Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Are Lionhead Rabbits Rare (Where To Find?)


Did you know that there are several rabbit breeds across the world? A decade ago, I was completely aware of these breeds and as my experiences with rabbits extended, I was overwhelmed with the vast list of breeds. In fact, the first time I had a lionhead rabbit to foster, I was said that the breed is rare. What’s the truth? Are lionhead rabbits rare?

Originating in Belgium, they’re relatively new to the show scene and are considered rare, and have only been around since the turn of the century. They have a unique look with their signature manes atop their heads and soft fur. In recent times, with various cross breeds and rapid breeding of lionhead rabbits, they’re found quite widely.

In this article, let’s look at how they’ve evolved and best places to find them. This article highlights:

  • History of lionhead rabbits
  • Lionhead rabbits in different countries
  • Types of lionhead rabbits
  • Where to find them?
  • How to confirm if a lionhead rabbit is a pure breed?

Let’s begin!

History of Lionhead Rabbits

Originally bred in Belgium, they came to the US in 1999. By 2009, they had made their way into the American Rabbit Breeder Association‘s “Miscellaneous Class”, and by 2011, they became an officially recognized breed.

Lionheads are known for their beautiful fluffy manes that flow down onto their eyes and ears, as well as their soft and silky fur. These rabbits make great companions for all ages due to their sweet personalities and affectionate nature – no wonder Lionheads are quickly becoming one of the most popular rabbit breeds!

The Lionhead rabbit isn’t an ancient breed, although there are theories that the Swiss Fox and Netherland dwarf ancestors can be traced back to the early 1800s. It’s thought that the development of the Lionhead began in Belgium, but it was later perfected in France during the 1990s. The French Federation of Cuniculture doesn’t recognize this breed, but it does have a place in both countries’ rabbit breeding programs.

When you know where this breed has been recognized, it’s easier to find one for your home. Perform a quick check!

If you’re hearing about this breed for the first time, this video will provide all the necessary insights:

Lionhead Rabbits: Breed Overview

The Lionhead’s distinctive look comes from its very thick fur around its neck, giving it a mane-like appearance which gives it its name. This breed is small, usually weighing between 2 and 4 pounds, and has a very compact body shape. The coat comes in many different colors and patterns; some of the most popular being sable point and orange agouti. As with most dwarf rabbits, it has short ears that stand upright on its head.

The temperament of these rabbits makes them extremely popular pets around the world. They are friendly and social animals who often enjoy interacting with humans if they are given adequate time out of their enclosure each day. When kept as pets they ought to receive regular grooming sessions; as their long coats require maintenance so they do not become matted or tangled.

Nutrition is extremely important for all rabbits; but especially for those with long hair like the Lionheads since their thick coats can block essential nutrients from being absorbed by their bodies if not kept groomed regularly. A diet rich in hay should always be included in their diet alongside fresh vegetables and fruits for vital vitamins and minerals. 

When considering having a Lionhead rabbit as a pet one must remember that they need plenty of exercise to prevent boredom – making sure they have enough space to move around freely within their enclosure is essential too! They should also be regularly monitored for any signs of illness or infection so they can receive timely treatments should these arise.

Lionhead Rabbits in The United States

Lionhead Rabbit
Lionhead Rabbit

In the United States, the Lionhead rabbit is a fairly recent addition to the world of domestic rabbits. First imported in 2000, they didn’t become officially recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) until 2014. Owing to popularity and widespread availability, this breed has been recognized by ARBA.

However, there are currently several Certification of Development (COD) holders that are striving to get their varieties officially recognized as well, which requires three successful show presentations to be made within a five year period.

The Lionhead rabbit has grown in popularity over recent years due to its unique appearance and temperament. Unlike other breeds of domesticated rabbits, the Lionhead possesses a distinctive mane encircling their head; this sets it apart from other breeds and gives it a majestic quality. They also have an incredibly gentle nature and make great companions for all types of people.

Aside from being popular as household pets, Lionhead rabbits are becoming increasingly popular in show rings across America. With their recently acquired recognition by the ARBA comes more opportunities for aspiring breeders to showcase their animals on the national stage. This increased visibility will likely lead to greater interest in them among potential pet owners and breeders alike. 

Lionhead Rabbits in Europe

The Lionhead rabbit is a distinct breed of domestic rabbit that has been officially recognised in the United Kingdom since 2002. This process took several years, beginning with the meeting held by the Breeds Standards Committee (BSC). During this meeting, discussions were held about Lionhead rabbits and the proposed standard for them was agreed upon.

In subsequent years, the working standard was accepted and an official lionhead club was founded, becoming a part of a larger rare varieties club. Presentations were held at the Bradford Championship Show from 2000 onwards in multiple colors, leading to it finally being officially recognised on May 1st 2002 by the British Rabbit Council (BRC). 

Types of Lionhead Rabbits

Lionhead rabbit as a group

Based on mane

One of the main differences between single mane and double mane Lionhead Rabbits is the length of their manes.

Single mane lionheads have shorter manes that usually don’t flow down to their eyes and ears, whereas double mane lionheads have longer, fuller manes. Double mane Lionhead Rabbits can be quite eye-catching with their long, flowing locks!

The type of coat also tends to differ between single and double maned Lions. Single-maned lions often have a softer fluffier fur, while double-maned lions tend to have a thicker, curlier coat.

Remember that the mane can also develop allergies if you’re already allergic.

Based on size

Lionhead Rabbits come in two different sizes – the miniature and the standard. The mini Lionhead is slightly smaller than the standard, measuring anywhere between 2-3lbs. These rabbits are also known for their shorter manes.

The standard Lionhead is larger, typically weighing up to 5lbs. They have longer manes that may flow into their eyes and ears. There are a variety of coat types among Lionheads, including rex, cream, black, chocolate and more.

No matter which size or color you get, all Lionheads can make great pets with the right amount of love and care!

Where to Find Lionhead Rabbits

If you’re interested in owning a Lionhead rabbit, there are several places where you can find them.

One option is to check with local animal shelters or rabbit rescue organizations, as they may have Lionhead rabbits available for adoption.

Another option is to look for reputable breeders who specialize in Lionhead rabbits. It’s important to do your research and choose a breeder who is knowledgeable and ethical in their practices.

You can also look for Lionhead rabbits at rabbit shows or events, which can be a great way to meet breeders and learn more about the breed.

Additionally, there are online marketplaces where you can find Lionhead rabbits for sale, but it’s important to be cautious and make sure you’re dealing with a reputable seller.

Note: Always ask for references and check reviews before making a purchase.

How To Find If A Lionhead Rabbit Is A Pure-Breed & Not A Cross Breed?


It can be challenging to differentiate between a purebred and a mixed breed Lionhead rabbit, especially if you aren’t familiar with the breed’s specific traits. However, there are a few signs you can look for that may indicate whether a Lionhead rabbit is a purebred or a mix:


One of the most distinctive traits of the Lionhead breed is their mane, which is a thick ring of fur around their head, similar to that of a lion. While a mixed breed Lionhead may still have some fur around their head, it is likely to be less thick and less consistent than that of a purebred.

The thickness of the mane is everything. I always equate this mane to a paint brush, haha!

Body shape

Purebred Lionhead rabbits have a compact, rounded body shape that is distinct from other breeds of rabbits. While mixed breed rabbits may still have a similar body shape, they may also have traits from other breeds that make them appear more elongated or slender.


Another characteristic of the Lionhead breed is their small, rounded ears. While mixed breed rabbits may still have small ears, they may also have longer, more pointed ears that indicate they have other breeds in their ancestry.


Purebred Lionhead rabbits come in a variety of colors, including black, blue, chocolate, lilac, and tortoise. While mixed breed rabbits may still have these colors, they may also have patterns or markings that indicate they have other breeds in their ancestry.


While personality is not always an indicator of breed, purebred Lionhead rabbits are known for being friendly, curious, and energetic. While mixed breed rabbits may still have these traits, they may also exhibit other personality traits that are not characteristic of the Lionhead breed. Aggression is one of them as you can hardly find it in a lionhead rabbit.

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Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran is crazy about animals and birds! An avid rescuer and rehabilitator of animals and birds, she uses PETSMOND to share her experiences in raising different creatures and paying attention to intricate aspects of their health. Know more about me - https://petsmond.com/about/

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