Picking your new pet is an important one, a rabbit can live 10 years or more, so making sure you choose the best breed for your family is vital. Different breeds of rabbits require different care, have different temperaments and want different things in their life. So making sure that your new bunny fits with your life style is important... below are a few important things to think about when you are looking for your new bunny.
indoor or outdoor
While on the surface where you plan to let your rabbit live doesnt seem like that big a decision based on which breed you want. But its worth thinking about, for example the dwarf breeds are not suitable to live outdoors year round, so you would need a shed or garage to house them in during the winter months. The same goes for rexes, as their short coat is not very good at keeping them warm. If you're wanting a rabbit to be kept as a 'free-range' rabbit you need to look at the medium - large breeds, as the small ones can get into a lot of trouble if left unattended. And of course there is the size of the accomodation you can fit, a giant is going to need a lot more space than a netherland dwarf for example.
A very important consideration, do you have extra time to groom a longer haired rabbit, those fuzzy bunnies may look cute, but they will need grooming daily untill they are about 5 months old. As adults some breeds will need up to an hour of grooming a day (such as the angora), while others will need weekly grooming (cashmeres, swiss fox and lionheads). Normal coated rabbits will only need basic grooming during their moults.
Just as with dogs, different breeds can be prone to different aliments. Smaller breeds can be prone to intestinal problems. Flat faced breeds (lops, netherlands, lionheads) can be prone to malloclusion (teeth problems). Giant breeds are prone to ear mites. It is worth knowing the problems associated with your breed, viewing the parents and relatives of your prospective rabbit and ensuring you get the healthiest bun possible.
Young Children (generally those under 8 years) love rabbits, and in general rabbits love them. However some breeds are less understanding than others. For example netherland dwarfs and polish need to feel safe and secure and will not tollerate rough or miss handling. While other breeds such as sables and dwarf lops, enjoy children interaction and put up with rough handling much better. If you are getting a rabbit and you have young children that will be handling the bun, it is a good idea to choose a laid back and relaxed breed. It is always a good idea to meet and handle adult rabbits of the breed you are interested in to make sure they are suitable... if a breeder wont allow you to handle adults then ask yourself why (i do not allow young children to handle my netherland dwarfs for example... as they will get bitten).
laid back or active
Again there are two main types of personality in rabbits. Some rabbits are very laid back and enjoy sleeping, cuddling and lazing around. While others are very bouncy and love running jumping and playing. Choosing the right personality is vital, if you want a rabbit that is not going to be a lot of work and happy to lazy around all day make sure you pick the right breed. Likewise if you're looking for an active rabbit that will always want to play and not sit still, make sure you choose a breed that does so.
attention seeking or independant
Again this is something to consider, if you are looking for a rabbit that wants to spend all its time with you, look at breeds like lops or furs, or if you're looking for a rabbit that will be quite happy on its own or with a rabbit companion (if you are not home very often) look for something like a dutch or rex. These attributes combined with the ones above can lead to a rabbit like a sable who just wants to sit on your knee all the time and be stroked, or a rabbit like a mini lop who will pull at your clothes if you stop playing with it.
Another feature of breeds that is often overlooked. Most people come asking for a small breed because they believe they are easier to handle, when in fact small breeds are active and spritely, and the medium laid back breeds are indeed the easiest... So thought must be given to this, while small breeds dont take up a lot of space, they are active and will need plenty of outside time. Medium breeds in general are easy to handle and more laid back. And of course large and giant breeds are loving and playful, but are heavy and take up a lot of space.
Its important not to dismiss the appearance of a rabbit, you could potentially be spending a decade with this bun, and while health and temperament are the most important, you must get a bun that you like the look of and are drawn to, otherwise you will find it hard to bond. Some people are drawn to fluffy coats, others lopped ears and others chubby checks, whatever you like you can probably find a breed with those features that fits your personality.
And with all that taken into account its important to remember that all rabbits are individuals, they all differ slightly. And there are always buns that are an exception to the rule. Make sure you meet your new rabbit before you commit and take advice from the breeder about the personalities of the rabbits you are looking at.
To help you weigh up all the factors above i have created a nifty breed selector thingimy. Just answer a few short questions, and then it will give you a list of breeds that are ideal for you. click here to try it