need plenty of playtime outside of the cage. Despite the obstacles, they can eventually bond with the owner and become lovely, affectionate members of the family. They are as clean as mini lops, have the same diet restrictions, and are smart enough to be easily trained as well.
To sum up: which one is better?
There aren’t many differences between the two, they both require the same care and need space and time to get comfortable with their new families. This is perfectly normal for all domestic rabbits, even more so for smaller breeds like these. It’s also important to remember, once again, that no general rule can guarantee what the individual personality of our bunny will be. That been said, Netherland dwarfs tend to be less inclined to physical contact, at least at first, which can be hard to avoid given our tendency to pet and cuddle such adorable creatures. This factor, together with their smaller and more fragile bodies, can tip the scale in our final decision. Both aspects are particularly relevant if children are included in the picture, as they should not handle such vulnerable animals. Of course, mini lops also require attention and possibly adult supervision, as they should not be confused with stuffed animals by little kids.
Ultimately, they are very similar rabbits, and both breeds have pros and cons. The factors in favor of the mini lops can help guide our choice, but don’t seem to be significant enough to automatically exclude Netherland dwarfs from our options. After all, rabbits – like most pets – come with responsibilities. As long as we are committed to putting in time and effort for their well-being, both options are valid, as both breeds make loving and affectionate companions.