About the Lionhead Rabbit

White lionhood rabbitLionhead rabbits are full of personality. They may often times look like your cute crush, your worried parents, your friendly pal, your playful sibling or that very adorable kid you always wanted. In whatever attitude or mood it appeals, you can expect it to be lively, intelligent, adorable, and the caring devoted pet you’ve always dreamed of.

The lionhead rabbit is a breed of rabbit that is eligible for shows. They are irresistibly cute but it may not be the right choice for everyone. Before you decide whether or not it might be the right pet for you and your family, you need to learn and invest a significant amount of time in getting to know these animals.

In this you will receive an introduction to the Lionhead rabbit breed including some basic facts and information as well as the history of how it came about. This information, in combination with the practical information about keeping a Lionhead rabbit, will help you decide if this is the perfect rabbit companion for you.

Facts About Lionhead Rabbits

In this section you’ll find some interesting fun facts about lionhead rabbits, how to differentiate them through their body type, the types of their mane and history.

Lionhead rabbits are small to medium sized rabbits that have a compact body and a head that resembles that of a lion, hence its name. They like to be around people and have a knack for a good time but don’t let their cuteness fool you: these rabbits are also known for getting scared easily compared to other rabbit breeds. If it feels threatened it may cause aggression, which is why it is advisable that owners should socialize them at an early age.

These rabbits have small woolly heads and they usually have a normal roll back over the saddle, some also have transitional wool on their flanks or skirts. The most common colors for the Lionhead breed are Black, Black Otter, Blue, Blue Otter, Chestnut, Chinchilla, Chocolate, Fawn, Frosted Pearl, Golden, Lilac, Opal, Orange, Red, Siamese Sable, Smoke Pearl, Sable Point, Squirrel, Sable Martin, Tan, Tortoise, and White.

Even if Lionhead rabbits are a fairly new breed, they are now qualified for a rabbit show and it is recognized by the British Rabbit Council (BRC), American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), North American Lionhead Rabbit Club (NALRC) as well as international rabbit organizations like the European Confederation of Rabbits, Pigeons and Poultry.

The Lionhead rabbit is a very playful, intelligent, friendly creature and a highly trainable breed, this breed also have wide variety of colors and patterns created by breeders and rabbit enthusiasts. Lionhead rabbits are also fond of chewing like any other pets.

Lionheads can comprehend certain orders quite well. They can even respond to their name which makes them great house pets much like cats and dogs; the only difference is that rabbits are generally more low maintenance. They cherish people with whom they form very strong bonds with.  They are gentle and understanding and they can be naturally people-oriented.

Proper socialization and training from a young age will help prevent the rabbit from being aggressive to people. Lionheads do very well as family pets and they can also be good with children – although may not be recommended for very young children.

The Lionhead is a Ring size C that has a well-rounded body. This breed weigh an average of 2 ½ to 3 ½ pounds.  They also have bold and bright eyes.

Like any other pets, rabbits also have a great deal of energy and needs daily exercise to work off that energy through the toys that you can provide. It can adapt to almost any kind of environment, they are generally curious yet controllable indoors as long as they get enough mental and physical stimulation during the day and has proper house training as well as litter training.

The average lifespan for the Lionhead breed is between 7 and 9 years; the breed is very healthy in general. Like many rabbits, however, the Lionhead is prone to health issues such as Urine Burn, Pasteurellosis, Pneumonia, E. Cuniculi, Ringworm, Hepatic and Intestinal Coccidiosis, Abscesses and Calcivirus.

In terms of grooming, the Lionhead rabbits need to be brushed and groomed regularly in order to keep their coat and skin healthy, a daily brushing may be required for some.

General Body Types of Rabbits

This section will give you an idea on what kind of body type your lionhead rabbit may have and how you can distinguish it from other kinds of breed. Aside from the ear type, you can also differentiate a rabbit through the type of its fur.

Here are the general body types and shapes of rabbit breeds according to the ARBA:

Full Arch

These rabbits have an arched back that starts at the nape of the neck, arching to the tail. 

Semi-Arch (or Mandolin)

These rabbits have an arched back that starts behind the shoulders and arches to the tail.


These rabbits are lighter and shorter in length than meat rabbits, usually kept for show or kept as pets.


These rabbits have a long, thin, rounded body with small bones and a long, slender head.


These are rabbits that are medium in size with bodies about as wide as they are deep.


Types of Rabbit

You can also differentiate a rabbit through their purpose or the reason why they are bred in the first place.  It can be shown by the type of their fur or body shape.

Wool Rabbits

Lionhead rabbits belong in this category. These are rabbits which produce wool in the same way that a sheep produces wool.

Fur Rabbits

These rabbits are bred for their soft, thick fur which can be used for coats and trim on clothing.

Meat Rabbits

These rabbits grow quickly and are usually ready for slaughter by about 8 to 12 weeks of age.


Lionhead Rabbit Colors and Patterns

Lionhead rabbits come in different colors and patterns. For the most detailed description of these colors and patterns, refer to the breed standards set forth by the ARBA and the BRC.

In this section you will find an overview of the different patterns and colors of lionhead rabbits.  


The shaded pattern shows a gradual transition of a basic color, typically from dark to light. The darker color appears on the back, head, ears, tail, feet and leg areas, shading down to a lighter color on the belly and sides.

Shaded Colorations:

  • Chocolate Point
  • Sable Point
  • Seal
  • Siamese Sable
  • Smoke Pearl
  • Pointed White
  • Smoke Pearl Point


The agouti pattern has a hair shaft that has three or more bands of color with a definite break in between each color. This pattern is usually dark slate at the base with two or more alternating bands of light or dark color. The head, feet, and ears are usually ticked and eye circles, belly, under the jaws, and underside of the tail are usually lighter in color with no ticking.

Agouti Colorations:  

  • Chestnut
  • Chinchilla
  • Chocolate Chinchilla
  • Sable Agouti
  • Opal
  • Chocolate Chestnut
  • Squirrel (Blue Chinchilla)
  • Lynx


The self-colored pattern consists of a single color all over the body, head, ears, feet, legs, and tail.

Self-Colored Colorations:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Blue- Eyed White (BEW)
  • Ruby-Eyed White (REW)
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate Tort
  • Blue Tort
  • Black Tort
  • Lilac Tort

WideBand Color

The wide band pattern consists of the same coloration over the body, head, ears, tail, and feet. These may include a lighter coloration on the eye circles, inside the ears, under the tail, jowls, and belly areas.

White Band Colorations:

  • Fawn
  • Frosty
  • Orange

Marked Color

The marked color pattern in lionheads show a heavy coloration or marking around the eyes, ears and around the whole body.

Marked Colorations:

  • Broken/Butterfly
  • Harlequin
  • Vienna Marked

Tan Color

This coloration in lionheads is usually a solid light color pattern to a solid bright coloration in the head and body area.

Tan Colorations:

  • Black Otter
  • Blue Otter
  • Chocolate Otter
  • Sable Marten
  • Silver Marten
  • Smoke Pearl Marten

Mane Types of Lionhead Rabbits    

Now that you understand basic facts about lionhead rabbits, the next you thing need to know is the two types of their manes or the kind of coat they have. In this section you will find a brief overview on how to identify what kind of mane your rabbit has as well as the different colors and patterns of their coats.

Single Mane

Single mane rabbits means that the breed only has one gene that produces the mane or that woolly and thick crimping, that can be found around their ears and chin or in the head, sometimes it can also be seen on the chest and rump area of the rabbit.

Lionhead rabbits with a mane do not usually hold it for an entire lifetime, for most rabbits their mane usually becomes thin hairs that could disappear or diminishes as they became older.

A purebred double mane rabbit crossbred with another breed can produce a single mane lionhead rabbits or kits. However, some kits are born without a mane gene; it is referred to as “no mane”.

Double Mane

If single mane rabbits have one copy of the mane gene, then double mane rabbits obviously have two copies.

The mane thick of wool is usually found around the head and on their flanks which other refer to as a skirt. The double mane rabbit genes are visible when they were born, because you can see a V-form or V-shape area around their flanks or “skirts”.

If you wanted to have a double maned lionhead rabbit, you should be able to breed a two single maned rabbits or two double maned lionhead rabbits.

History of the Lionhood Rabbit

Lionhead rabbits originally came from Belgium. Breeders at that time were trying to produce a dwarf rabbit that has a long coat; however, it resulted to a new breed – the lionhead.

Rabbit experts believe that lionhead’s parents are a miniature Swiss Fox and an Angora rabbit, some say it’s a crossbreed of a Netherland dwarf rabbit and a Swiss Fox, while others think that it came from a Netherland dwarf and a Jersey Wooly (a version of Angora rabbit in U.S.), though there isn’t any substantial evidences to prove it

Rabbit expert and author, Mr. Bob Whitman, further studied the origin of rabbits including Lionheads. He also made a book about it, so if you want to know the origin of this breed, it is wise to read his book.

Around the late 1990’s lionhead rabbits gain popularity in Europe and eventually became a beloved pet in United States.

In United Kingdom around 2002, the British Rabbit Council (BRC) recognized the lionhead rabbit breed, while the American Rabbit Breeders’ Association (ARBA) had given the breed “Certificate of Development” status. According to ARBA, for the lionhead breed to be recognized, there should be three successful presentation in five years and should pass the ARBA Standard of Perfection; the breed is finally recognized in 2013.

In Columbus, Ohio there is an annual Lionhead Exhibition Specialty show, wherein estimated 300 – 500 lionhead breeders join the contest and it is also attended by 50 – 100 exhibitors across United States and Canada.

Today, lionhead rabbits are one of the most admired breeds in United States and United Kingdom. It is continuously gaining popularity among pet owners and rabbit breeders.


Quick Facts about Lionhood Rabbits

Pedigree: believed to be a crossbreed of a Swiss Fox and Angora (Europe) or Jersey Wooly (U.S)

Group: the British Rabbit Council (BRC), American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), North American Lionhead Rabbit Club (NALRC) and the European Confederation of Rabbits, Pigeons and Poultry.

Breed Size: Small to Medium

Length: 2 ? 3 inches (5 ? 7.5 cm)

Weight: 2 ½ to 3 ½ pounds

Coat Length: long wool coat

Coat Texture: fine, silky, smooth

Color: Black, Black Otter, Blue, Blue Otter, Chestnut, Chinchilla, Chocolate, Fawn, Frosted Pearl, Golden, Lilac, Opal, Orange, Red, Siamese Sable, Smoke Pearl, Sable Point, Squirrel, Sable Martin, Tan, Tortoise, and White.

Mane: Single or Double

Temperament: friendly, active, social, gentle

Strangers: may be wary or scared around strangers

Other Rabbits: generally good with other rabbit breeds if properly trained and socialized

Other Pets: friendly with other pets but if not properly introduce may result to potential aggression

Training: intelligent, responsive and very trainable

Exercise Needs: provide toys for mental and physical stimulation

Health Conditions: generally healthy but predisposed to common illnesses such as Urine Burn, Pasteurellosis, Pneumonia, E. Cuniculi, Ringworm, Hepatic and Intestinal Coccidiosis, Abscesses and Calcivirus

Lifespan: average 7 to 9 years


Need more? Read the Ultimate Guide for Lionhead Rabbits

Book - Lionhead Rabbits: The Ultimate Guide for Lionhead RabbitsIf you’re still looking for more detail on breeding your rabbits, I’d recommend reading “Lionhead Rabbits: The Ultimate Guide for Lionhead Rabbits”. You can find it on Amazon in paperback or on Kindle.