Nothing lasts forever. And some things can be brought back from the brink. When it comes to domestic animals, and that includes rabbits, for whatever reason, sometimes a breed is just rare.
Maybe there were never that many bred to begin with, or sometimes a breed’s numbers dwindle until they’re facing extinction.
But no matter why the reason, rare breeds typically command a premium and have a certain prestige about them. Maybe people just appreciate them more because they won’t be around forever!
And sometimes, luckily, concerted effort might restore the population of a breed and get them off the endangered list.
Below is a list of 17 rare rabbit breeds that you should be familiar with…
Table of Contents:
The Silver rabbit is one of the most beautiful domestic rabbits there is, named for its finely speckled, satin fur that has a distinct silvery sheen to it.
An ancient heritage breed that goes back to at least the 1500s, presently the silver is critically endangered.
Originally bred for fur and meat, today what Silver rabbits exist are typically used as show rabbits or else kept as pets.
Aside from their beauty, the Silver rabbit is very energetic and needs lots of exercise, enrichment and interaction with other rabbits and people to avoid becoming destructive when bored.
Currently efforts are underway from specialist clubs to help resuscitate the breed.
2. Blanc De Hotot
One of the most gorgeous and striking rabbits around, the Blanc de Hotot is a French breed that’s known for its even, pure white coat and distinctive “monocles” or eyeliner in black around each eye.
Undeniably attractive, this breed first appeared and the early 20th century and has already died out, or nearly so, several times before being revived here and there around the globe.
Although more or less in demand as a pet and show rabbit, it still remains critically endangered and its sparse population globally is found only an isolated pockets.
Nonetheless, they are loving, curious, and playful pets. Like the Silver rabbit above, international breeders associations are making concerted efforts to increase the Blanc de Hotot population.
3. Checkered Giant
Although not the most critically endangered rabbit on our list, the Checkered Giant is still a breed that is in limbo, and currently has a status classification as “threatened”.
The Checkered Giant also has a somewhat checkered past when it comes to its development.
Most enthusiasts and scientists agree that it did indeed originate in Europe, and it contains ancestry from Flemish Giants and French Lops, but it seems that the other specifics have disappeared with the sands of time.
The Checkered Giant, though, does live up to its name and is quite large and tall when fully grown, with most adults topping 15 pounds.
Out of most of the rabbits on this list, you’ll have an easier time finding one of these than most others, and they make good pets if they’re raised properly.
Another heritage breed that’s greatly beloved among rabbit fans, and one that was on the very precipice of extinction for a time, the Beveren is thought to have come from Belgium, taking its name from the self-same town.
Developed as a result of significant crossbreeding, the Beveren is known for its extremely plush coat and lengthy body shape.
Very popular on show circuits, although this breed is technically recovering from endangerment, there are serious problems in breeding populations due to complications arising from repeated inbreeding.
The fix such as it is might result in diluting the genetics and spoiling what makes the Beveren unique.
5. American Sable
The American Sable is a rare breed not because of any mishap or mistreatment, or disaster, but because it is simply so new. There just aren’t that many of them out there!
Developed with Chinchilla stock, the sable lives up to its name, with dark, lustrous fur that’s incredibly soft.
The American Sable is also notably a great pet, with a playful if cautious personality and they are said by owners to bond easily with humans.
This breed is also highly variable in size, with some specimens weighing only 7 pounds and others maxing out at around 16!
If the size of an American Sable is important to you, make sure you talk to a breeder about the lineage so you can have a better idea of how big your rabbit will be.
6. Swiss Fox
A Swiss breed that was developed in the early part of the 20th century, a relative boom time for the crossbreeding of domestic rabbits, the Swiss Fox resulted from the interbreeding of Havana and Angora rabbits.
This was intended to produce a rabbit that had fur similar in color and texture to common foxes.
In that regard, the breeders failed, but the breed has persisted as a curiosity in show circles, though they have not spread very far beyond the borders of Switzerland.
Accordingly, the Swiss Fox is rare throughout the rest of Europe, and nearly unheard of elsewhere in the world.
If you want a Swiss Fox, know upfront that even though they are a short coated rabbit they still require lots of care and maintenance, similar to Angora’s, so be ready for that.
7. Creme D’Argent
Thought to have originated somewhere in France, the genealogical history of the Creme D’Argent is as murky as some of the other rare breeds on this list.
What we do know is that they made their way to the shores of the US in the 1920s, and experienced a short, sharp spike in popularity as a meat rabbit.
Sadly, they were quickly replaced by other breeds and nearly forgotten about.
The breed almost went extinct in the aftermath of this downturn, and has only been preserved through today thanks to the dedicated efforts of serious enthusiasts.
If you want to help keep the breed alive, you’ll have a medium to large size rabbit that is an excellent breeder with great mothering skills and a sweet, relaxed disposition.
8. Silver Fox
The Silver Fox, not to be confused with the Silver rabbit or the Swiss Fox rabbit, was under “threatened” classification for a long time and only recently can be said to be truly recovering.
If you couldn’t tell from its appearance alone, The Silver Fox got its name from its marked resemblance to the animal which shares its name (unlike the Swiss Fox!).
Their fur is of medium length, silky, shiny and possessing a wonderful, rippling charcoal gray color.
These are definitely larger rabbits, with most adults rarely weighing less than 10 pounds, and their heavy muscled body made them popular as a meat rabbit for a time.
Today, they are kept mostly as pets and as show specimens though some homesteaders still like them as a uniquely capable utility rabbit for meat and fur.
9. American Chinchilla
Developed from imported European Chinchilla rabbits in the 1920s to produce more meat alongside a larger, better pelt, the American Chinchilla is a distinctly American breed and virtually unknown to the rest of the world.
As a specialized dual-use rabbit, the American Chinchilla breed has suffered greatly with the downturn of rabbit meat in American kitchens and also with the implosion of the fur trade.
Today, they’re kept mostly as curiosities and as gentle, good-natured pets, greatly beloved for their friendliness and for those super plush coats.
Currently, various livestock conservancies have them listed as critical in terms of endangerment. It doesn’t look like they will be around for much longer, sadly!
10. Silver Marten
A striking and totally unique breed that is rare today simply because of low overall reproductive rates, the Silver Marten is another breed that appeared during the 1920s boom in rabbit breeding.
These striking, charcoal black and gray fringed rabbits were developed from Chinchilla stock with a variety of other predominantly tan and black rabbits put into the mix.
Unlike most other rabbits that have markings on the eyes and nose, rabbits which tend to be white, the Silver Martens are dark colored with light markings.
Definitely an interesting rabbit, but considering their rarity, cost and reputation for being stubborn and willful, they don’t make great pets and aren’t an ideal rabbit for new owners.
11. Standard Chinchilla
The Standard Chinchilla, like all Chinchilla rabbits, was developed to produce fur that was similar to the rodent of the same name.
Dense, fine and soft, their fur is truly remarkable but equally remarkable is their loving and friendly disposition.
More than most other domestic breeds, the Chinchilla is a rabbit that loves to be touched and receive affection, and this has made them beloved pets.
But, the fortunes of this breed were closely tied to the fur trade, and with that trade’s collapse due to government interference and public outcry, many of the most important fur-bearing breeds were left with an uncertain future.
Accordingly, the standard chinchilla is rare today, though there are several specialist groups dedicated to preserving and increasing awareness of them as pets and as show animals.
12. Satin Angora
Highly sought after as a show rabbit, the Satin Angora breed is a result of crossbreeding between the, yep, Satin and Angora rabbit breeds.
The result is a rabbit with a long, fine, and silky woolen coat. Greatly beloved by rabbit fanciers, this is one breed that demands total dedication from owners because they require daily maintenance and grooming to keep them in good shape.
This isn’t something you can defer, either, because allowing their fur to get matted will make them prone to infestation from fleas and mites and also cause skin problems.
The Lilac is a breed that got its name due to the subtle but noticeable pinkish tinge to their fur, which together with their typical dark gray coloration gives these rabbits a purplish sheen that resulted in their name.
Truly beautiful rabbits, they also have calm and docile personalities that can make them a perfect pet, and this together with their upright posture and proud, vertical ears gives them a dignified and regal appearance that’s rarely seen in other breeds.
Unfortunately, the breed is just simply rare: there are not many breeders out there, and the general expense of these rabbits has prevented them from proliferating.
14. Argente Brun
A seriously threatened breed that is thought to have originated in England back in the middle of the 20th century, they are today associated with the United States, brought to the US by way of Canada.
It’s only very recently been officially recognized by the ARBA in 2016. Large, broad and stocky the Argente Brun is most notable for its typical two-tone brown fur, consisting of a dark chocolate or mahogany undercoat with lighter tan- or cedar-colored guard hairs.
This gives them an almost wood grain texture that’s truly wondrous to behold!
Also, these rabbits are notable for being very patient, affectionate, and friendly and more than most other domestic breeds do not mind handling so long as they’re handled carefully.
If you want a gorgeous “lap” rabbit, this might be the coolest choice there is!
15. Belgian Hare
The Belgian Hare is not a hare at all. It’s indeed a true rabbit, and a domestic one, but one that was bred specifically to look like a wild hare.
They have long limbs, a lanky body, upright posture, and are decidedly athletic in appearance. They’re also a heritage breed that’s been around for a long time, since at least the 1700s.
First created in Belgium as a meat breed, it has evolved into a peculiar dual-use specimen over the years, kept for both meat and for show because of its impressive physique.
The problem, for the breed, was the fact that they were so lanky they didn’t have a lot of meat on them! When this simple fact caught up with prospective buyers and breeders, their popularity plummeted, nearly to extinction.
Obviously named for its distinctive reddish brown coat and black or dark brown accents, the Cinnamon is one of the most friendly rabbits around and also notable for being a mostly hypoallergenic choice for people with allergies.
The Cinnamon rabbit is rare by way of low popularity and a lack of dedicated breeding as a utility specimen.
These rabbits are almost totally unknown in various parts of the country and around the world, and finding a dedicated and responsible breeder can be a challenge.
If you do find rabbits for sale of good lineage, they usually command a good premium.
Rhinelander rabbits are easily identified by their speckled noses, eyes, ears, and striped back over a solid white coat. They’re very friendly, but tend to be nervous and very skittish.
This makes keeping them as pets a dicey proposition for anyone with small children or any other pets that are predatory. Often they don’t even get along with other energetic rabbits!
The Rhinelander is another rare breed that’s simply sliding slowly towards extinction: outside of dedicated special interest groups, there aren’t too many organizations keeping this breed alive.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.