Although dogs and cats are the most popular animal companions in the US, bun lovers in the country are multiplying like, well, rabbits. That’s understandable, as bunnies are as adorable and affectionate as kitties and pups. Take the Dwarf Lionhead rabbit, for example. This fluffy, playful, and intelligent bun is as cute as a button and is a very loving pet to boot.
Do you want a sweet and lovable pet you can easily hold in your hand? Then the Dwarf Lionhead rabbit fits the bill. How about we get to know this little cutie a bit more?
The exact details about the breed’s origin are a bit hazy, but speculations abound that the first Lionhead rabbit came from France and Belgium. It was supposedly created by breeders’ attempts to produce a long-haired dwarf rabbit by pairing a miniature Swiss Fox with a Netherland Dwarf bun. The resulting gene mutation caused a long ring of fur to appear around the rabbit’s head and flanks, giving the breed the Lionhead name.
The Lionheads came into the US in the 1990s and got accepted as a breed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 2014. Such recognition makes the bun type eligible to compete in rabbit shows.
This rabbit may be tiny, but it’s a bundle of energy. It’s even more energetic than some bigger bun breeds. Aside from its surprising vitality and unique looks, other qualities set this little cutie from other types.
The Dwarf Lionhead is a teeny-weeny bunny with a distinctive wool mane that makes it look like a tiny lion. It has a compact body with erect ears that seem rather large for such a small rabbit. Those appendages grow to a length of 2 to 3 inches.
Its lion-like mane that gives the bun its distinctive look comes in two types:
- Single mane: The fine wispy hair of single-maned Dwarf Lionhead rabbits sometimes doesn’t seem too much of a mane. The sparse fluff of fur is situated above the eyes, by the ears, and on the chest and chin.
- Double mane: This mane type is much fluffier than the single mane. As such, Dwarf Lionheads with double manes have thick hair around the chin, chest, and ears. Their flanks, too, have fluffy fur known as the “skirt.”
The breed’s name is quite misleading. Those unfamiliar with rabbits may think Lionheads are huge, ferocious buns, much like a lion. In reality, Lionheads are itsy-bitsy buns weighing a featherlight 3 to 3 ½ pounds. Full-grown, they typically reach only 8 to 10 inches. However, they look bigger than their actual size because of their fluffy coat and mane, which usually grows up to 2 inches long.
Coat Type and Color
Lionheads have plenty of hair. This is the case whatever mane type you get. A single-maned Dwarf Lionhead often has mostly medium-length fur, while its double-maned kin’s body is usually covered by around 50% long hair.
These itty-bitty buns come in a range of colors, such as blue, black, chestnut, and lilac.
Dwarf Lionheads make great pets because of their docile and friendly nature. They’re playful and energetic, but they also enjoy some cuddling time if you let them get used to being held from a young age. However, they may not do well in homes with young children as their delicate bodies can be injured by unintentional rough handling. In addition, although these buns may be sweet and gentle, they can be unpredictable if they feel threatened. They’re less likely to bite than other bun breeds, but they can scratch while they struggle to escape.
Being sociable buns, Lionheads will enjoy having another rabbit for company. But if you don’t want another rabbit, don’t fret. They can get along well with other pets, too, such as mild-mannered dogs and cats.
Rabbits usually live between 5 and 8 years old. You’ll be glad to know that Dwarf Lionheads have an average lifespan of 8 to 10 years. Their longer life expectancy can be due to their genetic make-up or diminutive size.
Proper care and nutrition can help boost the chances that your little darling will live beyond the typical lifespan of his breed.
Your tiny bun can live indoors or outdoors, provided you keep him safe and comfortable. Keep him away from predators and make sure he doesn’t get cold during winter and hot in summer. Lionheads can tolerate cooler climes because of their thick fur, but that’s not a reason to keep them out during freezing weather.
An ideal living environment is just one of your Lionhead’s needs. Let’s see how you can provide the right care for your cute bunny.
The Lionhead Rabbit may be small, but it’s a bun that brims with energy. That means keeping your pet cooped up in a tiny cage is out of the question. The minimum cage size for small breeds is 18 by 24 inches. The enclosure should also be large enough for your fur baby to stand on his hind legs. But if you can get a larger cage, so much the better.
Avoid using a cage with wire bottoms. Rabbits have delicate feet, and standing on the hard wire can lead to sore hocks. A large, open dog pen makes an ideal home for your bunny.
Feeding Your Dwarf Lionhead Rabbit
Like other rabbit breeds, the Dwarf Lionhead will do well on a diet composed mainly of hay. To keep your little pet healthy, provide him with unlimited amounts of good-quality hay, such as Timothy hay, brome, or orchard hay. You can pile the hay inside the cage or place it on a feeder. Hay will provide the nutrients your bun needs and help prevent his ever-growing teeth from getting too long.
Don’t forget to provide unlimited supply of fresh, clean water. Replace the contents of the water bowl or bottle daily and keep it topped up, especially during warm weather.
You’ll need to set aside time for grooming chores if you get a Dwarf Lionhead as a pet. Like other long-haired rabbits, this bun type’s long fur requires maintenance to prevent mats and tangles. Brushing the beautiful, fluffy mane several times a week will accomplish that purpose, although daily brushing would be optimal.
The Dwarf Lionhead’s coat grows thicker during winter and sheds it during molting season, so you’ll have to brush your pet more often when he molts. Frequent grooming sessions help lessen the chances of the hair building up in your bun’s digestive tract when he licks himself.
Common Health Issues
Dwarf Lionheads can be susceptible to health issues common to rabbits. However, because of their size and coat, they may be more inclined to develop these conditions.
- Hairballs: These rabbits have plenty of hair, making them particularly susceptible to hairballs. This is a health issue wherein the excessive amount of fur a rabbit ingests gets lodged in the digestive tract.
- Malocclusion: Rabbits’ teeth continue to grow for the rest of their lives. Gnawing on hay and other fibrous food materials helps grind down those pearly whites. However, because Dwarf Lionheads have smaller and rounder heads, they’re more prone to tooth misalignment than bigger bun types.
- Obesity: Due to their small size, Dwarf Lionheads require less food than larger breeds, but it’s easy to overlook that fact and overfeed them. Moreover, their tiny frame and fluffy fur make the extra weight they may gain less noticeable compared to larger bunnies.
- Spinal injuries: All rabbits have delicate spines, but because of their small size, Dwarf Lionheads are more prone to spinal damage caused by sudden or forceful movements or incorrect handling.
Dwarf Lionhead rabbits may be small, but they’re huge on charm. Getting one as a companion can be a rewarding experience as they’re very affectionate creatures. Because of their size, they’ll require gentle handling, and they may not do well in homes with small children and energetic companion animals.
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