Teddy rabbits are dwarf rabbits. With their plush fur and round bodies, they are real furballs. As cute as they may look, you should refrain from purchasing teddy rabbits for ethical reasons, because these little rabbits have a problematic breeding history.
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This furball is a teddy rabbit.
Appearance of teddy rabbits
Adult teddy rabbits weigh at the most 2 kilograms. Hence, it is a dwarf rabbit breed.
Teddies have all the typical rabbit coat colours and markings. Different eye colours are possible too, although blue eyes are particularly common.
The long, plush coat is what makes these little rabbits particularly cute. Unlike other longhair rabbits like the Angora, the fur does not need to be sheared.
Teddy rabbits are also divided into Teddy Dwarfs with prick ears and Teddywidders with lop ears. The two varieties differ in terms of size and physique too.
Variety 1: The Teddy Dwarf
Teddy Dwarfs weigh between 800 and 1,700 grams. The ideal weight is 1,350 grams for both males and females. Those weighing less than 1,200 grams are mostly not suitable for breeding. Their offspring are often too small to survive.
Males and females barely differ in terms of both weight and physique: The body is short, stocky and cylindrical with both sexes. The torso appears equally wide all over.
Its limbs, i.e. the feet, are also short and slender. The tail is firmly attached.
A round head with a broad forehead sits on the short, barely recognisable neck. Teddy Dwarfs also have large marble eyes and their furry ears are rounded. The latter are far apart and are around five to six centimetres in length.
Variety 2: Teddywidder
Weighing between 1,300 and 2,000 grams, Teddywidders are somewhat heavier than Teddy Dwarfs. The ideal weight of a doe is between 1,500 and 1,800 grams and for a hare between 1,600 and 1,900 grams.
They should have a compact torso with a nicely curved spine, broad shoulders and a short, strong neck.
The Teddywidder's head is also short and strong. It appears bulky compared to the body – especially with males. In contrast, females have a slightly narrower head.
The brow and snout are broad with both sexes. Teddywidders have a outwardly curved brow and nose.
A special feature of the Teddywidder is its drooping ears. These lop ears reach 24 to 26 centimetres in length.
Health: A breed with many susceptibilities
The aim of breeding as small and cute a rabbit as possible unfortunately led to numerous health problems with teddy rabbits. Hence, be prepared to have to go to your vet more often with a teddy rabbit.
One problem is the small weight of these tiny rabbits. In addition, the jawbones in round heads are often shortened and provide too little space for the teeth. This results in misaligned teeth and impedes food intake. Moreover, these rabbits often suffer from watery and inflamed eyes because the tear ducts are too narrow.
Teddywidders are particularly severely affected: Due to their lop ears, they also usually suffer from painful ear infections and hearing loss. Their field of vision is further disturbed by the dropping floppy ears. Communication with fellow rabbits suffers, because ear positioning is normally an important part of rabbits' body language.
Nevertheless, healthy teddy rabbits have an average life expectancy of eight years.
Should I buy a teddy rabbit?
There's no question that these little furballs are incredibly loveable and that the temptation to get a small herd of teddy rabbits is great.
Better adopting from animal shelters
However, you should avoid buying a teddy rabbit from a breeder for ethical reasons. Breeding Teddywidders in particular is very problematic and shouldn't be underestimated.
You're better off adopting a rabbit from an animal shelter. You will find rabbits of all breeds in animal homes and even teddy rabbits with a bit of luck.
Character: Trusting furballs
These little animals are considered friendly, intelligent and alert. Like all rabbits, they also have a high urge for exercise and get bored quickly. Hence, they need regular activity and enjoy diverse exercise.
As diurnal animals, teddy rabbits are suitable for children too. They are also trusting and playful.
Species-appropriate accommodation for teddy rabbits
Rabbits are very sociable animals and should never be kept alone. To live a happy life, they need fellow rabbits to play and cuddle with.
The following group setups have proven successful:
- a castrated male with one to three neutered females
- two castrated males with two to four neutered females
- one small group of castrated males
Female-only groups are not recommended, because aggression can often occur amongst them.
Keeping teddy rabbits with other pets
In certain circumstances, you can keep your teddy rabbit together with cats or even dogs. Don't get your hopes up though that a close friendship will develop between them. To be on the safe side, you definitely shouldn't leave your rabbit alone with your cat or dog.
Unfortunately rabbits and guinea pigs have little in common and don't get along very well with one another. Misunderstandings and aggressions are inevitable. Hence, you're better off keeping teddy rabbits and guinea pigs separate from one another.
Dwarf rabbits need space too
Even small rabbit breeds need plenty of space to hop and run. Regular exercise and a large enclosure are obligatory.
In addition, the following items are part of the basic equipment for a rabbit hutch:
The hutch and enclosure should of course be cleaned regularly so that your rabbits feel at ease and stay healthy.
Keeping teddy rabbits outdoors
Unlike other rabbit breeds, teddy rabbits can't be kept outside whatever the weather. The long, fine hair doesn't offer sufficient protection against low temperatures and damp. As well, the fur parts in some areas and the cold penetrates right through to the skin.
When keeping these rabbits outdoors, you should make sure that they are kept in an enclosure protected from the wind. It should be partly covered to protect them from the rain and sun too.
Attention: Rabbits are very fertile
A female rabbit is sexually mature at the age of three months and can give birth to offspring several times a year. There are typically three to four babies per litter.
You should definitely get your teddy rabbits castrated. Castration doesn't just prevent unwanted offspring, but has a further advantage: Castrated males are less involved in fights over territory and hierarchy.
Do females also have to be spayed?
Although it isn't obligatory, it's recommended to get female rabbits spayed too. Vets have discovered that unspayed females are prone to painful uterine infections and tumours.
Did you know? Male rabbits are still fertile four to six weeks after castration.
How often should I deal with the fur, claws and ears?
You should brush longhair rabbits twice a week so that the silky fur doesn't mat. Grooming may be required more frequently during the moulting period in spring and autumn.
As well, regularly check your little hopper's claws. You should cut claws that are too long with clippers.
You should also check the sensitive floppy ears of Teddywidders on a daily basis for dirt or inflammations.
What food do teddy rabbits need?
Rabbits have a solely plant-based diet. They like eating fresh vegetables such as carrots, as well as fresh grass and dandelion.
Like all rabbits, Teddy Dwarfs and Teddywidders have a rather sensitive stomach. You can prevent digestive problems with a daily portion of fresh hay and straw. Fresh water should always be available too.
Give your little rabbit branches and twigs to gnaw at too.
You should make sure ready-made food mixes are of a high-quality and free of sugar and other harmful additives.
Find out all you need to know about species-appropriate rabbit food in our article: Nourish your Rabbit the Right Way.
Origin of teddy rabbits
The teddy rabbit is a very young breed that emerged in Germany. Like all longhair breeds, it presumably descends from Angora rabbits.
However, breeding associations like the Central Association of German Pedigree Rabbit Breeders (Zentralverband Deutscher Rasse-Kaninchenzüchter, ZDRK) or the German Rabbit Breeders' Association (Bund Deutscher Kaninchenzüchter, BDK) still haven't recognised the teddy rabbit as an independent breed. Anyhow, they have been approved as a new breed with the BDK since 2009.
These tousle-haired rabbits quicken the pulse of any rabbit fan. Despite their small size, teddy rabbits still have the same needs as other rabbits: they need plenty of variety and space to move around.
Due to numerous health problems, breeding of teddy rabbits shouldn't be supported. If it absolutely has to be a teddy rabbit, it's better off coming from an animal shelter.