I am a lifelong animal lover and have a bachelor of science degree in biology.
Tiny, cute, and extra fuzzy—Lionhead rabbits are among the newest breeds of domestic rabbits in the United States. They are, however, already one of the most popular rabbit breeds among pet rabbit owners.
If you have already decided that a rabbit is the right pet for you and are now faced with choosing a breed, already have a Lionhead and want to learn more about them, or are just curious about the breed, this article is for you! Lionheads are adorable and can make excellent pets, but please make sure to do plenty of research before adding one to your home.
What You Need to Know About Lionhead Rabbits
- Breed History
1. Breed History
Although the Lionhead is one of the newest US rabbit breeds, its exact history is unknown. One belief is that Lionheads were first produced in Belgium as a cross between a Swiss Fox and a Belgian Dwarf. Other breeds, possibly the Jersey Wooly and/or Dwarf Angora, were then thought to have been added to the mix to help produce the Lionhead's signature wooly mane.
Another theory is that Lionheads were produced in England by Dwarf Angora breeders. It is thought that the reduced mane present on today's Lionheads could have been a random mutation that reduced the amount of wool produced by Dwarf Angora rabbits.
However it was first produced, the Lionhead breed grew in popularity amongst pet owners and eventually rabbit breeders and showers. The British Rabbit Council first recognized the breed in 2002.
They were first introduced in the United States in 1999 and American breeders worked to refine the breed into what it is today. Other breeds such as the Netherland Dwarf, Holland Lop, Florida Whites, Britannia Petite, Polish, Jersey Wooly, Mini Rex, Dutch, American Fuzzy Lops, and New Zealands were reportedly used early on to help improve genetic diversity as well as to help shape the appearance and temperament of the breed
Size and Color
Lionhead rabbits are a small (normally only around 3–4 pounds) erect-eared rabbit. They come in a wide variety of colors, including:
- red-eyed white,
- sable point,
- sable marten,
- siamese sable,
- smoke pearl,
- pointed white, and
Pet Lionheads can also come in broken patterns, meaning that they are mostly white with spots of other colors.
Probably the Lionhead's most unique physical feature is the long wooly mane that gives the breed its name. Because of the way the dominant mane gene works, Lionheads can be born with no mane at all, a double mane gene, or a single mane gene. Lionheads that have the mane gene should have long wooly fur growing around their head, similar to the mane of a lion.
Lionheads may also develop wool down around their flanks as well. This is most common with double-maned (carriers of two mane genes) animals. Wool may grow in other areas such as on the face, ears, stomach, back, or other areas of the body, although this is not considered a desirable trait for show rabbits (they can still make adorable pets).
The wool around a Lionhead's face should be noticeably different than normal rabbit fur. It is normally longer and has a different texture than a rabbit's regular fur. The wool on a Lionhead is similar to the wool found on other breeds such as Angora rabbits.
Lionheads are thought of as easy-going rabbits. They are oftentimes described as having level, easy-going temperaments. If cared for properly, many of them will be friendly and seem to enjoy interactions with humans. Remember that all animals are individuals, so they will all have their own personalities.
If cared for properly, Lionhead rabbits are a generally healthy breed. Domestic rabbits in general live on average between 7 and 12 years. Lionheads usually follow this trend, and being a small breed rabbit, have a higher chance of making it to the top of that range. It's not that unusual for small breed rabbits to surpass the 12-year mark and survive well into their teens.
Being small doesn't mean all good things, though, as smaller dwarf breed rabbits are oftentimes more prone to dental issues.
Because of their long wooly fur, it's also important to keep your Lionhead well-groomed so that they do not ingest too much fur. Check their hair regularly for mats or tangles.
Feeding these rabbits a proper, high-fiber diet is important as eating the proper foods can help to both keep the teeth healthy and to also keep the digestive system in good working order.
Spaying and Neutering
Pet rabbits should be spayed or neutered to make the best companions possible, and also to eliminate some potentially deadly health problems.
Lionhead Rabbits Are Great Pets for the Right People
Rabbits, Lionheads included, can make amazing pets for the right people. It's important to remember that these sometimes small pets are not disposable. If you are thinking of taking one into your home, keep in mind that they often live 10 years or more.
Just like any other type of pet, rabbits require individual specialized care to live a long, happy, and healthy life. Make sure you do plenty of research into their care and find a rabbit-experienced vet before getting your new pet. If you take the time to make sure you are properly providing for your rabbit, you will be rewarded with an engaging, social, adorable friend.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Mila on June 08, 2020:
I have an adorable Lionhead mix he is about 7 pounds and is about 9 months old and is very fluffy and soft any tips I should know
Bb on April 30, 2017:
I have a question. I recently just got my fur babies 2of them (brothers) and the people I got it from breaded a Flemish giant and a lionhead together They said they were weekly checked and were OKed to leave to there new homes from the vet.....
so they came to us two weeks ago I have followed the high fiber diet and the greens did my research introduced a cpl different veggies they enjoyed and switch them up during the day.. Now today I woke up was doing the normal routine the bunnies were doing there norm and then the next time I looked one of them had dropped just layed there lifeless so I automatically gently pulled him out and within seconds I lost him
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Jenn on January 27, 2017:
My Lion head/ holland lop is MEAN. He bites me every chance he gets! I adopted him 2 mo ago, please help!
toothless72002 on December 25, 2014:
I have two male lionheads, is there a certain size the cage should be?
crysta on April 26, 2014:
My lionhead is 3mths. Its a male and my first. So scared it will bite. My two ltl girls wanna play with him. Will he hop away if we put him down? Have you heard of the males biting much?
jr on July 29, 2012:
How can you tell the sex of the rabbit?
Karen on July 01, 2012:
Kim - is your rabbit fixed? I had a sweet female who became very aggressive around that age, and once she was fixed she went back to normal.
Kim on June 26, 2012:
I have a 9 month female lionhead. I have raised many rabbits. She is my first lionhead. She is very mean and nasty. she has attacked both my sons. she hisses and bites and no one can feed her but me. no one can pick her up not even me. i can't pet her or groom her. she was lovable when we first got her and then she turned mean. she loved to run at night and play with the boys in the living room now i can't let her out. what happened and how can i fix this problem with her? she is so cute but so nasty. any suggestions?
Morgan on June 03, 2012:
Hey Great article! I have a female lionhead. She is really sweet. I don't know wether or not she is a double or single mane though. could you please tell me how to tell if she is single or double? She has a mane around her head, on her thighs,and on her tail (more or less).
Sherrie on May 18, 2012:
I can't find a vet that in my hometown that even sees Rabbits...So what do I do about fixing my 2 girls? I don't plan on breeding them but they do stay together in the same hutch. I think they will get along ( They are sisters ) But I wanted for health reasons to fix them...Any sug. Thanks, Sherrie
Dragonrain (author) on April 27, 2012:
I'd go out and look for her if I where you. It's dangerous outside alone for domestic rabbits, especially so I'd guess for a pregnant one.
I hope you find her, good luck! In the future you should consider getting your bunnies fixed, and don't leave them outside unsupervised.
bunny on April 26, 2012:
i have a bunny that is a lion head bunny and we let them run around in the back and recently she got pregnant.and she has been gone for one day will she give birth some where else and return.
Dragonrain (author) on March 15, 2012:
I'm a scientist as well. I have a bachelors degree in biology. I also worked closely with rabbit rescues for about 5 years and have owned rabbits myself. My oldest rabbit lived to be just over 15 years old, so I do feel like I have quite a bit of rabbit experience.
Please enlighten me about what specific information you feel is incorrect, and I would be happy to go back and do some further research.
navalava on March 15, 2012:
this info is completely wrong im a scientist i should know
Dragonrain (author) on February 14, 2012:
Thanks for reading!
Navalava on February 07, 2012:
I have one lionhead rabbit. And they are great pets, and really friendly. They enjoy human company, and they love games. That means, if you want to have lionhead bunny (slightly more active than most rabbit breeds), you have to be able to spend more time with them.
They really need someone to keep them occupied.