What Are Lionhead Rabbits? Do They Make Good Pets?

Lionhead Rabbits are adorable dwarf-sized bunnies. They are cute and compact, good-natured, and easy to train. Keep reading to find out why Lionheads are the perfect pet for both adults and young children.

Lionhead Rabbits are adorable dwarf-sized bunnies. They are cute and compact, good natured, and easy to train. Keep reading to find out why Lionheads are the perfect pet for both adults and young children.

The Lionhead Rabbit is considered to be a fancy rabbit breed. The name “Lionhead” refers to its unique wool “mane”, which sets it apart from other domestic rabbits. The small size and even temperament of this rabbit makes it a good pet for children. They are also intelligent and highly trainable, making them interesting pets for adults too.

Here is a list of the things we will be looking at in this article:

  • Lionhead Rabbits Origin & History
  • Lionhead Rabbit Characteristics
  • Choosing The Perfect Lionhead Rabbit
  • Lionhead Rabbit Health
  • What Do Lionhead Rabbits Eat?
  • Lionhead Bunnies Lifespan
  • Lionhead Bunny Cost
  • Lionhead Rabbit Breeding
  • Related Questions

Lionhead Rabbits Origin and History

The Lionhead Rabbit first originated in Belgium where it was created by crossing two other dwarf-sized rabbit breeds, supposedly the Netherland Dwarf and the Swiss Fox. The Lionhead is one of the most recent domestic rabbit breeds in the United States. In the United Kingdom the breed is more established and has been officially recognised since 2002.

The longer fur around the head region of this breed resembling a wool mane is what gives the rabbit its name. This is a consistent feature of the breed, which exists due to a genetic mutation, now referred to as the “mane gene”. It is one of the features that make this breed so popular, especially with young children, as it makes the bunny resemble a cute and cuddly soft toy.

Lionhead Rabbit Characteristics

Size & Weight

The Lionhead is often considered a dwarf breed of rabbit. They are expected to be fairly small in size with the average adult Lionhead weighing aproximately 3lbs. Many can weigh up 3lb 12oz, making them a similar size to most other smaller breeds of rabbit, yet not quite as small as most dwarf sized rabbits.

Color Variety

There are many exotic-sounding color varieties to choose from, with more recognised varieties and colours in the United Kingdom than in the United States. Some of these include; black otter, ruby eyed white, blue otter, chestnut, tan, siamese sable, squirrel, chinchilla, frosted pearl, lilac, opal, fawn, red, and golden.

Behavior & Temperament

Known for its friendly personality, good-natured temperament and trainability, the Lionhead Rabbit can sometimes be skittish if it feels threatened. Aggresiveness is not common when handles correctly and treated with respect. Young children should always be supervised around pets.

The Lionhead is clever and responsive. They can even be litter-trained, which is a highly desirable trait for hygeine conscious pet owners wanting to keep a Lionhead as a house pet. Being social animals, Lionheads make great family pets, and do well when kept in pairs or groups.


The bold head of this rabbit is covered in the thick, long fur called its “mane”. This gives the rabbit its “Lionhead” appearance, and makes it stand out on its own from other rabbit breeds. The shape of the rabbit’s head is not quite round when observed from different sides, and it has a well-developed muzzle.


This is considered a dwarf rabbit breed, and therefore its ears should not exceed 3 inches in length. Typically their short ears should stand upright out of the long fur of the animal’s mane.


The distinctive tuft of long fur on the Lionhead rabbit is reffered to as its “mane”. There are two different types of “mane”, but the only true way to tell the difference between single mane Lionheads and double mane Lionheads is to examine the bunnies directly after birth.

Double mane Lionheads can be distinguised immediately after birth due to the noticeable V-form around their skirt, which single manes do not have. There are also no-mane Lionheads. This occurs when the rabbit has received no mane genes at all.

Choosing the Perfect Lionhead Rabbit

When selecting which Lionhead Rabbit to take home with you there are a few things you should consider. Here is a small checklist to help you make the right decision.

Doe or Buck?

An important consideration is your preferred gender. A Doe, or female rabbit, will show more territorial and instinctive behaviours like digging, as this would have been her job to do in the wild. A Buck, or male rabbit, is likely to be more easy going and have a laid-back temperament, the perfect pet for younger children.

Regardless of the gender you should always get your pet rabbit neutered or spayed, especially if you want to get a male and female pair or keep a mixed gender group. Spaying or neutering will also reduce health risks, and leave you with happier and more content pets that are less likely to be destructive in your home.


Your pet rabbit’s temperament changes at different stages during its life. If you decide to bring a baby Lionhead home you should keep in mind that up until the age of 1 or 2 years they will be going through their more difficult teenage phase.

To avoid this potentially more temperamental stage you might decide to adopt an older rabbit from a rescue centre. Older rabbits tend to sleep more and have calmer personalities, making them much easier for young children to handle. They may not be as entertaining or intellectually challenging as younger rabbits, but you will be offering a comfortable and loving home to an older animal live out its old age.

Health Check

Before deciding on a rabbit you should check to see if they are in good health. A basic health check includes observing the rabbits in their environment. Are they active, alert, and interested in the surroundings?

A closer look will tell you if the rabbits have clear and bright eyes with no signs of discharge. Check also that the ears are clean, and avoid rabbits that have any scabs or heavy wax build-up. Check that the rabbit’s bottom and feet are clean too. There should be no droppings caked to the skin or flakes in the fur.

Lionhead Rabbit Health

There are a number of things you will need to do to keep your Lionhead Rabbit happy and healthy. The most obvious being to ensure they have spacious living quarters with clean, fresh hay and water changed daily.

Your pet Lionhead bunny needs plenty of daily exercise in order to decrease the risk of potential spinal problems and obesity. This means bringing your rabbits out of their enclosure for physical play and mental stimulation. Interacting with your Lionheads will ensure they are kept busy and well socialised.

A balanced diet is vital for your Lionhead’s health. Don’t forget that the diet of a baby Lionhead is significantly different from that of an adult. You should also keep in mind which foods are harmful to rabbits, and keep your bunny’s nutritional intake high by ensuring that you only feed the freshest food.

Always remember that when it comes to diseases, prevention is better than cure. Make sure that your pet is fully vaccinated and has regular check-ups by a professional vet who will be able to spot potential problems before they develop.

In between check-ups you can look over your pet daily for any unusual lumps and bumps during cuddles and playtime. Don’t forgett to look at their teeth too. Establishing a routine will help your bunny get used to being handled so that the experience is less stressful for them when they need to see a vet.

What Do Lionhead Rabbits Eat?

Commercial rabbit foods are common, and many pet owners choose to feed them because they are easy, affordable and dry, meaning there is less clean up of rotting or old food required. Unfortunately commercial rabbit mixes are not the healthiest option.

To give your Lionhead a healthy diet with high nutrition and variety offer them fresh hay and greens daily. To help you avoid offering your pet foods that are toxic to rabbits or that could make them sick, here is a list of some foods to avoid. This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Sugary Cereals
  • Biscuits
  • Chocolate
  • Chips
  • Avocado
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Walnuts
  • Meat
  • Dog/Cat food
  • All plants that grow from bulbs
  • Apple seeds & other fruits containing pips
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Turnips
  • Leeks
  • Fungi
  • Peas, Parsnips & Rhubarb
  • Broad Beans
  • Bananas
  • Figs
  • Apricots, Plums & Peaches

Lionhead Bunny Lifespan

Another reason that Lionhead Rabbits make great pets is that they have a good lifespan, averaging between 7 to 9 years. This gives you and family many years of fun, joy and love before you have to say goodbye.

The key to making sure your pet rabbits lives as long as possible is to have a good understanding of what it needs to be healthy and happy. As with all pets, how long your bunny lives will depend on how well you care for it.

Keep on top of your Lionhead’s physical and mental health, and make sure that all nutritional needs are met in order to ensure that your pet lives its life to the full.

Extend your Lionhead Rabbit’s life with these tips:

  • Spay Or Neuter Your Pet Rabbit – Rabbits that have been fixed regularly outlive unaltered rabbits. The procedure is simple and prevents the development of cancers that could threaten your pet’s life later on.
  • Groom Your Rabbit – Your Lionhead’s beautiful medium length fur needs more maintenance that other rabbit breeds, with daily brushing to prevent matting and decrease the risk of fur balls. Fur balls can be fatal as your Lionhead cannot cough or vomit, leaving them vulnerable to intestinal blockages. The regular handling also enables you to keep a closer eye on any changes that could require a visit to the pet.
  • Provide A Controlled Diet – A rabbit that is offered a healthy, balanced diet of fresh hay and leafy greens will enjoy a long life. Beware of commercial foods which often contain extra seeds and coloured treats with an excess of protein and fillers that are low in nutritional value. Don’t forget to give your bunny constant access to clean and fresh water every day.
  • Provide Indoor Housing For Your Rabbit – When kept in outdoor hutches your rabbit may become victims to predators such as cats and other wild animals lurking in your garden. The Lionhead’s heavy coat can also cause overheating in the summer months when kept outside.

Lionhead Bunny Cost

The cost of your new pet Lionhead Rabbit will vary greatly depending on where you acquire it. If you are looking for a pet bunny for the family to enjoy then you will find that pet store prices are more affordable than breeders.

If you hope to breed from or show your Lionhead then you may require a pedigree. In which case you should source a reputable breeder. The price of your rabbit is likely to increase due to desirable bloodlines. Don’t forget to consider extra costs such as travel, depending on where in the country you need to go to reach a suitable breeder.

You should also factor into the overall cost of your Lionhead Rabbit the additional items that you need to purchase alongside the rabbit itself, for example, housing, bedding, food, toys, and grooming equipment.

Lionhead Rabbit Breeding

It is very easy to breed rabbits, but you should be aware that they breed prolifically if left to their own devices. You could end up with hundreds of offspring if you don’t plan ahead.

Are You Ready To Breed?

Take a look at the following list of considerations in order to establish whether you can breed your Lionheads successfully and responsibly.

  • Have you selected healthy pure Pedigree Lionhead adults to breed from?
  • Are your rabbits old enough to breed? Does are ready to mate from 8 months old, and bucks are ready at 9 months. You should keep them separate until they are ready.
  • Are you able to provide adequate space for the babies?
  • Will you be able to afford vet bills in case of complications?
  • Will you be able to find good forever homes for your new babies?

How To Breed Lionhead Rabbits

Breeding rabbits is uncomplicated. The rabbits know what to do! But there are still things that you need be aware of and prepare for. Here is a list of the 5 steps in the breeding process.

  1. Leave the male and female rabbits together in a cage and wait for them to mate. You will know if your Doe is receptive to mating when her vulva is red or purple and a little bit swollen. Don’t be alarmed if after the male mounts the female they remain attached for several minutes. This is normal.
  • A day or two after mating your female rabbit will ovulate and become pregnant. Female rabbits do not have a heat cycle. Instead they ovulate after copulation, which is why it is important to separate rabbits to stop them from breeding continuously. Otherwise you will end up with hundreds of babies.
  • Feed the pregnant doe a healthy diet of fresh hay and greens, and give her a nesting box. You can buy these at your local pet store or online, and you should fill it with hay or straw. She will want to dig in this in order to complete her nest.
  • The normal gestation period is 31 days. Baby rabbits will appear about 3 days after the doe begins to nest. You can expect between 3 and 8 newborn babies.
  • After about 10 days the babies will open their eyes. The doe will raise the babies and naturally wean them between 3 to 5 weeks of age.

Related Questions:

Do lionhead rabbits make good pets?

Lionhead Rabbits make ideal pets for curious children and adults. They make cute, dwarf-sized companions, are easy to care for and litter train, and ideal for keeping as housepets.

Do lionheads need haircuts?

The grooming process helps you to bond with your pet rabbit. Daily brushing is essential to keep your Lionhead’s mane free from matts and remove dead hairs. Your rabbit will shed old fur naturally during the moulting season.

Do lionhead rabbits shed a lot?

It is normal for your rabbit to shed its fur. During the shedding season your Lionhead will molt. You can keep the fur clean by brushing daily.

Are lionhead bunnies aggressive?

Lionheads are known for being super friendly, playful and lively. They may become skittish or aggressive when they feel threatened, so it is important to learn how to handle them properly.

Do lionheads rabbits like to cuddle?

If you acquire a young rabbit between 6-8 weeks old and handle regularly, they will learn to love cuddles and be more affectionate when they are older.

Do lionhead rabbits bite?

A Lionhead Rabbit may bite or scratch you if you ignore when it doesn’t want to be held. Young children should be supervised.

Are lionhead rabbits affectionate?

Lionheads are one of the most affectionate rabbit breeds. They love being handled when handled properly, and can be cuddly and loving.

How smart are lionhead rabbits?

Lionheads are very smart pets. You can train them easily to use a litter box and respond to a number of verbal commands.

At what age are lionheads fully grown?

A Lionhead Rabbit is considered fully grown after 6 months of age. This is when you should monitor their food intake and weight regularly to make sure they do not become obese.

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