Lionhead Rabbits Increasing In Popularity

    July 6, 2013
    Sarah Parrott
    Comments are off for this post.

Just in time for your daily dose of adorable, there is news that Lionhead rabbits are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. The cute little critters have poked their wiggly noses into the limelight partially because of a 4-H show in Shelby county, Indiana, where many Lionheads were represented in a competition. Though, this instance is more of an example of their popularity, rather than the definition of it; Lionheads have been gaining popularity ever since their debut on Earth in the early 1900’s.

According to lionheadrabbit.org, Lionhead rabbits originated in Belgium, and were the result of cross-breeding between Belgian Dwarf rabbits and Swiss Fox rabbits. The controlled mutation and titular characteristic of these little cuties is the “mane” of slightly longer hair that grows around their necks, causing them to resemble lions.


These bunnies are neither carnivorous nor ferocious like their big-cat namesakes, however. Since their debut in the states in the early 2000’s, they have skyrocketed in demand among both rabbit hobbyists and as domestic companions, and for good reason. Lionhead rabbits are friendly and easily trained, making them ideal pets for kids of all ages. The fact that they are fluffy and precious is just an added bonus.

Lionhead rabbits are not yet recognized by the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association (ARBA), but are under official presentation in order to be recognized as a “real” breed. This process can take up to five years, according to lionheadrabbit.org. The species is already ordained in Europe by the British Rabbit Council (BRC).

Despite their lack of official record here in the states, at least for the moment, these bunnies are widely loved and accepted. This is perhaps best exemplified by Lexi Wilkin’s quote in the Shelby county news. When asked about owning rabbits and her six-month-old Lionhead, Oreo, she said, “I have fun with them.” And how could one not have fun with such a cute, furry face to love on?

  • Cindy Holt

    Really want to BUY a LIONHEAD Rabbit ASAP !!!!

    • Sarah Parrott

      It’s awesome that you’d like a little critter around!! However, I’d definitely suggest listening to Niki and Jaime; adoption is the way to go!! And always remember that a pet is a living, breathing creature that is a commitment, not a fad! They have feelings and do require work, no matter how low-maintenance they may be! c:

    • Lynette

      Cindy, please do not impulsively buy a rabbit. Before, do a lot of reading. Rabbits are high maintenance and are not like dogs that listen to multiple commands. They are easily prayed upon by other animals so need to be watched when outside. They need to have room to run and a proper diet etc. This translates to time and money. Yes, they are cute but they are living creatures that need the proper care & attention. My rabbit, Scarlet, is 13 years old – and my other rabbit (a rescue) is only 5 and has special needs. I have spent thousands on him at the vet. For real. Luckily, we have found what works for him and I can tell you it’s alot of time and effort. So if you decide to rescue a bunny be an informed bunny owner. We need more bunnies rescued by responsible people.

  • LisaB

    My daughter has owned one for almost 9 years. He’s feisty and full of personality. Not afraid of our dogs either.

  • Niki

    Everyone interested in bringing a bunny into their family really ought to do a lot of research first. Bunnies live 8-12 years and need at least 30 mins-1 hour of freetime/socializing/handling per day. They also require fresh veggies or fruits daily in addition to constant access to Timothy hay to eat and clean water to drink. Bunnies are intelligent and social, easily becoming bored so they also need toys and enrichment to stay happy and healthy. Bringing a bunny to a vet’s office if they are ill or injured is also a MUST.

    Please consider ADOPTING a bunny from a shelter, rescue, or pound before going to a breeder or even worse, a store, where the animals are likely shipped in from puppymill-esque mass breeding warehouses. As an animal shelter employee myself, I can safely say there are already too many bunnies in need of good homes!

  • Jaime

    Please please do not buy. Adopt. And do your homework! Rabbit.org can give you tons of info! They are not “easy” pets. They are fragile, a lot of work, and cost a lot of money!

  • mgm

    Please listen to these voices of experience, and mine. Took a rabbit off the hands of someone who was moving from a house to a boat. What he didn’t tell me? The way I figure it, every ounce of water a rabbit drinks turns into a gallon of pee! I’m serious – they pee like a horse – find a different pet!

  • Lynette

    Please please – read this…if you are getting or know someone who has a rabbit.

    They are not good pets for kids. Their bones can break very easily.
    I just watched a video of a lionhead rabbit and the little girl put it in it’s cage. Oh gosh, it looked clean but everything was wrong! Rabbits should not be kept in small wire cages. It can hurt their feet. The litter box should NOT have wood/cedar shavings. This can cause kidney problems. Use “Carefresh” or some other paper type litter but not newspaper. They chew/eat whatever is in their box. As for food, They need a variety of HAY as the main part of their diet NOT just pellets. Timothy hay for adult rabbits and Alfalfa hay for babies only. Other hays for variety, i.e. grass hay, etc. They need veggies and greens too.
    Also, chew toys made for rabbits – like wood sticks. Their teeth grow like our finger nails grow. So they need to chew to keep their teeth the proper length. Otherwise their teeth will over grow and they won’t be able to eat. These are just a few tips for anyone thinking of having a rabbit for a pet. Please read how to care for your rabbit. A good resource is “House Rabbit Society.” You can find them online.

    Thank you and please take good care of your bunny.
    Lastly, their digestive system is very sensitive. If they quit eating get them to a vet right away.

  • Rachel

    I have had two lionheads. They can be very wonderful pets but they are also one of the smaller breeds of rabbits and very high maintenance. Which translates to needing a LOT of care, and I am not just talking about brushing them out, but also can translate to a lot of medical (vet, as in exotic vets) bills. They are exceptionally fragile due to their size and like all rabbits are subject to a wide variety of health issues such as head tilt and even more prone to GI Stasis due to all of their extra fur!

    As Lynette said, their bones can break very easily, and in a rabbit that can very often mean amputation rather than a cast or surgery to repair. Living with a disabled bunny is similar to living with a disabled human, they can’t do a lot of things for themselves that they would normally be able to do, but can still leave a full life with help (so most exotic vets who know what they are doing rather than you’re average vet who is clueless, will not recommend putting a rabbit down for a leg break because it is a survivable injury)

    And I have hardly touched the surface of rabbit heath and care! Please do your research! and Adopt from a Shelter or a rescue group rather than buy from a shop or breeder! Rescue groups will also help you learn how to care for a rabbit properly!

  • Leslie

    Considering getting a rabbit as a pet? Do your research! Rabbits are not a good pet for little children. They can be easily injured when mishandled by kids. Many rabbits do not enjoy being picked up or carried around- you need to interact with them on their level. Rabbits can be litter trained and should have a large area of the home to run around-NOT a cage! They need a lot of interaction with people or another rabbit. A proper diet of hay and fresh greens is very important. They are wonderful animals more suited to a quiet home with adults.

  • LKP

    I have had indoor bunnies since 1997, and am now figuring out I know nothing about them. For instance: something like 85% of unspayed females develop uterine cancer after 3 years. Spaying is the answer, but finding a vet that will do it is difficult and expensive. REALLY expensive. PLUS bunnies are so delicate they can have all kinds of complications, such as gastric stasis. I am currently treating my Lionhead for both. Fortunately the uterine abnormality was caught early, and she seems to be eating again, thanks to some TLC from my vet. But I love my bunny, she always comes running to me wanting to play and cuddle, and we are now able to look forward to a long happy life. So be aware: your bunny needs lots of love, care and attention!

  • Jen

    I have a 5 yr old Holland lop and everyone is correct on here. Not for kids and they are expensive to own. Quality food made of timothy hay, not alfalfa is a must for a healthy bunny. First couple of years I made many trips to the vet. Spaying or neutering is necessary and expensive. A rabbit is not like a cat or dog. If a rabbit isn’t eating or drinking you must seek help from a vet immediately. I also had an experience with the “head tilt” which also required medical attention. I keep a packet of Oxbows Critical Care on hand, just in case he stops eating or drinking.
    I would strongly recommend that anyone who is thinking about getting a bunny, to first find a qualified vet in your area that has experience with bunnies. Not just any vet will do. Very few vets in my area are qualified to care for bunnies.
    And don’t forget to “bunny proof” your home, they love to chew and cords or wires could be deadly.

  • Laura

    Are you serious with this?!Rabbit’s are not a good pet for a child!And what is a rabbit hobbyist?!This article only encourages people to go buy a lionhead rabbit and have absolutely no idea how to care for him!Remember!!Adopt Don’t Shop!!!!!!!!!

  • Angela

    Here we go again! Thanks to the latest fad there is gonna be thousands of bunnies dumped in rescues and worse! Lets just hope an idiot celebrity doesn’t start carrying one around in a purse! Do your research people!

  • Chun

    Lionheads are NOT for children. They are very high maintainance and are more aggressive than the average rabbit. They usually do not enjoy cuddling no matter how fluffy and neutered/spayed or not, they still have very alpha dominant personalities. This article is completely misguiding children into thinking lionheads are a safe and easy breed to raise. They also need a lot of attention and even more financial responsibility as grooming, feeding and cages can be quite expensive.

    • http://chiburis@yahoo.com shirley chiburis

      I raise Lion Head Bunnies. They are sweet, cuddly and beautiful. The ones posted in this article are nothing like the gorgeous ones I have. I have them running free in my yard. They play with the dogs, cat and my grandchildren. They run to meet me at my gate when I get home. They have NEVER been aggressive to me or to anyone. The person that said they are aggressive and not cuddly don’t know what they are talking about. If anyone is interested in pictures, email me and I will send some. I have about 22 at this time of all colors. Believe me if you get a good one they are exotic. I do not breed lion heads unless they are the very best!

      • Katie

        Bunny mill breeders like you are what causes problems in the first place.

  • jeff

    I Don’t know, is it just me? i don’t see it. they look like regular rabbits to me.

  • Lynn

    Rabbits are a high matinence pet. They require a knowledgeable owner. Read up on the care they need before you bring one into your home. Also call around to see if there are even vets in your area who care for them. Not all vets do.

  • Katie

    Rabbits are not good for kids of all ages. As a lionhead owner myself I can say that though loveable and sweet they are high maintenance and can be destructive. They are also prone to stomach problems. Just because there cute and cuddly does not take away from the fact that they are a rabbit.

  • Wendy

    I have to agree with the posters above – Rabbits can make great pets but you need to do your homework before bringing one into your home.

    They need to be speutered for health and behavioral reasons. They are fragile and do not make good pets for young children. They need to see “exotics” vets and can require expensive medical care. They are often abandoned in large numbers a few months after Easter, so please consider adoption rather than purchase. Their primary diet should consist of timothy hay, with a variety of fresh veggies and only a small amount of “rabbit food” pellets. They can live 8-10 years with proper care. They tend to chew on things, especially loose-hanging wires. Most do not like to be picked up and cuddled, though they can be quite funny companions if you meet them on their level. They are very social and require lots of exercise time and interaction – either with their people or with a suitably speutered companion.