Originally bred for meat and fur, the American rabbit is a fairly rare breed known for its laid-back, calm, and sweet temperament. Medium to large in size the American rabbit comes in only two colors – blue and white.
So, are American rabbits good pets? Known for being calm, gentle, and timid, American rabbits make fantastic pets. The easy-going attitude and sweet nature make American rabbits highly desirable as pets and suitable for virtually any home. These bunnies get along with people of all ages but are too timid for young children.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the American rabbit and what makes it a great choice for a pet. Keep on reading to learn more about this quiet and calm breed.
What Is an American Rabbit?
The American is a breed of domestic rabbit known for having the deepest, darkest blue fur of all blue or gray rabbits. Originally kept for fur and meat, the American rabbit was on the verge of extinction a few decades ago.
Now considered a ‘threatened” breed by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy, the American rabbit has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to the efforts of dedicated breeders and breed enthusiasts (source).
American Rabbit History and Origin
The American rabbit creed was created in 1917 in Pasadena, California by Lewis H. Salisbury. While some people believe that the American was the first breed of rabbit ever developed in the United States, that’s not the case. The New Zealand Red rabbit was developed first.
Salisbury never said which rabbit breeds he used to create the American rabbit. But based on the body shape they were likely developed by crossing European rabbits such as Vienna, Blue Imperial, Beveren, and Flemish Giants.
Originally known as the German Blue Vienna, this breed was renamed after World War I the American Blue rabbit.
After World War II the interest in American rabbits declined as commercial rabbit breeders started looking for faster-growing rabbits. And those breeders who wanted show rabbits looked for smaller, cuter, and more colorful rabbit breeds.
The decline in popularity caused the American rabbit to become one of the rarest breeds in the USA by the early 2000s with only 200 rabbits in existence. Luckily the American Livestock Breed Conservancy became aware of this situation and took steps to protect this breed’s survival.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognized the American Blue rabbit in 1917. A white variety, named White American rabbit was officially recognized in 1925.
American Rabbit Characteristics
The ARBA standard for the American rabbit calls for a semi-arch body type and long loins. When viewed from the side, the rabbit’s top line of the body doesn’t rise behind the ears but flattens and curves at the middle of their body.
Due to their shape, American rabbits are posed differently than commercial types of rabbits.
Size, Weight, Shape
The American rabbit is a medium to large-sized breed with a semi-arch or mandolin body shape. They usually weigh from nine to 11 pounds when fully grown. Female rabbits (does) are generally slightly larger than male rabbits (bucks).
The American rabbit is recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in blue color and white color.
The Blue American rabbit is distinguished as having the deepest and darkest coat of all blue and grey rabbits. This color is best described as being rich and uniform and completely free of any white hairs, rusty or sandy color.
The White American rabbit has a completely white coat and ruby red eyes and is known as the albino variety. While blue-eyed white rabbits also appeared they aren’t recognized by the breed standard and can’t be shown.
Both the White and Blue American rabbits have soft and silky short flyback coats. This means that your bunny’s coat will immediately go back to its original position when stroked in the opposite direction.
American rabbits are very clean creatures, and you’ll only need to brush your pet rabbit once a week to keep its coat in pristine condition. These rabbits molt in the spring, so you’ll need to brush your pet bunny more often to control the shedding.
American rabbits have an average lifespan of eight to 12 years. If you decide to bring this gorgeous bunny into your home, make sure that you’ll be able to care for it properly for many years to come.
Back in the day, when the American rabbits were still very popular they were mainly kept for meat and fur, and rarely as pets. Due to that, you can expect this breed to be calm, docile, and easy-going around people.
Depending on how they were raised, some American rabbits can be timid and skittish around people. If the bunny spent the majority of its time interacting with its littermates, it may be shy around humans.
Since they are shy and jumpy by nature, American rabbits aren’t really recommended for families with small children. If frightened or mishandled, these bunnies may nip or kick a person holding them.
While you as an adult can understand that the rabbit was only reacting out of fear, a child may not be as understanding.
Unlike most small rabbit breeds that are full of energy and able to hop around the house for hours on end, the American rabbit is a true couch potato. These bunnies aren’t especially active and are more interested in lazing around than exploring their surroundings.
Like all other rabbits, the American bunny can be trained to use the litter box or come when called. Training a rabbit is a bit more challenging than training a cat or a dog, and American rabbits tend to be passive, which can pose an additional difficulty.
Luckily, these buns like to eat, so using tasty fruits and veggies as rewards can be a great incentive for your bunny to get interested in training. When training your American rabbit, don’t expect any miracles to happen overnight, and prepare yourself to be patient.
American Rabbit Care
The American rabbit doesn’t have any specific care requirements and is a fairly low-maintenance breed. Having said that, all rabbits require love, attention, and someone who’ll fulfill all their needs.
When it comes to caring for your American rabbit, here are a few things to consider:
Since American rabbits can be kept both indoors and outdoors, you’ll have quite a few options when it comes to choosing the perfect enclosure.
If you decide to keep your rabbit indoors, opt for a sturdy wire cage with a plastic bottom. American rabbits living outdoors will have to be housed in a wooden hutch.
Line the bottom of the enclosure with rabbit safe bedding, such as wood pellet, sawdust, hay, or shredded paper to keep your rabbit cozy. To maintain the hygiene inside the enclosure and keep your bunny clean, spot clean the bedding every day and remove it completely once a week.
Like all other rabbits, your American rabbit should eat a diet that consists of at least 70% hay. The rest of their diet should include equal parts fruits, vegetables, and high-quality pellets.
As mentioned previously, American rabbits have a healthy appetite and can eat a lot. Feed your rabbit abundant portions of timothy hay, and offer various fruits and veggies to keep their diet varied and balanced.
To keep your pet rabbit in perfect health provide them unrestricted access to clean and fresh water. And if you allow your rabbit to wander around the house make sure they have several water sources available so they can drink water at all times.
The American rabbit is considered a generally healthy breed. These bunnies aren’t prone to any hereditary health issues, but they can be affected by common rabbit diseases like all other rabbits.
Some of the most common problems these bunnies face are snuffles, uterine tumors, hairballs, calicivirus, myxomatosis, and overgrown teeth.
While extremely common, overgrown teeth are easily preventable with a hay-based, high fiber diet (source). A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing, but chewing on hay wears them down naturally and helps keep them at a normal length.
To prevent your bunny’s teeth from becoming overgrown, check them once a week, and if they seem longer than they should, add more hay into your bun’s diet.
American Rabbit Price
American rabbits on average cost from $60 to $150, but the price can be higher depending on the supply and demand. Pet quality rabbits are usually on the lower end of the price range while show quality American rabbits can cost a couple of hundreds of dollars.
While not as colorful or popular as many other rabbit breeds, the American rabbit has a long history and is one of the calmest rabbits you are going to meet. Sweet-natured, docile, and timid, the American rabbit makes a wonderful pet to people of all ages and families with older children.
Due to their shy and skittish nature, these bunnies aren’t recommended for families with small kids as they are easily frightened. But, if you are looking for an easy-going, low-maintenance, and calm rabbit to keep you company, the American bunny is a perfect choice!