The sweet and energetic lionhead rabbit is one of the friendliest domestic rabbit breeds out there. Fun and games are something he definitely enjoys with his family. He is known for sporting a mane that earned him the name ‘lionhead.’
Where do lionhead rabbits originate from?
The precise origins of the lionhead breed are unclear. However, many believe that he was developed in Belgium through breeding a Neanderthal dwarf and Swiss fox rabbit. A gene mutation occurred during the breeding process. This resulted in the appearance of a mane on the rabbit’s head and at times at the flank too.
Other theories speculated that the lionhead rabbit was produced in England through the efforts of dwarf angora breeders. It is thought that other breeds including the Britannia petite, Holland lop, Jersey woolly, Mini Rex, and New Zealand were also used to boost genetic diversity and mould the characteristics and temperament of the lionhead breed.
The lionhead rabbit became widely popular with rabbit owners, breeders, and showers. They loved the rabbit’s unique but charming looks and lovable personality. In 2002, the British Rabbit Council officially recognised every variety and known colours of the breed.
Lionhead rabbit characteristics
The lionhead rabbit is small in size with a compact and round body. His head is small with a somewhat elongated muzzle. He has pointed ears that are shorter compared to other rabbit breeds. His shoulders are broad with a sturdy chest. His stance is well balanced.
The most distinguishing characteristic of the lionhead breed is his wool mane. It usually grows about 5 cm long. The coat colours of the lionhead rabbit come in many variations. It includes agouti, blue, butterfly, black, chocolate, chinchilla, chestnut, fox, fawn, lynx, lilac, sable point, silver martin, sable marten, tan, tortoiseshell, and steel.
Types of lionhead rabbits
The single mane and double mane are the two main types of the lionhead bunny. The number of manes depends on the number of genes a rabbit inherits from his parents.
A lionhead with one mane gene is a single mane. He will have a sparse and wispy mane surrounding his ears, head, and chin. It may even cover his chest and rump too.
The other that possesses two mane genes is a double mane. He possesses nearly the same mane with the single mane. However, his hair is thicker and the wool that grows on his flanks is called a ‘skirt.’
However, once single mane and double mane lionhead rabbits reach adulthood, they sometimes look no different from each other. One way to find out if a lionhead rabbit is a single mane or double mane is by looking at his belly. If there is a V-formation on his fur, it means that he is a double mane.
On some occasions, a double mane becomes overdeveloped that he grows too much fur as he grows older. Meanwhile, a single mane loses his mane when he reaches adulthood. This is why breeding the ideal lionhead is a complicated task.
How big do lionhead rabbits get?
The lionhead rabbit is quite small compared to other breeds. An adult lionhead bunny weighs an average of 1.7 kg and measures 20 to 25 cm long. Note that it takes around six months for the lionhead breed to fully mature. Thus, it is best to get his measurements during this time.
Are lionhead rabbits dwarfs?
For a rabbit breed to be officially a dwarf, he must possess the dwarf gene. The lionhead breed is a dwarf since he inherited this gene from his parent breeds. The common characteristics found in dwarf rabbits are shorter ears, rounder head, and compact body.
Are lionhead rabbits hypoallergenic?
All rabbits are not hypoallergenic. However, some breeds don’t trigger many allergic reactions compared to others. Generally, it is best for allergy sufferers to stay away from long-haired rabbits. This may include the lionhead rabbit.
Rabbit breeds that are known to go well with rabbit owners who have allergies are the rex and mini rex.
Does the lionhead rabbit shed?
Every rabbit breed sheds its fur. Since the lionhead rabbit has more hair than others, he loses more of it during the shedding season. In the winter, it is common for him to grow a dense winter coat.
When spring arrives, most of the fur will be shed. For first-time owners, this may seem alarming but fret not. It is a normal phenomenon for the lionhead breed. His fur will eventually grow back as time passes by.
Lionhead rabbit care guide
The lionhead rabbit needs around two to three times of brushing every week. Once the shedding season arrives, daily brushing is a must. Never skip on combing your lion rabbit’s fur since it helps in removing dirt, mats, and loose or dead fur. It will also prevent fur block, which is a result of ingesting too much hair when self-grooming.
Whilst brushing him, be sure to check for any ticks, rashes, or inflammations on his skin and fur. Observe any signs of pain as you brush him too.
Keep in mind that the lionhead bunny does not need baths. It is a stressful activity for all rabbits, which can cause heart problems. If his fur is dirty, use a clean, soft, damp cloth to wipe off the grime or muck.
Trim your lionhead rabbit’s nails at least once a month. You may also ask the vet to do this during check-ups. If possible, provide your bunny with a scratching post to help wear down his nails.
Rabbits are prone to malocclusion or misalignment of the teeth. Thus, check your lion rabbit’s teeth to make sure that they line up.
Lionhead rabbit’s personality
The lionhead rabbit is becoming a popular choice for rabbit enthusiasts due to his fun-loving nature and friendliness. He is a curious bunny, so exploring around his pen brings him joy. He loves playing with his human companions as well. Providing him with plenty of toys will keep him entertained for a long time.
During downtime, he becomes a small ‘lapdog’ that loves nothing more than relaxing with his owner. Because of his small size, the lionhead rabbit pet fits well with couples, singles, seniors, and retirees. He is also a perfect bunny companion for apartment dwellers because of his small size.
Are lionhead rabbits good pets?
A lionhead rabbit makes a great family pet. However, despite his innate affability and easy-going nature, he still needs early socialisation. It is common for many rabbits to be wary and timid upon arriving in their new home. By slowly and gently introducing him to new faces, sights, sounds, and smells, he will gradually come to feel safe and comfortable with his surroundings.
It is also crucial to learn how to properly approach and handle your lion rabbit. Since he is a prey animal with a fragile body, loud noises, sudden movements, and rough handling can scare and cause him extreme stress. Before approaching your lion rabbit, let him know of your presence. If he isn’t facing you, make soft noises to alert him.
Then, slowly move towards your lionhead rabbit. Once you are almost near your pet, sit down. Do not hover above him. He may think that you are a predator and will flee away. Lastly, wait for him to initiate the first contact. Sometimes it may take days for this to happen.
However, be patient and never force him to come close to you. Just continue doing the whole process every day. Once he feels secure and relaxed with you, he will approach you on his own.
Don’t forget to give him a tasty treat as a reward after achieving this milestone. This way, he will associate you with positive experiences.
Do lionhead rabbits need a companion?
A lionhead rabbit is highly sociable just as much as he is very friendly. It is advised that you get two or more rabbits instead of one. Living alone will make him bored, depressed, and anxious.
Getting different breeds of rabbits is fine provided that they are nearly the same size. A mini lop, Netherland dwarf, and Himalayan is a good bunny companion for your lionhead rabbit.
If your rabbits are male and female, spay or neuter them as bunnies as they are very reproductive. One dam can give birth to one litter per month.
If they are not yet neutered or spayed, keep them in separate cages to prevent accidental mating. Two rabbits of the same sex should be spayed and neutered too. This is to prevent them from being aggressive towards each other.
Do lionhead rabbits get along with dogs?
The lionhead rabbit is very friendly, thus he can get along with dogs. However, be sure that he is properly socialised so he has a calm and laid-back disposition. If introduced and he has a positive experience around dogs whilst he is young, they are more likely to warm up to their new canine buddy.
Your dog needs to be socialised at an early stage as well. Some dogs tend to have a high prey drive, which makes them chase small animals. Through early socialisation, this trait will be inhibited, making him learn that the lionhead rabbit is a friend and not prey.
Lionhead rabbit dietary needs
Freshwater and high-quality hay like timothy hay or orchard grass should be always present in your lion rabbit’s diet. Hay should make up 75 per cent of his diet. It will help in wearing down his teeth and prevent it from overgrowing.
20 per cent of his diet should be premium-quality pellets. A lionhead rabbit should get around ¼ cup per 2 kg weight every day.
Fresh fruits and vegetables should only make up around 5 per cent of his diet. Giving him too much will lead to obesity, which causes many health complications.
When introducing a new vegetable or fruit to your lion rabbit, do it one at a time and in small amounts. Rabbits have sensitive stomachs. Sudden alterations in his diet can lead to digestion problems.
Lionhead rabbit food list
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy addition to your lionhead rabbit’s diet. However, it should not be a substitute for hay and pellets. Below are fruits and vegetables that are safe for your lionhead to eat:
- Star fruit
- Dandelion greens
- Collard greens
- Bok choy
What can lionhead rabbits eat?
A baby lionhead rabbit that is three to four weeks old should be nursed by his mother. You may slowly introduce small amounts of pellets and alfalfa hay in his diet too. Once he reaches seven to twelve weeks of age, he can be weaned and solely eat pellets and alfalfa hay every day. When he reaches twelve weeks to seven months old, gradually give him small servings of vegetables coupled with alfalfa hay and pellets.
When a young adult lionhead is seven to twelve months old, slowly reduce the feeding of alfalfa hay and replace it with grass, timothy, or oat hay. Pellet consumption should now only be ½ cup per 3 kg of body weight per day.
Vegetable consumption should be 1 cup per 6 kg of body weight every day. Start introducing small amounts of fruits. It should not go over 1 to 2 ounces per 3kg of body weight.
A full-grown adult lionhead that is one to five years old should have unlimited servings of high-quality hay. Lower the number of pellets to ¼ to ½ cup pellets per 3 kg body weight per day. His food should include around two cups of fresh vegetables per 3 kg of body weight each day. Fruits should not exceed about 2 tablespoons per 3 kg of body weight every day.
How long do lionhead rabbits live?
A lionhead rabbit can live a relatively long life if cared for properly. He has an average lifespan of eight to ten years. Giving him ample amount of attention and exercise, setting a healthy and balanced diet, and providing him an appropriate, spacious housing are some ways to help extend his life.
Lionhead rabbit health issues
Rabbits are prone to many kinds of health problems because of their sensitive bodies. The lionhead rabbit is no exception. Below are the prevalent health issues found in the lionhead breed:
- GI stasis
- Hock pododermatitis
- Dental problems
- Encephalitozoon cuniculi
Similar to most rabbit breeds, the lionhead rabbit is prone to hiding weaknesses, including illnesses, as an innate defensive mechanism. Be sure to check his body for any odd discharges from his eyes, nose, mouth, ears, or bottom. Any changes to his daily routine such as eating, elimination, and sleeping should be considered warning signs as well. Consult the vet right away if he exhibits any of these red flags.
Lionhead rabbit cage size
The lionhead rabbit is an energetic rabbit breed. Despite his small size, he needs a very spacious den to rest, explore, and burn off energy. The hutch should be big enough to fit two lionhead rabbits. It should not be smaller than 6 ft x 2 ft.
Consider placing a running wheel inside to promote exercise. It must be approximately eight feet. Clean the hutch at least once a week.
The lionhead breed is sensitive to temperature changes. Excessive heat can result in overheating. Therefore, he should be kept in a room where the temperature doesn’t go beyond 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When cold season starts, place extra hay in his hutch to keep him warm.
Can lionhead rabbits live outside in winter?
A lionhead rabbit can live outside in winter, but it is greatly discouraged. Keeping a lionhead rabbit outside will expose him not only to the cold but also to countless dangers. These include parasites and stray animals. If you opt to place him outdoors, his hutch should be completely weatherproof.
The hutch must be placed in an elevated place to make sure that it stays dry. The position of the hutch must also be far from prevailing winds. Provide extra hay or blankets so that he has enough insulation. Always make it a routine to check him regularly if he is comfortable in his den.
Cost of Ownership
How much are lionhead rabbits?
Purchasing a healthy and well-bred lionhead rabbit from a trustworthy breeder may cost up to £125. Food expenses may total to about £500–£700 a year. Basic items such as grooming equipment, travel carriers, and food dispensers cost about £510. You may need to spend around £350 for rabbit-proofing and housing.
Initial vaccinations and check-up fees cost approximately £50. Expenses for preventative treatments and health checks are around £50 annually. Getting your lionhead rabbit insured requires you to pay about £10 every month.
- Due to his small size and lightweight, the lionhead has higher jumping abilities than other breeds.
- Some believe that the creation of the lionhead rabbit was accidental. However, due to his distinctive appearance and mild temperament, he is now purposely bred to be a family pet.
Considering getting a Lionhead as pet, check out the latest Lionhead rabbits for sale.
Still not sure which rabbit breed is the best one for you? Read The 6 Most Loved Rabbit Breeds